Movers & Makers: Artisans Pivot and Peddle in Clark County
Gloria Wilson’s hands have served her well over the years. Today, retired after four decades of machine operation, model making and engineering, she gives second life to old wood pieces by shaping them into lovingly made cutting boards, cooking ladles, garden totes, signs and pretty much anything else large or small that comes to her mind. If fact, it’s hard to think of anything Wilson can’t make. She has the heart and hands of a lifelong creator. As a young adult in the 1970s, Wilson entered a male-dominated field because she “loved the work.” It’s a phrase that came up again and again throughout my visit with her at her home/shop/office in Battle Ground. It was the love of making things like stirling engines and printer part prototypes that carried her through years of being the only female in the room—rooms sometimes filled with “girly posters.” “It was a different time,” Wilson said of her early professional days. Since then, she’s been thrilled to see women—the recipients of Wilson’s own legacy—now embracing woodworking, machining and creating. “These young women out there are crushing it, making cool stuff and not even looking back,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful.”
Women and men, young and old, all over Clark County, have been “making cool stuff and not even looking back” for years, often selling their creations at markets and bazaars, where they could meet their customers and share their crafts personally. But the pandemic has created a shift in how these handcrafted products are made and sold. Many people discovered and developed new crafts and skills while stuck at home during quarantine. Others had to pivot their traditional methods of selling, or simply wait for markets and bazaars to come back. While some local markets, such as Vancouver Farmers Market, continued to function through the pandemic, others, such as the Ridgefield Farmers Market, were put on hold. This summer, as restrictions ease and shoppers are able to interact with makers and purchase their handmade wares in person, Ridgefield Farmers Market and many other markets and bazaars will return, and a brand new storefront is coming to the Vancouver Waterfront that will be a game changer for local artisans hoping to sell their products on an even wider scale.
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