Dreaming Trees

These days, Julie Epp the maker behind Dreaming Tree Paper Company has been getting almost all her vintage hardcover books from the volunteers who sort for the Children’s Hospital book sale. Rescuing books that otherwise couldn’t sell and would end up in a recycling bin. The books are then upcycled into one-of-a-kind journals. All journals have 60 pages of unlined 24lb paper interwoven with original book pages and treasures like library cards, inscriptions, and illustrations. All of the products are lovingly made by hand in Winnipeg. The books really are delightful, as many of them are familiar tales from our youth. A great home for your creative idea compiling, far more interesting than picking up a notepad from a big box store!

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But that’s not all Julie has been up to…

In your travels have you ever come across a sweet message written on a stone, signed with a heart? I have!! While researching Julie, I have learned that she is in a large way responsible for these encouraging messages written on stones and left in random corners of the urban landscape. Stone Stories is Julie’s experiment in serendipity. In her words, “Stones with hidden meaning are placed out in the world for people to find – hidden in plain sight – and I trust they end up exactly where there are meant to.” Having started the project in 2013 as a way to spread more love out in the world, now thousands of stones have been placed by many people who have joined the movement.  Check out the project at www.stonestories.org!

Julie has also been a part of producing award-winning films! When Tara had asked me to write a feature on Julie, she very excitedly told me about having gone to the Gimli Film Festival this summer where she saw one of the projects Julie has worked on screened as part of the 48 Hour Film Contest. The past three years the films she has worked on which were screened at the 48 Hour Film Contest have won awards.  This year their film entitled Deeper Shades Of Blue (2018) won Best Actress. ( Marti Sarbit) This is most exciting because Marti had never acted before! The film also won an audience favourite award for Best Score (Marti Sarbit with Lanakai) at a follow-up screening. 

With such a dynamic practice, I was curious if there is something in the creative realm that Julie hasn’t done yet but hopes to get a chance to do. She responded, “I am constantly learning and evolving in my creative practice, dabbling in this and that. I am really focused on film these days, and looking for opportunities to make more films that will make a difference in the world.” Currently, Julie is working on the post-production of her first documentary film that was shot in Rwanda in April. It is called A New Rwanda and focuses on inspiring stories from Rwanda’s young people.  Folks who are familiar with Tara’s shop may remember photographs taken by Rwandan youth exhibited in the space a couple of years ago. The photos exhibited were curated by Julie on one of her many trips to Rwanda meeting with the youth there. Such engaging work! Find out more about the project here. www.anewrwanda.com


If you have been inspired by Julie, you may feel that you could benefit from her insight. She has much to give and she provides a coaching service which you can find more info about at www.julieeppcoaching.com

We are big fans of Julie! Maybe you are too?

Written by Kelly Ruth

Displaced Pegger, now learning to navigate inclines in her new home of Edmonton, AB

Winnipeg North of Fargo

Roy Liang was one of the first artists to work with Tara Davis in her shop. She had met Roy at the many Craft shows he had been a part of putting on over the years. Anyone who has met Roy knows that he is Too. Much. Fun! You may know him as an infectious DJ, or like me you may have one of his coin purses. My well used coin purse has depicted on it, a historic image of what appears to be a group of men in the 1940’s gathering around a billboard sign that says “Welcome To Transcona, The Hub Of Eastern Manitoba.”

 Vintage Winnipeg inspired coin purses.

Vintage Winnipeg inspired coin purses.

I love when I pull out the purse in my new home of Edmonton, and someone squeals with knowing delight, remarking, “I’m from Winnipeg! I lived in Transcona as a kid!” I have been thinking I need an upgrade lately, and the other day I was super excited to see a post on social media of Roy’s new coin purse designs featuring the short lived Garbage Hill sign that took the city by storm recently. The large letters spelling G-A-R-B-A-G-E H-I-L-L were mysteriously planted on the side of the hill-turned park in Winnipeg, in the same manner as the famous well known Hollywood letters. The sign was removed days later just as mysteriously, and now this fleeting moment has been added to the cannon of “Winnipegisms” that flavour the mythological qualities of this fair city.


Much of Roy’s work features prints of images of Winnipeg history and culture, with a nostalgia and a healthy bit of tongue in cheek. When asked what keeps him going through his years of making, Roy explains that he loves showing his work at craft markets and meeting people. “Watching their expressions when they see something I made that is sometimes strange and unusual. It's usually a good expression!” Some of what he loves to do is revisit things that he made a long time ago and has been really excited lately about silk screening on leather. It’s a tricky thing to do!

Roy has a keen interest in fashion and design so I decided to ask him the hypothetical question, “If your two little dogs were fashion designers, what would their style be?” He replied,  “They would definitely be vintage inspired designers.” I was delighted to discover that he has acquired some vintage puffy nylon jackets that he is converting into winter vests for Duchess and Boo! (Tara… is Princess Snuggle Bunny going to be that stylish this winter?) One is a 70’s vintage jacket and one is an 80’s vintage style jacket! How adorable! Does anyone else want to see a line of doggo accessories made by Roy??!!


Look for his work under the label Winnipeg North of Fargo, at Tara Davis Studio Boutique and at Craft markets around the city! Be sure to follow him on Instagram @winnipegnorthoffargo

*Side note* If you want to send a little something to a dear pal who has moved away from Winnipeg, I can let you know first hand that Roy’s work is the perfect little something to show love to those of us who will always have Winnipeg in our hearts!

Written by Kelly Ruth

Displaced Pegger, now learning to navigate inclines in her new home of Edmonton, AB


Real Swanky

I’m not keen on writing, but i sure do love to share our makers stories and the goings on in and around the shop so i think starting a blog makes sense. But how do i get started? i knew i wanted the first post to be a “meet a maker" because it’s the makers that make the studio boutique what it is. Good grief, how was i going to choose the first maker to feature out of the 117 makers currently represented at the shop. I felt our first meet our maker post should be with Caitlin of Real Swanky because her work is some the most talked about in the shop! she’s been so great at sharing self care tips, including introducing me to tea,  and she was such a delight when she helped out at the shop last christmas season. Caitlin is someone i enjoy hanging out with and i looked forward to having a chat with her about her work.

ps. we’re currently texting warm wishes back and forth between her bunnies Frank and Henry and my cat princess snuggle bunny.

This is what Caitlin had to share when we sat down for a chat.

How did you get started making? 

I've had the tendency to create, since I was a child, while sporting my first - but not my last - pair of too-short bangs. Growing up, creating had always helped me stay grounded and well-focused in what felt like a world of nervous jitters. To this day, I try to set aside time daily to make at least one thing that helps me feel even a bit glad. A sketch of my next embroidery idea, a postcard to a friend, a nice meal, or a little photograph that I know I'll look forward to seeing again and again. 


It’s been such a treat to get to watch you grow and flourish as a maker. You started out selling your work at craft sales, followed by consignment and then wholesale. How did you navigate these changes in your business? Do you have any advice for makers that are considering making the move to wholesale their work?

I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to have my work across my absolute favourite brick + mortars and galleries across Canada and America! It was an eye opening experience when you welcomed me with open arms to your lovely boutique; I felt terribly lucky, valued and appreciated as the day is long. I learned how to comfortably price my work accordingly both in and out of boutiques/galleries. I found myself not giving myself enough credit and undervaluing my work -- this is something I see quite often at markets! Makers, please don't forget: your time, your skills, your raw materials, and your efforts are worth oh-so much. Our skillsets feel like a second skin, something you simply do, with great ease. It took me a a hot minute to realize, not everyone can go on auto-pilot and stitch up an intricate piece of wall art. Similarly, I do not know how to create beautiful pottery, I cannot for the life of me sort out watercolours, and I sure as sugar can't make jewelry. To me, it comes with no second thought to seek out makers that can, and give them every dang nickel they deserve for their hard work and dedication. Certainly, y'all should be exercising the same with your makes and wares! xo


I recently tucked three of your hoops away because all we had left was “fuck off”, “eat shit”, and "nasty". I felt that wasn’t quite the way I wanted to welcome people to the shop! You’re work tends to be a little less salty when there’s a larger collection of images and words. Have you had any notable reactions to your salty work at craft sales?

I'm relieved (#blessed?) to be in a sea of double-takes, giggles, goose-honks, and finger-pointing when my work is up for grabs at markets. Often, folks will assume the embroidery has very quaint, traditional sayings. When I catch the gears turning, it takes a split second to receive the habitual response 'Real Swanky' receives, more often than not. Only a few times have I gotten a side-eye at, perhaps someone expecting a more Anne-Geddes style of work. Luckily, my vintage candy dish full of sweets saved the day and I let the  dame know I am always happy to do custom orders.  Phew! 


What inspires you? 

 I’m very much drawn to magazines of the 50’s-70’s, and pull a lot of my colour palettes and lettering styles from advertisements, ice cream, or the full spreads showcasing a “ ream bungalow”, with gold curtains, burnt orange carpet, and a set of avacado/navy/mustard furniture you best not put a candle ANYWHERE near. 


All of these hoops just arrived at the shop! come see for yourself!