BUCKHAM’S BAY – People of West Carleton rejoice, there’s something to do this weekend.

West Carleton’s long-running Red Trillium Studio Tour is back for its 42nd edition. The self-guided tour of artists and studios in West Carleton is slated for Saturday and Sunday Oct. 24 and 25 and is the first West Carleton annually occurring event to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that, the Red Trillium Studio Tour will look a little different. First of all, the fall edition was supposed to be the 43rd edition. The tour is usually held twice a year with a spring edition as well – but that one was cancelled due to the pandemic. The fall edition, which has been perfectly timed to coincide with what seems to be an extended peak of fall colours, will be a bit smaller than usual. There will also be strict safety policies in place to protect visitors and the artist. But more on those later.

The Red Trillium Studio Tour is still a weekend drive through West Carleton visiting some of west Ottawa’s best artists in their studios.

This year, there are 10 stops on the tour. West Carleton Online dropped by stained glass artist Marlene Othmer’s Buckham’s Bay studio on Monday, Oct. 19. The location will be Stop 7 on the tour.

The tour organizer is participating in her third tour.

“We got together and said if there’s any way we can do the October show, we’ll do it,” Othmer said. “All the current regulations allow us to do it. There are not huge crowds. I will only let in one bubble in at a time. The response has been good online. People seem to be looking forward to it.”

Its been a long time since people have had any event to look forward to.

Othmer says the messaging around the pandemic also seems to be hitting home. People are buying where they live.

“This buy local movement seems to be gaining momentum,” Othmer said. “And it’s the same for artists. People want to know the person who made their art. They want to buy from their neighbours. People are staying home and want to be surrounded by beautiful things. Art seems to be selling well right now.”

Othmer’s work can be found at several shops around the Ottawa Valley, but this weekend is a chance to see her work in the place where she works. It’s a chance to meet the artist.

“People like to meet the artist and see where the work is done,” Othmer said. “It adds value to the work. Its been a while since people have had the opportunity. It’s fun for the artists too.”

For regular participants of the Red Trillium Studio Tour, a highlight is finding new artists on the tour. And although there are fewer stops this year, there was still room for some new talent.

Othmer mentions Red Raspberry Studios’ Barbi Defazio as a new stop to not miss.

“I knew she was from here and her work is whimsical and fun and needs to be seen,” Othmer said.

Painter Victoria Smith is also new on the tour.

“Met her at a craft show, really liked her work,” Othmer said. “I said, where are you?’ And we got to talking.”

Smith will be sharing Othmer’s studio with fabric sculpture artist Jane Christie.

Along with the nine studio stops, the Olde Meeting House in Fitzroy Harbour will be a stop for coffee and treats. Othmer also wanted to mention the Cheshire Cat, Swan at Carp, Juke Joint Soul Kitchen and Heart and Soul Café are long time supporters of the tour and will be open for take out or patio service both days of the tour.

“Everybody’s hurting this year, so we didn’t ask for sponsorship, but they’ve been so supportive over the years,” Othmer said.

For more information, to see the full list of participating artists and studios and to find the tour map, visit the Red Trillium Studio Tour website here.

Red Trillium Studio Tour COVID-19 protocols

Visitors and artists are expected to wear masks indoors, or when adequate social distancing might be difficult

Hand sanitizer will be available all locations

Studios will restrict the number of people inside at any time and request that you not handle the merchandise unnecessarily