Christmas exhibit changing common views of crafts
Jewelry designer Bridget Remai is one of the artisans displaying work at the Signatures Christmas Show this week.
The arrival of the Christmas craft show season means different things to different people.
While some Ottawans are thrilled to hit the ATM in anticipation of collecting new bric-a-brac, I admittedly fall into the category of people who would sooner avoid tables full of felt puppets.
But it’s not like that, said John Ladouceur, founder of Ottawa’s massive annual Signatures Christmas Show. “Some people have a preconceived notion about what craft shows are,” he said.
“Crochet doilies and macramé planters — there’s none of that here,” offered show manager Nancy Law.
The show, which opened at the Ottawa Congress Centre yesterday, features 170 exhibitors from across Canada and is expected to draw 30,000 people over its six-day run.
“When you walk around and see the quality and calibre of the work here, it’s not your high school gym,” said Law. “This is a showcase of Canada’s top design people.”
“Once we get them here, we win them over,” said Ladouceur, who was, by then, preaching to the converted.
Decorative eggs, glasswork, housewares, fashion accessories, baby blankets, children’s toys, paintings, clothing, watches, candles, one-of-a-kind birdhouses, decorations, chocolates, preserves, dolls, cards, carvings and more jewelry than you can shake a stick at lined the booths. Not a doily in sight. I found myself fighting an urge the shop on the job.
“The word craft has really changed,” said Bridget Remai, a jewelry designer and co-owner of Ottawa’s Workshop Studio and Boutique “It used to be knitted booties. Not anymore.”
The demographic visiting craft shows have changed too, she said. “I think this is going to get trendier and trendier to meet the demand. People think it’s important to be in contact with the producer of the things they consume. When you buy something handmade, you’re supporting the artist and their family.”
More Ottawans are gravitating towards handmade items, agreed Ladouceur. “Ottawa has historically been a strong supporter of the arts.”
Metro Ottawa’s Tracey Tong is an award-winning reporter. A Burlington native, Tong’s career has taken her all over Ontario. Her Cityscapes column appears every Wednesday.