Art to go at One of a Kind Show

by | Mar 28, 2014 | News


cornoncobBy Yasmin Neale

The Toronto One of a Kind show happens twice a year; once in spring and once in the fall.

The Spring show and sale is taking place this week at Exhibition Place, ending on Sunday, March 30.

The show features Canadian and American artisans and is the largest consumer craft show in North America. The Christmas show started in 1975 and the Spring show was added in 1979.

The Spring Show showcases more than 450 artists and includes everything from handmade jewelry to goat’s milk soap and toques made from socks.

Sylvain Trembley has been part of the One of a Kind show for about 15 years, selling handmade peppermills. He shapes the mills into everything from musical instruments like the violin, corn on the cob and fish.

He says that the art show doesn’t necessarily increase every year but like any retail business it fluctuates based on the economy.

“It’s a good way to expose your creation. There are other craft shows but they are not as well marketed or as big as this one,” says Trembley.

He got the idea for the pepper mill because he has been interested with making shapes and churning the wood.

“For me I am like a little boy playing with his dolls,” he says.

Instead of working on them one by one he shapes them in a series. The most recebanjont pieces he makes are usually his favourites.

His record is about 150 pepper mills in one day.

The recent collection shows the contrast of the organic wood and the geometric aspect. He says he is excited about this collection because he loves the contrast in shape.

Ross Stewart builds and sells tin can banjos, ukuleles and guitars, which he has been doing for about ten years. Previously, he had an outdoor carpentry business and was looking for something to take him out of that and into something less physically taxing.

“I just started tinkering around with building ukuleles and guitars and I discovered resonators. At that time resonators were very expensive and elite instruments, and so I thought I would do my own take on them,” Ross said. “So I set out making my own resonator instrument.”

It takes Ross about two weeks to make three or four ukuleles. He says although they seem deceptively simple to look at they are much more difficult and complex to make. His company called Rosbilt, was the focus of a short documentary called ‘The Iron Uke’ done by Humber College students in 2011.

This was Ross’ fifth time at the One of a Kind show and he remains grateful to be a part of it.

“The One of a Kind show was set up originally for professional artisans doing interesting things to meet up with eligible consumers. Being at The One of a Kind show means I get to display and promote my work to people who are genuinely interested in it and eligible to purchase it,” he says.

PookPook Toques is also in their fifth year at the show, taking the traditional Canadian wool workmen’s socks and converting them into usable products like hats, scarves, mitts and stuffed animals.

Tony Pook and partner Kevin McCotter were featured on CBC’s Dragons’ Den with their product.

He says they have been doing this for six years and have never taken it very seriously. It started off as making fun hats for friends. Their items are available online at

“This show is very important because it helps get our new products out to the public and it’s a great test market… It is great because we can sell them ourselves instead of selling them wholesale to stores.” Tony says.