Homegrown Hoedown: The Christmas craft fair season is upon us

The stories are as varied as the goods for sale.

Yukon has a lot of crafty and artistic people, and this is the time of year they all come out to play – or rather they show us what they have been playing at all year long.

Helene Belanger lets out her “inner Christmas Child” by creating Les Belle Choses (the beautiful things). Her booth, which you will find at Fireweed Community Market’s 12 Days of Christmas Market, is a veritable bower of Christmas greenery and décor.

Belanger is a nurse by day, and produces her creations in her off time. She works at it most of the year, stocking up on supplies in February.

“My mom used to have a hotel and I loved the way she decorated it,” she says.

Belanger became inspired when she realized she could make the beautiful decorations herself.

Thelma Piercy is another artisan that is living her passion. She creates Thelma’s Quilts. After 50 years of quilting, she still quilts seven days a week.

“I’ve been known to sew on Christmas Day,” she says.

Piercy sells her quilts at several of the craft fairs including the 12 Days of Christmas, which takes place Dec. 9 to 20, and a market she herself helped to organize, called the Artful Things Christmas Market, which takes place on Dec. 14.

With no formal advertising, she still keeps busy all year, taking orders and, of course, feeding her sewing addiction.

“If I am able to back someone into a corner to talk about quilting, they don’t stand a chance,” says Piercy.

Many of the artists make a big part of their year’s income during the holiday craft fair season.

Esther Winter of Mayo started her business, Winterchild Jewelry, with just a few pieces in a local craft sale in Mayo in 1995, and now has her jewelry is in over 70 stores across Canada. Still, craft show sales, like the Spruce Bog which took place on Nov. 16, but also larger outside sales provide close to half her annual income.

Winter is a year-round artist with three separate lines of jewelry. Her most recent jewelry line, Old Tin Roof, was born out of the necessity to tear down the old cabin on her property.

“I couldn’t bear to throw out the old tin roof,” she says.

The roof was made of old fuel cans, which had been hammered flat. She salvaged the tin and used it as the base and backing for jewelry pieces.

There are also younger artists in the mix.

Krista Austed and Colin Alexander have combined forces in their business, The Copper Garden. Their work, though different in many ways, is complementary in that the base for both is copper. Austed mainly creates jewelry, and Alexander creates, well, all sorts of things, but primarily portraits and paintings using the colours created by heating a copper canvas layered with paint.

Alexander shows his work year-round at Yukon Artists @ Work, and the two of them also participate in other shows. They showed at the Fireweed Summer Market and Spruce Bog, and are on the waiting list for the 12 Days of Christmas Market.

These are just a sampling of the items you will find at the holiday craft fairs. There are jams and jellies, adorable decorated cupcakes, kettle corn, bread and pies. There are painted gold pans and burls, handmade cards and decorations, leather goods, fine art photos, paintings and prints and even baby tutus.

The common theme is that all are homegrown, created by local crafters and artists, in the Yukon.

Craft Fairs Coming Up

You are not too late to get in some shopping – here is a list of sales still to come:

Nov. 30 – Elijah Smith School – First Nations Craft Fair – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dec. 7 – 56 Carpiquet in Takhini North – 15th Annual Littlest Art and Craft Fair

Dec. 7 – Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre – Kwanlin Dun Craft Fair – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 9-20 – Old Fire Hall – The 12 Days of Christmas, Fireweed Community Market – opening day noon to 9 p.m., Sat-Wed 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thurs-Fri 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec. 14 – Westmark Hotel – Artful Things Christmas Market – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And in Atlin:

November 30 – Atlin Recreation Centre – Christmas Craft Fair, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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