I dropped by Debbie Gilmer’s pottery studio the other day… UM…no… Pandemic-era studio shows aren’t exactly drop-in affairs! I arrived at Debbie Gilmer’s pottery studio a bit earlier than my allotted time, so I waited in my car until the previous visitors had exited the building.
Artisans and crafters all over Ontario are facing similar obstacles to showing their work this holiday: only a few visitors at a time, names taken for contact tracing, and fewer people out browsing. Craft and Artisan Fairs, filled with a mix of people looking for unique gifts and those just looking, aren’t happening this year. Sadly, wandering among the artisans and crafters for the sheer pleasure of finding out what their creative minds have offered up, is not considered essential. Understandable and supportable, yes, but also very sad.
Artisans rely on fairs, studio tours, and open houses to introduce their work to new people. One of the best things about visiting them at fairs or in their studios is chatting with them about their creations. There is no place for browsing or random chatter this year. Even if I can get into a studio open house, I feel guilty for both taking up the artist’s time when they could be using the limited exposure opportunity to reach someone who has more money to spend than I do, and for being somewhere I don’t absolutely need to be!
I really miss checking out what the Artisans and Crafters are up to this season, so I was happy to visit Debbie and friends. She uses Canadian clay, and her pieces are warm and earthy, practical and gorgeous. There are bowls and tea pots, but also creations such as soap trays, designed to keep artisanal soap out of a puddle of water, large and small berry bowls that allow air circulation, ramekins, butter pots, candle holders for local beeswax candles, tree ornaments, and spigoted bottles.
Other artists included Steven Henderson with furniture, and EssenScent with essential oil blends, glycerine soaps, and lotions. The Rustic Baker offered holiday cookies, brownies, scones, fudge,and pies. All About the Bees had beeswax candles, beeswax, beeswax wraps, and honey. Dawna Marquette makes unique, inspired jewelry pieces, featuring sterling silver, semi-precious stones, patterned silver, and wire. Ben Macpherson is a photographer, offering photo sessions, as well as his pictures as prints or cards. He also makes and sells small batch, gourmet barbecue sauces, Ben’s Quality BS. You have to admit, that’s quite the combination!