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Crafting is cool again, Nova Scotia studios say

Melissa Marr is the co-director of Wonder'neath Art Society. She says every time they have an open studio, up to half of the participants are new. (CBC News - image credit)
Melissa Marr is the co-director of Wonder'neath Art Society. She says every time they have an open studio, up to half of the participants are new. (CBC News - image credit)

Melissa Marr has always been a crafter and now says she has more company than ever.

She shares her love of crafts at Wonder'neath Art Society in north end Halifax, an open studio that sees a stream of new faces every Friday and Saturday afternoon.

"We're seeing increasing participation steadily," said Marr, co-director of the community art studio and a trained artist.

People are attracted to crafting, she said, partly because it offers an antidote to the digital age.

"As a result of the pandemic and just other life stresses, people are turning toward activities that increase well-being and mindfulness and certainly you know crafts and arts can do that," she said.

CBC News
CBC News

But in some ways, technology seems to have helped crafting's surge in popularity. Kawama Kasutu, programming and outreach intern at Wonder'neath, said social media has made crafts more accessible — people can find inspiration and teach themselves new techniques.

"I think a lot of trendy pieces right now are craft related," she said.

"A lot of crochet and knitting pieces are really in the centre of focus and I think the accessibility of online platforms, being able to share what you're working on but also share how you created it, gives other people the ability to also do it themselves."

High demand for courses

Wonder'neath's open studio days are free, but crafting courses in Halifax are also filling up.

The Centre for Craft Nova Scotia has courses in ceramics, woodworking, jewelry-making, textiles and more. Emily Wareham, director of the organization, said many of their courses have waiting lists.

CBC News
CBC News

"As soon as we were able to have in-person classes, we just have not been able to keep up with the demand," she said.

Young people and students in particular have been signing up, she said, especially with friends or family members.

"It has been ingrained in our histories and our cultures, in our community and families," she said. "It connects us to the past and helps us build community and enriches our own lives."

Amanda Grant/CBC
Amanda Grant/CBC

Hannah Craig is an artist-in-residence at the Centre for Craft working on jewelry and silversmithing. She also likes to do knitting, weaving and embroidery in her spare time.

"It's meditative, it's relaxing, it's calming," Craig said.

CBC News
CBC News

She's seen crafting's rise in popularity for herself and attributes it partly to the desire to create and work with your hands that's part of human nature.

"Craft is cool. Everybody should do crafts. Even if you feel like, 'I'm not an artist, I'm not a crafter, I can't do that,' You 100 per cent can, and you'll probably have fun."

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