From woodworkers to rug-hookers, meet the artisans getting creative at Crafted Vancouver

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      Featuring works from over 50 artisans, galleries, and design-oriented organizations, the inaugural Crafted Vancouver will offer locals an intimate look into the city’s gifted creative community. From Japanese knife-making to the meticulous production of handcrafted furniture, ceramics, and even brooms, the event spotlights local and international talent through a number of exhibitions, demos, and talks taking place around Metro Vancouver.

      But with so many artists and objects to explore, where does one begin? We caught up with three participating artists in Strathcona, at a recent media preview for the monthlong fete, so you have an idea what to expect.

       

      Jay Miron's Orca lounge chair is modelled after a traditional African chief’s chair that the artist came across during a trip to Tanzania.

      Jay Miron

      The worlds of professional BMX riding and woodworking may seem far removed from one another, but for Jay Miron—yes, the same “Canadian Beast” credited with developing over 30 tricks during his two-decades-plus BMX career—the two actually have more in common than you may think. “The creativity’s huge, the being in the zone,” Miron explains. “When you’re on a bike performing moves or when you’re in the woodworking shop: if you’re not in the moment, you’re gonna get hurt.”

      A retired BMX legend who racked up nine X-Games medals before hanging up his bike in 2010, the Thunder Bay–born Miron is now based in B.C., where he’s been sharpening his furniture-making skills for the past few years. Drawn to the craft because it “seemed like a super-cool thing to do”, the former athlete learned the trade on the Sunshine Coast before moving into his own East Vancouver studio in 2014. There, he produces solid-wood tables, television stands, and chairs with a distinct midcentury-modern influence. “It’s kind of the pinnacle of furniture to me,” he says of the period from which he borrows. “It’s when the quality was super high, the design was super beautiful, and it wasn’t about a price point.”

      Favouring curvy lines and sleek silhouettes, Miron makes an effort to incorporate quirky design details that ensure his pieces stand out. His Patricia coffee table, for instance, boasts a gingham-pattern top, and his ergonomic Orca lounge chair—modelled after a traditional African chief’s chair that the artist came across during a trip to Tanzania in 2008—is upholstered with luxe red velvet so it has the feel of a plush auditorium seat. “I don’t worry about price or anything when I’m designing,” says Miron. “I make the most beautiful piece I can and then I figure out how to manufacture it, how to price it.”

      You can catch Miron at Crafted Interiors, an exhibition of handcrafted furnishings and design objects at the Pipe Shop Venue (115 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver), from May 20 to 24, and as part of the Balvenie After Hours Series, which will see the artist share his design process during an intimate whisky-tasting at his studio (1997 Pandora Street) on May 16. “For me, it’s a continuation of my bike career,” he says. “It’s not so hard on the body, I can do it until I grow old, and I intend to.”

       

      Textile artist Michelle Sirois-Silver crafts bold, contemporary rugs using the traditions of rug-hooking.
      Andrea Sirois

      Michelle Sirois-Silver

      A communications grad with a background in television, Michelle Sirois-Silver never had the intention of becoming a full-fledged artist. But when she witnessed a woman crafting a hand-hooked rug during a visit to a Surrey farmhouse nearly 25 years ago, she knew she had to get into the craft. “It was the first time I saw anyone doing that,” she recalls, “and I just fell in love with what she was doing immediately.”

      Today, Sirois-Silver specializes in rug hooking, which involves pulling strips of fabric through a woven backing to create a loop-pile rug. At the start of her career, the mostly self-taught artist made the pieces out of necessity (“I needed functional rugs for my home,” she says), but as she has grown more comfortable with the art, she’s increasingly come to push the medium’s boundaries by employing recycled fabrics and unconventional accents such as zippers.

      “It tends to vary,” she says of the materials that make up her mats, which include everything from hand-dyed silk to screen-printed hosiery. “It might be a thrift-store find, something that someone’s brought to the studio and given to me, or it might be something that I’ve mail-ordered from a woollen mill in the United States.”

      Describing her work as “process-driven”, Sirois-Silver estimates that a collection of rugs can take her anywhere from four months to three years to produce. Her attention to detail is reflected in the quality of the items, many of which look equally at home on the floor and hanging against a wall, thanks to the liberal use of bold, graphic prints and hues. “My work is always a combination of traditional and contemporary,” explains Sirois-Silver, “and they’re always engaged in a conversation with one another.”

      Attendees can find Sirois-Silver at Crafted Interiors, during which she will also conduct a presentation (May 22) and rug-hooking demonstration (May 23) that will introduce neophytes to the art she’s so passionate about. “This is the type of craft form where you could create a design from start to finish that’s truly yours, that reflects your interests…and you can really personalize it as well,” she says.

       

      Brad Turner’s shapely, dual-toned glass vessels are inspired by what the artist calls utopian architecture.

      Brad Turner

      When Brad Turner graduated from high school, he found himself choosing between a career in the arts or kinesiology. In an effort to “rebel” against his brothers, both of whom opted to study the former field in postsecondary, Turner chose to pursue physical education. Years later, however, the arts would call his name in the form of glass blowing.

      Now the studio manager of Vancouver’s Terminal City Glass Co-op, the only nonprofit cooperative glass-arts facility in Canada, the Calgary native has built a name for himself over the past decade as one of the country’s most skilled glassmakers. His works, which range from experimental lamps and lighting fixtures to fantastical sculptures reminiscent of flying saucers, challenge and push forward a medium that, for a long time, those unfamiliar with the craft associated mostly with colourful, decorative bowls. “To be able to mix that physical component with the creative component that I sort of forgot for a little while is nice,” notes Turner.

      Most recently, the Alberta College of Art and Design grad has been producing a series of shapely, dual-toned vessels inspired by what he calls utopian architecture. Topped with stoppers that resemble oversize pipettes, the containers combine attractive hues such as peach and yellow and jade and turquoise—a task for Turner, given that he is partially colourblind. “I choose colours I’m familiar with, but it’s always a bit of a gamble for me,” he says. “I’m never sure how it’s gonna turn out.”

      At Crafted, Turner will be showcasing his glass art at Crafted Interiors and at Spark, a special event that will see Turner and Terminal City Glass members conduct live glass-blowing demonstrations at the co-op (1191 Parker Street) on May 26. He will also supply the glassware for the Balvenie After Hours Series, which combines whisky tastings and design talks at the Marine Building (355 Burrard Street), Miron’s studio, and Hycroft Manor (1498 McRae Avenue) on May 15, 16, and 17, respectively.

      Crafted Vancouver takes place from next Friday (May 4) to May 28 at various Metro Vancouver venues.

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