One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale
The One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale is on until December 6 at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. The monolithic hall is crammed with all-things arts and craftsy, and having gotten a sneak peek at the show I've yet to get the delightful smell of vanilla potpourri out of my hair. I love the holidays.
Over 800 artisans from across Canada have set up their wares for One of a Kind. From craft items, like kitschy fish tackle folk art to beautiful but affordable sculptures to the just plain wacky (critter-themed bicycle helmet covers with names like Big Stinker Skunk come to mind) the show has it all. For someone who always finds herself desperately searching for presents the night before Christmas, I friggin' love One of a Kind. Why? Because I also love crossing names off my gift list. And crossing things off lists in general.
The massive one-level hall is organized into "neighbourhoods" split up by five topics: visual art, food, fashion, new artisans and eco-friendly creations.
I was immediately drawn to the rising stars section, where I chatted with a stressed Sonja Alhers while admiring her misleadingly named "Fierce Bunnies." The artist, running on only a couple hours of sleep, made these delightfully soft creatures out of vintage angora, lambswool and cashmere sweaters.
I also talked to Michael Brown, the man behind Buzzz. No stranger to the One of a Kind Show, Michael has actually worked at the past four. This is his first year exhibiting his work - funny faux buzzers that call for "pretend help," like the maid, butler, Santa and, my personal fave, coffee.
I couldn't resist the sweet smells floating my way from the Matter Company booth. I was drawn to the different creams and products, all created using indigenous herbs and plants.
The Honey Pie Hives and Herbals booth was warm and welcoming. Owners Bay Woodyard and Gavin North were actually dressed up in costume. Bay told me all of the items were made from bees and herbs kept on their farm in Prince Edward County.
One of my favourite booths held these lovely paper mache marionettes by Kelly Kirkham. Did you know Christmas is coming up? And I think these are really awesome? Hint.
One of a Kind has been around since 1975. Since its premiere as a national craft show, the Show's grown leaps and bounds (of knitted yarn).
Why? Well, if you're anything like me, you appreciate buying UNIQUE and LOCAL art. (Um, blowfish tea kettle by Junichi Tanaka anyone?)
I chatted with vice prez of One of a Kind and super nice lady Patti Stewart. She believes One of a Kind is so popular because of the range of price points and "the fact that you get to purchase work right from the artisan with no mark up." Work like these wall paintings by Blair Chivers, who told me the best part of working at One of a Kind is getting to "meet nine billion people."
It's interesting, the difference between conceptual art and craftsmanship and determining where something like One of a Kind fits in. I'd like to think of it as a meeting point. (On an unrelated note, these tiny sculptures pictured above by Illustration by Gosia are beautiful.)
When asked about the difficult selection process at One of a Kind, Stewart said the jury takes into account "the quality, uniqueness and availability of the product, all the while trying to maintain a balance of kinds of craftsmanship."
Here a few other unique finds:
Adorable hand-crafted children products by Petit Flaneur.
Wall paintings by Kelly Grace. Check out the feature display in the hall entrance where her art along with other highlights are displayed.
Cute French-Canadian owl creatures and other stuffed Rapaplas from Montreal.
This year, the show features not just arts and crafts but also a "chat series" with editors from Chatelaine, plus seminars from Canadian House and Home, mostly about gift-giving, holiday decorating and other homey stuff that I'm finally not embarrassed to admit I secretly love.
This is just the tip of the 800 artisan-iceberg. One of a Kind is a great opportunity to buy unique wares and support local art (you can't get more local than this stuffed doll of Olivia Chow by Fish on Fridays).
Tickets are 12 bucks a pop for adults (only $10 online!), while seniors and youth get a deal at $6.50. If you're under twelve - well, lucky you, because a) you get in for free and b) you're a pretty smart twelve year old to be reading a blogTO post.
Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty.
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