“I’m not aware of any festival like this in North America,” says Crafted Vancouver’s executive artistic director Carrie Ross. She stands in the back room of Granville Island’s Performance Works behind a black curtain; beyond this, a group buzzes around the beautifully designed Korean ceramics on display.
This evening marks the kickoff event for the inaugural 25-day Crafted Vancouver festival, which runs until May 28, 2018. As a series of guided tours, exhibits, seminars, and interactive talks with exceptional craftspeople from Vancouver and around the globe, it is indeed the first of its kind in the city. “We’re not showcasing hobby craft,” says Ross, describing the very specific level of expertise exhibited at a variety of venues for the next few weeks. “The festival is really focusing on professional craftspeople who have been honing their skills over a number of years.”
Along with the vases, bowls, and tablewares from artists working in places like Quebec and the United Kingdom, Crafted Vancouver celebrates the often-unacknowledged artists, creatives, woodworkers, glassblowers, silversmiths, and the like found right here in the Lower Mainland. “We have some of the best craftspeople in the world in Vancouver who are not necessarily known or recognized,” Ross says. From broom-making, shoemaking, and silversmithing, to textiles and metal work, to boat-building and glassblowing, it is a collective of only the finest skilled workers from their respective industries.
Crafted Vancouver is meant to educate and strengthen the connections of craftspeople from around the world, allowing experts to share tips and skills. But of course, it is also a chance for craft enthusiasts to get their hands on something beautifully made for the home by way of furniture, sculpture, and other fine goods. The curious can even try their hand at making something through one of the many tutorials and workshops on offer; learn how to dye, wire, and bind together flowers during a millinery class, learn how to weave complicated fabrics like silk, or learn how to use a traditional textile loom.
There are also guided tours, including The Balvenie After Hours Series. A collaboration with Balvenie Scotch whisky, local historian John Atkin, and award-winning glass artisan Brad Turner, the event includes either a visit to the Marine Building or Hycroft Manor to look at the detailed work of tradespeople throughout the years. For refreshments, The Balvenie is served in Turner’s glassware. Another major event, this one showcasing woodwork and furniture, is Crafted Interior, which will take place at North Vancouver’s Pipe Shop. “Some of the best furniture-makers in North America are here in Vancouver, and their work will be at the show,” says Ross. She shares that the Inside Passage School of Fine Cabinet Making in Roberts Creek is often referred to as the best in the world, and many alumni will be present to discuss bespoke and customized furniture for sale.
Whether it be woodwork, ceramics, or fabrics, “we want people to come to all of these events,” declares Ross. So much to discover, so much to learn.