‘One-woman factory’: Ceramic tree craze keeps Christmas crafter busy

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Walk through the back door of Edna Meissner’s house in Blandford, Nova Scotia, and you’ll find a workshop comparable to Santa’s elves.

Ceramic shelves are set up in a small space, and light shimmers from every corner of the room.

There is a green ceramic Christmas tree and a white one. There are also periwinkle, cherry red, cotton candy pink, and midnight blue. Some are shiny. Others pretend to be snow and sparkle.

There’s more beauty throughout the room, such as the sparkling stained glass windows of a small church, the intricate scenes of winter wonderland, and the hilarious Santa Claus.

But every year people come back to ceramic trees.

Thanks to many grandmothers’ pottery classes 50 years ago, this tree, which has become a staple of many homes, has become available in places like the Canadian Tire as nostalgic decorations have revived. ..

Meissner paints all of her designs and says she often receives compliments in the eyes of her character. (Emma Davy / CBC)

“People are enthusiastic about these trees right now. They look like chocolate, so you can’t stop with just one,” Meisner said, often buying multiple trees at once.

34 years of business

She is the owner of Edna’s pottery treasure. For 34 years, Meisner has sold hundreds of pottery trees, snow babies and other holiday ornaments. What she designed, made and painted by herself.

“It’s a woman’s factory, half the time the vacuum cleaner is out,” she said with a laugh.

What started as Meissner’s hobby has blossomed into business for years and made her a staple at the Primorskaya Christmas Market.

“I’m still surprised that people want to buy what I make,” she said. “I would have bet, and I wouldn’t bet, but I would have bet that I wouldn’t have been able to support myself.”

Meisner makes up to 250 ceramic trees a season and hundreds of other designs. (Emma Davy / CBC)

Thirty years ago, Meissner took a ceramics class to do something. After playing with clay for a year, she decided to spend $ 10 on a small craft show table to see what would sell.

“Well, I made $ 100 and I thought I was rich. It made me, the line, the sinker crazy.”

From there things became snowballs. She participated in bigger and bigger shows until she finally arrived at the Halifax Forum, which the artisans call “The Beast.”

“I had a customer for 30 years. Their kids now have a kid who is a customer. I’m like” OK I’m old! ” “

Meisner says he always tells his customers the same thing. “I make each piece as if I kept it myself.”

Week to make

Making pottery is a delicate task, but it can also be a hassle.

The process starts with a type. At one point, Meissner had 2,500 different types, but she did some housekeeping during the pandemic, and that number is now much less.

The mold is filled with clay, left to stand, finally washed, dried and placed in the kiln for 7 hours. However, the kiln cannot be opened for another 20 hours.

She estimates that it will take a couple of weeks from start to finish for all drying times. However, Meisner doesn’t work with just one, it always has a set of items at different stages of the process.

On the right is the ceramic tree before the seams are smooth. There is a hole for the light on the left side. This is done by Meissner using a straw. (Emma Davy / CBC)

As she got used to the sometimes tempered clay, Meissner became more creative.

At the request of the customer, we made a blue tree by branching from green and white trees. It was a hit.

Now she makes a tree with a rainbow of colors. She can do whatever color you can dream of.

She says ceramic trees have especially “exploded” in the last few years. Until 2019, she was making 200-250 trees alone in a season.

Hard-to-find consumables

But at the same time, it is becoming difficult to obtain supplies. Meisner was previously available in Nova Scotia, but now all must be ordered in Ontario and internationally. The pandemic only made access to the material difficult.

She was also worried that that would mean her customers disappeared.

“I think I’m always very forgotten. No one remembers. It was over when the pandemic started. It’s over, whether or not I can get supplies. It was, “she said.

But from October last year to Christmas, and this year she worked non-stop. People even started ordering in the summer months.

Snow baby is also a popular item of Meissner. (Emma Davy / CBC)

Then this year, with the encouragement of other artisan friends and show promoters, she decided to attend the forum show again.

She sold out the trees the first night and people bought more than four at a time.

“It was a four-hour sleep weekend every night because I went home and was drawing trees and drawing trees … and sold, sold, sold,” she said. Said.

“I was busy at all costs … it shouldn’t get in the way and don’t even talk to me.”

Meisner also creates such a detailed Christmas scene. (Emma Davy / CBC)

When she started crafting, Meissner said there were others, but now that’s not the case. “No one I know.”

As long as people are still interested, Meissner says she will continue to make trees.

“I always have an idea of ​​what I’m trying to make,” she said, her eyes shimmering. “I have already started a few things.”

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