Scissors, stitching and sculptures all summer long

It seems the biannual Spruce Bog craft sale isn't enough to sate the hunger of arts and craft enthusiasts. Demand for the popular, and often crowded sale has convinced organizers to create a summer home for Spruce Bog at the Westmark Klondike Inn.

It seems the biannual Spruce Bog craft sale isn’t enough to sate the hunger of arts and craft enthusiasts.

Demand for the popular, and often crowded sale has convinced organizers to create a summer home for Spruce Bog at the Westmark Klondike Inn.

“For a very long time our members have said, ‘Gee, it would be nice if there was something we could do in the summer,’ and customers have said, ‘Gee, it would be nice if we could shop for your stuff in the summer,’” said Pam Charman, the Yukon Craft Society’s event co-ordinator. “Then the meeting of minds happened and the manager of this hotel had the brilliant idea to bring a gift shop to his customers – the people on the bus tours – that’s different from all the other gift shops they’re going to see on their west tours trip.”

Like with the Christmas and spring events, all products are Yukon-made and handmade. But apparently the summer heat has shrunk everything down.

The Artisan Market features only half the vendors the Spruce Bog draws, the venue and vendor tables are much smaller and most of the products fit into a suitcase.

“Of course we keep in mind these people are travelling and they’re very limited in how much space they have,” Charman said.

But for the bigger products like the large paintings by local artists, the crafts society offers a mailing service “if they find something here they can’t live without,” said Charman with a laugh.

The room used to be a hotel bar, but has been transformed to display items like photographs, paintings, jewelry and jam. Some of the most popular items are the Yukon Tartan as well as the smaller items, like miniature paintings that are packable, the organizer said.

The artists take this opportunity to showcase their work to locals and new travellers everyday.

“It’s a good opportunity for us in regards to the tourist. For the summer it opens up a whole new niche,” said jewelry maker and vendor Xenia Yule.

It also creates a space for the artists to react with one another and with their clients.

“I’m really happy that artists of the traditional Spruce Bog sale were able to get together and have a summertime store because a lot of locals see us throughout the summer and say, ‘Where are you? Where’s your stuff?’” said Carlie Ferland, a bead jeweler. “It’s fun to have a place to come and see each other and connect with the other artists.”

It also gives the artists a chance to sell their work without paying a middleman. The Yukon Crafts Society is volunteer-run, with 790 shifts during the summer, and the space was donated by the hotel so all they money goes back to the artist.

There has been nothing but positive feedback from everyone involved except visitors say they don’t have enough time to shop, Charman said.

Charman recalls an Australian group who came in one night.

“We chatted with them and had a real good time. We had a good visit.”

They returned the next morning and bought a lot more, telling the cashier they felt so welcome and enjoyed their time.

Although the Artisan Market is open everyday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. to accommodate bus tours, Whitehorse residents are also taking part in the event.

Everyone who has seen the white Artisan Market banner hanging on the back yellow wall of the Klondike Inn has been very excited, Charman said. Many return with their friends and family who visit the area.

This Christmas will be the 35th anniversary of Spruce Bog and the locals are still active after all these years, Charman said. “The local people are very supportive and have been very supportive all along.”

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at larissaj@yukon-news.com

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