Cinq Artisans - A Creative Escape and the Inspiration for Our Homestead
Cinq Artisans - A Creative Escape and the Inspiration for Our Homestead

I can just see the gears in your heads turning: “Who exactly is Cinq Artisans, and what do they have to do with Trading Desks for Dirt?”. Well, on one hand, not much, and on the other hand, a whole lot. Cinq, as Gaby and I refer to it, is our family’s imaginative outlet. A way to create and to share our makings with others. A way to bring old traditions into the modern world. I would love to tell you about where the inspiration for Cinq came from, what started it all, and hopefully inspire you to try your hand at creating your own works.

Cinq Artisans

Humanity Has Been Inventing Since the Beginning of Time

It is so satisfying when one makes something with one’s own hands. There are countless reasons why people create things; to bring in revenue, to simplify tasks, for curiosity, to expand or build on previous works, to express themselves, the list goes on and on. To me, building using the tools and materials I have available gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s a stress reliever, a time to be quiet and let the worries of the world fall away for just a little while.

Using My Talent in Many Ways

Mom Painting
A photo of my mom at her ceramics class in the early 1980s.

My hobbies and interests have grown and waned over the years, but one thing remains constant, creating is in my soul.  My mother instilled a fondness for crafting into my siblings and I from a very young age. I attended my first ceramics class with her when I was only a few years old, and have loved painting ever since. When Gaby and I first moved to Calgary in 2005, I joined Nancy’s Ceramics (a Duncan Distributor) as a way to meet friends, and attended every Tuesday night for numerous years.  In 2010, I became a Duncan Certified Teacher in honor of my mom, who passed away in 2008.

After high school, it was only natural that I chose a career path that used my imagination. I went to post secondary school to become a graphic designer, and though I eventually left the industry, I still use many of the skills that I learned on an almost daily basis.

Painting with Katrina
It’s now my turn to pass down the legacy. Here I am painting with Katrina, who’s only a couple of weeks old.

I took a fancy to scrapbooking in my early twenties. It was like graphic design, but much more tactile, and I found I loved the feeling of working with paper. It was relaxing, spending time cutting, gluing, and using stickers to create, almost like going back to my childhood (those days of markers, scissors, and construction paper). I even became a consultant for Close To My Heart (a direct sales scrapbook company) for a few years and held classes for family and friends in my home.

Finding my Passion

My mom had two crafts that she practiced – ceramic painting, the love of which she passed on to me, and sewing (including embroidery and bead work), for which the enthusiasm passed on to my sister. (You really need to check out my sister, Lee Ann’s, shop, At the Corner of 2nd & 2nd on Etsy. Her imagination knows no bounds, and you’ll find unique gift ideas, from baby toys and bookmarks, to the most gorgeous purses and clutches you’ve ever seen!)

Mom's Craft Sale
My mom at one of the many crafts sales that she was involved in.

My mom had always wanted to learn to crochet, to make beautiful, lacy doll clothes, but because she passed away so young, she never had the chance to pursue this dream. As an homage to her, in 2009 I took my first crochet class at Gina Brown’s in Calgary. I was “hooked” so to speak. I started small, practicing my new skill with scarves, baby blankets and a few hats. Next came a second course at Gina Brown’s to learn how to knit, and though I have a healthy respect for it and will do it as the occasion arises, my love is for crochet. (A machine can replicate knit materials, but there isn’t one yet made that can replicate crochet as you and I know it. I love that it is truly a handmade art.)

I honed my abilities over the next few years. Through trial and error, and some further learning from teachers on YouTube, I found ways to improve my work. While I was polishing my skills, creating gifts for family and friends, people started coming to me with custom orders.

The Beginning of an Era

Christine's First Craft Sale
My very first craft sale at the New Brighton Club in Calgary, AB, Canada.

Cinq Artisans began as Christine’s Creations (in honour of my mom and her craft business, Lorna’s Creations) with a stash of yarn and no place to store it. (I’ll have you know that shopping for yarn is almost as much fun as creating with it!) Not one to waste an opportunity, I started making pieces to sell in the community, and entered my first craft sale in the fall of 2014.

It was the summer of 2015 (while expecting our third child) that Gaby came to me with the idea of selling my work online. I loved shopping on Etsy, so it was a natural progression that I would open a shop there. We decided that this was going to be a family endeavor and that we needed to change the company name. For as much as I loved yarn, Gaby was gaining a fervor for woodworking and thought there could be a future for selling his art online as well. (Read about his journey into building here in our article about the swing set he built for our children.) Thus, Cinq Artisans came into existence. Approximately one month before our youngest was born we officially opened our doors and were very pleased with how well we were received.

The Future of Cinq Artisans

Cinq is a continually growing entity. It started with finished crochet pieces and has now grown to include my original patterns. Gaby is still perfecting his skills, and when he’s ready, we will begin showcasing his woodworking creations in the shop. Another area we’ve started to dabble in is photography, and you can see our images for sale on Alamy, a leading stock photography website. As long as our imaginations are leading us, the opportunities for Cinq are boundless.

Custom bunk beds designed and built by Gaby Tetrault. (You can also see the doll house he built for Katrina in the background.)

Back to the Beginning…

So, what does Cinq Artisans have to do with Trading Desks for Dirt? Well, without vision and inspiration, our homestead dream would never have gotten underway. Homesteading is a work in creativity. Designing, planning, organizing, building, it all uses the innovative fibers in our souls. Trading Desks for Dirt is just another way for us to express ourselves, and I cannot wait to see what this next year brings.

What You Can Take Away from This

For those of you who have discovered your creative outlet, bravo! For those of you who feel you can’t do it, or aren’t good at it, I would like to encourage you to rethink that thought and find something that makes you happy. Whether it is ambitious and time consuming, like cake decorating or quilting, or on a smaller scale, with just some markers and a coloring book, I would love for you to realize the pleasure that comes from doing something with your own hands. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Quickly, we would like to say a huge thank you to all our family and friends who have supported us in our endeavors over the years. Without you, neither Cinq Artisans nor Trading Desks for Dirt would be a reality. And to everyone, we would be so honored if you would check out Cinq Artisans on Etsy. You can also find Cinq on social media and our official website by clicking the links below.

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