The 2011 Toronto Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair
Now in its fifth year, the fair is a little more down-to-earth on the sex convention scale than some of the big exhibitions. Don't get me wrong--there are boobies, of course--just not in the in-your-face porn star way you'll see at the larger sex fairs in Toronto.
"We like to support local artists, handmade pieces, and things you won't find anywhere else," Annanda from Come As You Are, which hosts the event, tells me. "You might not get an amazing $20 vibe, but you will have some great conversations and network with a great group of sex-positive artists."
The space is sort of cramped, which isn't a surprise since the fair is getting bigger turnouts every year. There are about 16 or 17 exhibitors this year by Annanda's count, and last year saw over 1,300 visitors. We stand by a table with a large vagina hand puppet as Annanda explains the core values of the show.
"It's all about inclusiveness, being who you are, and having a sense of humour about your sexuality."
I take that sense of humour with me as I explore the various hand-knit penises and "Don't Fuck With Mr. Zero" pins filling the space. The Furs and the Trees table boasting its vagina brooches caught my eye. Montrealer Alex Raptis tells me she designed them specifically for the fair. "I cut the wood myself from an apple tree in my backyard," she says. "And the fur is from scraps of vintage fur I've found." I asked her if she's had a chance to wear one on a night out. "Ya," she says. "People who don't really care for it say it's 'interesting.' But most people smile and get a kick out of it."
On to the crochet nipple tassels. So much for grannies and needlework? These ones are made by Susan from Sex on a Stitch, and yes, they come with double-sided tape. Each pair is different; some with sequins, beads, and pairing words such as "gin" and "juice" or "sugar" and "spice." Other combinations, such as "sweet" and "sour" haven't worked too well. "No one wants to have 'sour' over their nipple," Susan says.
One of my favourite tables is that of vintagelove where artist Adrianne Kulling displays her light switch plates designed with vintage 1950's print ads. Many of the images for the plates, which include those for electrical outlets, came from 50's-era ladies' magazines, she tells me. "Plus," she adds, "you can sort of have fun with where you put the hole for the switch." Especially for the pictures of men, I see.
Other interesting pieces are those of illustrator Wendy Ding and her "food girls" and the cashmere and merino panties by Sartoria, which, I'm told, "Are actually really breathable!" Sadly, no "I slept with Adam Giambrone" buttons spotted this year.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak