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New craft shop brings Latino flavour north

Morales and her family stepped out of the warmth of their Whitehorse home and stared into the night sky.

Morales and her family stepped out of the warmth of their Whitehorse home and stared into the night sky.

That winter night brought her first view of the northern lights — a phenomenon she only knew about through movies.

“I didn’t think that they actually existed,” said Ramirez.

“I always thought it was just special effects.”

Watching the curtain of colour weave across the sky, she knew that the territory’s cold winter was well worth it.

She didn’t mind that her feet happened to be freezing.

Ramirez had arrived in the Yukon from Mexico the year before and has since found a deep love and appreciation for the beauty of the North.

She is trying to capture some of that beauty in her artwork.

She sells this art at Jarvis Collectables, a new shop selling arts, crafts and clothing from Latin America.

Ramirez works in aluminum embossing — or repousse — a technique that involves pushing out images in malleable metal to create images in three dimensions.

Lately Ramirez’s art has focused on northern themes — featuring moose, bears, eagles, caribou, geese and wolves.

“I have so many ideas, so many things that I want to do,” she said.

“Right now I’m just inspired by the North.”

Ramirez is also a student of yoga and signs each of her pieces with her spiritual name, Asha, which means “she who never loses hope” in Sanskrit.

Jarvis Collectables is putting the name to the test.

While Ramirez is confident that the new endeavour will be a success and expose her artwork to a larger audience, there hasn’t been a lot of interest so far.

“It’s been sad,” she said. “In the last two days no one has come to visit the store.”

Jarvis Collectables opened its new store below the 202 Hotel a little over a month ago.

The store is run as a co-operative between a number of local Latino families.

Each member pitches in for rent and spends a week running the shop on a volunteer basis.

In exchange, members are given a space to sell their art, crafts and other products.

There are colourful hand-knit bags from Colombia, Costa Rican coffee filters and carved domino sets from Venezuela.

Elaborate Aztec calendars are sold in all forms, from wall hangings to table cloths to large blankets.

Items of jewelry carved from coconut, shells and silver are displayed throughout the store.

And there are also shoes, clothing and embroidered toilet seat covers for sale.

Some of the goods are created in Latin America and either brought back from trips home or sent north by family members.

Others are created right here in the Yukon.

Ramirez’s daughter and son-in-law make the traditional Mexican piñatas that are also on sale.

A few of the giant stars dangle enticingly from the ceiling of the store, tempting anyone who enters to take a whack.

Aside from her metalwork, Ramirez makes an assortment of other crafts.

The Jarvis store has two examples of the still-life art she makes out of dried fruits and flowers.

There are also tiny porcelain dolls that she has crafted to look like Disney princesses.

While some of Ramirez’s work is made with northern themes it retains a Latino mark — if nothing else than by name.

A work depicting a mother bear with her cubs was named La Ternura de Yukon —Yukon Tenderness.

Alas de Esperanza — Hope Wings — was inspired by a trip Ramirez took to Swan Haven outside of Whitehorse.

Jarvis Collectables is located at 206 Jarvis Street below the 202 Hotel and is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.