SIX NATIONS – As a traveller from outside of Six Nations you might wish to pick up something to remember your time here. And if you’re a picky buyer, looking for something hand-made and well made, Martin’s Craft Shop is the best place to go.
Well known within Six Nations as one of the best places to scoop up a pair of moccasins, this craft shop is headed by Marion Martin, the co-ordinator for the Red Barn Summer Craft Camp and long-time crafter.
“I think [my daughter] Cindy was about five years old and she always like beads,” said Martin. “So Virginia Beaver showed me how to do beadwork, and in the process of her showing me how to do beadwork she also showed me how to sew our traditional clothes.”
Martin was shown what to do, and what not to do in regards to traditional Haudenosaunee regalia from head-to-toe. She then turned to leatherwork.
“Later on in life, Bob and Eva Williams had a moccasin class, so I went to their moccasin class and I learned how to make moccasins,” she said, mentioning that she also learned how to make leather jackets from Deanna Skye.
Martin explained that she was a stay-at-home mom and doing the crafts helped her make extra money after she began selling her work. She used her own methods for pieces such as breechcloths and leggins. The shop itself has been going strong for more than a decade after she received help from Rachel Martin at Two Rivers combined with a sponsorship from GREAT after having met specific small business criteria.
“In April it’ll be 17 years of having the one room in the back as Martin’s Craft Shop,” she said.
The 16 years of experience already achieved can be seen in the pieces decorating her shop. Among the beading and craft supplies is an array of finely made beaded dreamcatchers, buckskin coats, pieces of regalia and moccasins in various sizes just waiting to be picked up and loved by a new owner. In regards to prices, Martin said she tries to keep in the same range as other crafters.
Martin said that as people have been forthcoming with their knowledge, she has also shared her expertise in classes at different universities and even close to home at locations such as the Woodland Cultural Centre. She has especially shared with her loved ones.
“The people that I’ve taught in the past are doing it for their own families now,” she said. “And I’m happy that my immediate family will be taking over. I’ve set that up quite well, and Dani does an awesome job.”
Among Martin’s daughters Cindy and the late Colleen Martin, granddaughters Mallory and Madison Johns and Danielle Jonathan have contributed to the inventory within the shop.
Jonathan explained that when she was younger she didn’t see the importance of crafting, but now she does.
“Now that I’m getting older I’m finding that it has to be carried on,” said Jonathan. “A lot of the stuff is time consuming, but it’s important that it gets carried on.”
On top of it’s importance, Jonathan said that helping her grandmother suits her well because of her own passion.
“I’m really passionate about art, so [these crafts] are our art and that’s why I like it,” she said.
From porcupine quill earrings to green leather moccasins, Jonathan explained that her grandmother has taught her “everything she knows”. But when Jonathan learns something new, she’ll also share it with her grandmother so that they can learn as a team.
“Sometimes I’ll learn something and I’ll come over and we’ll do it together,” she said.
Martin explained that just recently one of her younger grandsons came to ask her to learn how to make moccasins because his older sisters learned.
It is safe to say that Martin’s Craft Shop is a great example of how familial knowledge is preserved, and a great example of the traditional art community within Six Nations.
Martin offers thanks to Eva and Bob Williams (moccasins), Virginia Beaver (beadwork), Sam Thomas (raised beadwork) and Deanna Skye (buckskin coats) for all of their knowledge.
“With their knowledge I’ve been able to instruct everything they’ve taught me,” she said, adding that she’s thankful to be able to share what she’s learned.
If you would like to make an order call 519-445-2558 or visit her shop the address is 937 Third Line Road, Six Nations. Martin will also be hosting a sale in upcoming April.