News

Library plays host to Authors and Makers event

By Michelle Ruby, Brantford Expositor

Jack Taylor, who is a Grade 12 student at Simcoe Composite School, makes chopping blocks and kitchen products from local wood. He was among the makers at Authors and Makers Norfolk held Saturday in Port Dover. Michelle Ruby/Brantford Expositor

Jack Taylor, who is a Grade 12 student at Simcoe Composite School, makes chopping blocks and kitchen products from local wood. He was among the makers at Authors and Makers Norfolk held Saturday in Port Dover. Michelle Ruby/Brantford Expositor

PORT DOVER - 

 Libraries are evolving into spaces of innovation, challenging the traditional notion of what they should be.

Today’s libraries are about more than just books, said Heather King, CEO of the Norfolk County Public Library. The Port Dover branch hosted Authors and Makers Norfolk on Saturday at Lakewood Elementary School in Port Dover.

The event featured local makers of blankets, paintings, hand-embroidered greeting cards, glass pieces, and other crafts, along with book authors from all over southwestern Ontario.

“Libraries are expanding into more of a maker culture,” said King.

Norfolk libraries are creating MakerSpace labs that includes 3D printers, computerized paper cutters, video equipment and other technology.

King said the libraries are offering what would have been the shop and home economics programs of old.

“Libraries have found kind of a niche,” she said. “We have the written works but we’ve taken it a step further with classes and workshops. It’s skill-based learning.”

Three years ago, the library partnered with the Authors’ Book Fair committee to offer Authors and Makers.

Last year, they brought in Maureen Jennings, author of Murdoch Mysteries, as a special guest. Saturday’s speaker was Steve Smith, aka Red Green, star of the Canadian television comedy The Red Green Show. Green was a handyman known for his liberal use of duct tape.

“We wanted to take on a maker theme,” said King. “Red Green is the most well-known maker Ontario has produced.”

A duct tape competition held in Red Green’s honour generated 42 entries, with people using the adhesive to make the CN Tower, running shoes, bouquets and various other creations.

Among the makers selling their wares was Jack Taylor, a Grade 12 student at Simcoe Composite School, who produces hardwood chopping boards from the garage at his home.

He made his first board when he was 12 as a Mother’s Day gift. He was so taken with his hobby, he invested $20,000 – all of his school savings – into the business.

It’s paying off, he said, having sold 100 of the boards in the past month alone.

“It became my passion as a kid,” said Taylor. “I always liked making things.”

He now uses walnut, cherry, maple, African mahogany and jatoba to make his boards, sealing them with a wax he also produces and sells.

Among the authors offering their works was Sarah WaterRaven, a Burlington writer of the urban fantasy Detective Docherty series.

WaterRaven, who taught a workshop on self-publishing on Saturday, said it took her two years to write the first book: Detective Docherty and The Demon’s Tears.

“I was working full time,” she said. “I started writing it on my lunch breaks and in the early morning. I wanted more than anything to publish before I was 30.”

She made it just under the wire, self-publishing at age 29.

“I’m building a fan base,” said WaterRaven, who is writing full time now. “It’s very gratifying. There’s nothing like when you’re at a book store signing and you see your name on the cover.”

- Brantford Expositor

mruby@postmedia.com