If you’re looking for fun home decor pieces, Sparrow Avenue is a great place to look.. We had a quick chat with creator Barbara Di Lella to find out what her story is all about.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?
When my children were young, very young, I was illustrating children’s books. I would work while
they napped. But as they grew older and needed more attention, I left my artwork.
A few years later I decided that if I started my days while everyone was still asleep, then I could
accomplish some of the work I was trying to do.
Now, of course, they are grown up and the days are pretty much my own.

How long does the average item take for you to create?
This is not an easy question to answer but here goes:
The beginning of an item always starts with a drawing. (I won’t even mention the years it took to get
to where I am now with that aspect of my work.) A drawing can take anywhere from a few hours to a
few days until the finished drawing meets with my approval. There are lots of drawings that never
make it to being printed, that’s for sure.
Once I have an image that I’m happy with, I will burn it onto a screen that I have coated with photo
emulsion the previous evening. The screen is left in the dark room to “cure” overnight. The next
morning I will expose the image onto the screen using my homemade light table. This step takes a
few minutes after which the exposed emulsion is washed away (another 15 – 20 minutes depending
on the complexity of the image). The screen is then left in the sun for a day to “rest” and “cure”
some more.
Now I am ready to print!
Each print takes just a few seconds, but there is the set-up time to consider as well as the washing
of the screen.
I will spend a day printing so that I have a lot of items to sew the next day.
There is also the heat setting of each piece so that the print doesn’t fade or wash away.
And there is the ironing and packaging.
So you see: this is certainly not an easy question.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?
Right now one of my favourite designs is the one I did for Canada’s 150th anniversary. My Beaver
image has been quite popular ever since I drew him a few years ago and now,
combined with the other vintage-like elements of the design and printed on a vintage-style linen tea
towel, he seems to attract a lot of attention.

What is the story behind your business name?
There are actually two stories behind the name, Sparrow Avenue.
Not far from where I grew up was (and still is) a street called Sparrow Avenue. It has to be one of
the ugliest streets in the area! But I always liked the name.
The other story occurred around the time I was learning how to screen print. At the time I was
drawing a lot of birds as subject to be printed. Most of those birds were sparrows as there are so
many of them where I live.

What is your best selling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?
The items I make are really just a vehicle for my drawings.
With that in mind, I would have to say that my Beaver is my bestseller.
He is quite compelling and, I guess, cute. He certainly conveys an attitude that speaks to most
people. I have even had customers who have on-going battles with beavers at their cottages, yet
they still buy him!

We’re excited to have Barbara and her items at our Made in Canada Market, but if you can’t wait until September to get your hands on her creations, visit her online!
Etsy: www.sparrowavenue.etsy.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sparrow_avenue

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