Words & Photos by Heather Goldsworthy
Having lived in a variety of small towns, ski villages and cities across Canada and abroad I have yet to find a place that parallels this region’s unique blend of outdoor lifestyle, food and beverage culture, creative arts, and entrepreneurial spirit. Over the past few years, it has been incredible to observe and participate in the growth and evolution of our community of creative businesses, artists and makers. One of the most inspiring and em- powering aspects, for me personally, is the number of passionate and am- bitious women in the area who are creating beautiful functional art and building careers with their craft. Here are a few of the talented folks I have had the pleasure of connecting with and think you should know about.
The first time I saw a Georgian Bay Board I fell in love with the fluid waves of blues, turquoise and white mimicking the Georgian Bay shore- line. Designed and made by Lindsay Russell (Backwood Design Co.), each board is made with reclaimed or salvaged local wood and hand-painted with swirls of pigmented epoxy so each piece is inherently unique.
Finished with food-grade oils and epoxy the boards make gorgeous display platters for cheese and charcuterie or, if you’re like me, display it as the piece of art it is. Lindsay and her husband Brad began making live edge furniture four years ago, which led to Lindsay making charcuterie boards in 2017 before inspiration struck in the spring of last year and Lindsay started experimenting with adding pigmented epoxy to the boards. Since officially launching Backwood Design Co. last May, the popularity of her classic and Georgian Bay Boards has blown up. The boards are now carried by retailers throughout the area, including The Cheese Gallery in Thornbury and the Creemore 100 Mile Store, and sold directly through their instagram – but you have to act fast, they sell as quickly as they are posted! (@backwooddesignco).
Also inspiring is Lindsay’s infectious energy and community- driven attitude. She is genuinely excited by others success which has led her to support and promote other local artisans creating complimentary pieces including cheese knives from railroad spikes made by John, a semi-retired blacksmith, and cheese domes by glassblower Kate Civiero (Infinite Glass-works).
If you have been to Butter Gallery in Collingwood or the Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op you may be familiar with Kate’s colourful glass pieces. A glassblower for over 16 years, she was drawn to the medium because of the lessons and challenges that working with 2100o molten glass provides. Kate is also an accomplished metalsmith—her copper etched pieces are something to behold with their geometric shapes and intricate patterning. Meticulously designed and thought out, Kate’s copper pieces are a beautiful contrast and compliment to her colourful glassworks which are more organic and impulsive by nature. Recently,
Kate has been focusing on creating functional glassware and tumblers—a must-have for anyone wanting something unique for their bar or kitchen.
A big supporter of community, Kate Civiero is involved in several art collectives and collabora- tions. As a member of the Owen Sounds Artists’ Co-op, she has benefited from the support that collective of artists has provided and extends that sharing of knowledge by teaching glassblowing and copper etching workshops at their own studio, a restored historic barn in Eugenia, and The Georgian Artisan Shop in Thornbury.
As with Lindsay and Kate, I stumbled upon this last maker via Instagram and was struck by her modern-industrial design sense. Jessica Wilkins (Naked Designs) went to school for interior de- sign and her knowledge of ergonomics, functional design and aesthetic is evident in her pieces. Growing up in the area, Jess’ creativity and passion were nurtured and encouraged by her mom, established local abstract painter Jenn Wilkins. When Jess graduated she gravitated to furniture making, invested in some equipment, and taught herself how to weld.
Her signature Minimal Lounger is an elegant blend of organic and industrial materials and lines, as are her tables, headboards and lights. Since moving back to the area a couple years ago, Wilkin’s work and style has been noticed and her roster of clients for furniture and interior design has steadily grown. You can find Jess’ pieces at Mumba in Creemore or visit her new showroom in the heart of Clarksburg.
Hopefully you are inspired to check out these featured artisans and will endeavor to explore our local galleries, markets and shops to discover more of them. We are truly blessed to have a network of makers and artists who value community over competition and connecting with one often leads to learning about another. Who will you discover this Spring?