For this holiday season, a decor was made from scratch by Studio Artefact to furbish the fountain of the Complexe Desjardins in Montréal, Québec. The project was inspired by the valet shopping service named Lëon, which is also the reverse of “Noël”, for Christmas in French. From metallurgy to painting and glitter, Studio Artefact designs decor for public and private spaces alike, and Christmas is the high season.
At the heart of the production process is Simon Beaudry, the head of the Sculpture, Accessories and Sewing departments at the design production company. He has worked as a sculptor there for five years, after being introduced to the craft by the former head of the department, late Jean Falardeau. Simon started working in the warehouse of Studio Artefact during his summers in secondary school. He worked where he was needed, from the warehouse to carpentry, and little by little his curiosity allowed him to learn about the artistic side of production. Simon learned to use different sculpting tools – simultaneously avant-garde and artisanal, and moulding techniques that were based on trial and error. After working in daycare centres for some time, he was called to replace someone on maternity leave at Studio Artefact and has worked there ever since. His versatility and problem-solving skills made him the best candidate to bear the responsibility of three departments – sculpture, accessories and sewing.
While Simon has the looks of Santa Claus, his work is closer to that of an elf. In his dusty and messy workshop, Simon runs in all directions amid seemingly random objects. But his work is highly meticulous, and essentially consists of attention to detail and troubleshooting. Although technology has largely transformed his craft, there is still a lot of manual work to be done. When he started as a sculptor, most of his time was spent sculpting, from styrofoam moulds to final projects. Now, and since a recent collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, the Studio went from having one 3D printer to six of them.
The Lëon project started with the graphic design and conceptualization of the four characters, which were then sent over to technicians for the 3D modulation. The four Lëon characters – an ice skater, a chef, a conductor, and an elf were all made of resin, using a laser technique more appropriate for pieces with high definition. After all the pieces were printed in 3D, Simon added details and made the necessary modifications. Assembling, fine tuning and repairing are Simon’s main tasks.
The boreal fountain and its four characters is not the first project the studio designed for the Complexe Desjardins. A giant luminary Lëon and the largest 3D printed tree in the world also stand on the lower floor of the shopping centre, as the designs are made to be deconstructed and last ten to fifteen years. The boreal fountain will remain on site until January 2, but Simon’s work will be reused at the Complexe Desjardins next year and for many more to come.
On Saturdays, Prince, King and Jessie are out and about. They trot over to the fence bordering the bike path near Place des Bassins where they greet passersby, stealing pats and occasionally posing for photos.
Former coachman Dan Leclair watches over them, distributing their favourite treats – carrots. Prince, King and Jessie are the last draft horses of metropolitan Montreal, and the remnants of a century-old industry in the city.
Two years ago, they would have probably gone to work, pulling carriages on the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s Old Port. Now they are left to roam for a few hours a day on the small urban stable’s property.
For most of their lives, the stable in Griffin Town has been their home, and until not so long ago, it would have been a buzzing workplace, that might have appeared almost frozen in time.
For Dan, it’s this historical weight, paired with the appeal of working closely with horses, that attracted him to the profession. His work was a livelihood, but also a way to reconnect with an enthralling and bygone part of history – to live out and re-enact the age-old gestures.
The first time he parked his carriage in front of Notre Dame Basilica, Dan had no clue how to attract clients. He tried to mimic other drivers and casually called out to a family of tourists from across the street: his voice cracked, they kept walking.
Very quickly, he got increasingly confident and went on to be what stable owner Luc Desparois called one of the best “cowboys” he ever had. When he would head downtown, Dan always made sure he and his mount looked the part: mane was clean, hooves were oiled, and his Victorian hat was spotless.
Nearly two years after Montreal banned horse-drawn carriages, Dan still cares for the remaining horses at Lucky Luc stables where he resides along with a handful of former drivers, his Great Dane Rolf, and a dozen cats. He lets the horses out on their daily time outside and brings them back in the stable to be groomed and fed. In exchange, he gets a shelter and a place where he can continue to live in proximity to his favourite animals.
He mostly watches over them, ensuring they are safe and sound, but sometimes, he grabs a makeshift bridle and hops on. As a hobby, Dan occasionally practices archery with equipment he handcrafted.
On one snowy Saturday afternoon, he jumps up swiftly on Prince’s back, aims at a target he painted on a wooden wall, and shoots. Visibly accustomed to this, Prince is hardly startled by the sound of the arrow whistling through the air above him. A fleeting and out-of-place sight for the urbanites walking by.
Jacqueline Ajamian show a multipurpose band made from up-cycled fur at Fourrures Ajamian Ltee in Montreal, Quebec on November 28, 2021.
Jacqueline Ajamian is a third generation Furrier and runs the family business along with her brother, Sarkis Ajamian. Ajamian was born and raised in Syria to an Armenian Christian parents. She came to Montreal with her family in 1976 after completing her high school in Syria. She completed her Civil Engineering from McGill University in 1983. She got involved in the family business as she was unable to find a job after her graduation. She has been working as a furrier for almost four decades now.
She says that she has never considered fur work as a profession but as a hobby and this is the reason why she enjoys working as a furrier. She adds that she has always cherished sewing and creating new clothes. She recalls that her Grandmother taught her to sew and embroider at a mere age of seven.
The Ajamian family established their fur business in 1977 and got the store they right now operate from in 1987. Jacqueline Ajamian works in the store and workshop every day, ten hours a day.
She believes in working with fur as fur is an organic material and does not harm the ecosystem as much as synthetic materials. She advocates that fur is a material which hardly produces any waste and all parts of the animal hides are used in some form or the other. She adds that at the end of the lifecycle it disintegrates and becomes an organic material hardly leavings any toxic recede behind. She also designs and creates small accessories like multipurpose band, corsages, jeweler and hand bags from either up-cycling old fur or waste produced during the pattern cutting process.
It all began in 2005 when a trained seamstress, Erica Perrot sewed a rag doll named “ Eglantine” for her daughter. Driven by the desire to make other dolls for other children, Erica decided to open a store named “Raplapla” a few years later in the Plateau Mont-Royal. Today, rag dolls and stuffed animals cover the walls of the small factory.
Since the pandemic, all the production is done on-site by a small team of seamstresses who sew mainly made-in-Quebec fabrics. They create different kinds of rag dolls or stuffed animals which are designed and imagined for the most part by Erica. Even if the “Monsieur Tsé-Tsé” remains the emblematic rag doll of the store, customers can also customize their dolls in any way they like, from the color of the eyes to the clothes. As Christmas approaches, the store Raplapla has started to make Christmas stockings, either in the shape of an elf or a dragon. They are all unique and made on-site.
For several years, Raplapla has also specialized in toy repair, housing in its “hospital for people made of fabric” toys that need to be repaired, from the stuffed animal broken by accident to the one that has survived generations. Fun fact, there is even a hospital bed for patients to relax in. Annie Roy, the chief surgeon of the toys hospital is particularly fond of her job. She is fascinated by the history of the toys she repairs. She said that “many adults or elderly people approach us with their toys for repair, and many are attached to them since they were present during a significant or difficult period of their lives”. Erica didn’t realize that the store would become famous for its toy repair service, while doll production makes up a majority of the work here.
However, today the main occupation is Christmas. As we pass the door of this store, we are surrounded by a Christmas atmosphere, the fireplace is roaring, and seamstresses are trying as fast as they can to finish the last orders of Christmas before the holidays. “We’re selling Christmas stockings like hotcakes,” said Marie-Hélène Pilon, one of the seamstresses as she inspected all the prepared fabrics she will need to stitch together to make the Christmas stockings today.
Raplapla is much more than just a toys store, it’s part of an eco-friendly logic as the store’s production is done in the store itself and most of the fabrics are made in Quebec. Also, through the concept of “hospital for people made of fabrics”, children can enjoy their toys longer and parents can avoid overconsumption.
Country roads are a familiar place for Dr. Eastman Welsford. As a large animal veterinarian, he serves rural communities across Eastern Ontario, from the Quebec border to Smith Falls.
“I probably spend about four to five hours a day just driving,” said Welsford. “It’s one of the only downsides of this job.”
He arrives in Williamstown, Ontario, on a rainy Thursday morning for the first of three appointments that day. While he works with a range of livestock, including cows and goats, the day would be focused on horses. He starts by examining a patient whose sight has been damaged by a recent eye infection.
Welsford, a relatively young vet, has only spent a year working in the field and has already become a familiar face to the clients he serves. He has been frequently checking on the horses at Anna Williams’ barn, a local dermatologist who owns multiple show ponies. He has to break the news to her that her horse may not regain its sight, possibly leading to other future medical issues that he’ll continue to monitor. He then performs a routine dental float—a procedure that involves filing down a horse’s sharp teeth with a power tool—on a younger pony of hers.
His next stop is an impromptu appointment with a horse showing signs of a neurological illness in Bishop’s Mills, about an hour and a half away. To make his daily road trips easier, he looks for any useful way to pass the time.
“A lot of that time [driving] feels wasted—I’m not making any money for the practice, billing or seeing patients,” said Welsford. “So I try to call clients during that time or listen to continuing education courses to make the most of it.”
Once he finished his appointment in Bishop’s Mills, he heads back to the Prescott Animal Hospital, where he splits his time between its partner clinic in Navan and his house in Ottawa.
He performs an x-ray and ultrasound on a young horse dealing with back pain. The clinic has an expansive range of procedural tools, including an operating room where cows and horses are lifted by small crane to relocate them after receiving anesthesia. In a corner stall, another horse is hooked up to an IV drip to be monitored overnight.
As he works with his last client, his chipper persona is infectious. He coos over the stressed animal, referring to it affectionately as “honey” and apologizing to it for the uncomfortable procedures. He takes great care to put each patient—and their owners—at ease.
After wrapping up his final appointment for the day, he leans against a counter in a show of exhaustion.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” his co-worker teases him. “You’re on call tonight.”
While he gets to go home for the night, he’ll be on call for emergencies in the region until 8am.
Welsford laughs and knocks on a wooden table for good luck. “Here’s hoping nothing happens tonight.”
Like almost every day, Lev Venguerov welcomes the Jiu-Jitsuka at 3975 Notre Dame W. A little before noon on Thursdays, the program director and instructor puts on his gi, consisting of a jacket, pants and its blue belt, and teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) during one hour.
BJJ is a martial art derived from traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. It is practiced mainly on the ground and consists of controlling the opponent through a variety of positions, transitions, submissions, with the help of arm keys, leg keys and chokes.
Beginning of a passion
Venguerov’s interest in BJJ came from his practice of other martial arts such as kickboxing and boxing as a teenager. In 2017, after getting into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), he tried BJJ as it is considered fundamental to the discipline. He quickly became hooked and started attending competitions in Las Vegas, California and even New York, where he won eight out of its eleven fights on his last tournament. What he did not suspect was that he would make a living out of its passion; when he became a blue belt he was offered the opportunity to teach kids classes, as well as to work as program director. « Once we re-opened [after the shutdown due to the pandemic], they offered me to teach most of the classes, » he explains.
Moreover, what he loves the most about teaching is « sharing the little details that make a technique so much more effective than usual. » He compares BJJ to human chess, « where you always start with an infinite amount of techniques you can use and you try to bring it down to one single way where you can look to finish your opponent. » This is what he teaches the Jiu-Jitsuka.
Immersion in a class
Before starting the training, Venguerov asks his students, to line up and bow to greet the BJJ masters and their classmates. Then follows a ten minutes long warm-up consisting of jumping jacks, push-ups and various movements like the shrimp, that helps manage distances to try to escape some bad positions in ground fighting. Through the class, the professor teaches the knee-on-belly escape, as well as the back take from closed guard and the triangle choke from closed guard. He then let the students practice, before finishing with sparring rounds called rolling, where Jiu-Jitsuka apply the techniques they just learnt during a fight.
Ultimately, the class ends with the traditional greet, and the martial artists shake hands and congratulate each other on the training because camaraderie is primordial in this sport according to Venguerov.
In addition to the special relationship developed with people you train with, the athlete also mentions perseverance and patience as the keys to BJJ. « It’s a very long sport, and very tedious to get through. You’re going to have your ups and downs, it’s going to be hard as you progress from blue, purple, brown, black. But the main goal is to always stay and keep training and you will end up getting better, » he says.
Although Venguerov is currently injured, he is hopeful that he will compete again next year; it may be possible to see him at the world championships and the ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship. In the meantime, he always works with a smile on his face six days a week at the JIU-JITSU Montreal – Gracie Barra center.
Caroline Ouellette and Patrick Primeau, a glassmaking couple based in Frelighsburg since 2021, founded their studio “Welmo” in 2004 in St-Julie.
Growing up in the same little small town in Montreal’s South Shore, Caroline and Patrick had never crossed paths. They met on accident in Amsterdam in 1997 and found out they were both registered to take courses at Espace Verre- a training center for glassblowers- upon their return to Montreal.
Ouellette comes from a family of glass makers. But while her parents specialize in door and window making, the prospect of going into the family business did not seem very appealing to her. However, and as much as she wanted to fight the idea of falling into this business, glass making came naturally to her. She had always been artistic and liked the idea of creating something lively, 3d pieces, something you can actually touch and enjoy. Seeing an artist on the street blowing glass made her realize that this profession encapsulated everything she was looking for. She travelled to France and Australia to finish her education and got a PhD in Philosophy, specializing in Art Glass.
Primeau on the other hand stumbled one day into a glassblowing studio in Old Quebec. He instantly fell in love with the art and realized that he wanted this life for himself. Following his studies, he worked all over Canada and the US. He also spent a year in Marseilles where he worked at Centre International de Recherche sur les arts Verriers (CIRVA).
In 2018, Patrick participated in Netflix’s glassblowing competition reality show “Blown Away” for a chance to win $60,000 and a residency at the Corning Museum of Glass. Primeau ended up in 4th place. Nevertheless, Patrick and Caroline are very well represented in the glasss making community as some of their pieces are featured in many private and public collections, including Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Qeuebec.
One of the main challenges in the show was to work with a different assistant each week. Some people do not realize how important it is to have great communication and chemistry with your team in order to succeed. Welmo consists of a team of five people who have worked together for years. The three other members followed Patrick and Caroline to Frelighsburg where they now live and work. One of the couple’s business goal is to break away the fear of touching glass art. Therefore, they create pieces that are appealing and irresistible to touch. One of their creations for instance is glass in the form of zip-locks. This ‘everyday aspect’ makes their product familiar so that people wouldn’t be afraid to touch and enjoy it.
Ouellette and Primeau’s house is located 20 steps away from the studio. In order to save on energy costs, they re-use the heat given off by the studio to warm their home. Balancing a business and family life is sometimes challenging for them as their business takes up a lot of their time, especially since they also have a 7-year-old daughter to take care of. Nevertheless, their love for one another and for the art of glassblowing is what makes their business a magical space full of creativity.
You just recycled that empty plastic laundry detergent bottle, you feel like a good person right? But did you ever think if that laundry detergent bottle is truly recyclable? How a pair of earrings can solve the plastic crisis, at least demonstrate how repurposing plastic can create a positive impact on the environment.
“CP3 is a multidisciplinary project and the end goal is to address the plastic crisis by doing local recycling on campus” Wanda Stamford, co-founder and external business coordinator of CP3 said about the project’s mission.
A new project was created this semester involving recycling and repurposing plastic to be created as fashionable earrings.
“For the earring project particularly, the idea was to make a fashionable piece that made a statement ecologically, but also in fashion, right, like it’s quite a bold design and it’s quite long and it’s a statement piece,” Wanda Stamford said in regards to the purpose of the project.
The first step to make these eco-friendly earrings is collecting the right type of plastic. HDPE or type 2 plastic is used to create the earring because this type of plastic doesn’t produce harmful fumes and is safe to recycle, as said on CP3’s website. Plastics such as milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles are first cleaned and removed of all stickers before being placed in the shredder or cut into small pieces.
“We made some tests and we understood that the mold was big enough to hold 120 grams of plastic so it’s very easy for us to know how much plastic to put in,” Felix Beaudry, operational coordinator designer of CP3 said when setting up the shredded plastic.
The plastic shreds are then laid flat onto a metal plate and put into the hot press machine to melt the plastic. After it gets pressed, the metal plate is taken out to cool down before taking the plastic sheet out. The designs and color vary on the plastic sheet, depending on which plastics are used more than others.
Once all the plastic sheets are made, the students meet on a different day to prototype the smaller earring size they were working on.Stamford and Beaudry worked in Beaudry’s apartment to determine the right size of the earring before using his CNC (computer numerical control) machine to craft the prototype.
When asked how the earrings are made, Stamford explained, “It’s going to take the design that Claire made, and it’s going to imprint onto the sheets.” The final earring design was created by Concordia student Claire Lecker.
After inputting the dimensions of the earring onto the computer program for the CNC machine, it cuts into the plastic to make bell-like shaped earrings. Beaudry, Stamford and Lecker filed and cut out excess plastic off the earrings to clean them up before trying. Once earring hooks were placed on, Stamford and Lecker gasped with excitement at how the earrings looked.
“It’s a conversation starter. So what we hope is that by doing something from Concordia students to Concordia students, we can also motivate our community to wear their convictions.”