Thursday, 30 August 2012

Amherstburg the Second

The second for me, the forty-fifth for the event, ART by the River.  Once again the Gibson Gallery in historic Amherstburg called up hot and sunny weather for their huge craft sale fundraiser which turns Fort Malden into a tent city for a weekend.

The fort is situated on the banks of the Detroit River, hence a major player in the War of 1812.  Like St. Lawrence Market for the war's 200th anniversary, costumed people roamed the grounds, sweltering in their woolen uniforms or layers of dress, petticoats and corsets.  ("You get used to it", they lie stoically.  "Your body acclimates," they dissemble bravely.)

Last year I toured the main building.  This year I visited the pensioner's cottage, a two-room house the size of a thumbnail, where a pensioned soldier (age mid-forties or so), his wife and seven children lived, sharing at night with several pigs and a cow or two before the barn got built.  I kid you not.
Pensioner's cottage
Bravely sweltering
The best part was the smokehouse, made from a hollowed tree:
How I want one.

Anyhoo, that was my historical foray for the occasion, conveniently situated right beside the concession stand with the veggie burgers.  Too bad they weren't smoked in the smokehouse.

Once again I lucked into sharing the tent of the awesome Ms. Jacqui Uza, who makes astonishingly beautiful vintage-style beaded bags she and her growing coterie of skilled helpers knit.  Jacqui's enterprise, called BOKO (Bead One, Knit One), is sort of a well-kept secret.  The purses are not sold in stores, and their web presence is negligible.  She and her husband, George, travel everywhere, selling these awe-inspiring creations at shows the world over.  (You can see them next at Toronto's Cabbagetown Festival, inside the park, the weekend after Labour Day.)  The Amherstburg show is the only one they do that's local to them.  All weekend long they catch up with friends who pop by.  It's a very jolly scene.  

George and Jacqui are also really marvelous friends and mentors for artists and crafters they meet in their travels.  They are generous with praise, advice and information.  I am lucky to count myself one of their many beneficiaries.

A new one is Courtney Sendzik, a talented young artist in photography and painting, and our next-tent neighbour.
Courtney in her tent
George helped Courtney grapple with her tent's sides and I helped, too, for the free lesson in tentness.  (I don't have one, and if and when I finally get one I don't want to be a complete stranger to the thing.)  Courtney does gorgeous work and has an infectious laugh, and, almost most importantly, has a sweetie who makes wine at Colio Winery.  What's not to love?  

Lawrence and Courtney
Lawrence very kindly gave a bottle to the Uzas (George is an oenophile) and me as we were packing up after the show was over -- Colio Lake and River 2010 Vineyard Select Cabernet Ontario VQA.  I endorse it wholeheartedly.  
Dee.  Lish.  Us.
I also met Elizabeth and James of Harvest Pillows, whose product is filled with buckwheat.  They also  sell them at shows all over the place.  Elizabeth came by my hat display wearing some very wonderful glasses with vintage frames, for which I am a sucker.  Their booth was an oasis of simplicity and calm, which seems apposite when your product is pillows.  I wanted to curl up with one of them right away.  (A pillow, not Elizabeth and James.  Although I'm sure they're personally very cuddly, also.) 
Probably very cuddly Elizabeth and James amid their pillows
It was very nice to be in the sun, yet close to the river and its delicious breezes, on the last weekend of August, seeing some familiar faces and meeting new people.  Some souvenir snaps:

  Emily and Lauren
Our tent of beaded bags and occasionally beady millinery.
A steamship going through, which they do.  The river there is a deep channel for ships, which is why the fort was so crucial during the War of 1812.

Debbie, a.k.a. Pinkie.  Not Pinky, Pinkie.  Somehow this hat spoke to her and she gave it a loving home.

Lorraine, in one of the hats she rocked so well for a bit of dress-up fun.  Behind her is George Uza, Jaqui's charming husband.
Lovely Ms. Kelly and her long locks liked this cap.
This is a photo of Rex, Courtney's cat.  That face!  It cracks me up, and reminds me quite a bit of my cat, Olivia.  She's also a clown.
Olivia, my clown princess.
Continuing this theme, a pooch named Princess.
Judy, whom I met at this show last year when she bought my showpiece "Eliza."   She collects hats, with the input of her husband's discerning eye.  Judy made a beeline to my table first thing this year, which was so flattering it made my weekend.  This is one of the two pieces she chose this time, and an excellent choice, too.  Thanks, Judy!
Chartreuse-loving Shirley.
Jeannine kindly allowed me to borrow her to model this chapeau precis because of her apposite ensemble.  Elle est ravissante.  Merci!

Lovely Ashley in her new gold silk disc band... 

...and Rose, aglow in her new grey one.
  Avery, whose mother said a photo would be okay.
The shady bits of the riverbank were oases in the hot park.
Amanda, radiant bride-to-be, in my latest showpiece.  I'm very proud of this hat because it has a level of sophisticated construction and clever engineering that I haven't achieved before.  Amanda totally "got" it and named it the "OMG Hat."   Thanks, Amanda!  I want to dress your head for your wedding!

And with that we bid another fond farewell to Amherstberg and ART by the River.  Big thank-yous to Jacqui and George Uza, the hard-working volunteers of the Gibson House Museum, and everyone who took the time to come by my display, play dress-up, and make a purchase.

Look for me back at my own spot at St. Lawrence Market this Saturday, as we bid a fond farewell to summer (school year edition).


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