Give Thanks

Vintage fork with hand-hammered message (above) by Wooden Hive.

My business contacts in the US are always surprised when I tell them that my office will be closed at the beginning of October in observance of Thanksgiving. “There’s a *Canadian* Thanksgiving?” they inevitably ask. Why, yes. Yes, there is.

Fall wreath with upcycled tin-can flowers (above) by Custom Created.

Thanksgiving north of the border differs a little from the holiday celebrated by our American friends, but along with the name, there are some traditions that we both share. The similarities include football, family and a propensity towards incredibly cute home and table decorations, as seen throughout this article. You won’t find any pilgrims up here, though; our holiday is an autumn festival to mark the end of the crop season and give thanks for the bountiful harvest.

Handpainted, upcycled record bowl (above) by Eye Pop Art.

While our native peoples have been giving thanks to the land for countless generations before our arrival, the anglo history of Canadian Thanksgiving is a little sketchy in places. The first accounts date back to 1578; when a European explorer held a ceremony to give thanks for surviving a long ocean journey (sound familiar?). In 1872, Thanksgiving was observed in Canada as a civic holiday; however, the date and theme was changed from year to year. Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the second Monday of October, since the passing of an act of Parliament in 1959.

Rustic cutting board/serving platter (above) made from sustainable black walnut by Grey Works Design .

As far as the food is concerned, the Canadian Thanksgiving feast is made up of many of the same foods as the American. Turkey is the traditional main course, although I have seen a few hams hit the table in my time. The roasted bird is, of course, accompanied by sage-spiked stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Usual side dishes are mashed potatoes, veggies, squash dishes, breads and salads.

Pumpkin made from vintage 1970s fabric (above) by Whoopsie Daisies

Visitors from the US sitting down at a Thanksgiving feast in Canada will probably notice one glaring omission – in 38 years of giving thanks, I have never had to “pass along” a casserole of cloyingly sweet, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. It’s not that we have anything against sweets; we’re just leaving room for pumpkin pie!

Pinecone and wire turkey place card holders (above) by Carrieveau Craft.

I shouldn’t diss the sweet potato casserole, though. I’m sure that Americans need all the energy they can get for Black Friday; an event that, to a casual observer, almost seems to trump Thanksgiving itself in the US. We do not have an equivalent to Black Friday up here, unless you count December 26th (aka Boxing Day), and usually spend the long weekend raking leaves and napping. Oh, the glory of tryptophan!

Cotton/wool acorns with real acorn “hats” (above) by Rose Cottage Boutique 2.

So, there. That’s Canadian Thanksgiving in a nutshell. I would love to hear from readers on both sides of the border – what are you thankful for?

Interview with Lorie Beshara of Rock and Roll Coasters

You’ve seen their work in Rebecca’s column, and now you get to hear about the couple behind Rock and Roll Coasters.

What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?

My husband and I make drink coasters using 45 rpm records. We use records that aren’t playable because of scratches and skipping.

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How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?

I sold records on line for 8 years. 45′s were my specialty. I was throwing away about 60% of them because they were scratched and sounded bad. I was getting ready to throw away more and it was breaking my heart. I was looking at them and it suddenly occured to me how cute they would look as coasters. Tom (my husband) is very creative and figured out how to make them. It took about a year to make them look really good.

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Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?

My husband and I work together.

We first cut the record down square from 7 inch to 4×4 inches. Then we go through 3 sealing processes. We also include the little yellow thingy (45 adapter) Tom pours them in Epoxy resin (like used on bartops). He free pours them, we don’t use a mold. They cure for about 3 days. We work about 9 hours a day and do about 27 shows a year starting in March.

That’s become our life and we have a great time doing it.

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Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?

We sell on Etsy. Hopefully we’ll have a website of our own soon. We love selling in person. The coasters are much more striking in person and it’s fun to talk about the music and what people love. We do Fine Arts and Craft fairs just around Colorado.

We’ve tried selling in stores but in shows we display about 600 coasters so that people can build their own sets. That makes it really hard for a retail store.

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The black that you see around the label is the vinyl. These are not just the labels or pictures of the labels. You can’t see the grooves too well because the resin is poured about 1/4 inch thick.

Quite a few original artists own our coasters such as: Denise & the Delicates, Bertie Higgins, Pat Boone, Jay Ferguson, Lou Christie etc….

Thanks Lorie!

And if you would like to be interviewed, just head over to DIY Interviews.

Handmade Nation


Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
“Today’s crafters are no longer interested in simply cross-stitching samplers or painting floral scrolls on china. Instead, the contemporary craft movement embraces emerging artists, crafters, and designers working in traditional and nontraditional media. Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching has revolutionized the embroidery industry. Each year Nikki McClure sells thousands of her cut-paper wall calendars. Emily Kircher recycles vintage materials into purses. Stephanie Syjuco manufactures clothing under the tag line “Because Sweatshops Suck.” These are just some of the fascinating makers united in the new wave of craft capturing the attention of the nation, the Handmade Nation.

Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos. For Handmade Nation (along with the documentary film of the same name, coming in 2009) she and Cortney Heimerl have selected 24 makers and 5 essayists who work within different media and have different methodologies to provide a microcosm of the crafting community. Participants in this community share ideas and encouragement through websites, blogs, boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs. Together they have forged a new economy and lifestyle based on creativity, determination, and networking. Twenty-four artists from Olympia, Washington, to Providence, Rhode Island, and everywhere in between show their work and discuss their lives. Texts by Andrew Wagner of American Craft Magazine, Garth Johnson of Extremecraft.com, Callie Janoff of the Church of Craft, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com, and Susan Beal, author of Super Crafty, supply a critical view of the tight-knit community where ethics can overlap with creativity and art with community. Handmade Nation features photographs of the makers, their work environment, their process, their work, and discussions of how they got their start and what motivates them. Handmade Nation is a fascinating book for those who are a part of the emerging movement or just interested in sampling its wares.” → more info

Handmade Kitchen

[hKristin]

It’s summer, time for lots of parties that will put your kitchen into overdrive! It’s easy to keep your kitchen pretty and well-stocked with a supply of handmade goodies.

First up are these yellow damask tea towels from Fancy Boutique. The yellow color screams summer while the damask pattern adds a hint of sophistication. Also, check out the Fancy Boutique etsy shop for aprons to pretty yourself up while you’re working in the kitchen.

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Sandali

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SANDALI: all the sandals are completely unique & more importantly it extremely comfortable. All the pairs is handmade from thick COW leather & varnished with a special varnish for the finishing touch ;)

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