Local artist’s lawn poppies a huge hit

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When local artist Julie Bissell created a sample wooden “lawn poppy” and posted the photo online, she could not have imagined just how popular her creation would become.

When local artist Julie Bissell created a sample wooden “lawn poppy” and posted the photo online, she could not have imagined just how popular her creation would become. The initiative was started earlier this month in advance of Remembrance Day, giving local residents a chance to give support for veterans in a beautiful way. 

The so-called “lawn poppies” are approximately four feet tall, and they stick conveniently into the grass to show colourful support for Canada’s veterans. The idea for the initiative came when another local resident posted online, asking if anyone could create lawn poppies similar to ones created by a business in Arthur, a community northwest of Toronto. Julie created her own version of the decoration, and posted a sample. An outpouring of community positivity quickly followed. 

The lawn poppies were sold for a cost of $20 each, with $5 from every sale being donated directly to the Winchester Legion. It took only a few short days leading up to Remembrance Day for the stunning lawn poppies to light up Winchester lawns in a sea of supportive red. 

Of course, there is a story behind every artist, and every initiative, and Julie is no different. Her local business, Chalk it up to Julie, focuses on sustainable living, and reusing and beautifying what is already available. This mindset comes in part from Julie’s childhood, as she grew up with little money, raised by her late single mother who always instilled the importance of giving back. “If I can raise money on behalf of a mother taken too early, that will help heal my broken soul,” Julie said. 

Julie remembers being six years old and seeing her mother digging through garbage, saying that one person’s trash can be another’s treasure. “I didn’t understand then and I’m not even sure what she was looking for that day, but I used those words and my passion for art to create, to inspire others, and to make others feel happy when they look at my art,” said Julie. “It’s those words I hear and she is in every paint stroke.”

Julie has been off work for several years from her career in the youth criminal justice system. She is making the most of this opportunity to spread the spirit of her mother’s love and wisdom by helping out those in need. One of Julie’s specialities is restoring old furniture using chalk painting techniques. 

Overall, 61 lawn poppies were sold, amassing a donation of $305 for the Winchester Legion. Next year’s goal is for a $2,000 donation. Next stop on the fundraising train? Christmas! “I’m currently making some wood decorations for Christmas,” said Julie. “I try for every holiday and would absolutely love to connect to see how I can continue to contribute to the community with donations from any sales from what I create and build.”

To get in touch with Julie or see more of her creations, visit her Facebook page called “Chalk it up to Julie”. 

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