Handmade at the New Brunswick Museum


Text and Photos by Christiana Myers

‘Handmade at the NBM’ is an ongoing program that has been hosted at the New Brunswick Museum for over five years. Previously known as Heritage Crafting it is being rebranded and refreshed for 2017 with the hope of reaching a wider audience. The program takes place once a week on Thursday nights from 6:30pm to 8:00pm in the New Brunswick Museum foyer and a two dollar donation is all that is suggested to participate. Each month a new craft is selected and participants are guided in a simple project; the goal being that you can come once, learn a new skill or complete a small project or come every week, learning more and more each time. The program is informal, and the atmosphere is very friendly. There is no pressure to work on the project presented or even the craft medium set out by museum staff. Some people bring projects they are already working on, while others just come to chat and share ideas.


The reason for the change in branding came as a result of a new, more contemporary view of crafting as a medium. Although many of the crafts presented are rooted in heritage, the program strikes a balance between old and new by featuring unique and modern interpretations. Among the crafts presented are knitting and crochet, embroidery, cross stitch, macramé, jewellery making, paper quilling, Ukrainian egg decorating, candle making, and many more. The aim of this program is to attract young and old crafters to the museum and bring them together to socialize and be creative. The sessions are led by experienced crafters, although not experts, which makes for a fun, light-hearted and collaborative environment. Participants get to experiment, talk and tell stories. There are many regulars that have been making crafts for years that can be an excellent resource to newbies.


Roberta King has been crafting for over 50 years and has been coming to the program since it began. “It’s good brain stimulation, and good fellowship. You meet new people, people from different countries, and people that you wouldn’t get to meet otherwise. You get to share ideas amongst the people you sit with. I just really I think it’s the best thing! ” ‘Handmade at the NBM’ is a great opportunity for anyone who is new to crafting, looking to stay active and social, hoping to improve their English in a social environment or anyone who finds it hard to carve out time for creativity in their busy schedule.


Julia Breneol, a young social worker says it’s a great way to beat the winter blues “It’s nice to feel connected to others; the women of all ages are so interesting and kind. I love doing something calming while learning something new at the same time.” She found Ukrainian Egg Decorating, one of the most popular crafts to be one of her favourites. “It was one of the most relaxing crafts I've experienced. It was new to me and I found it very therapeutic. I felt myself (and the group as a whole) get lost in time...This craft also made me bond with a lady at work who brought in her authentic Ukrainian eggs to show me when I told her about my crafting adventures! Crafts connect people and tell a story.”


Julia’s sister, Katie attended the program for the first time during ‘Knitting November’ saying “I really enjoyed my first experience at the NBM craft night where a few ladies and one British man all worked hard laughing together while knotting some woolly string to make whatever felt right. Each at their own level from beginner to highly skilled. Many jokes were passed around the table and a good time was had by all.” At the moment attendance is predominantly women but all genders are encouraged to attend. It’s a welcoming and diverse group made up of people from many different countries and ranging in age from their early teens to their late seventies. And because it is a New Brunswick Museum program it can be presented in both English and French. Museum staff provide lots of examples and photos for inspiration, some of which come from the museum’s collection. New Brunswick has a rich crafting history, and the museum collects and cares for hundreds of historic handmade items, from textiles to wood work. The aim of this program is to celebrate that heritage by keeping these crafting techniques alive and current in a world increasingly reliant on technology and mass production. By bringing young and old together ‘Handamde at the NBM’ hopes to provide a vibrant community gathering space for creativity and sharing.

For more information on ‘Handmade at the NBM’ do not hesitate to contact Christiana Myers at Christiana.myers@nbm-mnb.ca