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Craft Producers on Great Northern Peninsula Share Experiences

The Great Northern Peninsula has a number of craft producers that are hobbyists, part-time or engaged in the business earning a living full-time. There is significant opportunity to start and even grow markets in this sector. I recently attended a workshop at 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre, Bird Cove to learn more and provide my own feedback.

I was impressed by the array and diversity of craft producers at the session, ranging from two Youth Ventures participant presentations including Sami’s Cakes and Jasmine’s Nail Designs. Coordinator Sidney Coombs was on hand to talk about the businesses and willing to assist others throughout summer, providing support and advice.

The Western Newfoundlandd & Labrador Developer’s Coop has an exciting idea of an on-line marketplace and also does website development. This offering will help producers have access to a space for market and entry into the on-line or digital world. These are gaps that prevent many from reaching their full market or price potential.

Pricing was discussed by Craft Market Development specialist Brenda Stratton. Members of the CBDC Nortip team was also available as they hosted the session to provide business advice, counselling or financial support.

Woodworking & chain maille jewelry (Robin Gosse), photography (Frank Walters), painting (George Bussey), musical & literary art (Sabrina Whyatt), quilting (Ann Cunard), snowshoe making & traditional crafts (George Elliott) & Mummers (Sheila Short) were just a sampling of what was on display throughout the afternoon.

The session highlighted use of PowerPoint, Skype for virtual meeting, demonstrations and public discussion. There was a lot of engagement and interest in the room. More sessions should be held to encourage more local artists and craft producers to become involved, network and find ways to get their product into the hands of more and more customers.

It was exciting to see involvement from 9 to 90. For Mr. Elliott, he extended the offer to teach others his knowledge of making traditional snowshoes. I hope someone takes him up on that offer. I remember buying some of his pieces when I owned and operated Flower’s Island Museum back in 2002. I hang one of his killicks on my Christmas tree each year.

Talking with craft producers on the Great Northern Peninsula as they share their experiences is one of the unique and authentic encounters when visiting.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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Art, Craft & Culture Thrives on the Great Northern Peninsula

A craft fair in St. Anthony yesterday, hosted by the St. Anthony Come Home Year Committee attracted artisans and craft producers from all across the Great Northern Peninsula. More than two dozen tables were filled with such a diverse array of product, it reinvigorated my belief that we could have a thriving craft industry, artisan studios like the Quidi Vidi Plantation of St. John’s or those on Fogo Island.

The Grenfell Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Historic Properties is the perfect anchor, with 8,000 visitors annually, they would be the ideal location to purchase from these local craftspeople and artists. Their Brown Cottage at the corner of their parking lot can be converted into a multitude of artist studios, just like mentioned above to provide space and an outlet for these craftspeople to grow, produce and share knowledge with each other.

One of the last tables I visited was Lott and Christina’s Driftwood Creations. I was just taken away by each unique piece of art. Christina was very passionate about her creations, telling me that the wood was collected on family outings combing the beach, some of it close to where I live. The story and connection added to the beauty of the one of a kind art. I also loved the professional tagging and a focus on Made in Newfoundland, highlighting St. Anthony on the map. These are the types of things that certainly add value to the buyer. I’m quite proud of this piece, “Some Day on Clothes” and will proudly hang it for many to gaze at something quintessentially “Rural Newfoundland & Labrador”.

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Driftwood Creations has their own Facebook Page offering unique Handcrafted Home Decor made from driftwood found on beaches of Newfoundland. They also make pine furniture made with a rustic country style. They can be reached at 454-3402.

Loving Stuff is handcrafted by Heber and Loretta Hussy of St. Anthony. I was fortunate enough to purchase her product before at the 2012 St. Anthony Come Home Year craft fair. There I got myself the last four remaining mummers, this year I manage to get several more to add to my collection and some on my Christmas list may be also receive one as well!

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After 5 years of co-founding and organizing the Mummer’s Walk in the Straits on the Great Northern Peninsula, people know I love mummers and the concept of what mummering or jannying as we use to call it means to those who grew up in outport or rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I love how Loretta and Heber capture them in such a traditional way! Her product is also tagged professionally and has a story explaining what mummering is all about. I could not resist purchasing the pair of child’s hide slippers. Lot’s of my friends seem to be having babies these days! You can reach Loving Stuff at 454-3513.

Shirley and Doug Mills are quite the team in their craft production, which was exhibited at yesterday’s fair when those who wanted ornaments with their names on them, Shirley called on Doug to handle that task. The array of product Shirley makes is phenomenal, which seal skin has taken a focus.

She makes guitar straps, strap purses, coin purses, boot cuffs, slippers, mittens, earrings, bracelets and now mummers and Christmas ornaments, which I think are totally brilliant.

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Her jewelry and some of these items can be found at the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe, St. Anthony. I can’t wait to hang these incredibly ornaments on my Christmas tree :).

There are so many artisans and craft production on display, from handmade quilts, Minion slippers, Bruce Pilgrim’s Prints, framed Art, Frank Walter’s magnets & prints, Colleen Loder’s iceberg art and ugly sticks, carvings, Carol Roberts’ hand painted rocks, felting and ornaments, original paintings, face painting, knitting items, baked beans, homemade pies and so much more.

It is evident art, craft and culture thrives on the Great Northern Peninsula! I encourage you to support out local artists and craft producers. I want to thank the St. Anthony Come Home Year committee for organizing and providing a venue for these local craft producers and artists an outlet to sell their product and services. We need more space and opportunities throughout the year. Let’s keep making big things happen in small communities!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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