Artisan Market gives back through hand and heart

Culture Events

The winter holidays are a time to think of others, through gift-giving and donations. The Winter Artisan Market held Nov. 25 and 26, allowed shoppers to browse over 30 vendors while contributing to the United Way Campaign.

Formerly named the UVic Hearts and Hands Craft Fair, the market began in 2001 through its founding organizers Helen Rezanowich (Program Assistant of the Women’s Studies Department), Deb Renney (Administrative Officer of the Education Psychology & Leadership Department), and Annette Barath (Administrative Officer of the Psychology Department.)

Though coordinators and vendors have switched throughout the years, the goal has remained the same. Lynn McCaughey, artist and former planner of the market said, “The idea was that from the heart to raise funds, and with our hands, to create beautiful objects. It’s now come to be a part of, you know, the fabric of the university.”

Money from vendors’ table fees and selling of raffle tickets are donated to the United Way. Through this market and other events, like the UVic Libraries Book Sale and That Chemistry Show, the United Way hopes to raise $250,000 to support those in need around the Greater Victoria community. The Winter Artisan Market usually collects around $2,000 for this cause.

The fact that the funds go to charity helps entice some vendors, like artist and Kinesiology graduate student, Hannah Rose. “I saw the fair last year, but it was too late. So this year, I thought why not [participate]. I like the fact that it goes to charity,” said Rose.

Featuring a wide variety of hand-made creations — from savory IPA-infused mustard to pillows made out of retro fabric — the price ranged from extravagant gifts to cheaper items students can afford. Some vendors offered a student discount.

Rose creates a variety of products, from bracelets to gift tags, all are embellished with buttons. For the past four years, she has been fabricating these delicate items while in school. Though her first time at the market, she is trying to focus on her art through her Etsy shop, Hansen Bouton.

Another vendor, Caron Somers, owner of Two Blooms Design Studio, has been coming to the event for five years. “A lot of customers come by and say ‘Oh I can do that,’ or ‘I’ve seen that on Pinterest,’” said Somers, “and I say good luck.” Somers’ fragrant soaps, lotions, and cleaners are, in fact, all organic and locally-sourced. Some herbs even come from Somers’ garden.

Examining the number of competing artisan markets around Victoria, one might wonder about the sustainability of the independent artist. Denise Nichollos, owner of Avant Crossing Guard Collective said, “I think that there are people who just cannot help but, you know, go to Walmart to do their shopping. But I think in Victoria, we are very lucky. We are very sensitive about the number of artisans.” However, McCaughey adds, “I think that in Victoria we have a lot of talented people, but we also have a lot of markets. We have quite discriminating buyers here because of that.”