The Fernie Museum offers interesting and diverse exhibits on a regular basis and this past weekend was no exception.

On Sunday interspersed with the main floor permanent exhibit which depicts thought-provoking history of the people, times and events that have helped to form the town such as the 1904 and 1908 fires, the curse legend and mining disasters, local residents Cathy Smith Clark, Laura Bentley and Gayle Vallance could be seen displaying spinning and weaving skills.

These ladies are known for their abilities to work magic with wheel and loom producing beautiful blankets, scarves and rugs in a variety of sizes and colours using products such as dog hair which is what Cathy was spinning on this day.

It was fascinating to watch the ladies perform centuries old style work to produce functional and beautiful items showing clearly these ladies are masters at what they do.

On the second floor was a special demonstration of blown glassware design titled “HOT AND COLD: GLASS ART IN THREE PARTS” by artist Katherine Russell who is one of Canada’s leading glass artists. Russell is based in Elkford and is adept at producing “blown and kiln-formed glasswork, utilizing both methods to explore new concepts, techniques and creative objectives”.

She was there in person and open to questions. The tops of two small tables revealed curious tools required to produce the beautiful display or vases and wall hangings and Russell was quick to show what each was used to achieve in the steps of glass blowing and cutting.

She explained that in the past “most decorative glass production was done in factories. However construction of smaller furnaces allowed artists to work in their own studios”.

The museum information on Russell states that “In this newly curated exhibit, Russell examines the methods and techniques that she employs in her studio. The series includes large blown works for which she is most known, a kiln-fired experimental series titled ‘Memories are Malliable’ and cold-fused work. The exhibit demonstrates an incredible breadth and diversity of work which represents this relatively new genre of decorative art.”

Russel said she conducts two hour classes where “We will be engraving on glass by using the sandblaster. Drawing skills are not necessary in this class, but steady hands are. All materials are provided, including a set of two wine, cocktail or pint glasses. Or feel free to bring a glass from home if you prefer. When you sign up for the class, let me know what kind of glasses you’d like so I can be sure to have enough supplies. This class is suitable for everyone from the total beginner to the very experienced, as there is no limits on the detail that can be achieved. Items will be ready to take home that evening. Next classes are on Friday March 13th 5:30-7:30pm and Thursday April 2 5:30-7:30pm. If interested contact Russell at K.russell.glass@outlook.com

Monday afternoon was the presentation by Elena Zysblat and Ron Ulrich on the now completed Fernie Heritage Strategy. Members past and present and others gathered to hear how this most important document was accomplished. Elena mentioned that her team of Denise Cook Design and John Atkin History + Research worked with the task force members and Ktunaxa members to produce a product that is gathering positive comments from many communities in BC including large centers such as Vancouver. The partnership formed with the Ktunaxa is something that is considered remarkable because it was a collaboration that is special and unique so other communities want to know how it was accomplished.

This work began in April of 2017 to December of 2019. The Fernie Heritage Strategy Task Force got feedback and suggestions from members of the community and stakeholders through surveys, community open houses and meetings and neighborhood walking consultations. The City of Fernie Official Community Plan considers the production of such a strategy very important and has dedicated much wording to this effect so this is a great achievement for Fernie. The finished product begins with the Ktunaxa Creation Story that is different from the Ghostrider Legend. However as partners it was important that the Ktunaxa tell their story in their own words. As a member of this strategy until late 2018 its most wonderful to see and read the finished product. Especially hearing the consultant state how much attention it has already garnered from communities across the province but most of all I believe it’s more than special due to the amazing collaborative partnership that has developed between Fernie and the Ktunaxa. I hope one day on the welcome signs coming and leaving Fernie not only will we see the word Fernie but also the Tkunaxa word for it. Chief Joe Pierre told me what it was however I have forgotten it but having it on the signs would show how much our newly founded partnership means not only to us but also to our Ktunaxa friends and I know I certainly wouldn’t forget it again.

Entrance to the museum Sunday’s exhibits and Monday’s presentation was free for visitors.

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