Friday, July 6, 2012

Artisans of the Island

Kindred Spirit friend and I are souvenir snobs.  We eschew the usual convenient offerings for the far away artist's studio.  We enjoy meeting the artisan in her natural habitat.  (I know that their are male artisans as well, but oddly, during this trip we only ran across their female counterparts).  I believe that the 2000 kilometers that we put on our wonderful rental car, will testify to the truth to that statement.  We managed to perplex our Garmin and challenge all the iron nosed people in our car.
But we found the artists and it was worth the excursions.

  • Marcela Rosemberg: Amazing glass artist.  A Jewish woman from Argentina, she was invited to come to Prince Edward Island to live and work and share her art form with the locals and the tourists.  A gracious woman who understands how blessed she is, displays with joy her work that includes her Jewish faith;,  menorahs, mezusahs and Seder plates to delicate pieces of jewelry and functional art.  It was a rainy day when we visited her studio but the brilliance of her glass and her warm hospitality made it a glowing encounter.
  • Brenda Watts: Woodworker extraordinaire. KS did not make it out of the studio without a piece.  Brenda's rural studio sits amid the very thing that she repurposes; bountiful trees!  The men in our group were awed by her state of the art equipment and tools and the skill she used to create the wonderful things in her studio.  From cutting boards to decorative items, her creative imagings in wood won us over. Her daughter, a fused glass artist, shares some of her mama's space as well.  A good marriage of crafts. Pandia Glass/Meghan Watts

Naturally, all this oohing and ahhing worked up an appetite 
And wouldn't you know it, in the midst of NOWHERE there was the tiniest Tea Shop.  This convenient little stop came attached to Belfast Mini Mills an extremely productive 'little' place, it produces Mini Mills for those involved in wool spinning cottage industries.  This small spot on the island produces the mills as well as an abundance of hand knit and woven items for sale in their showroom.  Not only do they knit and weave the items but most of the wool is from their own sheep.  While we were there, a local sheep farmer dropped by a load of unspun wool.  There was a torrential rainstorm going on while we were in the shop so we had plenty of time to peruse the finished items and the wool.  I came away with a grand gift for all the grandgirls to share and some wool to make Hubby some warm slippers. The shop even had Samoyed Dog Wool.  No kiddin.

Another stop on the Artisan Tour was at Hazel and Bette's home/rug hooking shop.  Not being too friendly with contemporary ways, these two adorable sisters handed out their handmade cards without benefit of websites or Facebook friending.  These two ladies have probably been hooking and designing and selling the accouterments for many years.  They finished each other's sentences and complemented their skills.  One sister was the bookkeeper who kept the other grounded.  The other was the designer and right side of the equation.  While KS received a perfunctory introduction to Rug Hooking 101, I snapped the sign on their door.  'Open at noonish today'.  Somethin tells me that if KS and I had a shop, we would borrow their sign.


Driving the long lane to Hedwig Koleszar's Gallery/Studio, it came to mind that artists, these designers of lovely things, are quite possibly, the glue that holds us together in the midst of our day to day mundane and challenging lives.  The beauty that they bring into our lives in simple and amazing ways overwhelmed me as we entered Hedwig's property.  Gardens carefully and organically cared for, the warm greeting from her puppy and the smiling face of her Summer Assistant, was a mere portent of the lovely pottery that she creates.
It was at Hedwig's Studio that we discovered the true spirit of Prince Edward Island.  We had encountered such lovely people during our stay.  Cars stop in the middle of the road if you are waiting to cross.  Smiles are abundant and greetings are warm.  They seemed genuinely interested in why we would visit their island and where in the states we hailed from.  KS is great at engaging conversation so while she did all the work, I quietly peered into all the areas of the studios and galleries. 
At Hedwig's, we were told that sadly, she was in town but that we were free to wander around.  It was while we were absorbing the vibe in her studio, that we saw the note:.

Need I say anymore?
Book your next vaca..'.Holiday' for next year, late June.  And tell Hedwig that we said thank you for restoring our faith in mankind.....

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