Eye of the Needle

Eye of the Needle Studio

Eye of the Needle is a new artisan gallery and studio space in beautiful Fernie BC. Operated by mother and daughter duo Sandra and Florence Barrett, Eye of the Needle offers a space for artisans to gather and celebrate their craft.

Fernie Forge blacksmith Sandra Barrett incorporates glass and felt into her sculptural steel work and was inspired to forge a collaboration with two other women to showcase glass and felt in the gallery.

Katherine Russell, a glass artist from Elkford and Robin Wiltse, a fibre artist from Kaslo are both exhibiting and selling their beautiful and unique work in the space. There is a shared use of colour and texture between the three mediums – creating an unusual synergy that harmonizes with the atmosphere of the former Salvation Army church.

The gallery carries various works by a select group of artisans from Canada and around the world. Featuring work by:

Anvil Island Design: metal artist (Vancouver Island BC)

Briggs and Little: Pencil roving maker (New Brunswick)

Chaotic Fibres: fibre artist (Vancouver Island BC)

Chinook Country Forge: blacksmith (Alberta)

Elk River Apiaries: honey (Fernie BC)

Fernie Mountain Honey: candle maker (Fernie BC)

Flights of Fibre: fibre artist (Manitoba)

Gentle Roller Company: felting machine maker (Australia)

The Jewelry Junkie: copper jewelry maker (Fernie BC)

Katherine Russell: glass artist (Elkford BC)

K.D. Rooster: metal artist (Ontario)

Kirkpatrick: cast iron maker (Britain)

Kitras Art Glass: glass blower (Ontario)

Kootenay Candles: candle maker (Creston BC)

Kootenay Forge: blacksmith (Crawford Bay BC)

Robert Morris: blacksmith (Alberta))

Robin Wiltse: fibre artist (Kaslo BC)

Rubia Darya: vintage textiles (Manitoba)

Upstairs in the studio is Sandra’s talented daughter Flo May Barrett, who is all set up to sew anything you can think of. From clothing repairs and alterations to custom builds, this award winning costume designer and seamstress is fully equipped to bring your ideas to life.

Eye of the Needle Studio and Gallery is the second location owned by Fernie Forge. The opening reception is from 5:00 until 9:00 on Friday December 12th at 260 5th Street, Fernie (opposite the Heritage Library). Everyone is welcome. The gallery will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 5:00, Saturdays 11:30 to 5:30. The studio will be open by appointment or by chance – phone Florence (778) 995-9151.

Article from ARTiculate   
Since opening in December 2014, Sandra Barrett has been forging collaborations with several of the talented artisans who exhibit and sell their work in the “Eye of the Needle” Gallery. An article by ARTiculate magazine, published in May 2015, explores the collaborations in more detail and is reproduced in full here. Sadly, a few of the details – such as Sandra only started practising metalwork after arriving in Canada, are incorrect. Sandra is also mistakenly referred to as Sharon three times, but Margaret Tessman, editor of ARTiculate, did her best during the telephone interview and has written a very interesting piece. We are grateful that Margaret decided to include our story in her magazine. Why is the story of interest? Eye of the Needle is making a contribution to the arts and heritage scene by displaying and selling this unusual work in a former church (a 1908 heritage yellow brick building), and also supporting and promoting regional arts and crafts in a new and exciting way. Every artisan approached so far has appreciated the additional physical addition of another element to their own creations. They have found a fresh look which they couldn’t have achieved alone.          Page 1

Page 2

Fernie designer wins provincial award

Fernie costume designer Flo Barrett recently won a Leo Award for Best Costume Design in a Feature Film.

— image credit: S. Kucharski

To contain costume designer Flo Barrett’s personality and energy into words is an injustice.

Her buoyant nature, her passion for fabric, her charmed vernacular and expressive hand movements are part of the package that has sent the 26-year-old U.K. transplant’s name skyrocketing in the design industry.

Barrett has elevated herself from a five-year-old child making outfits for her dolls from scraps of her own clothes she couldn’t bear to throw away, to a 16-year-old teenager in Doc Martens jangling the keys to the Arts Station where she once did the lighting for concerts, to a fully-fledged working costume and production designer for theatre and film with more projects than she can handle.

Her latest project was her first foray into film — a venture that awarded her with two Leo award nominations and one ultimate win at the Leo’s ceremony on Saturday, June 6.

Her win for feature film Eadweard and nomination for short film Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story are particularly impactful as she was the only costume designer nominated in two categories.

“It’s kind of crazy because I’m a complete rookie,” said Barrett, “and there are only three Leo categories for costume design and to be nominated in two is insane.”

The Leos are a ceremony put on by the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of British Columbia to honour the best in film.

Of working on Eadweard, Barrett said, “It was the hardest I have ever worked in my life. We had 450 period costumes that we pulled together in seven weeks. We were still sewing while production was going on.”

The transition to working in film from her previous background in theatre was a welcome change for Barrett.

“Theatre is about being in a live space and seeing the whole production work together as it’s happening
live in front of you,” she explained. “Whereas film you film it, but then it goes away and it gets edited, colour-corrected and changed before you see the final product."

She added, “Every medium demands something different from you as a designer but the more languages you can learn in the arts the easier it is to collaborate.”

She describes dressing actors on set in period clothing — a specialty of hers — for Eadweard only to contrast the pair of jeans they had on.

“In film you can get away with that because you’re only being shot from the waist-up, whereas in theatre it’s the whole image. In theatre you also need costumes that can be changed out of in like 10 seconds. In film, you have to make real clothing because the camera gets so up close and detailed. And I love that. Because I’m so detail-oriented.”

Having moved to Vancouver in order to obtain her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Simon Fraser University and worked in the city for years, Barrett still credits Fernie and its people with much of her success.

Amongst her inspirations Barrett includes her high school drama teacher, Lori Sinclair, with “giving [her] the courage to go for the career [she] wanted.”

Others like Mike Tomney of the Arts Station handed her the keys to the place and gave her a working knowledge of technical theatre.

Even Chantel Vincent, owner of Freyja, was the person who gave Barrett her introduction to fashion.

“At 15, people saw something in me and were so supportive. They knew that I wasn’t going to work a regular 9-5 job, they knew I wanted to be in the arts. Fernie in and of itself gave me so many opportunities. I was producing my own shows and bringing it around the Elk Valley and into schools at 18. People just trust people here. It’s that Fernie mentality that if you love something, you just give it,” said Barrett.

Her parents, local blacksmiths at Fernie Forge Sandra and David, were always the biggest fans of her work.

“My parents are the most beautiful people in the world. Can you imagine me being 17 and telling your parents you want to work in theatre?” she laughs. “My parents, my family, we don’t believe in back up plans. If you really believe in something, people will see that.”

Through that determination, Barrett now normally finds herself on the set of any given project amongst professionals 20 years her senior.

“I used to be so scared and terrified,” said Barrett. “I got out of school and I started working with people I was studying eight months ago. It was unbelievable and so intimidating.”

While fashion is inherently a glamourous field, the production that goes into each of the garments Barrett creates can be exhausting.

“I’ve passed out on my sewing machines more times than I can count. And, at times, making clothes can be so intimidating. You can start a piece and then halfway through you’re like, ‘It looks like crap.’ And you have to have that mental dedication to get through it,” she said.

When Barrett discusses her love of fashion and clothes she gushes and lights up more than her cheery persona already emanates.

“I always say that I look at the world and dissect the world through clothing. This is what I love to do and it’s how I see the world. There’s so much history and story and feeling that you can put into garments … and I just love making people feel beautiful in clothes.”

Barrett works out of her studio space Eye Of the Needle, located at 560 5th St., which includes working studio space and a downstairs gallery showcasing local artisans work.

Copyright © Fernie Forge 2024. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.