A&E » Arts

Bizarre Bazaar helps people branch out

Twig prints, a Whistler-based screen-printing company, pursuing new markets



What: Bizarre Bazaar

When: Friday, Nov. 26, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. & Saturday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Conference Centre

Cost: By donation

Whistler residents may recognize Abbie Finestone from her days working at Sachi Sushi. But this winter, you won't find her at the restaurant; she's started her own business, Twig Prints, and is one of 36 new vendors taking part in Whistler Arts Council's annual Bizarre Bazaar.

Working with all-natural fabrics, Finestone prints unique designs inspired by nature, creating her own screens and hand printing each item individually. Focusing on home décor, she mainly makes linen canvas storage containers - "Twig Tubs" - and other linen home décor items like cushions and table runners.

"I actually started out doing it in art school, but after art school I left Australia and came to Canada and ended up meeting my husband - life got in the way!" she explained. "But it's always been my passion. I actually used to do the Farmers Market a long time ago, I used to make little retro vintage scarves, so I've always sewn and created things."

She kept dabbling in her art form and even took a few courses in fabric printing at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

"And then I actually just started making these (Twig Tubs) as gifts, and they got such a great response and I loved doing them!"

The response was so positive that she was inspired to turn her craft into a full-time business.

"It's my passion, it's what makes me happy."

Finestone just started her business this year and spent the summer selling her products at the Whistler Farmers Market.

"I had lots of really good feedback," Finestone said. "It's a new business, so really, to see if it was going to be viable, I had to see if people liked what I was producing."

It turns out, they did. Finestone's business has already been accepted into the Howe Sound Community Futures program, and she's decided to make her artistic venture a full-time business. The next step was to get involved with a bigger market. Enter Bizarre Bazaar.

Drawing more than 5,000 visitors over two days, Bizarre Bazaar has turned into a huge event for the local arts community. But it started out as a small, grassroots fundraiser for the Whistler Children's Art Festival, held at the original Myrtle Philip school.

"It was a fundraiser for the Whistler Children's Art Festival, and then it's just grown over the past two decades, and now it's more focused on handcrafted artwork by artisans who require sales for the winter months and for the holiday season," explained Jenn McElroy, the event manager for Whistler Arts Council (WAC).