Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Homemaker

Vintage-inspired gifts for the homemaker on your list!

1. A Mini History Lesson:
Radical Dishtowels

ABOUT: “As a family, we’ve always been interested in the amazing stories of history’s radical thinkers and campaigners, and how much hope these stories can inspire relative to the politics of today. We didn’t have much business experience. But we realized that there must be other people with progressive values out there who wanted to give gifts that actually mean something, make you think, and give you hope. We all loved the idea that you might come across a design in someone’s kitchen, and that it would spark a conversation about an idea or philosophy. As a teacher, I imagined that children might see a design and ask, “Who was she?” Together we made the decision to start our very own Radical Tea Towel Company. We do all the designs ourselves, and get them manufactured in the UK with ethical partners.” Read the full story, here.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Made ethically in the UK, the main impact is in the message on the towel. What a fun way to strike up a conversation about something important, even controversial.

WHAT WE LIKE: This is such a unique idea. I’ve seen some cool tea towels, but never anything like this. They cost a bit more than the average tea towel, but are still inexpensive enough I could justify buying it if I had a place to have it visibly hanging in my kitchen.

2. Placemats and Doormats Inspired by Vintage Tiles:
Hidraulik

Tusset Floor Mat.

ABOUT: “The first hydraulic tiles were produced in Barcelona in the mid nineteenth century.   The creativity and durability of these attractive yet functional handmade floors caught on quickly and their use spread across Europe and beyond.”

The brand is carried by Locus Vie, a distribution company for home decor products in North America.  They focus on small European design companies that are looking to make an entrance into the North American market, and you can find local retailers via their site.

PRICE RANGE: $$-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: The site says that they are “phthalate-free and recyclable, for an eco-friendly conscience”. While made in Spain, there are many local shops, usually small ones, that carry some of these designs.

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a vintage vibe but are super practical. They make great door mats or a runner for a high-traffic hallway, they are easy to clean and can cover up ugly rental flooring. They are a bit on the pricey side for the larger ones (I saved up and watched for sales for years before I finally got one), but a set of the placemats could make a lovely gift, and they work well inside or out!

3. Textiles Based on Traditional Indigenous Designs
Indigo Arrows

Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow
This Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow is currently sold out, but it’s my favourite and I had to share.

ABOUT: “For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, including my Anishinaabe ancestors, created beautiful patterns to adorn their pottery collections and host of bone tools. Most of the surviving pieces are held by museums now, but I think the world needs more than exhibition- we need these patterns in our homes provoking thought; we need them bridging gaps; and, we need them inspiring our loved ones. The Indigo Arrows line picks up where my ancestors left off.

Destiny Seymour is an Anishinaabe interior designer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated with her master’s degree in Interior Design from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. She worked at local architecture firm in Winnipeg for over 10 years as their interior designer before starting her own design business in 2016.

Destiny started designing artisan textiles for interiors that respectfully reflects local Manitoban Indigenous peoples and their history after struggling to find materials that she could incorporate into design projects. Her company, Indigo Arrows, now offers a range of table linens, pillows, and blankets that showcase patterns from local Indigenous pottery and bone tools that date from 400 to over 3000 years old. These patterns are picking up where her ancestors left off.

Destiny formed Woven Collaborative in 2018, an Indigenous led design studio with fellow designer Mamie Griffith. Their design practice takes a critical look at the representation of Indigenous cultures within spaces. Their design mission is to respectfully reflect local Indigenous cultures & identity within architectural forms, interior spaces, furniture, and textiles. Their design process acknowledges community engagement, inclusiveness, and collaboration when creating new works.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: These beautiful linens are handmade, individually hand-printed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 100% linen using non-toxic ink. This Indigenous-run company is making something that is simultaneously modern and traditional: these designs look like something you’d find in a magazine today while many of them are actually thousands of years old. Destiny names them in her ancestral language, Anishinaabemowin, and the pieces have a little description of what the word means and its significance, so it’s a nice little learning moment as well.

WHAT WE LIKE: If I had seen these without the context I would have thought they were totally modern, but when I read the history I knew they were perfect for this post: vintage-inspired doesn’t have to mean “old looking”, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect reproduction of something either. It also made me realize that a lot of the modern “boho” things you see in chain stores have (whether intentionally or not) designs that were used historically in Indigenous art, and so why not support the maker who shares that history? Promote the use and creation of something that comes from generations of artisans rather than buy a knock-off mass produced in China? And honestly, while some fellow artists may not have the money for a $100 decorative pillow, I think we all know that given the work that goes into it, that’s a steal. A lot of these are less expensive than things you’d find at Crate & Barrel or West Elm, and you can shop guilt-free knowing you’re supporting the artist who made them, not some faceless corporation.

4. Retro Canadian Pillows:
Persnickety Designs

Each pillow features a bright, bold design on each side: it’s like 2 pillows in one!

ABOUT: Peggy McEwan is a Toronto-based artist with a background in classic animation. These pillows are what she calls “comfortable art”, and they come in a range of retro designs – Toronto landmarks, old movie stars, vintage maps – there’s something for everyone.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a local female artist!

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve been eyeing several of these for years, but found they were usually a little out of my price range. However, that was when I came across them in stores – I just realized you can buy from her site at about half of what I’d always seen them for before, and I may have to redo all my cushions! I love pop art but you don’t find a lot of it locally made, so I’m happy to add these to my already massive pillow collection.

5. True Vintage Serving-ware
Ethel 20th Century Living

This mid century piece is a great way to hint, “invite me over more!”

ABOUT: “Ethel – 20th Century Living is a vintage furniture, lighting and accessories store in the East Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto.

After helping to establish “Retro Row” in Leslieville 20 years ago, Ethel was starting to show her age. After the store changed ownersip in October 2009, it conducted business in the original location for 3 more years, and in May 2012, Ethel moved to Corktown. In the fall of 2016, we decided to close our bricks and mortar location at 327 Queen St. East, and now, two years later, we have a new home at 1781 Danforth Ave.

Owner Shauntelle LeBlanc has re-established Ethel’s brand as a store for outstanding vintage modern furniture, lighting & accessories. The store’s focus is on affordable vintage because you should enjoy your furniture, feel free to put your feet up on it and certainly not feel like you’re living in a museum (or magazine spread…unless that’s your thing, and in that case, Ethel is cool with that too).

We’re a proud Canadian indie boutique, and along with classic American & Scandinavian design, you’ll also find Canadian Mid-century pieces here. Sure, we all love Eames, Nelson & Knoll, but have you heard of Russell Spanner, Lotte Lamps or Clairtone? 

Vintage is nearly always one of a kind so our merchandise is constantly changing. You might find a complete Brady Bunch kitchen in here, or maybe a film noir detective movie set, complete with tanker desks & typewriters. Ethel has a little bit everything, from gondola sofas and teak dining sets to oddball pieces like 80s Russian propaganda posters and vintage tiki mugs.

Along with 20th century furniture, lighting and accessories, we also carry new products by RetroVerte, Umlaut Brooklyn, and more.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: A local, female-run boutique selling vintage – sustainable in many ways.

WHAT WE LIKE: There are MANY vintage shops in the city (though sadly, not as many as there once were) and I have my favourites for various things. Ethel’s is where I go for mid century. You can rely on finding a lamp, vase, serving piece etc. from the 50s-60s there, likely in whatever colour you’re looking for. She often has a selection of small retro furniture as well, like card tables and chairs.

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Advertisement

Sustainable Communities – Kanata Trade Co.

Kanata Trade Co. is an Indigenous run Canadian organization that sells products design by Indigenous artists, and donates profits to help support the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Likely, when most of us hear the word “sustainable” we picture solar panels and wind turbines, keeping plastic out of the ocean and other sorts of “green” practises: all of these are important, but sustainability is about so much more.

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals are targets made to lead our world towards peace and prosperity for all, and while that may feel like a colossal task no one person could take on, it’s actually really simple for all of us to take small steps that can help lead our community down the right path. Today we’re going to focus on the community aspect of the SDGs, but you can see our entire commitment laid out on our website.

Kanata Trade Co. is an Indigenous run Canadian organization that sells products designed by a range of Indigenous artists. On their site, it reads;

Indigenous communities in Canada are a central part of our history. At this unprecedented time they are uniquely effected by Covid-19. Our community wants to help everyone.
Our proposition is simple; buying a mask keeps you safe and the profits support Indigenous communities.

Not only does this mean Indigenous artists are getting royalties for their work, but the profits are going towards Indspire, a registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Kanata Trade Co.’s founders write:

We are twin Inuit sisters both attending Queen’s Univeristy.  Our journey has been made possible thanks to the help of Indspire.

Like many indigenous students,  Indspire supported us through their bursary program and also through their mentorship.  We were able to have a much fulfilled college experience as a result of their assistance.

Now that we are nearing the end of our studies, we would like to give back to Indspire so that more indigenous students can also have the opportunity to attend colleges and universities.

Indspire is an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.

All profits from the sale of the masks will be going to Indspire (www.indspire.ca).  Our supplier will also pay royalties to the artists for the use of their artwork on the masks.

Please purchase an indigenous art face mask and share this site with your colleagues, friends and families so that we can together support indigenous students together.

Kanata Trade Co.

Personally, I think the patches are my favourite, they feature beautiful designs by artists like Sioux Native Artist Maxine Noel and Yellowknives’ Dene Native Artist Dawn Oman. But they also offer beautifully designed masks (like it or not, we’ll be wearing them for a while still, might as well invest in a nice one!), puzzles, shirts, pins, cards, hats and eco-friendly bags (I’m hoping the John Rombough one comes back in stock).

Quality education is a key to a sustainable community, and that’s what charities like Indspire, and the groups that support them, like Kanata Trading Co. are helping to provide.

When we support the artists in our community we give them the opportunity to expand and grow, and that in turn feeds back into the community they came from. So if you’re looking to treat yourself to a new book or accessory, or you’re starting to think about holiday shopping, be sure to check out Kanata Trade Co. You can find them on Instagram and Facebook – be sure to give them a follow & a like, help spread the word and support your community for #SustainableSunday!

E.

National Truth and Reconciliation Day

Our support and commitments in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

In preparation for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (“Orange Shirt Day”) Bygone’s Artistic Executive Director, Emily Dix, has re-read the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action report.

In searching for a way that we, as a small non-profit theatre, can best support these practises, we found that call to action number 79, under Commemoration, stood out most. It reads;

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:​

  • Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
  • Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.
  • Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

Bygone Theatre’s current mandate can be read here.

​A key part of our mission and mandate is the connection of audiences to “parts of our past that remain relevant today”, and clearly the treatment of Indigenous Canadians, both past and present, is something that should be at the forefront of Canadian heritage and commemoration. While we cannot change Federal or Provincial policy (at least not yet!) we can ensure that our practises align with these goals.

Going forward, Bygone commits to the following in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action:

  1. To include for artists and audiences, relevant Indigenous history whenever we make a presentation, production or program that cites or explores a particular place or time in Canada.
  2. To, within the next three years, hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant to help us examine and possibly revise our policies and practises to ensure we are acknowledging and respecting not just Indigenous people and their history, but their unique values, memory practises and artistic practises that could benefit our future works, regardless of subject.
  3. To acknowledge that racism and unfair practises on behalf of the government and largely our society as a whole, have, whether intentionally or not, disproportionately affected Indigenous Canadians and deprived them of opportunities that their fellow Canadians have enjoyed.

As a first step, we will now be offering free tickets to Bygone produced productions and workshops for all those who self-identify as being of Indigenous descent.

Additionally, we will continue to honour our commitment to accessibility and diversity as written on June 30, 2020.

Emily Dix
Artistic Executive Director
Bygone Theatre

A Note from Our Artistic Executive Director

A message from Artistic  Executive Director Emily Dix regarding Bygone Theatre’s commitment to diversity and accessibility;

When I started Bygone Theatre back in 2012 my main goal was to produce engaging, character-driven theatre from the early 20th century – there were stories I wanted to see onstage that were only available at big companies, like Soulpepper, Stratford or Shaw, and I wanted something similar but on a smaller, more accessible scale. I set about making theatre with whomever I could find, and focused more on the work than those involved. Now, as Bygone Theatre enters our 9th season, it is clear we need to expand our focus and work harder to prioritize our commitments to diversity and accessibility; simply saying “all are welcome” and using wheelchair accessible spaces is not enough. We need to make concrete, measurable changes in order to better serve our community and our work.

As a company that produces “vintage theatre”, we are in a unique position when it comes to diversity. We have the opportunity to re-examine stories through a more authentic lens, looking at them not from the perspective of turn-of-the-century, primarily white audience members, but through one of historical insight, that acknowledges that the world has always contained diverse communities with fascinating stories, even if they weren’t being published or produced.

Plays from the 1920s-60s often feature racist stereotypes, that or they completely white-wash the story and show no diversity at all. When re-staging these stories it can be easy to fall into the trap of eliminating the overt racism while still maintaining the subvert – colourblind casting, 2-dimensional characters, or tokenism. Does that mean these stories are no longer relevant, or not worth retelling? No. But they do need to be redone. And that needs to be done with care.

While diversity and accessibility have always been important to us, we have admittedly existed in a bit of a bubble. Attempts to engage communities outside of my own have rarely been met with much success, and to be honest, the difficulty in doing this lead to me not making it a top priority. I do the majority of the work for Bygone on my own, and I did not know how to engage people past simply putting the message out there, and I never had time to really learn how.

Then COVID-19 happened.

After the initial upset of coming to terms with the uncertain year ahead of us, we at Bygone came to the realization that this “break” in the regular programming is exactly what we need. We are taking this time to learn and improve, not just as artists, but as people, and a part of the Toronto theatre community. We are listening to the voices speaking out against discrimination in the arts (the #InTheDressingRoom thread on Twitter was eye-opening and deeply upsetting). We are listening to the voices telling us how to be better allies. And we are taking time to make important changes and commitments, and to share that with you now as a commitment to change and accountability. This is not a final comment, it is a series of first steps. As we continue to learn and grow we will readdress these commitments, make more, and do more. I will make these a priority, and am working on learning how to do more. The following statements come from myself, and the Bygone Theatre Board of Directors:

Bygone Theatre believes Black Lives Matter.

Bygone Theatre sees the racism faced by BIPOC communities, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the homophobia and prejudice members of the LGBTQ2+ community faces, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the women who face sexism and discrimination, the members of the #MeToo movement, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the challenges and discrimination faced by Mad/Disabled communities, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

We are making a commitment to support all these communities, prioritize their members and stories in our work, and to continue to work to become better allies. The following is our Commitment to Diversity and Accessibility, as of June 30, 2020.

BYGONE THEATRE DIVERSITY & ACCESSIBILITY STATEMENTS

OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY

Auditions & Casting

  • 50% of all audition slots will be reserved for those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour)

  • Our Diversity & Accessibility statements will be included on all audition postings

  • We will begin our casting process earlier than we have in the past in order to make time to submit postings to diverse communities currently outside of our network

  • We will continue to provide character breakdowns that do not include physical attributes or race (unless essential to the story) and will promote colour-conscious casting

  • Casting will prioritize actors that have the shared experience of the character ​​

Rehearsal Process​

  • The first day of rehearsal will include a talk about equity, diversity and inclusion​

  • All cast members will be required to sign a contract that includes a code of conduct which addresses equity, anti-racism and sexual harassment – this will include a clear structure breakdown for a complaint and resolution process

  • Should we produce a show that centres around a character or story about a diverse community, we will hire a consultant or creative team member from that community to address any issues both in the play and the rehearsal room

Production Process​

  • We will prioritize the hiring of female, LGBTQ2+, Mad/Disabled and BIPOC production artists*​

  • We will prioritize businesses run by women, LGBTQ2+, Mad/Disabled and BIPOC folks when purchasing items for our company or productions

  • We will research the companies that we patronize to ensure they have values consistent with our own

*At the time of writing Bygone Theatre is without any consistent funding, and so our productions rely heavily on the support of volunteers. When we achieve a status that allows us regular operating funding we will re-address this and make a more concrete commitment to diversity numbers, but at the moment many roles are filled by our Artistic Executive Director (who often produces, directs and designs our shows) and whomever chooses to volunteer.

OUR COMMITMENT TO ACCESSIBILITY

Auditions & Casting

  • We will provide accessible auditions by prioritizing accessible spaces, and, when not available, allowing self-tapes or other opportunities for audition submission

  • We will clearly state the accessibility issues with any space we use, and will provide accommodation whenever necessary

  • We will clearly state all accessibility issues and potential solutions on all casting and production calls – for example, roles that can be fulfilled from home or that can be completed on a flexible schedule​ will be stated clearly so as to encourage those with accessibility issues to apply

  • We will continue to hold rehearsals in spaces that are accessible by the TTC

  • We will continue to create flexible rehearsal schedules that value actor’s time

Rehearsal & Production Process​

  • We will continue to encourage open communication especially around issues of accessibility, and will provide accommodation as necessary

  • We will continue to provide a judgement-free zone and will consult with cast and crew privately to ensure all of their needs are being met

  • We will provide all cast and crew with a clear breakdown of roles, responsibilities and hierarchy in order to ensure clear communication, and will include protocols for submitting concerns or complaints

Audience & Community

  • We will continue to prioritize accessible performance spaces and advertise possible accommodations

  • We will continue to provide ticket discounts to disadvantaged groups

  • We will continue to offer Relaxed Performances (dependent on show)