Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Makers: Sarah Harris of Just Betty.

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things. 
In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to Sarah Harris, who not only makes the most adorable animal and cacti shaped planters that practically fly off our shelves but is also an all around awesome lady that I am delighted to be friends with ! I sent Sarah a few questions about her creative process:

Jess:Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Sarah: I'm lucky that I live very close to a pottery studio in my neighborhood and I can go there once a week for a few hours in the evening. Pottery is my after work activity that has turned into a fledgling side projectMy pieces are hand built, so I usually set myself up on one of the large table spaces.  It's great to be in a creative space with other potters and see what they are working on week to week. In the summers, the baseball game is on the radio, otherwise it's jazz radio. There's a definite feeling of calm in the studio, I love it.


Jess: What are your tools of the trade?

Sarah: To get the slab of clay nice and even, I use a rolling pin and roll the clay between two wood dowels to keep the thickness consistent. I also use a plastic rib and a sponge for smoothing. You can add texture using anything from lace trim, place mats to textured wallpaper but there are a few wood carved stamps that are my favourite to use. The secret ingredient is magic water, which is a mixture of water, soda ash and sodium silicate - it's clay glue when I need to stick clay together. 

 Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work

Sarah: I start by making the container first so it has time to harden a bit before I add the animal head. I roll out the slab and wrap it around a cylinder tube to form the shape.  The animal heads are build by hand with no tools. I use my fingers to shape the grooves of its features and then join the heads to the container. I've learned that the clay needs to have the right softness before they get attached - too soft and you get droopy necked sad animals.  
It takes two firings in the kiln to finish to piece and in between the firings I give it colour. I hand paint the texture and features and then dip the entire piece in an overall colour.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?

Sarah: I really love seeing other potter's work, in the studio or on social media. There's an infinite number of combinations of glaze colouring, patterns and textures that make up each piece. Often times, just seeing what another potter feels inspired to create gives me a surge of ideas for my own work.
Because pottery is firstly a hobby for me, I always come to the studio with lightheartedness and I think that has been my biggest inspiration. There is nothing that makes me happier in the studio than seeing a funny little giraffe or adorable swan come out of the kiln. I can't help but giggle every time.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 

See what I mean? Totally adorable. You can follow along with Sarah and her sister on their Just Betty instagram feed here, and you can find Sarah's cute as a button pots at the shop.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In the shop: Favourites this month

This romantic boho inspired bridal bouquet was picked up the weekend before Valentines for a sweet city hall wedding.

A new addition to the Periwinkle family, the lovely and talented Kasia made this gorgeous vase arrangement for a Valentines order. It's filled with orchids, spray roses, tulips and garden roses.  Vanessa and I both had to stop what we were doing to take a moment to admire it, such a lovely piece.

This vase was filled with spring, made for a memorial service.

I've been loving all the yellows and pinks we've had in the shop this month. This low and full centerpiece vase was filled with them.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

In the shop: spring favourites

We are so lucky in the florist world to get to live a step ahead of the seasons sometimes.  Our shop cooler is filled with early spring blooms that are bringing us sunshine and happiness in the midst of the gloomy February days.

These are some of my favourites right now, from top left working clockwise:

 rannunculus ( the way they fluff up and get bigger and bigger by the day always amazes me),
 mimosa ( smells so delicious! and looks like sunshine in a vase),
snowball viburnum ( this chartreuse green gives every colour combination a special zing)
and double daffodils ( these remind me of my late grandfather who had the most amazing garden with paths lined by banks of different varieties of daffodils).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Makers: Kelsey Wier of Foxhound Collection

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things. 

In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to  Kelsey Wier, who makes the most delectable soy candles in her company "Foxhound Collection", based in Truro, Nova Scotia. We've been burning the Balsam and the Earl Grey here in the shop and they truly are divine.  I'm always interested to know more about the process and the person behind the pieces we carry here, so  I sent her a short list of questions about her art and her space and she very kindly sent back answers about her process along with some photos of her studio space.

 Jess: Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Kelsey: Just this past year I made the move to a studio space, it’s been nice to build the exact atmosphere I want to work in. A home away from home, a cozy reading nook with a comfy chair and a fragrance bar where those who come visit can shop and explore all the scents available. I have a large harvest table made locally, 10 feet long that is my desk/space for packing orders, labelling candles etc in the middle of the room. There’s a room attached to this where I pour, it’s lined with white tables and there’s a mountain of jars ready to be transformed.

Jess: what are your tools of the trade?

Kelsey:-Soy wax. Pure soy wax smells faintly floral on its own and it’s a dream to work with with this natural base.
-Fine fragrance oils, these are a blend of essential and synthetic oils. All the Foxhound scents are hand-blended in my studio, completely unique to my brand and my experiences in scent.
- My hands, every single candle is made with these two hands, hand-blended, poured, labelled and packed before it leaves the studio

Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work

Kelsey: Over time I’ve been able to simplify and perfect the pouring process. I have a melter that melts 50lbs of wax at a time and it’s all a science from there. Specific ratios of wax to fragrance and at certain temperatures to get that perfect pour and scent throw that is fragrant but not overwhelming. The real process now is scent creation, blending to create something that is true-to-life.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?

Kesley: Everywhere, I definitely find myself taking note of scent more than ever. At every event, place visited, summer adventure. Each scent is created with a love of nostalgia. To me that means a couple things: 1. Specifically matching a scent that exists in life like Teakwood + Moss, representing a dewy woods in Spring. 2. Creating a scent that represents a feeling. Grapefruit + Fig was created for a love of Summer, that energizing care-free way of life.

 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
You can find some of Kelsey's lovely candles here at the shop, and if you'd like to follow along on her maker adventure you can find her on instagram or catch up on her blog here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

creative inspiration: favourite flower books

I've been revisiting some of my favourite sources of flower inspiration the past few weeks and thought I'd share them with you. Here's a short list of titles I keep on hand here at the shop.

flower books

The Flower Workshop by Ariella Chezar
This beautifully shot book is filled with advice and musings from a floral master.  A hefty read, the book is organized by season, by colour and by flower and showcases the authors well known love of rich hues and lush natural feeling designs. A novice flower arranger will enjoy this, but it also gives a look into the author's philosophy of design and and flower work that a more seasoned designer can enjoy too.

The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book, by Althea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo of Studio Choo
I did a little review of the flower recipe book on the blog here, and this is still one of my favourites. A little more instructional than most of the other books in this list, this is a perfect book if you want to see some step by steps on making interesting arrangements. It's still inspiring and creative enough to interest a more veteran flower arranger too. We sell both these fab books at the shop.

Bringing Nature Home, by Ngog Minh Ngo, with arrangements by Nicolette Owen
This wonderful book is not an instruction manual at all, rather it showcases flowers in beautiful home environments, organized by season. A great book to leaf through for inspiration, especially for a florist that tends to see flowers in the retail shop environment rather than in a home setting. I received this book as a much appreciated gift from one of my designers.

Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring
I love how happy and casual this book is. It's filled with colour and quick creative projects to bring flowers into your everyday world. If you love popping flowers into unusual little pots and vases and setting up your table for parties, then this is the book for you! Filled with step by step instructions as well as great advice on choosing and using colour and containers.

Foraged Flora by Louesa Roebuck and Sarah Lonsdale
I purchased this very large book recently as a New Year's gift to myself, after hearing an interview with the florist-author Louesa on the Slow Flowers podcast. The book itself is so beautiful- the cover has a fabulous heavy feel to it, almost like flocked wallpaper, and paper inside has a wonderful weight to it too, which I love. As with the Bringing Nature Home book, this one is not a step by step, but more a journey through the eyes of a creative soul. Beautiful photographs of foraged and found blooms arranged in unusual homes and spaces, and a fascinating read as well.

There are many more amazing flower filled books on my "must have" list that I hope to get my hands on soon, but I also keep returning to these much loved ones. Every time I look through I feel inspired and revitalized and ready to get back to the work of flowers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Growers of beauty: meet local flower farmer Antonio Valente

This series of "growers of beauty" posts takes a look at where the beautiful flowers are coming from, letting us meet the farmers that work so hard to bring these blooms to market for us.

I am delighted to introduce you to Antonio Valente, a farmer florist based in Thornhill, just north of the city.

I found Antonio this past summer by way of instagram, which seems to be how I meet so many of the people who inspire me these days.  After a quick bout of messaging back and forth, Antonio arrived at the shop with his pick up truck filled with pails of the most gorgeous summer blooms. The girls and I promptly fell in love with both Antonio and his beautiful flowers and we would wait in eager anticipation for every week's delivery. With the growing season over here in Ontario until next spring, we are all suffering deep withdrawal symptoms, so I asked Antonio if he'd mind sharing some of his story and images with us here, to help us make it through the long winter months without him.

Jess: Tell us a bit about your farm and business model- how big is the property? What do you grow? What’s a typical day like for you? Where do you sell to? 

Antonio: I’m often asked how many acres I farm, and most people are quite surprised to learn that I have a tiny half acre plot - that’s it! I employ techniques which allow for small-scale/high-output farming. Many of the flowers I grow are heirloom varieties or pollinator friendly. As one of the “little guys” in the field of cut flower growing, I’m competing with large-scale growers who are producing acres of flowers, so I try to grow varieties that a florist wouldn’t typically find from a wholesaler. This allows me to differentiate myself and compete with the “big guys.” My flowers are also raised in a completely sustainable fashion – another facet of my business that allows me to stand out from the crowd. As for a typical day, there really isn’t one! That’s the thing about being a seasonal grower; my duties change over the course of a season.  My most typical day, however, is also the most fun and rewarding – delivery day! These are the days when I get to load up the pickup-truck with the freshest flowers in the field and deliver them to flower shops and appreciative florists such as yourself!Most of my flowers are purchased by various florists in the downtown Toronto area. The whole locally grown flower movement has been really catching on! I’m so proud to be living so close to a city whose florists have come to truly embrace local flowers.  

Jess:  how did you get involved in this flower world? Did you always know you wanted to, or did it take you by surprise? 

Antonio: I’ve been gardening all my life, but I actually come from a long line of avid vegetable growers. I’m currently growing flowers where my father and grand-father once grew their veggies. While I never quite took to vegetable growing as they did, it certainly left a niche for me to fully explore flower growing. I remember my dad setting aside a small plot just for me amongst his vegetables. It was here that I was able to grow whatever I chose. Like many of us, I grew up, got a typical office job, and had forgotten about gardening for a while. As an antidote to the hum-drum of office life, I decide to once again start gardening and planted a very small cut flower garden. I literally started with 4 dahlia tubers (bulbs) in my first year. That was about 7 years ago, and each year since that cut flower garden expanded. I soon had neighbours requesting bouquets, and a Saturday morning road side stand. It wasn’t long before I was taking my flowers to farmers’ markets. This is where I was discovered by a florist who asked if I would start selling wholesale to her on a regular basis. Word quickly spread among florists and today I sell exclusively to florists with a penchant for locally and organically grown flowers and foliage. 

Jess:  How would you like to see your business grow or change over the next five years? Where  do you see flowers taking you?

Antonio: Oh boy, this is a great question! I tend to really focus on the flower-growing part of my job, which has everyone around me pushing for a long-range plan, and I’m not very administrative. I have so many ideas for this flower-growing gig, but as a one-man-show, time isn’t always on my side. I’d love to expand my growing area, as I simply could not meet the demand from florists this past season. A website is definitely also on the list. I’d also love to combine my love of teaching with gardening and share the joy of flower gardening with others; I’m just not exactly sure what form this might take. But then of course, as with farming, even the best laid of plans sometimes go askew. Had you asked me 7 years ago if I knew I’d be taking my tiny cut flower garden to a level where I’d actually be selling blooms, I probably would’ve just laughed it off.  

Antonio's instagram feed is out of this world, you can feast your eyes on it here.

My thanks to Antonio for so graciously taking the time to answer my questions and share a little of his world with us. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

In the shop: our winter window and a request for your VOTE!

Last week I spent a wonderful day with my talented staff, the lovely Vanessa and Angele, putting together our winter window.  A real meeting of minds and team effort, I am so happy with how it looks. The gorgeous paper flowers on the wreaths were painstakingly handmade from crepe paper by the girls, and I just love how we expanded on Angele's idea of having some sort of snow effect on the edges by using paper doilies. The display behind has all the shiny happy things we are loving this winter, including our succulent plants in mercury vases with colourful pom poms and cheerful little sleepy faced pots by local potter Janet Hinkle of Hinkleville Handmade.

I don't usually do "themed" displays, but this one has a special reason behind it- we are entered in our local BIA's Window Wanderland competition and we need your vote!


If you are reading this between 

December 1st and December 18th 2016 please visit

and vote for Periwinkle Flowers! 

The prize for the winning business is a transit shelter ad, which is something that would be so amazing for us, and there is also a draw for a winner among voters (for MPV Dollars, which you can spend anywhere in the neighborhood) but even if you aren't directly in our area, your vote still counts!

Thank you so much for your support!