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County CanneryRowPEC Jane Rutter is a photographer, which in part explains her eye for detail, her appreciation of good design, her fascination with people and places and labels and faces ... particularly those of Prince Edward County.

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he's taken her enthusiasms and run with them with a small business, based in her little house in Bloomfield, turning County memorabilia, even historic documents, into household furnishings, home decor and colourful accessories. But she couldn't have done it without her sister. "Jane has brilliant ideas and lots of imagination but she just can't focus!" says her sister Susan Felton, which is deliciously ironic if you refer back to the first sentence on this page. It's not true, of course, in her photographs, but in her life? ]ane freely admits it.

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County Magazine

"Yep, I need managing," she says and bursts out laughing. The idea behind this joint venture came from Jane's love of old County canning labels she first saw in Wellington Museum. Everyone agrees they are gorgeous, but what can you do with them other than admire them and walk away? Well, thought Jane, you can put them onto mugs and take great pleasure in them every morning with your coffee. ln 2010 she asked the museum for permission to reproduce some designs from their collection, and they agreed, being very specific about which


#,*-'::-S

"#F *I***{ Jane Rutter, left and Susan Felton, the creative spirits behind County Cannery Row PEC.

designs were appropriate and usable. "We were careful to use the older stuff that was out of copyright," says Jane. When they saw how well the

mugs, and later teatowels,

worked, ]ane was given carte blanche to use any of the available designs. In return Jane gave them a percentage of the sales, and today gives them three or four mugs of each design, which, of course translates to collectable value.

"We didn't reorder the first sets (editor's note: label designs from Carrying Place, Picton, Bloomfield, West Lake, Enst Lake,

Waupoos nnd Lr*e on the Mountain) so if people didn't think to get the whole set while they were available, that's kind of too bad," she says with a big grin that doesn't look like she's sorry at all.

Jane has been collecting

County antiques, bits and bobs, old newspapers, old postcards, just about anything with writing and pictures on it for eight years. The idea of sharing these frag-

ments of history has been in her head for almost as long. But how to do it? She wanted, as Ray Eames, one half of one of the most famous design teams of the 20th century put it, "to create the best for the most for the least." Mugs were great, but she knew she could do more. Enter Susan, a z)ery focused

woman, with artistic ability, a head for business, experience in

all kinds of crafting and an

They approached Prince Edward County Archives about using historic photographs and written materials from its collection in their work. The Archives said no. But then a funny thing happened. Word spread about what they were up to, and friends, neighbours, even total strangers began bringing them family photographs, postcards and other memorabilia.

understanding of her creative sister Jane. "I moved in," she says. "You can be as creative as you like but sometimes you just need a push to get started." Susan was trained in fine art

but had wandered far from that track. For years she had kept her artistic spirit alive creating many kinds of crafts in her spare time. The idea to start a business with Jane was a push for her, too. It took a little time, and more

than a little investment, but they believed in the idea, and they already had Jane's collection of materials just waiting to come alive. County Magazine

17


Jane photographs the pieces, cleaning them up where necessary, or leaving them rich with the patina of time, and they use the images to decorate everything from tea trays to chairs. Their work can be seen in

Nigel makes the blackboards and coat hooks, too, all from scratch. The sisters are adept at recycling salvaged items, from children's wagons to elegant dining chairs, and decorating them all over or with a single motif.

Street, Bloomfield, where new owner Liza Castle gave the sisters display space.

ful example of the all

County Treasures on Main

THE WORK "We make decorative stuff, fun stuff, but functional. Yes, it's functional heritage products," says Jane proudly.

They source materials locally whenever they can and employ local craftspeople. Like Nigel Sivel, who crafts the wooden serving trays that Susan collages with photos and snippets of writing, sometimes a label or items cut from old County newspapers. The effect is like a page from a scrapbook, a patchwork of local memories.

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County Magazine

A medicine chest is a wonder-

over approach with strong graphic appeal from the old newspaper ads covering every inch and var-

nished to last. Look closer. The ads are for Teasel's Drug Store. "Stop Women's Aches and Pains!" shouts one ad. Another is for Lydia E. Pinkham Vegetable Compound. Some of the nicest old photographs are made into greeting cards, happy faces smiling out of the past in their old fashioned dresses and shirtsleeves.

One of the best-selling cards features a beautiful young LiI Denard, driving a tractor and laughing all the way down the years.

"Lil has been in the shop to it," says Jane. She's in her

see

eighties now, but she's forever young in here." And then off she goes again telling me how Keith Millard is related to Lil, "and also the Byes, I believe, who had

a gas station with a

lunch counter in the village, I think where the bike shop is now."

Customers tell stories, too. One of Lil's stories was about how her horse Daisy, featured on another card, got struck by lightning. "People love to be part of it. They say I remember when, and I know that name, or they read the furniture (not as peculiar as it sounds) and recognize names

or

stories there."

As well as decorating trays and mugs and home decor items,

they re-upholster vintage chairs with fabric printed with original handwriting from long ago letters, postcards and documents.

Susan is a skilled upholsterer

and does all the work in the


compact spacse (a polite way of saying they're outgrowing the rooms in Jane's house) that they use as their workshop. "We're discreet," she says. "We choose lovely handwriting from postcards and letters, but

we would never reveal anything very personal." One old postcard that is reproduced came from someone overseas and is addressed to a Miss Annie in Picton. No street address, but somehow it arrived. jane has carefully smudged the last name to preserve the privacy of that long ago Annie. There's a letter from an Irish

family who bought a farm in Hillier. It's quite enthralling, and happily when I say so. "I know, I know. I had accumulated all this great stuff, and I wanted to share it with people but I didn't really want to get rid of any of it. So this totally works

Jane nods

for me." Both sisters confided it's hard for them to part with stuff now,

when they are particularly pleased with a piece. "Bttt foCUS," says Susan with mock sternness.

"You know what else

is

hard?" she asks rhetorically. "Overhearing people say, huh, that's easy. I could do that. I think, Really? I mean, I'm happy to inspire, but I want to shout 'Hey, it's not THAT easyl." There are coffee tables and little side tables that bear old maps or land deeds or receipts. As well as using original materials, which people keep bringing them, delighted to see them immortalized, they have created

some of their own designs, too.

Like the Palace of the Moon motif that Jane created. "We couldn't find anything with a logo for that cool old dance hall,"

says Jane. "So I made one up which I hope captures the spirit." Susan is partial to the Union Jack, too, and it's unlikely they will run out of ideas any time soon. Jane keeps picking up her antiques, discards and yard sale treasures to work their magic on.

"Remembet the

old

Bloomfield sign with the pointing hand? I've got that. I found it rotting by the road. It's just particle board and it was going to fall apart. But it's history, man!" jane and Susan work in the shop occasionally when they are not painting, sewing, collaging, yard-saling and brainstorming. As we talked, customers came into the shop. It was noticeable how long people who live in the County spent poring over the details, with exclamations as they recognized someone or something.

"It

has wonderful relevance, because it's all about here," said Hedy Brambat-Kellar, who had

popped in to drop off Music Festival rack cards. "It's just the kind of stuff people are looking for, and even bettet, it's home grown and actually created from our history." tr Well said, Hedy.

Jane registered the name County Cannery Row PFC in 20 10. and only later discovered there was another entity in the County using the very same name. The other CCR is at Waupoos Marina (see their ad on Pg. 38.) As both are inspired by and celebrating the multlJaceted history of the County, no proprietory clash was anticipated, and none has occurred. Waupoos Marina is itself located on the site of the oLd Waupoos Canning Factory, and its County Cannery Row, developed wlth the assistance of Wellington Museum, is a self-guided walking tour and a review o{ the days when canning was part of the heartbeat of the County. County Magazine 19


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