Loud dance music, friendly faces and a table full of dildos are what greeted you Saturday if you attended the 7th annual Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
The fair, produced by Come As You Are, a sex shop on Queen Street West allows artists to show off their unique knitted or graphic artwork, and allows shoppers to pick out something fun and erotic to get their sweethearts or themselves for Valentine’s Day.
The event attracted men and women of all ages as well as close to 20 vendors. Organizer Sarah Forbes-Roberts, of Come As You Are, says that their goal was to create an event that was a little bit different.
“There’s a lot in our culture around romance and Valentine’s, we wanted to give artists a chance to be a part of that,” Roberts said. “Also to give our customers and other people in the community a chance to see alternative expressions towards different forms of sexuality, and get a gift that is really handmade and really quirky and really personal for someone that they feel romantic about.”
While some people buy their other half a bouquet of roses for Valentine’s Day (can be $49.95 in some floral boutiques), those who came to the fair could have walked away with something more intimate or unique, such as crocheted nipple pasties (cost just over $20.00).
They’re made by Susan of Sex on a Stitch (who would not give her last name for business reasons), who has participated in the fair for three years with her “Risque Crochet” line. She says that she taught herself how to crochet and then accidentally discovered that she could make pasties.
“I was making little hearts for my friends around Christmas time, and they all started out with making little circles get bigger,” Susan said. “I guess had a few glasses of wine and I thought ‘These could be pasties’.”
One shopper, Carly Boice, wasn’t looking for a gift on Saturday but went with a friend to see what the fair was all about.
She said that she had heard about the event on Facebook and that it sounded like “a fun way to spend a Saturday.”
Yigi Chang, whose collection of illustrations was featured in the fair, was also enjoying his first time being a part of the event.
“Everybody seems really friendly and the space looks really great,” he said while standing behind his display of nude illustrations and pixelated penis bags.
Another artist, Hoi-An Tang, who has been a part of the fair before, said that she loves the event because it allows creative people like her to have a venue to present their work in an environment with other like-minded people.
“In Toronto, we don’t really have a place where you can come to see dildos on the table and then … images, graphic like I do or more on the adult side, ” she said.