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Crafting a Country Christmas

When visitors arrive at Barb Plett’s Country Christmas near Landmark, they are truly welcomed to a country delight. Nestled among the maples is a traditional two-storey house that has been home to family members for approximately 80 years. This beautiful country scene has featured Barb’s Country Christmas for 15 advent seasons. Glowing outdoor lights and warm smiles welcome guests to her rural Christmas show.

The idea for Barb’s Country Christmas originated 19 years ago when she became interested in pottery. To gain exposure and market her work, she participated in craft shows. However, she says, “It was exhausting to lug heavy, breakable pottery to sales and attending them became extremely overwhelming.” Displaying her art in the context of her own home soon became reality, and the first show and sale was a phenomenal success. Customers enjoyed viewing and purchasing her work that was displayed in a realistic and appealing fashion.

Barb recounts that the first years required tremendous labour. She created pottery, sewing, floral arrangements, wreaths and candles for the three-day sale. The daunting task of building inventory for the sale took months. She still creates hundreds of pieces each year for the sale with mugs being her best-seller. Two years ago, Barb invited a few artisans to join her in displaying their work. The products complement each other and provide more variety to guests.

In preparation for the sale, the Pletts remove all the contents except the furniture from the original rooms to the house. “All our plates, mugs, cutlery, photos, etc. are taken from drawers, cabinets and walls.” Her kitchen, summer kitchen, dining room and living room are stripped and then redesigned. With the assistance of her sister and daughter-in-law, Barb spends three days decorating, creatively organizing stock and stringing Christmas lights. Barb is also appreciative of her husband’s support. Barb says, “He endures weeks of preparation, lives with a displaced household for the week, and greets hundreds of guests.”

Barb enjoys country life and also integrates nature into her art. With her kiln in the garage and potter’s wheel in the basement, Barb is inspired by her farm surroundings. In the past, she has used flower petals in candles which she sets in pottery containers. Cedar leaves and branches are used to imprint clay for napkin rings. She has also made clay cones and stuffed them with wheat and other dried florals from their farm. The Pletts have also developed a successful apple and grape crop from which she creates wonderful grape and apple jelly.

Each year, Barb wonders if it will be her last show but she loves meeting friends from years gone by who visit from Winnipeg and around the province. She minimizes the stress and pressure by being extremely organized so she can take time to chat and connect with guests. She also enjoys visits from former and present pottery students. Barb has taught pottery classes for six years and the show provides an opportunity for students to see her work in the context of her own home. However, Barb says the greatest reward is sharing the profit with missions and various organizations.

Barb’s Country Christmas fosters community as she encourages neighbours and friends to stop by to browse and enjoy a cup of hot cider. This year, she is showcasing beautiful handmade cards, natural soaps and candles, original jewelry, stained glass, stunning photographic art, creative floral designs, and hand-knit toys and clothing. Books and Christmas music will be available. A mouth-watering selection of fresh home baking will also be a highlight.

Barb is located two miles west of Landmark on Highway 210 and a half-mile south. The show will be held November 20 to 22 from 10 a. m. until 9 p. m. The gift shop is also open year round by appointment only 204-355-4572.

– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba

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