Danforth East Arts Fair – Horst Herget’s Tintype

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you the second in Gillian Grace’s series profiling artists participating in the Danforth East Arts Fair on September 17th and 18th (that’s this weekend!).


tintype photo example[slideshow]

Everyone has heard of slow food. Some of us — depending on our fondness for the New York Times travel section — have heard of slow travel. But what about slow photography?

Riverdale photographer Horst Herget has recently started taking portraits using tintype, a process developed in the 1850s. Think: a lensman working behind a bellows camera in a period movie; a silvery-hued likeness in an antique locket.

Herget describes tintype as a counterpoint to both his corporate photography work and to speedy, digital shots. Each photo requires varnishing a plate, which takes about 5-10 minutes. The plate must be used while wet, and only once, and require an exposure of at least two seconds. Because of all the hands involved, the result has a unique texture, with “telltale swirls” on the border from  preparation.

In an age when every cell doubles as a camera, tintype requires an unfamiliar commitment — both of time, and, on the part of the subject, involvement in how the final image will turn out. “Because the process is much slower — you can take four portraits an hour — the subject becomes a participant,” Herget says.

At the Arts Fair, Herget, toting a team of assistants, will offer up 4” x 5” portraits for $35;  each works best with one to two subjects, although he can accommodate larger groups. Plan to spend about 15 minutes taking the shot, then another 45 minutes or so exploring the other booths while the tintype is prepared.

“ There’s a tone to it, definitely a softness to the image,” says Herget of the end result. “There’s something timeless about them.”

Street Parties

This weekend we had a block party on our street. For the second year, we’ve held it in the combined backyards of a few neighbours so there’s lots of room and we don’t have to go through the trouble of closing down our street. Last year, we had a dessert party on a Sunday afternoon. This year we had a potluck dinner on a Friday night.

It was such a wonderful night. The kids played and none of them wanted to leave. The adults laughed and left with hearty  “so great to finally meet you!”  My favourite moment was when two people met and discovered they had been admiring one another’s gardens for years.

It wasn’t hard to organize. We wrote up invitations, printed them and delivered them to the houses on our block.  We set up a few tables and laid out plates, cutlery and cups, a green and a garbage bin and chairs.   We had name tags because we all know there are people you’ve been saying hello to for years and you haven’t got a clue what their name is.

I’d be interested to know all the different kinds of street and/or neighbourhood gatherings that happen in our community. I know there are bouncy castles, tennis parties and movie nights out there.  Tell us what you do on your street.  Either post it here or send it to me and I’ll post it.

Shady Characters In The Light Of Day

So one of our DECA executive members, intrepid leader of our parks team (and soon-to-be-created Monarch Park action group!) and walking encyclopaedia of Danforth East history, Steve Wickens, was pulled over by the cops this week while riding his bike.

Apparently Steve doesn’t look like such an upstanding local citizen.  Perhaps he needs a hair cut?  In any case, he looked shady to Toronto’s finest.  Always a good sport and an inquisitive journalist, Steve shrugged it off, but got the scoop.

Apparently there have been a lot of daytime break-ins in the neighbourhood lately so police are being extra vigilant.  They checked Steve’s ID and knapsack before sending him on his way.

Arts Fair – Married Spinsters

Thanks to Gillian Grace for the first in our series of profiles of artists showing at the Danforth East Arts Fair on the Sep 17-18, 2011 at East Lynn Park.


Provenance-minded Torontonians already quaff Ontario wine and make their marinara sauce with fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes. So why not locally made wool?

The Married Spinsters duo — from Markdale, Ontario, and made up of Adele Goldsmith and Michelle Campbell — spin the fleece of Grey County sheep into soft, naturally hued yarns. Shorn from Corriedale and Dorset sheep, as well as alpaca, the fleece gets washed and carded (turning an unruly fleece into a wheel-ready ball of wool) before the pair spin it into a single- or- double-ply, knitting-needle-ready skein (they sell 100 yards for about $30).


Colours range from an almost pure white to a dark, chocolatey brown, with soft greys in between; the Spinsters also sell a small range of dyed offerings, with some incorporating metallic fibres and sari silks.

As with all the best local offerings, hand-spun wool lures with its individuality. Unlike machine-made wool, which has a uniform texture, the Spinsters’ skeins have a textured feel and subtle variations in colour — one grey knits up naturally into a Balmoral-worthy tweed.

The duo are working their way through some 2,000 pounds of fleece, from a farmer getting out of the wool business;  they’ll bring some of the SUV-sized ball of wool to the fair for spinning demonstrations. Kids can try their hand at carding, and the wheel. (One of the most common questions last year: Will I prick my finger like Sleeping Beauty? No, no pointy spindles — or wicked fairies — on this type of spinning wheel.)

Along side skeins of wool, Goldsmith and Campbell sell kits ($50) for making thrum mittens. A technique that evolved in Newfoundland, thrum knitting naturally insulates garments by working bits of fleece into the inside, making the mittens extra warm, and very soft.

Not feeling like working the needles yourself? The Spinsters also sell decorative hooked rugs — think wall hangings and table runners — and hooked-flap purses, ranging in price from $45 to $175.

Goldsmith and Campbell don’t just turn to hoofed beasts for wool — look for angora, if their rabbits cooperate. Not for sale, but of interest in the pet-adoring Danforth East, is wool spun from the hair of dogs and cats. Along with their willing collie, they’ve spun the fur of a friend’s Golden Lab, creating a hat (for the owner, not the dog!), and preserved the fur of a much loved, long-hair cat. “It spun out beautifully,” Goldsmith says.

News From The North

Thanks to Better Bulk! – Somehow, by some absolute failure on my part, I forgot to thank the fabulous Better Bulk boys for their ongoing popcorn support of the Peach Fest and Movie In The Park Night.  Better Bulk has been a great supporter of DECA and the Movie Night since the day they opened their doors and we want to thank them very much.

garbage pick-up

A few bits of news from Ward 31 City Councillor, Janet Davis, (north of Danforth)…

Garbage In Garbage Out – Starting the week of Tuesday, September 6, 2011, garbage day will change from Tuesdays to Fridays for residences between Coxwell and Victoria Park, from Danforth north to Massey Creek.  This permits the City to maximize the use of the new one-person, automated trucks.

Down With Downspouts – Starting Nov. 1, 2011, the City will require all property owners to disconnect their downspouts from the sewer system.

If your downspouts have not been disconnected, rainwater runs off your roof and flows through your eavestroughs into a downspout that carries it directly into the sewer system. During heavy rainfall, the sewers become overloaded, increasing the risk of basement flooding and releasing polluted rainwater into our local waterways.

You can disconnect your downspout(s) on your own. Or you can seek the advice and services of a City-licensed and experienced eavestrough contractor or other experienced professional. The City may also provide financial assistance to low-income property owners.

Pretty Parks – The City has made some improvements to local parks this summer.  Read more, here to see what happened in your neck of the woods.  Also, the City will be asking for public input on a five-year parks plan this fall. Stay tuned for more info on how to add your voice.