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Crowds enjoy fine craft at annual Maker’s Hand

The PEC Studio Tour booth with artist Tina Osborne explaining the collection of art.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
If it was recycled, upcycled, reinvented, sculpted, sewn or woven, it could be found at this year’s Maker’s Hand.

Thirty-nine fine artisans displayed one-of-a-kind wares last weekend at the Picton Community Centre at the popular annual show and sale.

Described as a festival of fine craft, the 14th edition brought in a collection of some of the finest craftspeople from across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

Eager visitors were lined up before the doors opened Friday – the first of the three-day event, and crowds remained consistent throughout the weekend.

The event, hosted by the Prince Edward County Arts Council, was inspired by local artist Peta Hall in 2004. Returning favourite vendors joined new exhibitors selected for the upscale juried show. There were a number of Prince Edward County artists including potter Melanie Mena, of Mena Dragonfly at West Lake and Wellington clay and glass creator Michelle Kosoy, of Kosoy+Bouchard.

This was the second year for Picton sculptor Paul Verrall who works with various stone mediums, including alabaster, serpentine and soapstone.

“We just arrived in the County last year in January so that first Maker’s Hand was our first real experience showing,” said Verrall. “We enjoyed meeting so many people and sold several pieces and this year is no exception. It’s a very well attended show and we meet people from all over the place and I’m flattered when people stop and look at my work. It’s a great experience,” he said.

Carol Thomas, of Picton, was visiting the show with daughter Erin Thomas Estevez and was happy with her purchase of one of Verrall’s sculpture’s entitled “Night Loons”.

Jen Manuell, of Fish Eye Sisters, came in from Emsdale (north of Huntsville) and works with textiles and dyed wool to create unique, colourful pieces of artwork and home goods with a modern twist on tradition.

“I love the show. It’s one of the greatest curated small shows. “It’s fun for us as artists because we get to meet all of our friends as it’s a more intimate type of a show,” said Manuell, also at the show for a second time. “It’s nice. It’s a lot of fun and the organizers and all of the volunteers are amazing and they take such great care of us and as an artisan, that makes you want to come back between the customers and the show itself.”

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Prince Edward County Studio Tour, which also operates under the PEC Arts Council umbrella, had a booth showcasing six local artists, including mixed media painter Renee Hiltz, multi-media artist Tina Osborne, flow artist Michelle Hutchinson, painter Annik Després, fine artist Indra Dosanjh and stained glass artist Peter Doyle.

Flow artist Michelle Hutchinson one of six artists showcasing their work at the PEC Studio Tour booth.

Hutchinson is from Amherst Island and was a guest artist at this year’s studio tour.

“I mainly work on wood and I pour my paint mix with my medium onto the substrate and then I move it around to get different interactions,” said Hutchinson who describes her art as joyful.

“I use heat and different polymers to create all of these. I call them social interactions because something fun is going to happen when you mix a dense heavily-pigmented opaque with a very transparent colour. One wants to sink with gravity and one wants to rise and the heat when applied creates this social interaction,” she said.

Textile artist Marta Mouka from Tweed with her silk scarves and artwork which are contact-printed with plant material.

From hand-made all-leather shoes from Sherbrooke, functional metal art from Guelph and three-dimensional nylon jewellery from Hamilton to funky watches from Montréal, glass mosaics from Inverary and tin can banjos from Amherst Island, the show welcomed an eclectic mix of art and artisans.

Glass mosaics made by artist Jolanda Noble of Inverary.

Jolanda Noble, from Inverary, works with glass mosaics and stained glass. Husband Rick Noble prepares the frames for her glass art pieces.

“We try to reclaim antique window frames and keep them out of the landfill sites, hence all the old window frames here,” he said. “There’s 80 years, 100 years of patina, oxidation and weathering. It’s easy to get behind something you believe in and I know my wife does this from the heart. I have seen her develop as an artist using glass as a medium.”

Picton-based professional photographer Peggy deWitt displayed a selection of her familiar County scenes and she was also selling her popular calendars. deWitt is the only artist who has participated in the show every year since its inception.

Irina Rapaport has been doing the show for seven years.

“I started with jewellery and at some point people wanted to buy what I was wearing and then I started to make clothing,” she said.

In what she describes as a fabric collage, she makes all her own designs and also upcycles and recycles old clothing.

“It’s all found materials or gifted fabrics, you name it,” she said.

Weaver Leslie Songer Terry brought her hand-made baskets from Gravenhurst.

Leslie Songer Terry, who travelled from Gravenhurst, has been making baskets since 1984 but this is her first time at The Maker’s Hand.

“I took a one-day workshop and was immediately hooked to basketry,” she said. “I’m a cloth weaver as well so that’s where I started, so this is just another version. It’s a beautiful show with some lovely art with some things I’ve never seen before.”

Every year, The Maker’s Hand chooses a local charity to feature with a table located at the entrance to the show. This year’s choice was Reaching for Rainbows, a volunteer-based organization which helps young girls at emotional risk by offering a variety of specialized programming and activities.

Judy Silverberg, a volunteer with Reaching for Rainbows, the show’s chosen charity this year

Judy Silverberg, a volunteer with Reaching for Rainbows, said the girls had been painting all month long to create artwork to display on the table.

“Donations received today help us run the programs for the girls, including purchasing art supplies!”


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