Newfoundland women recognized for excellence in crafts

Lillian Simmons
Published on November 23, 2011
Mollie White (left) accepts the award for the Preservation of Traditional Craft Skills from Sally Clouston Johnson. — Submitted photo

The Crafts Council of Newfoundland and Labrador has recognized four Newfoundland women with awards for excellence. The awards were presented in St. John’s Nov. 9.

Shawn O’Hagan of Corner Brook received the Award for Outstanding Achievement for exceptional contribution to the character, strength or growth of craft in the province.

A multi-talented craftsperson, O’Hagan paints, quilts, hooks rugs, spins and knits.

She was honoured by the Craft Council for her pioneering efforts in teaching and sharing her skills with craftspeople across the province and for her efforts in Internet marketing.

O’Hagan has been an artist all her life but she was in her 50s before she began concentrating on crafts, she says in a council news release.

“I feel at home here. So receiving this award from the Craft Council, a group of people I admire so much, is a powerfully meaningful event. It encourages me to continue to learn  and share.”

Craft preservation

Molly White can’t even remember a time when she couldn’t produce something with some wool and a pair of knitting needles.

“I’ve been knitting since I was four or five,” she says.

In fact, White continued knitting all the way through her teenage years. After completing a visual arts course and a tailoring course, White got involved with a micro business living group with some other women in Woody Point through the Red Ochre Board.

“Neither of us had tried rug hooking so Joan Foster with the Rug Hookers Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador did a beginner class in Woody Point.”

That’s where White discovered her love for the craft. About seven years ago she set up Molly Made Fibre Arts Studio, then got an instructor’s certificate with the guild and continues the traditional craft of rug hooking. She uses the traditional technique but unlike the old days when women used whatever scraps of material they could find, she employs wool and other fabrics as well.

“It’s the same technique of rug hooking our grandparents did years ago for rugs that went on the floor — it’s just different kinds of material. Our grandparents probably tore their rags to strips. If they had a pair of scissors they were very lucky, but we’ve got cutters and cutting boards and so it’s much easier now.”

Still, it’s time consuming. It takes from four to five days to create a 20 by 24-inch floor rug.

“We have a shop where we sell high-end art and crafts from local Newfoundland artists, and there’s a production part of the studio where we produce our own kits.”

White draws her own designs, which are included in the rug hooking kits.

She says she’s honoured to receive the Craft Council Award for the Preservation of Traditional Craft Skills.

“It’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work I’ve done.”


Barbara Wood of Happy Valley-Goose Bay received the award for Interpretation of Provincial History. Like White, Wood has been exposed to crafts from as far back as she can remember.

“People my age, in their 60s, most of us as young people learned a variety of crafts from our mothers and grandmothers. Everybody made things, and in the early years knitting, sewing and embroidery were a part of the school curriculum.”

Wood branched out as she grew up — “a bit of everything: fibre art, acrylic and watercolour painting.”

For the past 20 years one of her interests has been wildcrafting — gathering from nature and using found objects in her products.

“One of the things I do is make hand-crafted beads from willow and I gather balsam fir for sachets.”

She was involved in making costuming for the Mina Hubbard 100 anniversary celebrations in North West River in 2005 and has made costumes for The Rooms Métis Exhibit at the interpretation centre in North West River.

“It’s always an honour to be recognized for a work that you’re doing,” she said during a telephone interview. “I want to say thanks to the person who nominated me and the jury. I’ve been involved with the Arts Council for close on 30 years or more and I appreciate all their help through the years.

Exceptional Achievement

Jennifer Galliott of Woody Point received the Award for Exceptional Achievement by a Young Craftsperson.

The award is given to a craftsperson in the early stages of a professional career.

Along with weaving tapestries, Galliott works in other textiles and teaches at her waterfront shop and studio in Bonne Bay.

The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is a member-based organization that works to maximize the artistic and economic potential of the craft community of the province.

The council says the awards recognize exceptional achievement, encourage innovation in design and use of materials, offer support to emerging and established craftspeople and involve the wider community in the pursuit of excellence.