Random Desires: Arts, crafts, and other lovely distractions


What we love, where to find it, and sometimes why — Sarah Brown’s regular roundup of coveted locally made goods

Elder Statesman
All that’s old is new again at Westboro’s Gallery Elder, a boutique gallery celebrating the craftsmanship of furnishings from the 17th through 19th centuries. Here, owner Tyler Patrick Brand arranges furniture and art into carefully curated still lifes. “There is a certain amount of character in pieces of significant age that is only achievable through many lives lived,” says Brand, adding that he hopes Gallery Elder will become “a hub for good and subversive design conversation.”

Gallery Elder features furniture and art from the 17th through 19th centuries. Photo by Remi Theriault/House of Common Studio

Beauty Sleep
The owners were looking for a grown-up bedroom with a nod to mid-century modern and a touch of glam. StyleHaus Interiors delivered in spades. Sleek walnut cabinetry, designed by Jason Bellaire and Denise Hulaj and fabricated by Peter Dutch Cabinetry, frames a tufted headboard in blue velvet. A sophisticated kaleidoscope-inspired wallpaper adds pizazz.

Perfect Patina
A few years ago, when the buildings at Parliament Hill were given new roofs, some of the old copper was saved with the hope that someone could find an innovative way to reuse it one day. That someone is furniture designer and maker Christopher Solar, who immediately saw the possibilities for creating patterns with the varied shades of patina. This cabinet is one of a pair installed in the formal foyer of one of Canada’s official residences.

Left: a sleek headboard by StyleHaus and Peter Dutch Cabinetry (photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio) Right: A cabinet by Christopher Solar featuring copper from Parliament Hill

Mix and Match
Vintage meets modern in the elegantly whimsical collages of Lori Langille. The artist mixes imagery and illustration to create postcards and other artworks that she sells through her online shop at Lori Langille Studio, as well as at craft shows and through The Papery and the Ottawa Art Gallery shop. The joy of collage, says the illustrator, is about putting things together and seeing how they interact. “I find people really respond to images with humour and a sense of mystery.”

Magic Mushrooms
Mushrooms are having a moment. Fabulous fungi have become a muse de jour, popping up here as a backdrop to a new jewellery line by Megan Briggs. The line is inspired by rural Mexico, where she and husband Mathew Lendrum lived for a time. Briggs pairs oyster mushrooms they’d been growing in their kitchen with bronze-cast earrings in the shape of the Incan cross. “They had been growing alongside each other in our home and were both ready for the world to witness their beauty,” she explains. Now located in Perth, the duo collaborate on jewellery and pottery.


Left: a collage by artist Lori Langille. Right: Earrings by Megan Briggs, who recently changed the name of her business to Earth to Magnolia

In the Abstract
When Alexandra Darbyshire Flood relocated to Ottawa last year, she sent a link to her recent artworks to Studio Sixty Six, where the curators were struck by the strength and sensitivity of her colour palette. “Her paintings make you feel inspired and serene at the same time,” writes gallery principal Carrie Colton in describing the artist’s most recent works. For her own part, Darbyshire Flood notes, “My current work is an ongoing conversation around the unknown, decidedly spirited, with titles often suggesting the complex world we live in.” We’re glad to join the conversation.

Left: work by artist Alexandra Darbyshire Flood. Right: a clay burner made with palo santo wood by Christine Chesser

Breathe Easy
She took her first pottery class in 2013 and has never looked back. Christine Chesser’s newest design is a stylish burner made with palo santo wood, with a match holder on the side and a tiny area of unglazed clay on which to strike a flame. A traditional remedy for pain, inflammation, and stress, palo santo wood is also believed by many to clear negative energy. As the magazine went to print, Chesser was heading off on a six-month sabbatical of sorts, shutting down her studio and relocating to California to “get grounded” and reinspired. Follow her journey on Instagram @claypigeondesign

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