The craft cycle
As the final cruise ship leaves port and the few remaining seasonal shops close up for the year, the craft community of Prince Edward Island winds down from a busy tourist season. With top notch weather combined with Canada 150 celebrations, PEI was buzzing for the last few months and this creative community on the Island played a major role in it.
Over 1.3 Million tourists visit PEI each year and many are recognizing the benefit of buying fine craft for souvenirs. The culture sector is recognized as a key economic driver for the tourism industry of PEI, resulting in more and more creatives able to make a living doing what they love.
In a recent study conducted on the craft community of PEI, it was found that there are just over 300 active craftspeople and approximately 150 retail operations that sell PEI handmade fine craft. The craft sector in PEI has annual sales of approximately 9 million dollars. This makes a significant impact on our economy and one that has great potential to grow.
As it goes with living in any tourist destination, there are seasons and cycles.
The life of a craftsperson on PEI is also cyclical.
As November arrives, we hunker down for the cold winter months in our studios, sipping on coffee in handmade cups, listening to the sounds of CBC all day long while our hands are busy carving wood, shaping clay or fusing glass. Building stock for the busy season. Counting pots and firing kilns. Packing it all up for the warmer days when the snow finally melts and we emerge from our solitary spaces. Store shelves are dusted, floors mopped and the pile of production accumulated through the winter is unpacked, patiently waiting for the moment an adorning fan takes it off the shelf and up to the counter.
The shift from being in our quiet studios to bustling shops is always a challenge but an exciting one, as is the other end of the spectrum when your shop is nearing the end of the season. In the spring and the fall, we’re ready for the change of pace. In the summer and the winter, we’re devoted to making and selling our fine craft which has been handcrafted with care, piece by piece. Ready to be loved and put to use.
Another cycle of craft on PEI is upon us. Soon enough school gymnasiums, church halls and convention centres will be filled with fine craft for the annual Christmas Craft Fair season. Many of these events have become an entrenched PEI tradition, like the PEI Crafts Council fair that’s been taking place for over 50 years! There are also new events like the Etsy Artisans of PEI Holiday Market, which showcases Etsy sellers from the island. This is the perfect opportunity to skip hectic malls, get your christmas shopping done in a relaxed atmosphere while supporting local artisans. After all, when you buy handmade, you’re not just buying an object. You’re buying the maker more time to do something they are passionate about and making dreams come true.
—Suzanne Scott is a potter and owner of Village Pottery in New London, Etsy Artisans of PEI Team Captain/Event Organizer and the PEI Crafts Council Past President.