Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Let's get this party started...

As the inaugural posting for our artisan cooperative, Textures Crafworks, I have been finding the blank page a bit daunting. So much pressure! Where to begin? Starting a blog for our shop in Hamilton seemed like such a great idea at the time! Profit magazine said so! Oh well, I guess I'll just dive in...

A bit about our group-
"Textures: a combined effort of area artisans" was the brainchild of textile artist Margo Griffith, bookbinder Sharon Beasley, and silk painter Janne Hackl. In July 1983, these women realized there wasn’t a year-round outlet for Hamilton-area craftspeople to sell their work other than government-supported galleries, or small owner-operated shops. They dreamed of building a business that would be totally self-sustaining in an environment where most artisans relied on government grants.

One month later, six craftspeople were on board to invest in opening and operating a shop in Hamilton’s Hess Village, becoming the Core Members of the fledgling enterprise, “Textures…a combined effort of area artisans”. Eleven additional artisans paid a small yearly membership fee to join the newly-formed group.

Twenty-five years later, Textures has changed locations twice, but the original philosophy of a not-for-profit shop that is managed, stocked, and staffed by member artisans remains the same.
“While sales in the early years were made up mostly of silk and woven clothing, and pottery was basic brown, we now offer a wide range of items including slick city ware in current colours and designs, high quality jewelry in sterling silver, gold wire and dichroic glass, and unique items for babies and pets,” says Core Member Margo Griffith. “Bookbinding still has a large following, and quality leather mitts are perennial sellers”.

Loyal customers have supported Textures and helped it grow. From an initial membership of seventeen, Textures now boasts more than fifty talented craftspeople between 18 and 80+, and members continue to work together to guarantee a broad range of fine-quality, original craft pieces in a welcoming environment. "Part of Textures' success is the fact that we provide personalized service and information, and treat the customers very well," adds Core Member Sharon Beasley.

Custom orders are encouraged, and the Happy Endings service can even complete that expensive craft project you began so long ago, but never quite seem to finish.

Visitors are welcome to drop by the store, which is currently located at 236 Locke St. South (at Charleton) in Hamilton. One of our artisans will be on hand to greet you daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless you show up on a statutory holiday when the store is closed. If you come by this Sunday, you will find me there for my second shift this month.

"Enough about me, more about you - so what do you think of me?" Or, who the heck is Sandra, and why do I care what she is writing?
I usually only work in the shop once per month, since I also hold down a full-time job at McMaster University. However, I happen to be getting married this fall, so I have opted to work extra shifts over the summer so I can take care of other things closer to the "big day" aka Halloween.

I have been a member of Textures for 10 years now - also the length of time I have lived in Hamilton! Hard to believe it has been that long already. Back then, I was creating a whole line of jewelry from pumpkin seeds, beans, twigs, and other assorted seeds under the name, "Seeduction". (Yes, I am indeed a punny girl.)

Before moving to Hamilton I lived in Sarnia for two years, where I owned and operated my own gift store called "FRED- a store..." on Ontario Street. As with many creative ventures, I was forced to give it up and get a "real job" again, so I moved back to Toronto for a few months, but found I couldn't go back to the big smoke after gearing down in Sarnia. If you've ever lived in either place, you'll probably understand. So I decided to give Hamilton a try. Didn't know a soul there, but got on the GO bus one day and came to check it out.

I found an apartment, and then collected 3 part-time jobs within a week to enable rent-payment, and then maybe grocery purchase if I was lucky. Shortly after arriving in Hamilton, I checked out the arts scene and discovered Textures, which was located in Hess Village then, mere blocks from the new apartment. Although Textures does not usually accept new members after October because it is too difficult to train new workers right before Christmas, they made an exception for me - they liked me! They really liked me!

And so I was a member. Over the years, I expanded my product line to include painted floorcloths, greeting cards, and all manner of weird and wonderful ornaments because one can only make so many fruits, veggies, flowers, insects and creatures out of pumpkin seeds before the idea gets a little old. In more recent years, I have been concentrating more and more on fine jewelry made from more traditional materials such as semi-precious stones, crystals and sterling silver. Frankly, I make more money now, so I can afford better craft supplies!

Anyway, now that I have a (surprise) wedding to plan and pay for at the age of 44, I need to get cracking and make jewelry for all of you out there! After 9 years with my beau, I certainly wasn't expecting the Christmas day proposal - must explain why I burst out laughing when he got down on one knee in front of me (sorry Andrew - love ya!). Since my father passed away a few years ago, I guess I have to make enough jewelry to pay for the ensuing shindig, so any help you wish to provide in the form of custom orders will be gladly accepted.

If you wish to see some examples of what I can do for you, check out my photos on the Facebook group, "Friends of Textures", or keep an eye out this week for the "Shopper" feature in the Hamilton Spectator, which will be featuring a selection of my chunkier necklaces...

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