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Atlantic artisans celebrated in Pictou County author's latest book

Don MacLean has published his third book called, “With These Hands: Traditional Arts, Crafts, and Trades of Atlantic Canada.”
Don MacLean has published his third book called, “With These Hands: Traditional Arts, Crafts, and Trades of Atlantic Canada.” - Adam MacInnis
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. —

In his most recent book, Pictou County author Don MacLean has included a black and white picture that shows his father, grandfather and aunt cutting a field of oats in Cape Breton.
“I really like the picture because it reminds me that I am one generation removed from a time when people worked with their hands to survive.”
It was a tradition that was passed on to him growing up as it has been for so many other people in eastern Canada.  
“I say in the book whether you were working on the farm or in the sea, or factory or at home, working with your hands was a common activity back in the day.”
But there are people who elevated crafts and trades to art and their legacy lives on throughout Atlantic Canada.
“With These Hands: Traditional Arts, Crafts, and Trades of Atlantic Canada,” which was recently released is MacLean’s third book and tells the stories of people who are creating beautiful works of art whether it be wooden canvas canoes, hand carved decoys, hooked rugs or metal work.
“It was really fun,” MacLean said of the writing process which saw him travel throughout the Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. “People were very kind and invited me into their homes and their studios and shops to interview them.”
He said Shanna Francis from Eskasoni, who he talked to about hand-woven baskets, is an example of someone who has kept their craft relevant. She recently had her work sent to the International Space Station with astronaut David Saint-Jacques.
While the backgrounds of the people he interviewed run the gamut, he said there are some characteristics all these artists seem to have in common. 
“People who do these are fairly centered and it’s taken a long time to develop the skill that they are doing, but they really enjoy it.”
He believes working with a person’s hands has a value that perhaps is being lost in today’s fast-paced world. 
“There are a lot of benefits from doing these things,” he said. “They’re very good for the soul. ... Working with your hands is quiet time and is nurturing.”
He hopes, if nothing else, his book gives people an appreciation for the talent that surrounds them.
“There are people doing really interesting, incredible things wherever you go,” he said.
MacLean’s book can be purchased at bookstores throughout the region. It is published by Nimbus. 
 

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