Month: August 2014

Vacation time

Summer is for music festivals.

What’s a better time than to head into nature with friends and see great bands. That was my weekend.

My friends C & J and I went to the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, an event that combines farmers market, local artisans and music, and it’s held at the Christie Lake Conservation Area, an hour away from Toronto. We’ve been going since the festival’s inception back in 2010 and it’s such a lovely event. It’s small enough to not be overwhelming or be overcrowded but big enough to attract a range of performers like Emmylou Harris and Ray Lamontagne.

All summer I have been yearning to get out of the city and get into nature. This was going to be my ticket to do that. Despite the overcast and cooler-than-normal weather, it was a great day to enjoy the festival. I loved breathing the fresh air and to feel the grass between my toes. I’ve said this before but I need to spend more time outside. More than usual!

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Christie Lake Conservation Area

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Of course, I was able to find some time to stitch.

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Serge and Jane, unclose. 6″, embroidery on cotton

Since we were an hour outside of Toronto, we decided to spend the night in Hamilton which is near the conservation area and we spent the next day exploring the city. I’ve visited Hamilton a lot over the years and I’m constantly surprised at how lovely this city is becoming.

For the last couple of years, the perception of Hamilton has changed from strictly blue-collar, boring, rundown city to a bourgeoning arts and culture hub. Buying a home in Toronto is becoming more and more expensive, and even renting a space for a shop is hard. More and more people are looking westward to Hamilton, which is an hour away from Toronto.

Similar to Toronto, Hamilton has retained a lot of its older buildings and Victorian town homes, which is a great mix of architecture styles. One corner you feel like you’re in the UK; at another corner, you think you’re in Montreal. When you add artists and young families, you see a lot of potential of how great this city is. 

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Old signs

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This looks like Downtown Montreal but we’re still in Hamilton

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Enjoying our coffees at Cannon Coffee Co.

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East Hamilton signage

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It’s all in the details

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In love with our surroundings at the Mulberry Street Coffee House on James St North

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Beautiful ceiling lamp silkscreened with images of Hamilton architecture

After hanging out in Hamilton, we drove around the back roads near Guelph. Again, I keep saying this but it’s true: I have to schedule more time in nature and outside of the city. I need it. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a license yet, but it shouldn’t stop me either.

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Farmland near Guelph

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To live here would be heaven

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More farms!

On September 12-14, Hamilton is hosting a big art and music called Supercrawl. I’ve heard great things about it where the event shuts down a few main streets for art installations and music stages. I want to check it out as it sounds like so much fun.

In the meantime, I’m busy stitching for the Kensington Market Art Fair, which is a fast approaching. As well as school. Yikes, it’s September already!


Eight-bit love

© Stephanie Cloutier

Last weekend, I attended the most beautiful ceremony for two great people I know in my life, Carmen and Nick. Their wedding was held at the Royal Conservatory of Music, which is a beautiful space near the University of Toronto district. The wedding was intimate and it brought together family and friends, as well as people I adore and rarely spend time with.

For their wedding present, I was inspired by a picture they posted on Facebook a few years and decided to recreate it in embroidery. It’s a thoughtful gift and was a project that I enjoyed doing. Also, the bride and groom really like it.

Insomnia and Serge


I hate insomnia.

I’m not sure why I’m suffering from it right now. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that 5pm latte at work? Perhaps I’m worried about my upcoming deadlines and the impending start of school? The thought of balancing school work, work, projects and these art shows is worrisome. It was really tough to go through last year. Can I do it again this year? But hey, it’s a challenge I decided to tackle right now. In any case, I’m awake.

For those who follow my humble blog, you all know that I love Serge Gainsbourg. I’m not sure when the love affair began, but it started a few years ago. However, I was exposed to Gainsbourg’s music at a young age. My parents dug him. Well, at least, my dad did.

In my teens, I stole (or borrowed) a cassette tape from my dad’s music collection because it included his most famous song “Je t’aime… moi, non plus”, a duet he made with Jane Birkin in 1969. I had heard about those orgasmic cries made by Birkin (the song was originally done by Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot in 1968, who were lovers at the time). I wanted to access some other secret layer that it contained and the only way to do this was to listen to that song over and over. Needless to say, that song, and others he wrote, left an impressionable mark on my young mind.

Lately, Gainsbourg has provided a lot of inspiration for me and this can be seen in my artwork. Bardot and Birkin were his muses. He’s mine.

As I wait for the cyclone of the 1001 thoughts to stop circling in my head, I’ll be reading Darran Anderson‘s Histoire de Melody Nelson, part of the 33 1/3 series. It’s really well written. I’ve just finished the part where Anderson describes a moment when Gainsbourg wrote two songs for Bardot one night. One of them was “Je t’aime” and the other was “Bonnie et Clyde”. He adapted the latter from a poem written by Bonnie Parker called “The Trail’s End”. The song is beautiful and haunting. It’s one of my favourites. Perhaps it’s one of yours, too?

Midsummer Organization

We’re halfway through summer, people! Can you believe it? I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. July was a month where I’ve spent a lot of time working on my ideas as well as spending time outside. On any beautiful, warm day, you could find me either biking through the city trails or sitting under a tree reading a book. But don’t worry, work is a top priority of mine and things are coming along. Slowly.

In between work and play, I’ve also been organizing my workspace. Since my studio is also my home, it’s easy to let my work spill into everything in my life. I’ve let my credenza become my storage space for fabric, hoops, threads, and the other accruements needed to make my art. It’s as organized as I can make it even though I know it’s not the best spot to house everything. And it does look messy because there’s so much stuff. But one thing I can’t be messy with are my threads. I have a lot of thread and whenever I’m done using one colour, I put the rest of the floss in a small plastic bag, or other small plastic bags, and they get tangled with other colours. That was the old me that did that. No longer!

To solve this issue, I used my old, outdated Moo cards to make thread organizers. They’re thin enough to spin the thread around, and they’re colourful and decorative. Perfect! All I need is a box to house them so they don’t get too dusty. That’s one thing organized. Now, to organize my credenza…

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Hey, are you Instagram? Let’s be Instagram buddies!

My goal is a blog on a regular basis but I haven’t been doing much of that lately. However, I do post on Instagram a lot and show pictures of my projects, my progress, and everything I enjoy and like in between.

I’d love to see what you’re doing, too. Follow me @stephcloutier