Last year, we started from one end of the hall and wove our way to to the other, so we ended up rushing through the last third, which was tragically the food section! This year I vowed to get to the food a little earlier on. We didn't get to the show until about 7PM, so we only had 3 hours, which sounds like a lot, but isn't really when there is so much to see.
As soon as we got in the door, we saw the candi factory booth. Last year, I bought one pair of funky underwear from here and they are the most comfortable underwear in the world! I don't know how she (Candice) does it but the cut is perfect and the material is impossibly soft. When I only had the one pair, I would save them for a day when I knew I could wear them all day (i.e. wasn't going to the gym, which would have necessitated changing). Whenever I had to take a long flight, I made sure I had them on. Last summer I visited Candice at her studio and bought a slew of underwear for my friends and family. I can't recommend them enough. This year, she made the most adorable baby dresses. I don't even have a shower to shop for and I'm considering buying one anyways.
I took a very papparazzi-style photo of the candi factory booth. I hope Candice doesn't mind. As I went through the show tonight, I took several pictures of various booths and merchandise. For the most part, I asked permission beforehand and I found that I got very mixed reactions. Some people were very pleased, such as sweet Natalie Cannistraro (see picture at left) who makes jewelry under the label T'LOAA (which stands for 'the life of architectural aftermath' -- Natalie was an architect and graphic designer in a previous life). The food people were pretty agreeable too with one very notable exception of the cranky woman at the Bruce County Nut & Fudge Co. booth who demanded to know why I wanted the picture, who it was for, and what my Web site was. I really don't see what the problem is. Like Natalie said, it's free advertising. But, to respect their privacy, I'm only publishing pictures from the artisans who were agreeable to having their goods photographed.
Natalie's jewelry at T'LOAA looked so familiar and after going to her Web site, I know why. I've been to Corktown Designs in the Distillery many times and on a recent trip, I took my sister there. My sister makes jewelry as a hobby and she loves looking at it and buying it. I'm pretty sure that she bought some T'LOAA pieces on her last trip to Toronto. She is coming to visit this weekend with the sole purpose of going to the One of a Kind Show (I got her hooked on candi factory), so I'm sure she will spend ample time at this booth. For me, when I look at jewelry, I either love it or hate it. My mind will say either 'Yes' or 'No' as soon as I see it. I really love the T'LOAA pieces. They hit just the right note with me -- bold, original, well-balanced, and delicate. I don't know if I will be able to resist when I go back on the weekend.
This year, there are booths put on by Canadian art colleges, such as NSCAD where my mom teaches. I saw booths for OCAD, NBCCD, and some CEGEPs, but I didn't see the NSCAD exhibit. I'll have to look harder when I go back with my sister.
Another cool thing we saw was pepper mills made out of natural, barely varnished tree branches. The artisan said that he got the idea when he had to go clear a dead tree while he was in the middle of making his other pepper mills. He made some and they went over really well with his friends, so he kept making them. They are quite regal. They could work in both a country setting or a very modern, minimalist one.
One company was selling notebooks made from old storybooks and textbooks. Basically, they remove the binding, perforate the pages, add some blank sheets of paper, and coil bind the entire thing. I have very mixed feelings about this. I feel like the book is defaced. But, I applaud the effort to recycle unwanted books.
Diane and I were both seduced into buying spices from a Quebec company called Crousset. The lady at the booth had spice mixtures, flavoured salts, and herbal teas. I bought a spice mixture called Thai, which has sesame seeds, coriander seeds, lemongrass, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and red pepper. Diane bought something called Eithopian Berbere and a whole peppercorn mixture. All of the spices smelled delicious and I couldn't resist.
Other foods we sampled were chocolate and brittle from Comfort Food Productions (very yummy), wine vinegar from Mr. Vinegar, and roasted flavoured soybeans from The Bean Ladies (salty and addictive). I bought a 50g bag of dried morel mushrooms for $25 from Forbes Wild Foods. I've never eaten a morel before, and I hear that dried is the only way to go because when they are fresh they're impossible to clean (all those tiny nooks and crannies). I can't wait to try them.
One of the last things we saw were bags by Simon Trudeau. I bought one of his bags at the gift shop at Harbourfront Centre when my mom was there for a conference this past fall. I think he really didn't want me to take the picture, but he agreed and it came out so well that I'm going to show it to you anyways. Photos of his bags are all over the Internet, so I don't see what harm one more can do. These bags are very original and funky, but before buying one, make sure it can hold your stuff. The one I bought it a bit too small and there is no give at all in the material.
At 9:30PM, we still had half the show left to see. We grabbed a quick and delicious lemonade at the Lemon Heaven kiosk and tore through the rest of the exhibits at breakneck speed. This happens to us every year. Great show.