World of Workshops

[Terrarium from Crown Flora Studio via their Instagram]

Big news! We’re teaming up with our friends at Brika to host our first Covet Garden workshop on November 4th. Sign up details will follow soon (watch this space to sign up), but here’s what we can tell you: the event will be held at Brika’s Holiday Pop Up shop at Yorkdale; there will be refreshments, attendees will get a copy of Covet Garden Home and a Covet Garden tote bag as well as a finished project to take home with you at the end of the evening.

[Articulations photo by Jessica Reid]

We’re all about exploring your creativity in as many ways as you possibly can. Which is why we love workshops! You can test drive a new interest and meet people and bounce ideas off them. And studios are usually set up so if you make a bit of a mess, it’s no big deal.

So we’ve compiled the following list of four favourite workrooms, studios and shops that offer adult classes for the masses.

[Wonder Pens photo via the Wonderpens website]

The Art Room

This High Park gallery (the Art Room represents some of our favourite people, including Holly Wheatcroft — who was featured in Covet Garden 22 — and photographer Valerie Wilcox) offers workshops in all kinds of artistic endeavors — from photography to making your own gift wrap for the upcoming holidays.  And all classes are available en françcais! The next round of workshops begins on October 7th.


One of the shops fuelling the cool quotient in the Junction, this art supply store/gallery and studio offers an eclectic mix of courses. There are multiweek courses in printmaking to intensive craft making sessions but the quirkiest class has to be Wes Fest, in which one watches a Wes Anderson film while they paint.

Crown Flora

Waiting lists are long for his Parkdale boutique’s Terrarium workshops. Why? Because each 2 hour session teaches you the basics of building a plantscape. And the price includes all plants, materials, tools and deco you’ll need to take home your own terrarium.

Wonder Pens

A pretty pen and stationery store in Leslieville, Wonder Pens is also bringing back the lost art of writing. You can take calligraphy classes plus there’s a fun, drop in letter writing club every second Sunday of the month.


Best of Etsy: Made in Canada

1. Modern Squirrel Vintage Brown Lotte Lamp; 2. Bookhou Triangle Tote; 3. Lee Meszaros Merit Badge for Having a Bun in the Oven; 4. I Heart Posh Tiny Wishbone Necklace; 5. Avril Loretti Prisms and Gems Pillow, 6. Story of a Seed Handbuilt Ceramic Bowl; 7. Hinkleville Ceramic Planter.

Here at Covet Garden, we love to support homegrown creativity. On our Etsy curator page, we've had a board called Team Canada which features our favourite local vendors. And if you've always wanted to meet the faces behind these online shops, now is your chance! This Saturday, September 26, Etsy is celebrating Canadian talent with a day of pop-up markets across the country.

Etsy: Made in Canada is a national initiative organized by local street teams to showcase local crafters, collectors and artisans from communities across Canada


Now in its second year, makers from 34 cities will share their wares and vintage goods up close and in person. Best of all, the event is is free and you don;t need a ticket! Find the Etsy: Made in Canada that's closest to you today!

And for more of our best Esty finds, check out Covet Garden's Etsy page!



London Part Two: Harry Potter Studio Tour

[graphics designed for the films]

The next stop on our London trip was not a place I would have thought of going to if my seven year old daughter not obsessed with all things Harry Potter. I did go to school for film production though, and focused on production design. Which is why I was excited to see the work of the Harry Potter series production designer Stuart Craig and his team up close. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the level of imagination and detail that was put into every aspect of designing the world of Harry Potter for the screen.

At Covet Garden, we are a little obsessed with taking a peek into the homes of creative people. And we were just as inpired by the imagination needed to recreate a whole world! Above is the Gryffindor Boys' Dorm. Even up close, it looks like the young wizards and witches just stepped out of the room for a moment.

In the Potions classroom (above), every little bottle is labelled. Below is an image of Hermione in the classroom on film.

And here's the exterior of Ollivander's Wand Shop on Diagon Alley (above) and in the movie (below).

The most magical thing about Craig's design is that he makes every space feel real and lived in — even in such a make-believe place like Hogwarts. It was also a treat to see the steps that the production team took to create this movie world. For example, it took 86 artists to build this tiny scale model of the school. Look close and you'll notice that even the Owlery has teeny raptors and even tinier hinged doors.

[Scale model of Hogwarts used for all exterior shots (above). The model in the film (below).]


London Part One: The Victoria and Albert Museum

We had the opportunity to visit London last week and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to soak up some inspiration from one of my favourite cities. I happened to be visiting in between exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, so missed the Alexander McQueen show, but that gave me more time to explore the amazing permanent collections!

The V&A houses the world's largest collection of decorative art and design with over 4.5 million objects in its permanent collection. It was founded in 1852 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the museum has offered free admission since 2001. I highly recommend visiting if you have the chance! The building alone is gorgeous with all kinds of amazing architectural details. 

The english know how to do tea in style. We enjoyed a nice cuppa in the stunning cafeteria (in the main hall, pictured above). Then we checked out the adjoining William Morris room (below).

It was so inspiring to see the original drawings Morris had made for his wallpaper designs, including this sample of his iconic "Strawberry Thief" pattern.

I am also a big fan of C.F.A. Voysey's beautiful "Owl" pattern and loved seeing it up close. Another highlight was the gem and jewelery collection which is beautifully displayed, but unfortunately I was not allowed to photograph it. There are so many amazing things to see here, so leave some time!

[all photos by Jessica Reid except "Strawberry Thief" and "Owls"  from the V&A website]


We Covet: Ardmore Ceramics

[image: Rhonda Riche]

Here we are at the end of August and we here at Covet Garden are taking a moment to reflect back on the summer of 2015. And I wanted to share my favorite discovery of the season: This terrific tureen from Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio.

I spent the season preparing for a big move, so rehoming my stuff was my big goal. At the same time, hunting craft shows, antique markets, yard sales and thrift shops was my favorite way to release stress. I had given myself a strict “one in, two out” policy when it came to these excursions, meaning that for everything that I bought; I had to get rid of two others.

But when I saw the colorful, covered bowl pictured above, I couldn’t resist. With it’s lush foliage and wonderfully realized animals, it just felt so alive! I also couldn’t wait to get home and research its origins. 

Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio began in South Africa when a young fine arts grad and ceramicist named Fee Halstead started her first studio on her husband’s farm, Ardmore. There, she also taught pottery making. One of her students was a housekeeper’s daughter named Bonnie Ntshalintshali.

As they worked together, Halstead explored the limits of shaping and working with clay, while Ntshalintshali experimented with traditional Zulu themes. Soon it became obvious that by working together, the pieces that they created transcended the world of craft and folk art. And in 1990, they won the Standard Bank Yong Artist Award.

Halstead and Ntshalintshali also wanted to share their good fortune with others in the community, and began mentoring other artists in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, many of whom were affected by the AIDS epidemic (Ntshalintshali died of the disease in 1999). Paulina Ntshalintshali Hadebe, Bonnie’s stepsister, sculpted my find.

The Ardmore artists all work independently — The studio provides training, mentorship, materials, tools and a market for the pieces they produce. The artists also work collaboratively, with ceramicists sculpting the clay and painters lavishly decorating the designs with bright, bold colours. Collectively, the artists tend to depict the local flora and fauna, but thematically the pieces reflect their own experiences rather than the traditional Zulu vernacular.

As a result, these unique pieces have become highly desired and collected by museums. Helen Mirren and the signer Sarah Brightman are also said to be fans. And in 2008, a vase by Ardmore artist, the late Wonderboy Nxumalo, brought in R200, 000 at auction in Johannesburg.

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to find an Ardmore at a thrift shop, you can order pieces through Ardmore’s online shop. The Studio also ceelbrated their 25th anniversary in 2010 by launching the Ardmore Collection, a line of fabrics and furnishings based on their distinctive and exuberant designs.