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covet garden

inspiration grows here

holly, bridget & claire

Finding the centre of the home

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VALERIE WILCOX photographer

MAYA VISNYEI photographer

Toronto photographer Valerie Wilcox has been shooting people, places and things for over seven years, but this is her first (and definitely not her last) time appearing in the pages of Covet Garden.

Maya discovered her passion for photography at age 13 when she stole her sister’s Nikon. She currently works as a freelance food and travel photographer. on the cover: photograph by Valerie Wilcox

LUC MONTPELLIER tech/moral support Luc is the award-winning DOP of such films as Sarah Polley’s Away From Her and Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time.


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contents 4

the space

Starting from scratch

20 Q & A 22 the style

Accessories that make a statement

24 project 1

Shibori dyeing

30 project 2

Easy bakes

34 the drink

A refreshing pause

36 inspiration

Prints that fit

welcome We like making connections. For example, Holly once had an exhibition of her art at Bookhou, the shop owned by John and Arounna from Issue 18. And one of Holly’s prized possessions is a vase made by glass artist Jeff Goodman, who has collaborated with Sandra from Issue 11. And certainly Holly’s creative home has connected with us on a purely visual level. We hope you love it too.



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POWER OF THREE Artist Holly and her daughters Claire and Bridget create a masterpiece from a blank canvas photography by Valerie Wilcox



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the space

Opposite page: Holly took time to find her dream furniture pieces, like these Eames Eiffel chairs from NYC. This page: “I try to do away with clutter,” says Holly. “Except for art books.”


is an artist. This means art plays an important role in her life and influences the look and layout of her living space. “Apart from a few good pieces of furniture, art is my focus,” she says of her space. “It’s like a gallery.”

“We pretty much started from scratch,” says Holly. For the girls this meant having their own rooms for the first time. Rooms that they had free rein to redecorate. For Holly it meant designing a studio and finding new furnishings.

Holly is also the mother of Claire, 13, and Bridget, 12. Both young women are at the stage where they want to explore their own creative ideas. So when the three moved from a Queen West apartment to a cozy High Park house, they decided to begin with a clean canvas, design-wise.

A major theme in Holly’s work is creating order from chaos. While life wasn’t disordered, the new house was. “It needed work,” says Holly. “It had five different types of carpet and an old brick fireplace that wasn’t attached properly.” In fact, the whole thing fell down when she tugged a loose brick.



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the space


began her career as a teacher of art history. Art books can be found stacked neatly throughout the house as references and talismans. In the living room, above the now non-brick fireplace, she displays works by favourite artists. There is a small landscape by John Mulcahy, an artist from Maine. It sits beside a cloud sculpture by Toronto’s Joseph Muscat. The totemic symbols of the natural world seem to reflect Holly’s own work. One can imagine that the support sticks are also a tower into the clouds.

“I don’t have any professional training in studio art,” says Holly. “But I was always exposed to art. Part of being an academic is being aware of how things work together.” Even in the thoughtful layout and design of her rooms, Holly can take such disparate elements as a pair of cast-iron fireplace andirons painted a bright sky blue and use them to lead the eye around the room. In the old firebox, they have the shape and vivid hue of an art assemblage. Even though she’s a sculptor, Holly says, “I’m not afraid of colour.”


Dani delivers some of her larger arrangements wrapped in Virginia Johnson fabric rather than eco-unfriendly cello-wrap.


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the space space the opposite page: Holly made the ikatcovered cushions herself so that the reclaimed bench would be better suited for seating.



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the space “I don’t really wear heels”, says Holly, “but these shoes were just so beautiful that I had to have them.”


a house is like life, says Holly. “You plan, but things get thrown at you. You have to learn how to harmonize.” She found it liberating to tear down and start over again (the family was in the middle of a bathroom renovation during our interview). “I was on a tight budget, so I had some things made and mixed them with inexpensive finds that look expensive because of their context.”

esting by Holly’s sculptor’s eye for texture, shape and colour. “I love texture. It’s one of my favourite things.” In Holly’s bedroom, for example, a boldly graphic shaggy rug almost feels like another art installation. Latticework from the porch of an old Victorian-style home in Detroit was turned into a headboard by her friend Stephan Lindsay at, and a bedside table made from repurposed wood infuses the room with colour.

At the same time, the space is entirely livable. Like There’s not a lot of stuff in the space, she says, Holly’s artistic theme of the Axis Mundi—the cenbecause “I like showing off a few pieces.” The tre that provides stability—the rooms feel peaceful objects she treasures are made even more inter- and calm.


The ceiling fixture in the upstairs hall is a favourite find of Holly’s.


and Claire loved their first chance to decorate their individual bedrooms. “Each chose her own furniture, lighting and colour schemes,” says proud mom Holly. Both girls made their rooms cozy, but in very different ways that reflect their unique personalities.

en when the family bought the house, was completely transformed into a bright, coral retreat for reading. Cool pieces like a captain’s bed help keep the room tidy. A few treasured keepsakes such as a mirrored disco ball, a bowling pin from a birthday party at Bowlerama and a rock from a camping trip on the Bruce Peninsula make the Bridget’s space, which had been a working kitch- space her own.


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the space

Bridget proudly hangs one of her mom’s ladder pieces on her wall.



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the space

Claire’s room is painted in a calming palette. A few choice accessories provide pops of colour.


only thing in Claire’s room that We like to think that exploring Toronto is one reaHolly contributed was the window treatment. “But son Claire wanted her whole room to feel foresty. “When this light is turned on, it casts a branch Claire picked the fabric.” effect,” says Holly. “It’s like walking through the Holly grew up in Lawrence Park but spent most forest at midnight.” of her adult life in Montreal. The family still has strong ties to their old city, but Toronto and their Other Toronto-centric finds are the squirrel perched new neighbourhood have influenced their design near the baseboard (from the One of a Kind Show) decisions. “Montreal is all about the mountain,” and the two-tone shoes. “Cowan Street in the west says Holly. “Toronto is about the ravines and Lake end has a big street sale every year,” says Holly. “That’s where Claire found the shoes.” Ontario.”



found a room of her own when she converted an old garage into a studio. “I’ve always had a studio,” she says, “but this is the first time I’ve had one at home. I used to have one in the Distillery District and I walked back and forth from our old place each day.” There are still a few kinks to be worked out—it’s too cold to work in the studio when the temperature dips low, but then she simply moves inside and works on the big oak table in the dining room. Otherwise, she says, “I got everything I wanted—a sink, a fan, lots of counter space and big windows. It’s lovely.”


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Back inside at the oak table, Holly proudly displays a set of colourful glass eggs. “Three are signed art pieces—some of the few things from my past life,” she says. “And three are from IKEA.” The mix of past and present, high and low, is just one of the ways that she likes to play around with her space. Even the table has a few unexpected surprises. “It’s from a school,” says Holly. “There’s a bit of graffiti on top. But when people come over I like to ask them to feel underneath–it’s covered in gum.” The girls are mortified, she adds mischievously. “They ask me to take it off. But it’s part of the history.”

the space

opposite page: “Those are my boxing boots,” says Holly. “They’re worn through now, but my best friend in Montreal gave them to me.”


who? Holly Wheatcroft is an artist whose painted mixed-media constructions explore form through a variety of textures, composition and colour. Key themes include ladders, arrows and weathervanes. Navigational symbols, birds and stars are also prominently featured. Through her work, Holly seeks to depict a positive location of self within the chaos of the world. Holly is a member of Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts and the Sculptors Society of Canada. She is represented by Canvas Gallery in Toronto and Meghan Fish Contemporary in Halifax.

what is Holly reading?


Which instrument do you wish you cou 20

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the profile

where to find Holly’s art

Holly’s playlist

Art Bomb A daily online art auction featuring Canadian contemporary artists curated by Andrea Carson, founder and publisher of

1. “Love and Happiness” by Al Green

Canvas Gallery A cool curatorial concept that hooks artists up with designers, set decorators and regular folks who are interested in acquiring art.

4. “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner

Art Gallery of Hamilton Design Annex Show, opening June 2012 Holly’s work has been chosen to be included with 10 other artists in this new space featuring experimental contemporary art installations from Hamilton and elsewhere.

2. ”Natural Mystic” by Bob Marley 3. “Por Eso Me Quedo” by Lhasa De Sela

Claire and Bridget’s Q&A What’s your favourite comfort food? BRIDGET: Chocolate chip cookies. What’s the best place in Toronto? BRIDGET: Canada’s Wonderland. What would be your ideal pet? BRIDGET: A monkey. Where’s your favourite place on Earth? CLAIRE: Montreal. What sport do you love? BRIDGET: Soccer. CLAIRE: Curling. What era in time would you most like to visit? CLAIRE: Far, far into the future. I’ve read so many post-apocalyptic books recently (Divergent, The Hunger Games) that I’m curious about the future.

uld play? CLAIRE: My vocal cords


ARTIST STATEMENTS Taking our cues from Holly’s unfussy but colourful signature style, we present some of our favourite spring accessories



“I love colourful scarves.” 1. Shinzo Kimura Magenta Shibori Scarf, $48 2. Yarnz Geo Lines Linen Scarf, $80 3. Liberty of London Fuchsia Hera Print Silk Neckerchief, £95 4. Sukan Handmade Ikat Silk Scarf, $70



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the style


1 4

3 “I like boots.” 1. Blundstone Original 500 series in brown, $170 2. La Botte Gardiane Ella boots in Noir, €195 3. Frye Campus 14L boots, $300


“I always treat myself to one pair of earrings from whatever museum I visit..” 1. Jean-Paul Lemieux Le visiteur du soir earrings from the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, $55 2. Satya Scianetti and Beth Torstrick Gold Nugget earrings from MoMA, $45 3. Pearl Flower earrings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, $65 4. Marina and Susanna Sent Dual Bubble earrings from MoMA, $55

3 2


dye it yourself Create your own fancy patterned fabrics. Discover Shibori, the ancient Japanese art of resist dyeing photography by Jessica Reid


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the project

Shibori is the Japanese term for

creating a pattern on fabric by binding, stitching, folding, twisting or capping the cloth and then dyeing it. The areas that are bound “resist” the dye, creating wonderful, organic-looking patterns. The familiar tie dye is a form of shibori called Kanoko. Taking a cue from Holly’s amazing eye for colour, the terrific textiles found throughout her home and her own DIY projects, we set out to upcycle some material with Kanoko and Nui (stitched) Shibori techniques.



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the project

fig. 1

chinese pine stitch

1. Use an accordian fold to layer up your fabric. For a random pattern, we started with the corners and folded on an angle. For a symmetrical pattern fold the entire width of the fabric into a fan shape.

fig. 2

2. Begin stitching using a running stitch, sewing several concentric half-circles in groups of two or three (fig. 1). Leave 2� ends. 3. When finished stitching, pull thread ends tightly to gather the fabric, and tie ends in a knot to secure. 4. Dye fabric as per your dye instructions. Let fabric dry and remove stitches with embroidery scissors or a seam ripper.

Note: Make sure that the thread that you use is strong enough to withstand being pulled through at the gathering and knotting stage. We used Valdani Pearl Cotton thread.

kanoko stitch

1. Pinch a small section of fabric and secure by wrapping thread around it securely and knotting at the end. You can also use less labour-intensive rubber bands as we have (fig. 2). 2. Make several “pinches� throughout your fabric randomly or in your desired pattern. 3. Dye fabric as per instructions. Let fabric dry and remove the bands.


fig. 3

fig. 4

mokume stitch


1. With a double length of thread, sew a running stitch across the width of your cloth. Once you have stitched a row, leave an end about 2 inches long that you will tie off later. Continue doing this in your desired pattern leaving the rows equally spaced, or in groupings of two or three as we have done here (fig. 3).

more Shibori!

2. Once you’ve covered the entire length of the fabric with your rows, you’re ready to scrunch the fabric and tie off the strings. Pull the ends one at a time to pleat the fabric and tie off the row as shown (fig. 4). Cut off excess string and continue until all the rows are done.

• The Workroom, Toronto Shibori and natural-dye workshop

3. Dye fabric as per your dye instructions. Let fabric dry and remove stitches with embroidery scissors or a seam ripper.

• Textile Arts Center, Brooklyn Japanese Shibori with indigo dye

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Interested in learning more about Shibori? We found some upcoming classes at a few of our favourite textile-related shops and studios. Check out their websites and contact them for class details.

• The Contemporary Textile Studio, Toronto Arashi Shibori workshop: Creating colours and texture on silk


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Making dreamy, cream-filled pastries is a fun and delicious project for Holly and her daughters photography by Valerie Wilcox 30

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the project

Did you know that éclair means “lightning flash” en français? It’s probably because once you master the art of making these tasty treats, they will be gone in a flash. Baking light and airy chocolate-covered confections is a cherished family pastime for Holly and the girls. The secret ingredient? Tunes! “Lhasa De Sela is the perfect music for making éclairs,” says Holly. “Her voice is like melting chocolate.”

Holly uses a recipe by Chef Keiko to make her éclairs (you can watch a video tutorial here), but we’ve also experimented with our own version.

4. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add butter. Blend using the paddle attachment until the butter melts and the mixture cools (about 5 minutes).

pastry cream filling

Making éclairs is a lot easier if you split up the steps. You can make this heavenly, vanillainfused crème pâtissière a few days in advance of the actual baking. 2 cups whole milk ½ cup sugar ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) pinch of salt 4 egg yolks ¼ cup cornstarch 2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces 1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, half of the sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg

yolks, cornstarch and remaining sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk (½ cup at a time) until it is fully mixed in.

3. Repour mixture into the saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens.

5. Cover with cling wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled (about 2 hours or up to 2 days). Before using, beat on low speed until smooth.


Making the buns (aka pâte à choux) is fairly simple. This pastry has a high water content. The water turns into steam during baking, pushing the shell outward and giving the bun its light, crispy airiness. So science does most of the hard work for you. ½ cup all-purpose flour 2/3 cup cold water 2 tbsp butter 2 large eggs 1 tsp caster sugar


Claire pipes the dough to make the pastry choux.

3. Using the creased paper as a chute, pour the flour into the water with one hand while beating the mixture vigorously with either a wooden spoon or an electric hand whisk. 4. Beat until you have a smooth ball of dough that has left the sides of the saucepan clean (about 1 minute). 5. Beat the 2 large eggs well, then whisk them into the mixture. Add a little at a time, making sure each addition is mixed in thoroughly before adding the next. Beat until you have a smooth glossy paste.

1. Fold a square sheet of paper baking parch ment to make a crease, then reopen it. Sift the flour onto the square of paper and add a teaspoon of caster sugar if you are making sweet choux. 2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with the cold water and butter (cut into small cubes). Over moderate heat, stir with a wooden spoon. When the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat immediately (too much boiling will evaporate some of the water).


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6. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with a silicone baking mat. Fill a pastry bag with the mixture and pipe 4-inch lengths about 1 inch wide in rows, leaving about 1 inch between them (tip: place the bag in a tall glass to keep it upright while filling it). 7. Bake on a high rack in a pre-heated oven at 400째F for 10 minutes. Then increase the heat to 425째F and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the shells have a crisp and rich golden finish. 8. Pierce the side of each pastry to let out the steam (you will use this drying hole to pipe the filling in later). Let cool on a wire rack.

Bridget prepares the chocolate ganache.

chocolate glaze

While the buns are cooling, mix up this slightly bittersweet chocolate icing (or ganache). 170 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 2¼ cups heavy cream 1 tbsp honey 1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. 2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add ¾ cup of the cream and the honey until bubbles begin to appear around the edges (about 5 minutes). 3. Pour this mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes so the chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. 4. Let cool, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).

putting it all together

1. To fill the éclairs, use a pastry bag and pipe the pastry cream in through the drying hole. You may also slice the éclairs lengthwise, scoop in the cream and place the upper half back on top. 2. Coat the top of pastries with the chocolate ganache. Makes about 30 éclairs.

Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz An expert on all things sweet and French, David Lebovitz learned much of his craft at Alice Waters’s acclaimed restaurant Chez Panisse. Now living in Paris, Lebovitz has collected his most-loved recipes in this easy-to-follow book, which includes a twist on the éclair.


LILLET FAIR The perfect tonic for warm and sunny weather, Lillet is making a big comeback photography by Maya Visnyei


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the drink

ginger snap

When asked about her go-to drink, Holly offered up this refreshing cocktail. 1 oz Lillet Blanc 1/2 cup grapefruit juice 1/2 cup ginger ale 1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice and ginger ale. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. 2. Strain through a double strainer into a glass. Garnish with candied ginger if desired. Serves one.

a little bit about Lillet In France, Lillet is a traditional aperitif called a tonic wine. • Lillet Blanc blends Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueur made from the peels of sweet oranges from Spain and Morocco and the peels of bitter green oranges from Haiti with a dash of Peruvian Chincona bark. • Chincona bark contains quinine, which has natural pain-killing properties (this is where the tonic part comes from). • Continentals serve it well chilled, on the rocks and with a slice of orange, lemon or lime. In the UK and in the colonies, it’s a popular cocktail ingredient. • Lillet Rouge is made with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

ginger spice Energize your ginger bevvies with these artisan-made mixers. Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale Originally hand-made in small batches for his establishments in San Francisco and Chicago by restaurateur and ginger lover Bruce Cost, this fresh version is made with with fresh ginger and no extracts or oils. Fever Tree Ginger Ale Charles Roll, who built his reputation with Plymouth Gin, joined forces with luxury food marketer Tim Warrillow to create a line of mixers that lived up to being paired with the high-quality, smallbatch spirits now on the market. This ginger ale features an exceptional blend of three ginger extracts sourced from Cochin, Ecuador and Nigeria and is made with pure cane sugar.





tribal quest

We love the way pattern pops up all over Holly’s home. Refresh your space with these traditional tribal prints

14 13


1. Sukan Vintage Hand Embroidered Silk Suzani Pillow cover, $170 2. Twelfth St. by Cynthia V Trilby, $33 5. Nubambu Ikat fabric cuff, $30 6. John Robshaw Butterfly Kota Chair, $2100 7. Wes Collection Fleur de Lys tea towel in Taupe, $12 10. Beklina African Printed IPad Case, $55 11. G Rikshaw Design Cap Sleeve Dress for girls in Darjeeling, $68 14. Missibaba Workhorse Bold 2 ,


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7 11 10

Vincent Sage Ballet Flat in Aztec, $225 3. Anthropologie Huari Rug (4’x6’), $498 4. Babatunde st Elm Andalusia Dhurrie Pouf, $260 8. Overdyed Terai Chair in Turquoise, $198 9. Pehr Sullivan Grace Design Nomad Collection Kimono Clutch in Stella, $87 12. Joie Corbelle Blouse, $260 13. , ZAR1,315


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Artist Iza creates narratives using words and form in the little house she shares with her daughter, Olive.

Can’t wait until next month for the new issue of Covet Garden? Check out our blog for more ideas and inspiration! 38

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