Cre­ative cou­ples

Three cou­ples tap life­long artis­tic tal­ents af­ter re­tire­ment

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Marketplace - BY ROSALYN ROY Twit­ter: @tyger­lylly

There are al­ways hid­den gems at craft fairs – but some are more ob­vi­ous than oth­ers.

At the Lions Club Christ­mas Craft Fair on Nov. 6 a trio of re­tired cou­ples filled ta­bles with their eye-catch­ing wares.

Al­bert Os­mond has a small, finely crafted clock on prom­i­nent dis­play. A con­ver­sa­tion with his wife, Ber­nice, re­vealed he once built a clock close to six feet tall, and that a four-foot model is at home on their liv­ing room man­tle.

In fact, Al­bert has built a lot of their fur­ni­ture, and has been craft­ing wood for over 40 years.

“I used to do model boats and duck de­coy carv­ings,” said Al­bert, who still works as a school bus driver to help pass the time. “It’s a lot of work.”

Al­bert uses pat­terns but mod­i­fies them when he needs to. The six-foot clock he built has a domed ceil­ing and took al­most a year and a half to com­plete.

“In the ar­ti­cle when they ad­ver­tised for this clock, it said if you could build a domed clock you could con­sider your­self a mas­ter scroll worker,” he said.

Al­bert built the clock but laughs and shrugs off the sug­ges­tion he’s a mas­ter.

Like many artists, he’s his own worst critic.

Ber­nice, who paints some of his pieces in ad­di­tion to her own can­vas paint­ings, is sim­i­larly mod­est. The cou­ple is, un­sur­pris­ingly, each other’s big­gest fan.

“She’s an artist her­self,” said Al­bert, only to be im­me­di­ately con­tra­dicted by his wife.

“I am not!”

Her paint­ings would sug­gest oth­er­wise. She frets when he brings one out to share, and shakes her head when he talks about her stun­ning wolf in snow por­trait. The wolf’s eyes fol­low the paint­ing’s ad­mirer ev­ery­where around the room.

“That was just a fluke. I don’t know what I did.”

Ber­nice works from pho­to­graphs, some­times at her hus­band’s be­hest, like one she painted from his snap­shot of a log cabin.

Seal­skin creations

No less crafty are Alvin and Sharon Sheaves. Their ta­ble boasted a stun­ning col­lec­tion of seal­skin and fur pock­et­books, purses, jew­elry and toasty warm mit­tens.

This was their sec­ond craft fair. They’ve only been mak­ing the purses for three years, but both have life­long ex­pe­ri­ence with sewing. Alvin sews the seal­skin while Sharon makes the soft, colour­ful lin­ers.

Ini­tially they were buy­ing seal­skin from pro­duc­ers, but Alvin has opted to buy lo­cal.

“I can get just as good a qual­ity down at Cole­mans gro­cery store,” he said. “But the leather? We bring the leather in from Al­berta. We bring in the cow hide.”

While Alvin is re­tired, Sharon is still in the work­force. The cou­ple takes pains to en­sure their prod­ucts are 100 per cent Cana­dian.

“Just some­thing to fill the time,” said Alvin, who used to be a long-haul truck driver. He also does auto in­te­ri­ors, in­clud­ing car seat covers.

“We have been to Cor­ner Brook for a craft fair,” said Sharon of their mar­ket­ing ap­proach, which seems to be pri­mar­ily word of mouth. Peo­ple tend to call them to place cus­tom or­ders.

“We’ve sent the stuff to Al­berta, Hal­i­fax,” said Alvin. “We’re al­ways get­ting calls.”

Farm fresh

For Mil­lville farm­ers Judy and Harry Coates, the craft fair is an op­por­tu­nity to have a lit­tle fun and sell off some ex­tra veg­eta­bles and jams. The cou­ple re­lo­cated to their lit­tle one-acre farm in the Co­droy Val­ley in 2000 af­ter re­tir­ing from teach­ing jobs. They also spent time work­ing in Labrador. Judy is orig­i­nally from Port aux Basques.

“We bought the place in the ‘70s as a sum­mer home. We never in­tended to re­tire there,” said Judy. “We haven’t re­gret­ted it.”

Judy makes tasty green tomato chow, as well as jams and mar­malades from the veg­eta­bles and berries they grow. The cou­ple tends to sell them at a lit­tle kiosk on the side of the road.

“We have an hon­our sys­tem,” said Harry. “We put the stuff on the ta­ble and peo­ple pay what they want to pay into the bucket.”

Most peo­ple are fair. Said Harry with a laugh, “It works out for the cus­tomer!”

Theirs was one of the busier ta­bles at the fair. Lo­cal pro­duce is al­ways pop­u­lar and wel­comed.

“It keeps us busy,” said Judy.

But for all three cou­ples there seems to be a bit more to it than that.

Al­bert Os­mond prob­a­bly put it best. “It’s just a pas­sion, right?”

“It’s just a pas­sion, right?” – Al­bert Sheaves


Co­droy Val­ley farm­ers Henry and Judy Coates op­er­ate ef­fec­tively on the hon­our sys­tem in Mil­lville.


Al­bert and Ber­nice Os­mond are both re­tired but keep them­selves busy with car­pen­try and paint­ing. This man­tle clock took around six months to build.

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