The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design remains a gem in Fredericton’s downtown core. Nestled behind iron gates, the Craft College has consistently produced some of Atlantic Canada’s finest artists and craftspeople including Judy Blake, Maja Padrov, Janice Wright-Cheney, and Brigitte Clavette.
Since the mid-’90s, the college has hosted the annual NBCCD Christmas Craft Sale, showcasing the work of the college’s enthusiastic student artists.
The event is used as a learning opportunity for the students to learn how to produce, display, market, and sell their artwork, which includes pottery, jewellery, pillows, cards, and much more. From an academic perspective, the sale is usually approached as a major project of the college’s Fine Craft diploma programs. For many of the students, the sale is their first chance to sell their work and gain valuable consumer insight from non-craftspersons.
Like many events, this year the NBCCD Christmas Sale had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning a shift to an online format. Unfortunately, students will be missing out on direct customer interaction.
Because of the tactile nature of most of the work, second-year textiles student Liza Upham believes there is something lost in the transition to online.
“Is the product soft wool? Is it scratchy? Well, you can’t really tell online unless it’s written, but you can’t touch it,” she said.
Despite some of the drawbacks of shifting the sale online, there is a noticeable optimism present at the college that is lacking from other schools this term. Second-year textiles student and former NBCCD Ceramics graduate Magan Wilson notes there is a positive atmosphere around the sale.
“I think students are very excited to watch their inventory quantities drop as people pick up their work,” she said.
Audrey Arsenault, a graduate studies student in Jewellery and Metal arts, is happy that the sale is becoming more accessible by adapting to the online format.
“People don’t want to leave their house right now,” she said. Arsenault believes the format change allows for students to gain valuable experience in website programming and e-commerce.
In previous years, the Christmas Craft Sale took place over a Friday to Sunday weekend. This year, the online store is operating for almost two weeks. Items are available for pick up at the college, but shipping is not an option.
Liza Upham is a second-year textiles student specializing in knitted objects such as decorative pillows and knit handbags. She describes her work as having a timeless style that blends vintage and contemporary aesthetics. She maintains a commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.
Audrey Arsenault is a graduate studies student in jewellery and metal arts. For the sale, she produced a new production line, including bracelets, rings and more. She draws inspiration from her native heritage, mid-century modern design, and nature.
Magan Wilson is a second-year textiles student. For the sale, she produced different coloured fleece and silk for people to spin with, as well as watercolour gift cards. Magan’s style evokes the subtle beauty of the natural world that is often overlooked, drawing inspiration from photos of nebulas in the night sky.