Published in Plaid Magazine Online, November 2011
Photos provided by Bluebird Handmade
The bluebird is a charismatic creature known for its decorative bright hue and graceful melodies. Its ethereal beauty reflects that of a handmade piece of art, one that is made with quality craftsmanship, and one that tells a story, like the never-ending songs of a bluebird. Bluebird Handmade is a shop that offers the allure of a handmade piece, and the inherent qualities of love and hard-work that is put into its design.
Opened in 2009, Crystal Silden wanted to offer workshops on fiber art, one of her longtime passions. Now her space has developed into a shop, studio, and gallery for handmade pieces. She continues to sell her own work, but also sources from Portland, New York, and Toronto and is continually on the look-out for skillful artisans around the world.
Currently the shop houses a lot of ceramics, soft sculpture, jewellery, and bags, not to mention the other creations that can be found here, including dolls, felt creatures, pillows, toys, artwork, and household knick-knacks. Some neat finds in the store right now are accessories by Toronto-based designer Eliza Kozurno, bags by Vancouver-based designer Erin Templeton, and Portland-based Pigeon Toe Ceramics.
Always a shop favourite are the intricate window installations that attract the attention of passers-by. At the time of our interview, Toronto artist Lynn Jackson had her award-winning wire sculptures on display, drawing influence from old photographs and memories to create childhood friends like Peter Rabbit and Raggedy Anne. “[I] use the windows as a gallery for artists to showcase and sell their work. My intention is to bring something beautiful and unique to the neighbourhood, to intrigue and to maybe put a smile on your face” says Silden.
Bluebird Handmade is also a perfect go-to for custom-made items for special occasions. Marjorie Campbell (a.k.a Little ‘m’ Inventions) creates felted creatures and paper sculptures.
She has created a paper forest that was made into an arbour for a wedding. A customer wanted gifts to bring home to Ireland that represented Canada; these were a needle felted Canada goose, black squirrel, beaver, and polar bear. Handmade cake toppers and small gifts that are of meaning to the receiver can also be made. “If someone has an idea of something they want, or an installation for an occasion, we entertain all ideas. Currently we are working with a customer on an installation for a condo entry hall,” says Silden.
Silden’s favourite aspect of the store is interacting with customers and sharing the story of her products. “The atmosphere at the shop is always welcoming and calming. I want my customers to walk into a place to behold and to dream…We are a friendly staff that likes to share how our products are made and by whom. I want my customers to discover a treasure that is loved. Sometimes you may find one of us working on our own art.”
If you’re ever searching for that one-of-a-kind piece to add to your home or give as a special gift, Bluebird Handmade has got you covered. Fly on over and take a peek at these treasures with a story.
Bluebird Handemade, 986 Bathurst St.