Conko is back - the unscary clown!

Our Conko the clown tote is back.   An exclusive production for the Conko Foundation.  The Conklin family gave Canadians the wonderful Canadian National Exhibition.  Third generation Trish and Melissa Conklin although no longer involved with the CNE maintain the rights to the wonderful Conko logo designed by Chris Yaneff in the 60's.  It does indeed look very mid century...... and Trish and Melissa are also fans of our BBB.
I just don't understand this scary clown stuff that is in the local news these days... teenagers dressing up in scary clown costumes and doing the bogeyman bordering on bullying act jumping out of the bushes and frightening the hay out of young and old I suspect.   Some people do have clown phobias.  Trish has always had us place the image on both sides of the bag peaking above or around the edge as if to lessen any
direct in your face frightfulness.  
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Then and now, now and then....

The  ole chestnut as I like to call it on the left was the first ever bbb made; the one on the right our 20th anniversary version.  I would always bring the first as a mascot to shows etc and the same chat would occur:  I would like that one. It's not for sale just show..... So finally I woke up. The technique has changed but the overall affect of weathered paper is hopefully the same.  At a recent art fair I sold all 4 that I had !

The logo which grew out of my family crest - reminds one of the boars head on a Gordon gin label?   morphed into the  black lab with wings and the latin moniker remained.  Fortune favours the brave brown bag of course.

 Pop goes the BBB!




so po goes the bag 

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Hello/goodbye Rio!  Now that the Olympics are over, I am recalling that seeing the waterfront/ coastline of this city was as much a highlight as the event itself.  So unusual: both steeped in its European ancestry and yet very modern.  However, the backdrop of the natural beauty of Brazil, the amazing rainforests and the immensity of the Amazon river and the jungle adds mystery to its exotic beauty.  Well, for us North Americans exotic, for Brazilians it's their backyard natural.

Many years ago through my designer friend Trish Ewanika of the Toronto fashion boutique Ewanika I was introduced to NAWA:  a natural rubber textile made by an indigenous tribe of indians by the same name who still call the amazonian jungle their home.  I am still researching how it came to be but briefly the process is cotton sugar sacs are coated with the milk like sap of the rubber tree; then smoked over an open fire and the end result are these 'hides' of gorgeous brown material.  It is finicky to work with and reacts over time as any natural material does. 

Hermes made a bag of this material, I have made several attempts using it as trim and I am now working on entire bag ........  hopefully completed before the next Olympics!!!


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'Missoni' birdnest

Missoni mangia your heart out!  I love your knitwear and sense of colour but this is what happens when one leaves wool out in the garden for the Baltimore Orioles.

The weaving technique is remarkable.  Found hanging precariously high up in a maple limb that was quite exposed to the wind off the lake.  A Missoni throw are so luxurious and may cost thousands.  Maybe if we left more wool out and some instructions ..... In any event, if I were a Baltimore Oriole chick this would be a pretty nice place to call home. 




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Mid Century Bathing Beauties


I have always wondered who took the photo?  Circa 1942, the men were overseas and the ladies on the shores of Lake Erie at Erie Beach behaving themselves!   Erie Beach incidentally will host a 100th anniversary reunion this August with fireworks and festivities. Think this photo would cause some fireworks.   Here's my mother and her friends.  I grew up referring to them as aunts even though they weren't actually relatives:  Aunt June , sometimes 'typhoon June', Aunt Barb, Aunt Phyliss  and Rosie who always , no matter what the occasion looked perfectly posed!

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Catherine Berka and NILI Slow Thread

Colour, sunlight, texture, the stunningly beautiful shawls of textile designer Catherine Berka, seated on the left amidst her wool felted 'family' describing the artistic process to my family friend, artist/sculptor Pixie Shaw. I,m taking the photo)  I met Catherine for the first time last year at the Upper Canada College holiday market in Toronto, an annual fundraiser for the school where she and I were both vendors.   Catherine's exhibit was across from mine.   Our first point of conversation was admiring each others work and then there was a discussion on wooden toggle buttons.  Call it show small talk.  She uses wooden buttons on her textile pieces and I as a casual fob closure on the BBB.  We both agreed sourcing them from China was absurd even embarassing!  Oh if we only knew someone who was an avid stick/button collector and we could make our own with a bit of ingenuity.  With that Catherine said y'know I should ask my neighbour, we often meet, I walking our dog in the ravine and she, an artist collecting interesting shaped branches wood. I did not miss a beat and promptly chirped with a rhetorical raised eyebrow: Pixie???? I had no idea she was Catherine's neighbour.  Talk about it's a small world story .....  Catherine said why yes!  So thanks to Pixie and the search for buttons we have all met.  And Pixie like myself, has had the wonderful experience of seeing Catherine's beautiful work.


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Libeco linen and that lucky old sun

 'That lucky old sun, got nothin' to do, but roll around heaven all day....' , a song I first heard covered by a very young Frank Sinatra.  Why this comes to mind when I think of linen?  Hmm....  The sun's seeming leisurely roll across our daily sky masks a huge world of complexity  - our solar system.  We mostly don't bother about the why and wherefore but happily accept its gratuitous warmth and elegance of function. Linen is like this too . While obviously not as old as the sun, it is one of the oldest textiles woven from the fibers of the flax plant.  The Egyptians wore it in life and afterlife.  Archaeological digs have unearthed remnants dating back to 8000 BC. So indeed a whole lotta sun in linen - the flax plant garnering its strength and exceptional textile qualities of absorption, coolness and freshness in hot weather.  Linen may have a relaxed look but is truly an elegant work horse right up there with that old sun.  And then there is Libeco linen.


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This could be looking out to sea off the coast of Bermuda.... but no, it's the view from my home on the north shore of Great Lake Erie on a sunny day in January this year.  Beautiful shades of blue but a deceiving indicator of water temperature.

Charlotte and Castel Sea Salt Soap is also inspired by the beauty of the blue ocean.


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Why the Paint Bag?

I recently spoke to a fashion boutique owner about our new Paint Bag; she said she had 3 'splatter ' collections  in her shop -  they are so IN right now! I thought to myself that sounds awful, I mean the word 'splatter'.  We don't splatter, we paint.  Well,  at least the technique is to render a painterly affect.  Blocks of beeswax crayon, traditionally used for encaustic painting are grated and sprinkled onto each bag canvas, followed by the overall wax treatment and heat press.  Volia, the Paint Bag.  But it's not about being in or out of fashion, the reason is partly a tribute to my Mother.

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NEW YEAR BLIND HOPE aka resolution

Okay I am a little late out of the starting gate for the New Year resolution stuff, but so be it.  Out with Downton Abbey and in with stardust!  That's my new year's resolution.( I was a fan of the former, got hooked, then joined DAA if you will, but am always in awe of stardust). Nonetheless, Sir Julian Fellows, Downton Abbey creator, during his parting interview  (this is the last season of DA ) on the NY eve PBS programme reminded us:  "One of the important things about drama is to remind the viewer that everyone is 100 percent at the center of their own life. That there is no life being lived under that roof that is more or less important; that Mary or Daisy, what happens to them is just as important. And that’s why we have equal dramatic weight for all the stories....."

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