A life less ordinary

By Ellen Oesterreich

So many things in this world can make us smile. The more we surround ourselves with things (and people) that are beautiful, the happier we get.

Sure we can easily get things that are mass-produced and look nice but so can everyone else. Selecting and owning (or gifting) works of art lets you express your individuality in a ‘one-of-a-kind’ way. When you bring original art into your day-to-day life, you invite something more special, something more beautiful, into your world. Somewhere between the artist’s concept, the finished product and your personal style there’s a connection… an inexplicable but wondrous ‘sweet spot’ where you feel something, something good, something that resonates with some part of you. So, if one piece of art makes you feel something good… then why not look for more ways to incorporate more of this ‘artistic-feel-goodness’ into your life?

More than just a pretty Pot
That first cup of coffee or tea in the morning can be even more wonderful when sipping it from a handcrafted mug. Feel the weight, feel the quality and know that it’s the only one exactly like it… and it’s yours. It’s hard to get that same feeling from a mug that’s been made in the millions by some nameless company.

Every potter has their own ‘recipe’ for shapes, colours, textures and glazes. Not only are these pieces beautiful but they’re also quite practical – many are dishwasher, oven and microwave safe. Check out over 100 potters at the Hamilton Potters Guild Sale coming up this November (November 7 – 9th) at the Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre on 10 Market Street South (hamiltonpotters.ca). The featured artist is Greg Voisin. You can sneak a preview of his work now at AllSorts Gallery (Ottawa Street, Hamilton).

Up against a wall
Hamilton and surrounds is blessed with outstanding photographers, painters, sculptors, glass, wood, metal and fabric artists. It’s time to get to know them! How much more personal and satisfying it is to know who the artist is whose piece is hanging on your walls.

Treat yourself to a visit to any one of the greater Hamilton areas galleries. Too many to mention here but go to hamiltonartscouncil.ca and you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the galleries in our area. There’s also the fabulous James Street North Art Crawl (every second Friday of the month) and the big kahuna of them all, the James Street Supercrawl (annually in September) that draw art lovers and art makers from near and far.

Traditionally known as the fabric & textile district, Ottawa Street in Hamilton is gaining recognition for its arts scene as well. Earl’s Court Gallery continues to present new exhibits to whet our artistic appetites. Across the street there’s AllSorts Gallery, a vibrant artists’ cooperative where you’ll find the work of over 40 artists including fabrics, paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, woodworking, glass and even clocks.

You may also want to check out the Golden Horseshoe Woodturner’s Guild’s 1st Annual Woodturning Show & Sale at the Dundas Lions Community Center this October 4th and 5th (ghwg.ca). Admission is free, there will be live demonstrations and you’ll see the works of over 20 of the area’s best woodturners.

Wear it well
Of course I’m a little biased here but I have to admit before I started making jewelry myself I was quite content to purchase any shiny bauble that caught my eye, went with my outfit and, well (she blushes here) if it was on sale or dirt cheap, even better!

Having learned more about the materials and the craft, I can now say that wearing a piece of jewelry that’s been handcrafted is definitely a more gratifying and meaningful experience. Unlike wearing one of millions that have been mass-produced, I’m wearing a work of art that expresses some part of me and will be treasured for years to come.
What’s more, the one I’m wearing is the only one exactly like it because it’s been handcrafted – meaning no two will ever be exactly alike.

Feeling funky or romantic or daring or colourful or bold? Search for the pieces and artists that help you express your mood, style and personality and you’ll soon find your personal favourites! Not a jewelry person? Scarves and handmade bags are another great way to incorporate art into your wardrobe and your life.

Many artists will do custom work so you can have something made specifically for you or for a very unique gift.

One at a time
While it might be lovely to buy everything all at once (I wouldn’t mind experiencing that some day), it’s also a little like a treasure hunt to collect pieces one at a time and make them a part of our lives. Original art can be more expensive than mass-produced items but that stands to reason. When you purchase an original, you are doing so many good things…

  • supporting a local artist
  • buying one-of-a-kind
  • expressing your individuality
  • making your everyday life more beautiful
  • surrounding yourself with quality pieces

Hamilton is awash with so many talented artists and galleries. Get out there and get to know them. Once you start incorporating art into your life and your home, you’ll start to see and feel how beautiful life can be… everyday.


ELLEN OESTERREICH. RGD is a member of AllSorts Gallery (Mockingbird Design, jewelry) and a graphic design/marketing communications professional.

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