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Christmas craft market the ‘opposite of Black Friday’

32nd Annual Dalplex Christmas Craft Market featured variety of art, pottery, toys and tasty treats

3 min read
caption Deborah Wheeler aims to create pottery that delights the senses through colour, shape and texture.
Matthew Scrimshaw

While many shoppers were out last weekend in search of Black Friday deals on electronics and appliances, others were casually perusing locally made pottery, art and toys.

The 32nd Annual Dalplex Christmas Craft Market took place this weekend at Dalhousie University. The three-day event featured 160 vendors from the Atlantic region and across Canada.

The Signal went to the event to check out some of their work.

Halifax’s Deborah Wheeler has been making pottery since 1979 and has attended every year of the Dalplex Christmas Craft Market. Her pottery is made by hand using a potter’s wheel or slab work and fired in a kiln twice to make each piece stronger and more durable.

She says the event has evolved over the years.

“The crowds aren’t as large as before,” she said. “But the quality of the (vendors’) work has improved. There’s a lot of beautiful art.”

Susan Corbin has been exhibiting her work at the market on and off since 2000. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design’s (now NSCAD University) Textiles program, she has been making hand dyed and painted silk scarves for three years and making art for over 30 years. Her scarves are made of chiffon, pongee and habotai silk and she uses fixed-heat dye to ensure that the scarves are hand-washable.

“The best part of the market is showing off your hard work,” she said. “And getting a chance to meet your customers is always nice.”

One of those customers is Janice Gallant, who travelled from Truro to Halifax.

“Everything is beautiful and it feels like Christmas in here,” Gallant said. “It’s like the opposite of Black Friday.”

Charles Hayward has been coming to the market for three years. He first started making handmade wooden toys while he served in the Canadian military, which was over 30 years ago.

He says his toys appeal to both children and adults.

“Adults like the intricate woodwork,” he said. “But children are more interested in the colour and movement.”

Emily Shawchuck and Archana Chaudhari worked at the booth of The Cake Lady, a local bakery specializing in Bavarian treats. The bakery has offered their freshly-baked homemade goods at the market for several years now.

Shawchuck offered The Signal a few recommendations.

“The coconut cream pie and cheese pretzels are delicious,” she said “My personal favourite, though, is the carrot cake.”

Russell and Colleen Murphy operate an independent craft distillery, Barrelling Tide Distillery, in the Annapolis Valley. They recently celebrated the businesses’ six-month anniversary and take great pride in working with local ingredients.

“We work with 12 local producers,” said Russell. “The only thing we bring in (from outside the Annapolis Valley) is molasses from New Brunswick.”

Pamela Gaines travelled from Dartmouth to take in the market. Her first stop was to sample some of Bruce MacNaughton’s homemade preserves.

“Our goal is to make a food product that customers can take home to remind them of the wonderful food they had in Prince Edward Island,” says MacNaughton, who has been coming to the market for 26 years.

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