Giving Gifts With A Meaning: Meet Beach United’s Christmas Market Makers-Part 2

As our November 17 Christmas Market is approaching, we are highlighting each of our vendors in weekly posts. This week we are looking at two local vendors, Teaching Hands Art Studio and SIIMA.

As you read the stories behind the Christmas Market vendors, you can feel good about supporting these initiatives, giving these gifts and sharing the wonderful stories behind them to the ones you love!

Check out last week’s post by clicking here.

Teaching Hands Arts Studio

Toronto artist and educator, Susana Van Bochove is passionate about lifelong learning and is tireless in the effort to promote a higher level of creativity in community adult programming, particularly for individuals with developmental disabilities. She advocates for a deeper understanding of how creativity can give meaning to individuals with a number of cognitive and mental health challenges by developing individualized projects to encourage meaningful interaction with their environment.

Using the process called “chenille” her students create their own textile by sewing layers of 100 % cotton fabric, machine-washing then drying to produce a soft textured cloth. The shapes are then developed into beautiful placemats, bags, table runners and rugs.

Susana also donates creations of scarves and toques to shelters on a seasonal basis.  In the winter of 2017, over 40 individual pieces were distributed to newly arrived refugees in Thorncliffe Park, Toronto.

 “My daughter is 25 years old, has down syndrome, and loves doing crafts. Previously in adult craft programs she would be delegated to colouring in pictures and doing as she says “silly things”. I didn’t know what to expect in joining Susana’s group. I was a little worried for my daughter…would she become bored, frustrated, unhappy as had been my experience. Susana has managed to bring out skills I didn’t know my daughter was capable of. Professionally finished quilted placemats, beaded bags, knitted scarves. Some of which sold during an Xmas show. The others proudly used in our home. She loves being praised by others for her finished products and feels great accomplishment in using her new skills.  Placing the cash received from selling her items in her wallet is a great thrill.” 
– Mrs. B. H. Scarborough, Ontario, Canada


SIIMA handmade is a slow-mode, made by order fashion brand that has sustainability, environment, and ethics in mind. Owner and artist, Sona Metcalfe lives locally in the Beaches and creates all her designs from her home studio.

Sona makes baby, children, and adult clothing and is careful to select fabric that is made only from the highest quality organic and natural materials.

SIIMA does not produce any waste. All fabrics and threads that would not be used are collected and repurposed to make pillows that are shared with those in need. 

– Nicole Tanti, Community Engagement Coordinator