The Polka Dot Trail leads to Chemainus Valley studios

Artists and artisans in Saltair, Chemainus and Crofton will be opening their studio doors this Friday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

This weekend, artists in the Chemainus Valley are inviting you to follow the Polka Dot Trail to learn more about how they do what they do.

Artists and artisans in Saltair, Chemainus and Crofton will be opening their studio doors this Friday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the inaugural Polka Dot Trail studio tour, featuring demonstrations, art sales, refreshments and free draws.

Connie Manning, who is chairing the event organizing committee, says there has never been a studio tour in Chemainus, as far as they know.

When they began discussing the idea of creating a studio tour in the Chemainus Valley, Manning found the response from artisans was very positive.

“There was very keen interest and involvement,” she said. “That was pretty exciting for us. Everybody was fantastic about getting material and ideas, so it’s been a wonderful group effort. Everyone commented on how great the group worked together; we just had such a good time.”

Manning says they received a lot of support from Dee Kinnee, who was their fundraiser and who helped with online marketing.

The list of participating artists along the Polka Dot Trail features potters, fibre artists, jewelry makers, glass blowers and many more.

“We have a whole slate of artists participating, so I’m really excited about that,” said Manning. “We’ve got some fabulous artists here; we’re pretty lucky.”

The Polka Dot Trail is a self-guided tour, and brochures will be available around the Chemainus Valley.

“The focus on this tour, and we all agreed form the beginning, is that we want not just people coming into artists’ studios, but artists will be demonstrating the work they do and sometimes inviting the public to participate,” said Manning. “People just love to see work, the whole act of creating. I did one of the murals in Chemainus, and the thing about that whole process was when the public gets a chance to see the work being created, there’s a different type of excitement and ownership. They get a little more insight into how something comes about or how that artist operates. It’s going to be fascinating for people to see how certain things are made. It’s fascinating to see how an artist can take something like a piece of stone and find something in it.”

Manning says they “absolutely” hope to make this an annual event. Several artists were interested but unable to participate this year due to previous commitments, so she sees this as an event that will grow.

The tour is specific to Saltair, Chemainus and Crofton because this is a new arm of the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society.

There will be a sneak peek of the Polka Dot Trail tour this Thursday during the Savour Chemainus wine and culinary event at the Chemainus Theatre. A couple of artists will be at the theatre from 5:30-8 p.m. to talk about this new event.