Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Makers: Janet Hinkle of Hinkleville

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things. 

In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to Janet, the creative maker behind "Hinkleville", based here in Toronto.   Janet makes the most adorable little mini planters I have ever seen. I came across her work on instagram a while ago and was besotted immediately. I knew I needed to have her work in the shop, and I am so happy to now be a regular stockist of her pieces ( and the only one in the city located north of Bloor street!)  I sent Janet a few questions about her space and process:

Jess: Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Janet: Up until July 1st my workspace was very makeshift and spread across my entire apartment. However, recently, I have had the opportunity to rent studio space in the Parkdale Akin Collective location. The Parkdale space is very loft like and space is divided by the square foot to make up each artist's own studio area. It definitely beats having clay all over my home.

More about Akin via Akin:

"AKIN organizations- Akin Collective (Studios) and Akin Projects (Arts and Community Programming). 
Akin Collective is an art studio and shared workspace with studios in Parkdale, Bloordale Village and Junction Triangle. The collective provides affordable space to about 160 creatives across ten studios with a friendly and inspiring atmosphere suitable for creative endeavours and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. 
Akin Projects is a registered nonprofit established for the purpose of providing both creative and professional development opportunities to members of Toronto’s artistic and cultural community. We have offered services to over 3,000 individuals across the city since our inception in 2015.

Jess: what are your tools of the trade?
Janet:  When dealing with ceramics there are two different kinds of tools that are necessary to complete any single piece. First you have tools that are used by hand (carving tools, casting molds, potter's wheel, etc..) these are all used when forming a new piece. Second, you have the tools that are necessary for finishing a piece to a desired look (i.e.: a pottery wheel for trimming, glazing tools, a kiln for firing, etc...).


Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work
Janet: When creating a new piece from scratch I usually like to jump right into the sculpting process (I never made using a sketchbook much of a habit). I love how I can start with a lump of clay and immediately form it into a bowl, cup, planter, etc... and go on from there. The process doesn't end there though, half of the fun comes after the clay has been molded into it's initial form and is at the 'leather hard' stage (leather hard: unfired pottery or greenware, that has dried and hardened to a point that it can be trimmed and/or decorated). I really enjoy working at the 'leather hard' stage because you can take a simple form like a planter and add texture, colour, etc... This is the stage where each piece really becomes its own unique form.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?
Janet: I tend to look for inspiration everywhere but often find it in the same few places. For texture inspiration, I tend to find it in fashion design and/or architecture (I often experiment with fabrics by pressing them into the clay surface to create new textures). For form, colour and pattern inspiration, I tend to look back at what potters from the mid century were doing; I really love the simplicity of the form combined with the repetition, and complexity of the patterns from the 1960's, the funky colours they were using are also pretty amazing. 

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Janet has a great social media feed, you can follow along with her on instagram here.

I carry several colours of Hinkleville mini planters, potted up with cacti and succulents, and happily now have some of Janet's gorgeous mugs in stock too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the shop: the best plant for dark interiors

While succulents and cacti are getting a lot of love and attention these days, the reality is that most people don't have the right location in their home for these high light loving plants.  Take home a succulent terrarium and after a short time in that dark back corner of your home, they aren't going to survive.  But don't despair, let me introduce you to a plant that does do well in lower light: the zamioculcas zamiifolia (or ZZ for short!)

This leafy deep green plant does very well in both medium and lower light conditions, and even survives short periods of underwatering without any long term damage.   Each individual leaf has an unusually long life span, which is possibly the reason it can do so well in conditions other plants find difficult. 

As with most other low light tolerant plants, the ZZ is a slow grower, which does mean the plants are generally a little more of an investment if you are looking for a larger pot size.

How do you know if your light is high, medium or low? A general rule of thumb, if you can sit with a book and read very easily without turning on any interior lights in the daytime, them you have high light in that area. But be aware that light conditions change as you move away from the window.  The front third of a room with an unobstructed window is best for higher light loving plants such as succulents.  The middle section is best for medium light lovers such as airplants, and the back third, furthest from the window is most definitely low light and will be tolerated only by a short list of shade loving plants such as the ZZ. (Keep in mind also that putting plants in corners or on the side walls, where the sunlight doesn't actually hit, means that is a dark area, even if it's in the front section near the window.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Current obsession: Craspedia


I'm a bit of a colour fanatic, and nothing pleases me more than a sharp hit of bright yellow.



 Craspedia are perfect for this, adding a little textural hit of sunshine to my arrangements.


Commonly called "billy buttons", craspedia are actually native to Australia and New Zealand and are part of the daisy family. They can grow in varied conditions in warmer climates, but there are Ontario flower farmers growing them as annuals. They can apparently grow up to 24 inches tall!


 Up close the heads look like little tennisballs! And they dry amazingly well, with no change in colour at all so you can pull them out of your arrangement and keep them to give a splash of sunshine any time of year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Growers of beauty: La Primavera Farm

This series of "growers of beauty" posts takes a look at where the beautiful flowers are coming from, letting us meet the farmers that work so hard to bring these blooms to market for us.

I"d like to introduce you to La Primavera Farms.

 I am out at the flower auction twice a week, picking up the blooms I bid on to bring back to the shop.  The auction is supplied by Ontario farmers who make the trip in to Mississauga and deliver their gorgeous crops of blooms for the floral trade to bid on through a reverse auction process ( the price starts high and goes down, but if you don't grab it before someone else does you are out of luck!) Last week I picked up a pail of the most delectable Scabiosa grown by the father/daughter team of Juan and Joanne.

As I bid on them I can see the farm name pop up, so I reached out to Joanne to find out more about the farm. She very graciously took time to reply ( I can't even imagine how long a farmer's day is during the growing season) and has allowed me to share some of her photos with you.

The farm has been operating and growing since 1954, located in Dundas, Ontario.  It's clear from their social media that they have a passion for the industry.  Joanne's husband and two daughters get in on the action too.

 As well as selling flowers to florists, Joanne is at many farmers markets with her cut bouquets and also designs for weddings and events.  Their flowers are available from May to October, with the selection changing and shifting with the weather and the seasons.

I love this quote from the farm's website:

"If you ask Joanne, the best part of the day is just as the sun rises on a spring day, walking to the barn in the mist. It’s a rare time that things are quiet, and you can stop to smell the flowers, as you load them into the truck for market" 

 As I was wrapping up a bouquet this week that included mostly all Ontario grown blooms, including some of La Primavera's Scabiosa, I mentioned to my customer where everything came from and we were delighted to realize that Joanne had made the customer's wedding flowers, a nice small-flower-world moment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Makers: Chantal Morin of CGMonsters

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things.

In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to Chantal, the creative maker behind "CGMonsters", based here in Toronto.   Chantal makes adorable little baby shoes, as well as the one of a kind monsters that I sell at the shop.  I sent Chantal a few questions about her space and process:

Jess: Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Chantal:I make my Happy Monsters in a little studio in the basement of my apartment building. Its cozy and quiet, and a perfect place to design and sew my creations.

Jess: what are your tools of the trade?

Chantal: I like to reuse any patterned cotton fabric I can find; everything from clothing, tea towels, bed sheets, and little fabric scraps. Anything and Everything!!

Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work

Chantal: Each monster is made out of reclaimed or scrap fabric, fleece and felt.
Then they are stuffed with eco luxury polyester, machine sewn, and finished with hand sewn details.
I find that each monster’s personality comes from the patterned fabric chosen, as well as the eye colours, and hand-sewn smiles or teeth.
All monsters are based on animals: bunnies, cats, badgers, and foxes.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?

Chantal: The inspiration for my stuffed plush Happy Monsters, and fabric Baby Shoes, comes from all the textures, colours and patterns around me.
When I see or find a piece of patterned fabric I love, I instantly want to create a product out of it.

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I love seeing all the stacks of colourful fabric just waiting to be turned into something amazing!

I carry a selection of Chantal's handmade monster toys at the shop, you can buy them individually or send them with flowers as a gift to celebrate a new baby.

You can follow Chantal on instagram to see more of her work and what she is up to.

Thanks so much Chantal for this peek behind the scenes! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In the shop: summer weddings

It's been busy in the shop, with events every weekend since spring. Which is of course how it should be for a flower shop! I thought I'd share a few of my favourite wedding moments with you:

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Are you newly engaged and eager to start thinking about flowers for your wedding, but unsure how to begin? Get my three part email "wedding planner" series right into your inbox.  

3 part wedding planner series

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Secret Garden: Corktown Common

At the very foot of Bayview avenue lies an 18 acre park that not only includes a splash pad and playground that will challenge young children to do more than just sit on a swing, but also has marshland filled with  croaking frogs, ducks with ducklings trailing behind, large open spaces that feel like meadows in the city and hilly trails that feel like alpine hikes through woodland.


There's rapid development all around, with tall cranes and  the ringing sounds of construction, but as I step into the park those become faint and instead I hear a constant rumbling of frogs and am noisily harassed by redwing blackbirds as they zip around my head trying to distract me from their nests.

corktown common

Following the trails takes me up along a twisting path that winds through thick trees with ferns and flowers growing underneath.


Corktown common is a very well planned park, put together with obvious care and thought to the future.  The City worked with  the various parties involved in the making of it to put together a plan for continued maintenance using organic and sustainable practices that is forward thinking and innovative. 

You can find more information on the park as well as a map and directions via the city's website page here.