Category Archives: the good people – artists spotlight

the good people – Guylaine & Isabelle Martineau

Long overdue but well worth the wait in my opinion, the next artists’ in this feature include the fab sister duo working together as .tomate d’epingles.

Please read on to learn more about these amazing ladies.  

  tomate header 1

Tell me what you do, who you are, and the area you are located
.tomate d’épingles. is a sister act, featuring Guylaine and Isabelle. We live in Québec city, Canada. We are self-taught jewelers, who share a love for all things shiny, and fashion!  Combining recycled, vintage, retro and natural materials into unique creations, our quirky handmade jewellery and accessories will surprise you!

  watch parts 2

-What lights your creative fire?
Guylaine loves to scavenges all sorts of bits and baubles, in thrift stores, dumpsters, garage sales… that’s what inspires her : the random shiny object she found, doesn’t know what she should do with but that she just CANT leave there and has to bring it back home with her.

For Isabelle, it’s mostly textures who talk to her. She often gets ideas just before falling asleep and sometimes when creating a model, she gets new ideas. She loves to jot them down in a pad, draw them, exaggerate them and then try to see if it can actually become something.

When we both use the same materials, the final result is never the same. We inspire each other that way.
fashion show eco-friendly 3 

-Do you collect/hoard anything?
Oh yes! we collect tons of stuff, from vintage buttons to beads, sewing notions, vintage patterns… Our appartment is chock-full of goodies! Guylaine sorts all our treasures by shape, color, size – she’s an organized pack rat!

recycled pearls and feathers 4

-List some of the things that make you happy:
music, birds, family, kisses, dancing, sunlight, shinny objects, friends, cats that purr, green…

the workroom 5

-What is one of your pet peeves?
Disorganized stuff! :o) Angry people. Cars that honk for no good reason.

recycled pencil earrings 6
-Describe your (almost) perfect day.
imagine there are no guns, no bombs and no disease, no hungry mouths to feed
that would be the perfect day
an almost perfect day is sunny, on vacation, drinking a very strong coffee or a glass of red wine somewhere in Italy
or a sunny day, with friends, chilling out to good music and reinventing the world on our huge patio
you know, we just try to have fun every day! its not easy.

PHOTO - Québec Scope 8

Do you have a current project that is exciting you? Would you like to share a little bit of it?
our jewelry was featured in an eco-oriented fashion show at the Capitole de Québec, in Québec City, on April 19th. We had 50 models to adorn with our jewelry! Its a huge task, but we had SO much fun! Pictures are posted on our blog


Thank you so much ladies! Keep up the amazing work! 


You can see more of Guylaine and Isabelle’s photos and work here:

We’ll also be holding a wee giveaway of a poetry pendant I mentioned awhile back next week. These ladies have even gone to the lengths of wrapping it all up in awesome eco-friendly tomate signature wrapping paper just for you…plus, just for kicks, I’ve thrown in some extra fun little things for you too!

so stay tuned!




Filed under inspirations, the good people - artists spotlight

Koko Taylor – The Queen of the Blues.

Koko Taylor – The Queen of the Blues., originally uploaded by tanisalexis.

I just heard that Koko Taylor passed away yesterday at the age of 80.

This woman has been a HUGE musical influence on me since I was very young. She was one my fathers favourite blues artists and one of mine.
This woman is the ultimate powerhouse to me -her lyrics, her stories, her history, her almighty voice and truly kickass history as one of the BEST Blues artists in this world.

Thank you Koko for influencing this little Canadian kid and many many many others.

See more about Koko here : on wiki:
on her own site:

and her Unbelieveable voice. bring some Koko into your life:

Peace be with you Koko, LOVE YOU!!!XO

I’m off to go listen to my albums now…sniffle…

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the good people – nesting emily

I’ve been honoured to have shared and traded with Emily in the past couple years. I hope you find some awesome inspiration in what Emily shares with you today.

Thanks everyone for reading. xo!


-Tell me what you do, who you are, and the area you are located:

My name is Emily Jull, aka nesting.emily. I am a potter and fibre fan.  I am located an hour outside Toronto, Ontario,  in a city called Waterloo.


-What lights your creative fire?

Really random things. Nature and other creative folks top the list. A trip to the thrift store or library leaves me with endless inspirations. Right now I am very inspired by vintage lace, raw surfaces, animal totems, bee’s wax and the magical bees who create it. I am also excited by how line and light in nature are always loose but perfect.


-Do you collect/hoard anything?

I am more of a minimalist. I love a few great pieces rather then a lot. However I do collect white pottery, teabowls and I love to buy/trade for original art. I tend to hoard things I will use in my pots- coloured glass, keys, doilies, wool roving. I am picky about these though.


-List some of the things that make you happy:

objects? Pods, nests, great pottery, beautiful old wood, items made by those I love, simple organic art (especially fibre or hand printed). Oh and good coffee chocolate anything!

 sounds? Music is very important to me. I listed to it when I pot and it really helps dictate the pots I’ll be making. Right now I am loving Sea Wolf, Laura Marling and New Buffalo. My daughter is constantly finding new music for me. The music I listened to as a teen is still a must: The English Beat, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Clash. I also love the stuff I grew up on Allman Bothers, JJ Cale and above all Stevie Wonder. Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder is the most joyful important album of all time to me- it has been my fav since I was 4.

The other sounds I love are babies cooing, sandy voices on women, my daughter sleeping, a satisfied sigh and the soft roar of a happy wood kiln.


colours? I love certain shades of all colours. I love it better when they have organic variances, like you see if fibre work or a great glaze. Among my favs are varying shades of warm white, where raspberry and eggplant mix, mossy green, amber, that grey blue just before the sky gets really dark at night.

smells? Fresh brewed coffee, citrus, cedar, breast feed babies heads, Nag Champa (in small doses), wood smoke, chocolate, rain forest and my husband. 

words? Luscious, organic, simple, worn, shamanistic, natural, sensual, raw….I like what these words bring to mind. 


images?? My Flickr favourites: 

-There is an unbelievable amount of talent and inspiration on that site. 

-What is one (or more) of your pet peeves? or do you have

Unfortunately I have many, most of which can be summed up by the phrase “mean people suck”.


-Describe your (almost) perfect day.

It would either start with sleeping in at home with my hubby or waking up early in a cottage somewhere really beautiful (west coast, east coast or Manitoulin Island). It would include potting (either firing with friends or throwing solo), yoga with my daughter, talks and trades with inspiring creative folks and a great dinner with my favourite people.


-Do you have a current project that is exciting you? Would you like to share a little bit of it?

I am working on a couple new things that I am excited about, a world in a jar pots and a sort of mobile-sun catcher combo. I will also be expanding my secret desires of animals collection.


Thank you so much for sharing with all of us Emily. It is a real treat to see the world you live in and the beautiful things you create!

Check out Emily’s flickr photostream by clicking on any of the photos above – or see what Emily has in her shop at! 


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‘the good people’ – Lori Sandstedt

Greetings friends. Here is another installment to our ‘Good People’ series. Happy reading and happy easter!

 lori marsha

Tell me what you do, who you are, and the area you are located:

Hi- I’m Lori Sandstedt and I live in a 100 year old house in a small town
in southern California. The name of my business is Lorimarsha and I make
new things from old things. Yeah, I find perfectly good stuff that other
people have discarded and attempt to give it a fresh spin.


What lights your creative fire?

I’m inspired by color, pattern, texture, unexpected combinations, street
art, vintage clothing…well the list goes on and on.


Do you collect/hoard anything?

I collect Bakelite buttons, vintage souvenir scarves, and handmade art and

List some of the things that make you happy:

Vintage Mexicana, music, good food, traveling with my husband, spending
time with my family, making new friends, taking photographs, supporting
other artists.

laughter, the hum of my Bernina, chirps from my backyard squirrel,
tradewinds, Ethan’s lisp created by two missing top teeth, the nearby
train during the night.

I enjoy combinations like chartreuse and maroon, tangerine and turquoise,
navy blue and mustard yellow, cream and ivory.

Swedish rye bread fresh from the oven, brewing coffee, lavender linen
spray, orange blossoms,

bravo, juxtaposition, sat nam, quixotic, rotunda, verbose, magnanimous,

things behind windows, street art, rusty metal, signs, red poppies


Describe your (almost) perfect day:

Because I have never traveled alone, I have this fantasy where I awake in
a place I’ve never been before. I find a little cafe and have a cup of
coffee. Then I walk the streets looking into shop windows, watching people
while taking surreptitious photos of how they’re dressed. I jump on a bus
and listen in on conversations, writing down little snippets that I find
interesting. I hop off somewhere- anywhere- and look for a little market
where I buy something for lunch. I find a park bench, eat my lunch while
watching children running and playing. The sun is shining and feels warm
on my face and makes me a little sleepy. I find my way back to my room for
a nap. I awake in time to find a place for dinner and enjoy a glass of
wine with a light meal. I buy a ticket to a concert or film and after it’s
over, I head back to my room. I read a book until I fall asleep.


Do you have a current project that is exciting you?  Would you like to share a little bit of it?

I’m involved in a couple of book projects that will be out in the Fall of
2009.  One is titled “Creative Time and Space- Making Room for Art”
written by Rice Freeman-Zachary and published by North Light Books. The
other is “Alchemy Arts- Recycling is Chic” published by Marion Boyars
Both books will include images of my work and insight into the process of


Thank you so much Lori! It’s was real fun to pick out the photos for this piece, you have so many great photos to see.

See more of Lori & her work on flickr (click on the photos)

her blog can be seen here: or on etsy

Stay tuned for more artist spotlights in the good people series in the coming few weeks. Cheers!


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‘the good people’ – Ele Willoughby

Happy April everyone! Here’s our first artist up in our new series. Happy viewing!


 Tell me what you do, who you are, and the area you are located:

My name is Ele Willoughby. I am a Renaissance woman, I hope. That’s
the goal. By day, I work as a scientist, a marine geophysicist; I build things to image what is below the seafloor, go to sea, gather data and come home to analyze it. By night, I’m an artist – particularly a printmaker. Primarily, I make lino block relief prints on paper and on textiles.

I live in Toronto, Ontario. Though this is the biggest city in Canada,
I live in High Park, so I have the pleasure of getting up in the
morning and seeing a forest – part of a huge park which includes some
old growth trees and is home to a lot of wildlife. We have hawks,
falcons, raccoons, squirrels, possums, foxes, the odd coyote, finches,
woodpeckers, jays, frogs, turtles, ducks, herons, geese, swans, snakes
and more, all of which I’ve seen a short walk from my home.
The neighbourhood is very vibrant. It has traditionally been Polish,
but more recently there has been a lot of immigration from Somalia
just to the North (new Canadians who appreciated living in the dry
neighbourhood of Chelsea), Korea and all over the world. Recently, as
well as all the Polish bakeries, a lot of small businesses have opened
on Roncevalles, selling delightful things like indie fashion, used
books and clothes, beads, and organic food.

bus stop, toronto

What lights your creative fire?

I’m a very visual person. I love a wide variety of visual arts and am inspired by the work of many different people. I love colour. I think
a major theme, lurking behind a lot of things I create is the old
fashioned cross between aesthetics and natural history: the
Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosity. Something that appeals to me is
that the amateur gentleman or lady collector was laying some
groundwork for a lot of descriptive science, and yet this was a world
still open for myth and magic. Taxonomy of lifeforms and natural
objects (birds, reptiles, shells, eggs, rocks and minerals, what have
you) co-existed with legendary creatures like mermaids and unicorns. I
find fairytales, folklore and legend, from a variety of cultures, a
source of inspiration. I think I throw all these things together, with
a hint of history of science and a hint of whimsy.

gnome in Norway

 Do you collect/hoard anything?

Is that a trick question!?

I am a total pack-rat. Like many artists and craftspeople, I have a
stash; the trick is to hide the copious amounts of paper and fabric.
That is was the trunk collection is for!

Also, I have a book problem. I fear I will end up like most university
libraries – one day, my home with begin to sink under the weight.

I also collect masks, from around the world. This makes my loved-ones
happy, since they know what souvenir to buy me when they travel. I
collect turtle items. I have an inordinate number of small sculptures
of birds… but it’s not my fault – they were all gifts.

And prints! Printmakers are big on print exchanges, which are a
excellent way to get a lot of art.


List some of the things that make you happy:

objects? paper (particularly handmade or hand decorated paper), my thumb
pianos, the quilts made for me by my female ancestors, the Canadian
Shield, the oceans, perfect snowflakes


sounds? I like a wide array of music, of many genres. My cat purring. The ice
cream truck theme song. Birdsong. Frogs singing, so long as I was
already awake.
colours? YES!

smells? chocolate chip cookies baking, my Italian uncle’s cooking, saltwater,
rain, evergreen trees

words? I like it when someone comes up with an unexpected yet apt work like


What is one of your pet peeves?

things which really make me mad: ignorance, bullying, intolerance,
sexism, bureaucracy
things I could do with out: celery string between my teeth, traffic,
smog, being treated like guilty-until-proven-innocent at the airport,

blossoms and butterflies pillow

Describe your (almost) perfect day?

Sunshine, fresh air, brunch with friends, doing something inspiring
like checking all my favorite shops and a gallery show, feeding the
paper and fabric stash, finding random arts of street art, maybe a
nifty find at a thrift or antique shop, dinner at one of the fabulous
restaurants around town (maybe sushi, or Thai), cozying up on the
couch with a good movie.

seahorse lino print and block

Do you have a current project that is exciting you? Would you like to share a little bit of it?

Um… I am a bit cagey about sharing work-in-progress, but I’ll give
you a hint. I’ve been thinking about combining the legendary creatures
with the science. So the next series is about d(a)emons of science.


So intriguing!! Thank you Ele! 

See much more of Ele’s work here at


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