Local art from local hearts

Collaboration between ArtsJunktion and Red River College student raises money for local artists and crafters

Alysha Downey from Williams and Rail sells succulents in upcycled glass insulators made from old hydro poles at the love crafted market.

On Feb. 10, a project called Lovecrafted raised over $500 for ArtsJunktion, a community arts organization. Lovecrafted hosted a pop-up shop at Forth that featured eight local crafters.

The pop-up shop was the final exhibition following a recurring web series that profiled the eight makers who sold goods on Saturday. ArtsJunktion received 20 per cent of all sales from the day.

ArtsJunktion is an environmentally-conscious community-building initiative that provides craft supplies to organizations, community groups, and schools.

Vendors at Lovecrafted included Williams & Rail, which repurposes vintage glass insulators from telephone poles to make plant holders, Scientific Sweets, which makes custom sugar cookies, and Rachael Kroeker Ceramics, which makes tableware and home decor. Everyone involved in the event runs local businesses or organizations, except for event creator Shreya Jhunjhunwala.

Jhunjhunwala is a creative communications student at Red River College who was required to plan and execute a professional project before graduation.

“The idea behind Lovecrafted was that it’s not just a pop-up shop,” Jhunjhunwala said.

“It’s a three-part project to promote local makers and raise funds for ArtsJunktion. The way I related those things is because ArtsJunktion is an organization that concentrates on crafting and handmade stuff that gives people an outlet to explore their creativity, and local makers to do that too, so I wanted to put it together.”

The first part of the project kicked off with a craft night at Forth on Dec. 12 where participants had a chance to make lamps out of wine bottles.

“Everybody has wine bottles lying around their house, so we made little lamps out them that people could use around Christmastime, and just to get the idea going how easy and great it is to make something handmade and how good that feels,” Jhunjhunwala said.

Tickets for part one were $15 at the door, with $10 of each ticket went to ArtsJunktion. The evening raised a total of $305 for ArtsJunktion.

Julie Kettle, executive director at ArtsJunktion, said the organization was approached with the collaborative idea, and were happy to work with Jhunjhunwala on the project.

“It was actually Shreya who approached me, she had to do a final project for her degree and she asked me about putting on this pop-up sale to promote local crafters and wanted to do it in collaboration with, and in support of, a local non-profit,” Kettle said.

“So she reached out to me and made this wonderful thing happen.”

According to Kettle, ArtsJunktion repurposes 3,000 kilograms of waste materials from manufacturing companies and individuals per month.

“It’s interesting that I feel like we do have a big impact, and also I feel like many people don’t know about us, so I’m excited for opportunities to grow our community presence and partnerships,” Kettle said.

“I feel like if there’s some sort of art or crafting event in the province, supplies have been accessed from our place. We kind of supply it all.”

Kettle said they have provided supplies for Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, and Artbeat Studio, along with other events and organizations.

The money raised on Saturday will be used for the Art Hives events at ArtsJunktion. Art Hives are public events where people are invited to learn new crafts with direction from a local crafter or artist on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.  

Williams & Rail maker Alysha Downey accesses craft supplies through ArtsJunktion for her day job as a teacher in Ile des Chênes.

“I teach a play-based learning program in Ile des Chênes,” Downey said.

“So it’s very child-led, it’s more about the process and they’re using all the things you wouldn’t use in an art centre or a day-to-day craft environment and it’s teaching them to create to see things in a different light. So, the ArtsJunktion piece of Lovecrafted is what made me decide to [exhibit at] the show.”