The Maker’s Hand makes for a crafty weekend among artists and buyers

(From left) Courtney Reynolds of ColourfulCourts, Felicia Van Noordt of Knots by Felicia and Courtney Rutgers to Rustic+Birch were among the local artists featured at this year's Maker's Hand FIne Craft show in Wellington. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)




What was to be in 2020 came to fruition in 2022 at Wellington’s Highline Hall this weekend.

The Maker’s Hand, a highly curated and popular fine craft that draws artisans from across Ontario and western Quebec, was operating at pre-pandemic clip and leaving organizers from the Prince Edward County Arts Council almost as pleased as the exhibitors.

“We were planning to go ahead with 2020, the applicants were in and then March 2020 happened,” Arts Council Executive Director Janna Smith said.

With the event transitioning to a brighter and larger space in 2019, Smith admitted organizing and staging the event was like making the move to Wellington all over again. With added issue of COVID still being a part of the planing and presentation of Maker’s Hand, there were a number of balls in the air for the Art’s Council to contend with this weekend.

“Overall, we’ve been very happy with the response of the community. On Saturday we had over 800 people come through so we are on target for the most part when it comes to patrons and the vendors are very happy. Some of them remarked their Saturday sales were the best they’ve had the entire year.”

The Maker’s Hand has always focussed on fine craft so those hunting for soaps, food wares, etc. would be out of luck but anyone with interest in original glass work, ceramics, fibre, leather, and wood pieces could source that original gift, fashion item or decorative piece that is nearly impossible to come by.

Smith said the organizing committee takes care to blend local and emerging artists with those from outside the area and finding those that compliment one another is a primary goal that keeps the event mentioned in the same breath at Toronto’s One of a Kind craft show.

“Keeping the compliment fresh while also ensuring the highly popular artists return and draw their supporters is part of the year-to-year goal,” she added.

Among those emerging artists that were local and staying very busy this weekend was Picton’s Felicia van Noordt and her Knots by Felicia booth. van Noordt’s “fibre art created with love in Prince Edward County” started as a grass roots hobby in early 2021.

Van Noordt started posting her work to Instagram, received positive feedback and then secured an opening at Kelly’s in Picton. From there, her abstract macrame pieces, hangers, ornaments have been tying up captive audiences at shows all over Eastern Ontario.

“It’s been a really good community response to my work and it’s been so great to be supported,” Van Noordt told the Gazette. “Maker’s Hand this weekend has been overwhelming but in a very positive way. I’m so grateful to be a part of this show that’s so arts focused. It’s very special.”

Among those thrilled to be back in Prince Edward County was DejaVu Design’s Laura Leavitt whose ‘Conscious Consumption Clothing’ booth is a popular corner venue every time she visits. Leavitt does about 20 shows a year and winds up the calendar year with a tour of western Canada. She enjoys coming to Maker’s Hand because of the quality.

“The level of jurying is high and the County itself has developed so much over the last 15 years. The number of creative people, the increase in the number of studios, the Zeitgeist is perfect here for this kind of event,” Leavitt told the Gazette.

COVID has rankled the craft show market in virtually every corner of the world and while the promise of a return to normal times seemed to be materializing in Wellington this weekend, Leavitt explained discernment was now a key part of selecting where and when to showcase creations in the age of the quarantines and outbreaks.

“Finding fine art shows that are high quality and are closer to home in Toronto is part of the new normal,” she said. There’s also the carbon footprint to consider.”