Bluebird Handmade is a veritable cornucopia of handmade goods and craft supplies that opened in The Annex at the beginning of the year.
Originally devised as a retail-fronted, workshop-backed operation for handmade arts, Bluebird has instead slowly evolved from initially offering only classes into a full specialty store as a result of the Bathurst Street location's limited space.
For now the store alternates between using the space for 11-5 retail and regularly held, out of hours workshops that have had the likes of Toronto Craft Alert abuzz.
Though most of their classes are intended for children, Bluebird has starting branching into various craft workshops for adults.
Bluebird is the progeny of a small group led by artist Crystal Silden, who bring together a wealth of diverse backgrounds in crafts ranging from weaving to toy making.
Bluebird is pleasure to behold even before you enter the store.
The inventive window displays dispel the feeling that you're being drawn towards the nucleus of a worthy but fusty entity ( The Knit Cafe also excels at this, as anyone who saw their impressive 'Cirque Des Hiboux' window installation on Nuit Blanche can attest to).
The current display, visible from across the street, is in honour of Mexico's Dia de los Muertos , features stuffed, neon coloured, screen-printed dolls and a beautiful garland of Autumnal-toned flowers draped around an antique chair.
Inside the store there are an array of handmade ceramics, prints, scarves, ornaments, bags, jewelery, toys and just plain oddities that have been sourced from both within Toronto and around the world.
It's immediately obvious that the criteria for selection is part originality and part ingenuity but mostly ability. At a time when the word artisanal has become synonymous with the marketing of anything from crackers to t-shirts, Bluebird's striking stock is conspicuously devoid of filler.
The ceramic and string ornamental jellyfish and tiny felt pod people catch my eye because they're so unusual but even the wrapping paper is far from standard issue.
Bluebird also stocks a small selection of art supplies including beads, pencils, notebooks and felt.
Photos by Emma McIntyre