Monday, 24 October 2016


Fresh spring evenings rolled into summer's hot, sultry days have now fallen into autumn.  I spent time in Toronto this summer and autumn, visiting the Distillery District, a fabulous arts district and the CN Tower. 

It was very hot on the day I went to the CN Tower. I was told there was a 90 minute wait just to get on the elevators to get to the top. Given the heat and number of people in line, I decided I would view this amazing tower from the ground.  

I was not the only one to do this. There was a nice breeze blowing off the lake, so it was cooler on the ground. 

In October I visited Toronto again and this time I went up to the top of the tower.  The elevator trip takes 15 seconds, covering a distance of 114 floors.  I felt my ears popping as we raced upward. 

Looking down through the glass floor was a very interesting sensation.  Definitely not a view for anyone who experiences vertigo.  

Back on the ground, visitors enjoyed the breeze blowing off the lake.  Ripley's Aquarium and the Baseball park are in this area as well.   

This is the sculpture that greets ball players and ball enthusiasts to the park.  It is very large and is projecting out of the side of the building.  When I looked up it brought a smile to my face. 

Leaving the Tower behind I headed to the harbour front - Queen's Quay.  This is one of my favourite places in the city.  There are little art galleries and artist-in-residence studios.  There is a gallery where one can walk and watch the artists at work.   

This tall ship was at the dock.  I asked where they were from and was told they stay in the  area and do short trips for groups.  

I was fascinated by the ropes that tied down the ship.  I wondered how heavy they were and how much strength was required when tying down the ship.  

From here I headed over to the Distillery District.  I got off the bus too soon and wandered around a bit.  The good thing was I found these beautiful, colourful murals on the overpass supports.  They were done for the PanAm games  which took place in Toronto. 

The fine detail in each unique mural was a pleasure to look at.  It certainly brightened up the area.  As I wandered farther along I came across another beautiful piece of art which extended the length of a street.  

This is a metal sculpture.  The bottom half was steel coloured while the top half was rusty.  A very nice blend of textures and colours. 

I found this sculpture fascinating because it depicted a neighbourhood much different from the one I was walking in. 

Finally I arrived at the Distillery District.  This area was once a Distillery which has now been converted into shops, artist's studios and art galleries.  The distillery structures have been preserved and it adds to the experience. 

This is a very interesting sculpture at the heart of the district.  If one is arriving in Toronto from the east, by train, they can see this structure from the train.  

This is one of the art galleries in the district.  It has three levels and the original architecture is still in tact.  Quite a beautiful gallery. 

This is the street that houses the artists' studios and shops.  

Close to the main entrance is this sculpture that consists of very many padlocks. 

Many different sizes and colours, each an expression of someone's love.  I can spend a whole day in this environment looking at the art and speaking with the artists.  

Night was drifting in off the water and I headed back to my sister's place for dinner.  


While in Toronto, I visited a new Italian leather supplier.  Choosing just one or two skins was a task in itself as the patterns and designs in the leathers were so beautiful.  

Here are two new journals I made with the leathers I purchased. 

I also purchased some beautiful cherry wood for covers.  The grain in the wood looks almost like veins of silk.  It was a real pleasure working with the wood and the end result is quite satisfying.  

My friend, Catherine, sent me some fur balls which I used at the end of the ties on the journal.  

I used some of the paper I marbled for fly leaves and embossed some of the pages with a tree image. 

I made another aromatic cedar covered book.  This time it was a cookbook for my nephew who is an avid cook.   The cedar was cracked and my original intention was to drill some holes around the crack and do some fancy stitching.  When I got around to working with the wood I began to wonder what it would be like if I broke the smaller pieces off.  It worked out fine - giving me two small pieces to play with.  

Here is one of the pieces that I sanded down, maintaining the broken edge.  The front cover opens from top to bottom and I embossed some of the pages with hibiscus flowers.  The drawing is done with a back pigment pen. 

I have been experimenting with stained glass this past year.  I like the finished product.  The book is heavy and is one that requires handling with care.  I made a box for the journal which is covered with Loka paper.  I used a fabric for the lid and on top of three triangles I mounted an agate that matches the fabric. 

 The reds and oranges in this glass is very stunning.  I used a stamped leather for the spine. 
The stitched spine.  There are 100 pages of sketch paper in the journal.  


Memory Box 

My friend, Catherine, lost her mother very suddenly this past summer.  Catherine works with people who are grieving from loss.  We had talked a number of times about memory boxes and how they could be used in her work.  When I heard of her mother's passing I made a memory box for Catherine.  

There are two tiers to this box.  I used Loka paper and put some small wooden feet on it.  The centre piece on the lid has a fire agate on it.  When held up to the light it looks like human cells.  

I lined the bottom of the top tier of the box with leather and put a journal on the left side and some cards, drawings on the right hand side. 

I lined the bottom tier with a printed leather.  I put a number of compartments in it for special 
keepsakes from Catherine's mother. 

I then created covers for each section out of parchment paper.  Using templates I did some cut outs and some drawings.  

A Celebration of Lives 

I collaborated with a jewellery store in Ottawa.  They have a fine selection of estate and antique jewellery.  I asked if I could photograph some of the pieces and then write fictional stories about each piece.  The dates of the pieces of jewellery ranged from 1800 to 1920.  One piece was from the 1950's, but was an art deco reproduction.  There are eleven pieces of jewellery, each with an accompanying story.  This is a limited edition of 10 with 8 remaining.  

I found this beautiful paper at a local shop.  The design was very complementary to the jewellery in the book.  I used it for the covers, paste down and fly leaves.  

This is the first piece in the book.  It is a platinum, diamond and pearl brooch.  Such a beautiful piece of jewellery.  Here is the story that I wrote to go with it.  


Black, work wearied hands pulled us raw from the red muck of the South African diamond mine.  We were destined for fame and we found our first home in the halls of an African Berber Sultan.  

We travelled north, moving from hand to hand, protected in leather pouches and sheltered in tents.  We traversed the continent on the backs of men; across the savannah in locked train compartments; and in trade caravans to the jewellers market in Fez. 

We were appreciatively fondled by the skilled hands of Mehmet, the Arab gem carver  He cleaved, cut and polished our exterior until our natural inner beauty shone.  We were many - 60 in all; our sizes from fine chips to bountiful carats.  He put us away, back in the dark, saving us for the right time.  

Sultan Abd al-Rahman had commissioned Mehmet to create a dynamic piece of jewellery for his son Mohammad's coming of age celebration.  Being influenced by the European designs of the time, Mehmet's jewellers created a beautiful brooch.  I am called Izadora and young Mohammed will wear me for special ceremonies and celebrations throughout his reign.  

Upon the death of his father Mohammed became Sultan.  Many years later he gifted me to a visiting dignitary who exhibited me at World Fairs and wore me to official events.  It is said that when a beautiful piece of jewellery is made it becomes the possession of the owner; over time the jewellery becomes the possessor.  I have possessed fine chests and throats of men and women around the world and today I find myself basking in the warm lights and soft interior of a showcase in Alyea's Jewellers, in Ottawa waiting to possess once again.  


It is post-war and the western world is slowly getting back to normal.  There is still fighting in the Far East.  Better times prevail and greater opportunities for a fresh new start in life exist for some, while others move forward with caution  Our story is about opportunity, and passion between Lidia Longing and Lord Harry Hardington. 

I started my journey as one and became a group of seven. I am a large aquamarine gemstone, cut from the walls of the Navigator mine in the mountains of Brazil, near the town of Galiléia.  I was found in the mountains, yet I am named for the sea.  Bundled up, I was sent jostling down the mountainside, on the back of a donkey. 

Lord Harry and Lidia had a tumultuous relationship, you might say, on-again or off-again.  It was at an off-again time that Lord Harry felt a shiny new bauble would put him back in Lidia's good graces.  She had exceptional taste and he loved to see the sparkle in her lovely aqua blue eyes, when he gave her gifts of beauty.  He sometimes wondered if he didn't start arguments just to see them sparkle.  It was most fetching and arousing. 

The gemstone graders received me with great enthusiasm because of my exceptional size, transparency and colour.  I became a traveller: moving from the Jewellers Fair in Rio de Janeiro, then eastward to Bernd Munsteiner's lapidary shop in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.  Once again I found myself in the mountains, the Hunsrück mountains this time.  Master Munsteiner spent many hours looking at me from different angles: in natural and in artificial light.  After a very thorough examination he cut me precisely into seven stones.  It is here that I became we. 

Cut, polished and packaged, we journeyed westward to Amsterdam and found ourselves in the House of Levi, a diamond merchant.  Toni Cavelti, the famous Canadian jeweller discovered us here and purchased us along with nine brilliant cut and twelve baguette cut diamonds.  Wrapped and cushioned we travelled westward again to his workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It was in this shop that Lord Harry Hardington commissioned Toni to make a brooch for his paramour, the beautiful and very talented Lidia Longing. 

Knowing the exact amount of precision and detail Toni put into his designs, Lord Harry requested a brooch replicated from the Art Deco period.  Toni spent a number of hours drawing brooch designs, finally settling on one.  He set us in platinum, like a ray of warm blue sunshine over diamond sparkling waters.  Lord Harry expressed his delight in the exquisite perfection of the brooch and he set off to see Lidia, with brooch in hand.  

She received Lord Harry with calm coolness, wondering why he was calling when they were not really seeing each other.  She offered him tea, but seemed distracted.  "I know I should have called first," said Lord Harry.  "Yes," she replied.  Lord Harry gently placed the velvet jewel box on the table beside Lidia's porcelain teacup.  She left it there for the longest time, looking at him with questioning eyes.  "I'm sorry," said Lord Harry.  She gave him a warm smile, reaching for the box.  Her beautiful blue eyes sparkled when she saw us.  Lord Harry was forgiven once again.  

We have been to many soirees with Lidia and Lord Harry.  They remained a couple, never marrying; she preferring to keep her independence.  We stayed with them until Lidia's passing.  Lord Harry returned the piece to Toni and asked him to find us a new home.  We spent time in the estate showcase of Birks Jewellers in Montreal and after a number of owners, we found our way into the estate showcase at Alyea's Jewellers in Ottawa.  We are still beautiful, yet older, and wiser, and we wait patiently for a new home.  

There are nine more pieces of jewellery and their stories in the book.  I had a great deal of fun writing the stories and creating this book. 

Anatomical Abstraction:  This is the House I Live In

I created this artist book in response to a call from Figureworks in Ottawa.  

Work in progress.  There are four tunnels in this book, each containing medieval anatomical images which I coloured with water-based inks and foil to enhance the images. 

Completed and closed up, I used mylar at the front of each tunnel.  I wrote the following quotes on each panel:  a) "A room without books is like a body without a soul."  b) "Food for the body is not enough  There must be food for the soul."  c) "Go soul, the body's guest, upon a thankless errand.  Fear not but touch the best, the truth Shall be thy warrant."  d) "The body was never a free gift, it gives temporary shelter to our aspirations on a finite lease.  We try to preserve and commemorate its tenure." and f)" The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the spirit heals with joy."   When the lid is removed the mylar falls forward like skin being peeled back. 

One of the tunnels.  There are four layers to each tunnel.  Each tunnel has different images.  

This is the top lid.  I covered it with Loka paper and adhered the images onto it.

This is the inside of the top lid.  

This is the outside of the bottom lid.  

This is the inside of the bottom lid.  Once the lids are removed the tunnels can be extended. 

In the center of the book is a wooden heart on a pedestal.  Quite a while ago I was given this wooden knot from a tree, in the shape of a heart.  I have had it for quite a few years and every so often I would dust it off and wonder what I was going to do with it.  It is perfect for this project.  

That's all for now.  It has been a long time since my last blog.  

If you are interested in any of the books or projects in this post, feel free to contact me at:

My books can be found at the following locations in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 

Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa School of Art and Wallacks Art Supplies.  

If you have a special book that you want created, contact me and we can discuss the fine details.  

If you are in Ottawa and looking for unique hand made gifts, I will be at the Britannia United Church on November 12 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; and at BazArt at the Shenkman Arts Centre on November 26 and 27 from11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  I hope to see you there.  

Wishing you a happy autumn and happy thanksgiving for those south of the border. 


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