Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Canning Peaches

On Sunday a few of us got together at Thea's to can peaches! This wonderful fruit is at its best right now and we really wanted to capture its deliciousness and preserve it for future enjoyment.

The most time consuming and messy part of canning peaches is the peeling and slicing bit. The more hands helping out, the better! In order to make the peaches easy to peel, we blanched them in boiling water for 30-50 seconds. Then we peeled them, sliced them, and put the slices in a bath of water with lemon juice in it. The lemon prevents the fruit from darkening unattractively.

It's best to can peaches that are just beginning to soften. If they're too soft, they may just fall apart when cooked. If they're too hard, they're a major pain in the derriere to peel.

Thea informed us that peach pits contain pips that have an almondy scent and flavour (peaches and almonds are related after all). So she cracked a few pits open with a hammer, and put some pips in a tea infuser, which we placed in the syrup to give it a slight almond flavour. Yum!

In batches, we added the sliced peaches to our sugar syrup mixture. We made a medium syrup, a combination of 6 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar. The peaches were cooked in the syrup for 5 minutes. This is the "hot pack" method of canning, since the fruit is heated before being canned. It's the most commonly used method for preserving fruit since it is a bit safer, and makes it easier to get the fruit in the jars. You can also "cold pack" or "raw pack" the fruit by putting it in without cooking it in the syrup, and then pouring the hot syrup on after.

With a slotted spoon, we ladled the peaches into hot sterilized jars, then added the syrup until there was about 1'' headspace. Wide mouthed funnels are a canner's best friend.

We processed the canned peaches in the canner for about 20 minutes.

Et voila! Peaches galore! They will provide a wonderful taste of summer in the cold dark days of winter. Yum.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Summer Craft Fair

Wow: the only word that captures all of our collective feelings over the incredibly successful and well received Summer Craft Fair that came and went last weekend. Just, wow.

It really was incredible to witness 7 months of planning and preparations unfold into such an enjoyable weekend, with the Old Friendship Shop looking its finest, and the place packed full of amazing and talented artisans. The air was buzzing with excitement on Friday evening, and it was pretty much impossible for anyone to walk into the Old Friendship Shop without a huge smile their face. Really, how could they not?

Katie Walker's screenprinted scarves
Petra Cuschieri's adorable pencil cases (I snagged that dark floral one on the left)!
Katie Muth's greeting cards and prints
Viola Fibers and Sartoria
Pin Pals
Since the fair was our first major event, and none of us had quite planned anything like it before, it was definitely a learning curve for us all. Overall the whole experience, from the application process, to getting the keys to the Friendship Shop, to meeting our vendors, was wonderful. The Summer Craft Fair was totally exceeded our expectations, and we can't wait to do it again.

Although we thanked all of our friends and family in our last blog post for their generous love and support, I can't help but echo that sentiment again. So, a huge thank you to DJ Donna Lovejoy for providing hot beats on Friday evening, Amanda McCavour for her beautiful window installation, our countless friends and family, our neighbours, and all those who came by to say hello, and support our vendors.

And of course, a truly special thank you to all of our incredible vendors: our fair wouldn't have been as magical without your many talents. From all of us Bees: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Worker Bees

Well, today is the day that we Bees have been waiting for. Seven months of planning come to fruition starting tonight, and continue along on Saturday. We're thrilled, nervous and a little overwhelmed. Mostly thrilled. Very, very thrilled.

We've done our best the past couple of weeks to showcase some of the amazing talent that make up the fair. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to be working alongside such creative and accomplished artists. Initially, we had our fingers crossed that we would get enough applications that The Old Friendship Shop wouldn't look empty. And suddenly, there we were, with more applications than we had room to accommodate. This fair is just bursting with extraordinary talent.

We wanted to contribute something material as well. Although the actual logistics alone of this whole event took up most of our time, we felt we had to create some kind of souvenir of our achievement. So we added a couple of more projects to our plate.

Jenna and Thea spent the beginning of this week screen printing tote bags. It's been mentioned on the blog before, but we all really love our wreath logo. Jenna did such a beautiful job designing it. Really, it'd be a shame NOT to print the design onto totes. Jenna and Thea printed up a limited number for the fair - more once we all realized that all 11 of us would like one ourselves - in a beautiful mustard colour onto sturdy canvas bags. In my head, I've already designated mine for transporting my Knit Night supplies on Wednesday nights.

During our last social meeting, most of the Bees got together and had a good old fashioned button making party. We spent a couple of hours in Roisin's new studio cutting out designs in different colours and sizes, pressing them into buttons and eating scones. I'm so thankful that most of our meetings revolve around good food, as well as learning new skills and good conversation. And gosh, our buttons turned out so cute.

Without getting too sappy here, we wouldn't have been able to pull this off without all the support of so many other worker bees. We have countless friends and family members and partners who have donated their time, their houses, their skills and their love to make all of our projects possible. Big, huge, bottom of our heart thanks to Kieran, Jeff, Peter, Dane, Kevin, Mike, Erick, Jesse, Doug, Sean, Ted, Gary, Copydog Tom, Tim, Heather, Rachael, Amanda, Ella, Dave, The Brain, Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, all of our families, all of our vendors, everyone who applied and especially to you. Thanks for being interested in what we do.

We really hope that you'll join us this weekend. We've worked so hard. For you.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Fidoodle

We are very excited to have Fidoodle at our Summer Craft Fair. Jen is bringing some of the quirkiest and cutest creations that are aimed at kids and young people, although I'm sure even the oldest among us will be charmed by some of her pieces.

Melanie Senko: Tell us about yourself.

Jen Bulthuis: My name is Jen Bulthuis. I grew up in Hamilton, but have spent the majority of my adult years living in Toronto. Years ago I primarily worked with people through community arts initiatives in Toronto as I continued to develop my printmaking and general making practice, but Fidoodle has developed over the last 6 years paralleling my journey into parenthood. I have two children (age 6 and 1). We live in a great neighbourhood in Toronto and for the most part, everything that I make is built in my home studio.

M.S.: Where/when did you become acquainted with your craft?

Jen: Trained as an educator and woodblock printmaker, I’ve been developing Fidoodle out of a long running interest in art as interactive object, and in the imagination of children. My fascination with the materiality of wood evolved from printmaking to include intricate construction of traditional wooden marionettes. Printmaking led to an interest in bookbinding, then the creation of flipbooks involving stop motion animation. Years of work in the community arts, particularly with street involved youth, led me to a style shaped by drawing together, in the moment.

M.S.: Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

Jen: I’m inspired by the stories that we create through objects in our lives and especially the stories that children build through objects that they play with. I’m also intrigued by small details of our natural environments and by the worlds we create for ourselves. I love the feel of sanded maple in my hands and the versatility of industrial wool felt for building objects.

M.S.: What do you love most about your craft?

Jen: I’m very happy that I get to make up or invent so much of what I do. I can choose materials and I can make up processes. I love to draw and with screen-printing, I’m able to tell stories through illustration on several objects that I make.

M.S.: What are your most favourite materials to work with?

Jen: I especially love to work with wood, industrial wool felt, organic cottons. I like surfaces that I can print onto easily and materials that I can build with.

M.S.: Is there another craftsperson/designer/artist that you admire?

Jen: I admire lots of makers. Here’s a little list: The illustration of Fiep Westendorp, and Tove Jansen, the wooden dolls of Alexander Girard, furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, Trashbonbon, Brothers Dressler, ceramics by Jeremy Hatch, Rob Southcott, Coe and Waito. So many more.

M.S.: How do you get your work out in the world? Where else can one find it?

Jen: Fidoodle is out there through a variety of weekend fairs and Etsy and I sell my work in a few small boutiques in Toronto. This information is all on Fidoodle’s website.

Vendor Spotlight: Katie Walker

Next up in our Vendor Spotlight series is textile designer Katie Walker. Using gorgeous silk and cotton, Katie hand dyes and screen prints her own designs to create the most wonderful scarves, perfect for this late summer weather. Read on to learn a little bit more about Katie and her work.

Elizabeth Simpson: Tell us about yourself

Katie Walker: I am a twenty-something textile designer and lover of all things crafty! I just finished school at Sheridan, and have moved back home and started my own tiny studio in my basement. I love dyeing and silk screen printing, but also have a new found love for hand embroidery.

E.S.: Where/when did you become acquainted with your craft?

Katie: I grew up with an artistic family, and a mother who embroidered my whole life. After finishing grade 12 I moved to an arts high school, where I got to take art classes all day long for 2 years. That's when I fell in love with textiles and surface design. I had always liked fabric, but didn't really know all there was to it. At that school I got to weave, sew and print, and then decided it was what I wanted to keep doing. Then I went to Sheridan, where I fell in love with screen printing, and created my line of dyed and printed textile accessories.

E.S.: Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

Katie: I get inspiration from everywhere: magazines, the internet, daily life. My collection of prints right now was all inspired by urban and industrial patterns and textures. I draw and paint a lot, and also get a lot of my inspiration from photography.

E.S.: Do you have a favourite place/spot/time of day/etc. to work?

Katie: I am defiantly a night owl. I am way more productive from 8 pm to midnight than I am all day. And at the moment I have a new studio space to work in. My boyfriend and I just revamped a room in our basement into a nice little studio space for me with a print table and a sewing area.

E.S.: How do you get your work out in the world? Where else can one find it?

Katie: I just finished school and have just started up my little business, so I'm in the process of getting my work out. I have an Etsy shop online, and some of my work can be found in Bayfield at the Artsee Cafe, as well as in London at Curiosities Gift shop starting in September. And I'm hoping to do more shows like this one in the GTA, as well as London area.

Vendor Spotlight: Pinpals

We're getting so close to the show! Just a few more vendor spotlights for you! This one features the lovely ladies as international craft duo with one part living in Montreal and the other in Colorado. Samantha and Sarah combine craft and illustration to create cross-stitched earrings, brooches and buttons, as well as lots of other cute goodies.

Mint Red Hair Barrette

Meg Makins: Tell us about yourself.

Samantha: I'm one half of Pin Pals, and I live and work in Montreal where most of my time is spent in a corner of my studio rapidly expanding with knick knacks and craft supplies. When I'm not working you can find me thrift shopping, reading, or walking somewhere.

Sara: I'm the other half of Pin Pals (the drawing, paper puppet making half). I used to live in Montreal but I recently moved to Denver, Colorado. Now I eat green chili, camp in the mountains and drink margaritas!

Miniature Frames

M.M.: Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

Samantha: All sorts of places, thrift stores, craft books, folk art. Lately I've been inspired by restaurant decor of all types, and watching people.

Sara: All sorts of places. I'm inspired by movies, music videos and TV, food packaging and American grocery stores, people, the way they spend their time and the objects they surround themselves with. I like comedy and I know that gets into my drawings somewhere too. Can I be inspired by the Larry Sanders show? I think I'm inspired by the Larry Sanders show.

Eileen plays the sax

M.M.: What do you love most about your craft?

Sara: I can't write or act but I like stories and drawing is my creative outlet for telling stories.



M.M.: Is there another craftsperson/designer/artist that you admire?

Samantha: Some current illustrators that I admire lately are:

Riikka Sormunen
Bjørn Rune Lie
Jennifer Davis

Sara: Some of my favorite fibre based artists are:

Goodnight, Day
Suzen Green
Tara Bursey
Misako Mimoko
Jazmin Berakha

Red Shimmer

M.M.: Tell us about your process.

Samantha: I usually putter around for more time than I'd like to admit, then at some point I settle into my desk where I start counting tiny squares from graph paper and transferring them into stitches on cloth. If I'm making jewelry I'll then assemble and package everything, and if I'm working on a larger piece I'll work until my eyes have had it for the day.

Cross Stitch Bookmarks
M.M.: Describe your 'perfect atmosphere' for crafting...

Samantha: Sunny or rainy outside, talk radio, coffee, semi-clean desk, good lamp, glasses.

The Pin Pals take Boulder!
Thanks for your time, ladies!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Sartoria!

Sara Tori of Sartoria knows what all we Canadian folks need to get us through the depths of our epic winters.  Her long-johns, tank tops and undies are made with love from reclaimed materials of the highest quality to keep you cozy as you cycle down windy streets, bustle to and from subway stations or just lounge around your living-room on a cool fall evening.  Merino and cashmere wool sweaters are taken apart and re-sewn into one of a kind cozy garments, perfectly fit for a wide variety of body sizes and heights with no sacrifices made of style in the name of keeping warm.

We are so happy to be showcasing Sartoria in the Summer Craft Fair so we asked asked Sara to send us a little bit about about herself.  She had some lovely things to say about her upcoming collection and all the wonderful folks it's dedicated to:

"The 2011.2012 collection : Entangling with Hope

This collection pays homage to individuals in every land who knew and know that to nurture hope is to keep alive the richest aspects of being human.  Sartoria salutes these people who, in the face of atrocity and oppression, hold and nurture hope, in themselves and in community.

This collection is dedicated to all of you who are entangling with hope. who are finding a way to keep your spirit alive in these turbulent times.  Who are remembering that compassion runs incredibly deep in us and who are reclaiming our value from the mandates of the government and the corporations.  These luxurious fibres gifted from our animal allies, these pieces are made for you."

Sara totes her sewing machine along with her to top craft fairs like the Distillery Art Market and One Of A Kind Show in toronto as well as the Circle Craft show in Vancuver B.C. (and of course this weekend at the Summer Craft Fair!)  You can also find her on line in her Etsy shop.

While I hate to say that fall is now fast approaching, I cant wait to pick up a pair of these lovely undies to match the tank top I already own (and love!)  I'm hoping to spend winter entangled in some blankets adding my Sartoria outfit to the layers of natural wool I rely on for surviving the cold.