It seems like everything is tagged as “handcrafted” these days, from smoothies to sportscars. Enter Crafted Vancouver, a new organization that aims to give real meaning to craft again by uniting local, national, and international artisans—think ceramicists, glassblowers, lace-makers, and more—for a month-long festival from May 4 to 28.
“Crafted Vancouver is made up of a group of craft enthusiasts,” explains Carrie Ross, the organization’s executive and artistic director, whose travels in Europe inspired her love for fine craft. “It’s really all about creating connections for skilled craftspeople to meet people who may not have heard of them, and to do this in small, intimate encounters.” This interdisciplinary craft smorgasbord will play out through a variety of city-wide events that blend the aesthetics of functional art with a few added layers. For instance, the Balvenie After Hours Series will lure whisky-lovers to the city’s iconic Marine Building with a guided tasting by the Balvenie’s national brand ambassador, Jamie Johnson, and pair it with a talk by civic historian John Atkin on the building’s interior. Guests will head home with their tasting tools in tow: four handcrafted glasses by featured artist Brad Turner, who is also the studio manager of Terminal City Glass Co-op, the only non-profit co-operative glass facility in Canada. The Vancouver Opera is another event partner, organizing a behind-the-scenes tour of the craftsmanship that goes into one of their productions; the partner list goes on.
“It’s really all about creating connections for skilled craftspeople to meet people who may not have heard of them, and to do this in small, intimate encounters.”
“One of our goals with the festival is to try and create new channels for these craftspeople, like Balvenie and Brad, for example,” says Ross. “We want to look at brainstorming all sorts of collaborations that we can set up for people.” An international workshop series will include sessions as varied as quilting, with Sinead Black from Northern Ireland, and embossed velvet lily-making with UK textile artist and milliner Bridget Bailey, who will teach such specialized techniques as silk-dying and stem-binding at VanDusen Botanical Garden. A multi-day Korean Master Ceramic Workshop will tap the talents of six top ceramicists from the Icheon Potters Association of Korea, also flying in specially for the event. “There is some amazing work floating around the international craft world, but we just don’t see it come here because so many of our art galleries do not focus on craft. Some do, but most don’t,” says Ross. “We want to help change that.”
Homegrown West Coast talent will include handmade Japanese knives from Douglas Chang’s Ai & Om; furniture by Jay Miron; beeswax candles by von Hardenberg Candles; woodwork by Brent Comber; leather shoes by Renée MacDonald of Westerly Handmade Shoes; hand-hooked rugs by Michelle Sirois-Silver; micro-distilling by Charles Tremewen of Long Table Distillery; lacework by the Vancouver Lace Club, and more. Those interested will also have a chance to meet the makers during a weekend-long exposition at the Heritage Hall, and at another five-day exhibition, called Crafted Interiors, dedicated to handcrafted furniture and design for the home. “I think that when you look at some craftspeople, they’re true artists,” says Ross. “They are often busy creating, not necessarily promoting. The time involved to try and make those connections themselves is really difficult. That’s why we’re here. And we are a non-profit society—we’re all doing it for the love.”
Crafted Vancouver runs from May 4–28. Full event schedule can be found at www.craftedvancouver.com.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter, here.