A Local Shop Is For Life

I snapped that photo on a trip to the UK with my partner. We were in Hastings, on the south coast of England, and had visited some of the amazing local artists and shops found in old attics, converted garages, up tumbly old steps or hidden behind secret doors. I took the photo because I believe it - preferring the handmade to the mass-produced; shopping at my local stores wherever I lived, knowing the shopkeepers, and ultimately, supporting a diverse neighbourhood economy. Little did I know that less than two years later we'd be opening our own local shop.

We wanted to open a shop that allowed us to explore our love of the handmade, our love of making things, and an appreciation of craft - fine, excellent craft - here in Canada. We were inspired, and awed by The New Craftsman shop in London - they scour the UK looking for the best and finest crafters and makers. Visit the shop if you're ever there. And by Hole & Corner, the journal focused on craft (I'm really hoping to carry it - it will be the only thing NOT Canadian!). But it is inspiring.

After all, it's in our DNA to make things - we've done it since we learned to flake off a piece of rock to use to cut something.  Through time, we used to have to make things ourselves or go to a craftsperson, who honed their skills, apprenticed and practiced to become a master of their particular craft. So we went to the dressmaker for a dress, the tailor for a suit, the woodshed for a table, or to the candlemaker for our candles. We went to the potter for our pots, the silversmith for our flatware, the weavers for bedding and textiles, and so on.  And we often had to wait for it and rely on the skill and creativity of the craftsperson to make it well, and make it beautiful. Slow craft. 

But in a sense, like with most things, we've lost touch with the art of making and the handmade: whether it's food, clothing, art, candles, homewares or furniture we're now used to being able to access it whenever, and wherever, we want. We go to the bookstore to pick up a book, but we can also buy a candle and a scarf.And increasingly, we do it from the comfort of our homes - someone across the country can buy the same book, candle and scarf at the same time.

So here we are.

When we decided to open this shop we wanted to make the philosophy of the handmade and the craft of the skilled artisan our mission. Guildworks is all of that - beautiful items that at each step were formed, glazed, sanded, stitched or dyed by Canadian artists specializing in their craft at all stages of their careers. Yes, Canadian. Our hope is to showcase the best craft from across the country and through that, support a rich culture of creativity and art. It doesn't mean the items will all be expensive - some will because in some cases, they took months to make or the technique is complex - but they will all be beautiful and all of it will be handmade regardless of the price point.

But that is only part of it. As a dabbler in various craft forms and a background in art, it's important to me that personal creativity is explored, nurtured and appreciated. So there will be workshops where people - you - can explore a craft or learn to appreciate an old art form, and learn directly from some of Canada's best artists and makers. We want Guildworks - situated in the heart of Prince Edward County where art, food and wine are at the heart of the community - to be a place where the art of craft is alive, where curiosity, a love for art and 'making' things becomes a personal journey that feeds the soul. Because a local shop is for life


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