From geographical pillows to chic dog feeders, our favourite handmade home goods at Circle Craft

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      Vancouver’s busy craft-fair season kicks off with the Circle Craft Christmas Market on November 8, when over 300 artisans will touch down in the city with all sorts of handcrafted apparel, jewellery, homewares, and other goods in tow.

      Arguably the grand-daddy of holiday markets, the 44th annual event will feature 50-plus newcomers from across Canada, each of whom are making it their personal goal to have every name on your shopping list crossed off well before December.

      Below, a guide to some of our favourite new Circle Crafters and the old-fashioned pillows, hand-spun mugs, and chic pet items they’ll be sharing during the five-day fair.


      Vintage Map Co.

      Maps are typically displayed in minimalist frames, plastered directly onto walls, or, in the case of serious collectors, stored in steel cabinets designed to protect such pieces from damage. Toronto-based textile artist Helen Hawketts, however, prefers them emblazed across plush pillows and cushions.

      “It grew from a homemade Christmas exchange that we did with family,” Hawketts tells the Straight by phone. “My husband and I had this idea of putting this cool old map that we had of Prince Edward County onto fabric and making pillows out of it.”

      Seven years later, Hawketts has produced hundreds of square and rectangular cushions—and linen tea towels—digitally printed with vintage maps depicting Canadian regions such as Montreal, Nova Scotia, and Calgary, the originals of which she sources from eBay and various antique shops. The maps date as far back as the 1800s and, in many instances, exhibit railways, post offices, and the wards, boroughs, or parks that made up an area at one time. “I don’t do any old map,” explains Hawketts. “I want it to be unique and beautiful and evoke some history.”

      At Circle Craft, Hawketts will be showcasing her West Coast–oriented pillows, which are adorned with maps of the North Shore, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and more. Her Vancouver cushion illustrates the city in 1906, when the area was marked and connected by gridlike railroad tracks. Crafted from a linen-cotton canvas, all Vintage Map Co. pillows are filled with down or a synthetic fibre by request.


      G ceramic & co.

      g ceramic & co.

      Gabrielle Burke’s first spin at the pottery wheel didn’t exactly yield presentable results (“My teacher thought that she was going to have to fail me,” the local ceramist recalls with a laugh), but after years of practice—and a moment in which she says everything just “clicked”—she’s developed a knack and deep appreciation for the craft.

      Describing herself as a self-taught potter, Burke has been producing hand-spun mugs, serving bowls, and other dishware under the name g ceramic & co. for over two years. Her Art Deco–inspired Fitzgerald line, which features geometric shapes in 18-karat gold, is what put her on the map, though her Midnight collection, crafted from black stoneware, is also a crowd favourite thanks to one mug that boasts a certain four-letter word beginning with F.

      “It’s really fun and it makes people smile,” Burke says of the handmade cup. “People just start laughing when they come across it.”

      The ceramist will have pieces from both these collections available at Circle Craft, as well as platters, vases, and bowls from her latest line, pə’sifik. She’ll also be sharing some porcelain jewellery, such as earrings, necklaces, and vintage hair combs. Decorated with abstract indigo patterns, the objects are inspired by the West Coast and Burke’s Portuguese roots. “Blue and white is kind of in my blood,” she says.


      Adele Thomas

      Howl & Home

      When Tina Ng and Jérémie Laguette adopted their first pet—an adorable German Shepherd-Husky mix named Cypress—they didn’t find many pet supplies and furnishings that fit their aesthetic. So they decided to create their own. “We like things to be pretty minimalist and low-profile,” says Ng, “and we really like sturdy design.”

      With Ng, a full-time graphic designer, taking on the design duties, and Laguette, the sign-maker behind Woodtype, tackling the building side, the Halfmoon Bay–based duo crafted a pared-down dog-bowl stand—equipped with locally made earthenware bowls—that was soon drawing the attention of family and friends.

      Constructed using pine plywood offcuts from Laguette’s sign biz and coated in an eco-friendly, food-safe finish, the feeding stations come in two different heights that allow your four-legged pals to more comfortably reach for food and water. (The “short” is ideal for Frenchies and pugs, for example, while the “tall” is great for larger-sized breeds.) “We wanted the items to a) not be an eyesore,” explains Ng, “and b) look obviously like something for dogs or for pets.”

      At Circle Craft, the pair, known collectively as Howl & Home, will have samples of their feeders on deck, which shoppers can customize with punches of peach, lilac, and other hues. “The idea is we’re going to allow people to choose the colour,” says Ng. There’ll also be poop-bag storage boxes and, if attendees are lucky, a sneak peek of Howl & Home’s soon-to-be-released pet beds.

      The Circle Craft Christmas Market takes place from November 8 to 12 at the Vancouver Convention Centre’s West building. See event listing for details.


      Places to go nearby

      Approx. 15 minutes away