Carla Swope and Karen Hamilton

Bistro adds ‘pop’ to craft crawl

If you haven't been down South Sumas Road in awhile, don't be surprised if you get whiplash after passing by Little Beetle Bistro.

If you haven’t been down South Sumas Road in awhile, don’t be surprised if you get whiplash after passing by Little Beetle Bistro.

With industrial businesses on one side and overgrown farmland on the other, a bright blue bistro in a heritage-style home is situated. With no other eateries around, and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it’s a bit of an unusual locale for an unknown bistro.

Hence, the whiplash.

But for owner Jinhee Choi, it was the perfect choice.

Choi and her family moved to Canada from Korea two years ago. And while she doesn’t speak much English, she makes up for it through the language of decor.

When she saw the building for the first time in 2010, it was rundown, the exterior was a faded green and white, and the inside was just “dirty.”

But Choi saw through the imperfections. She saw potential, character.

It was that character that attracted organizers of the Chilliwack Christmas Craft Crawl to Little Beetle’s door. The craft crawl’s organizers were looking for a suitable lunch-stop for the annual affair, and when they spotted Little Bistro, and saw its quaint chalkboard menu, and tasted its fresh paninis and specialty hot drinks – they knew it was perfect.

The ninth annual Chilliwack Christmas Craft Crawl is from Nov. 25-27. Little Beetle Bistro is one of four newcomers to the crawl this year.

“We’re excited to be able to help introduce our craft crawl guests and community to this new treasure of a bistro,” said Holly McKeen, craft crawl organizer and owner of Greendale Pottery and Country Guest House.

The two-storey bistro was originally a wood-shingled farmhouse when built in 1908. The first floor had been designated commercial and was a general store in the early 1900s and then later an antique shop.

The years, though, were evident in the wear and tear of the building by the time Choi had spotted it.

A makeover was needed.

Under Choi’s direction, the outside was painted a vibrant peacock blue, the carpets were ripped out, and were replaced with slats of vintage-styled wood, and the walls were torn down to bring in natural light. The interior also features rustic wood beams and a perfect blend of modern mixed with classic knick knacks placed throughout.

“It’s a bistro so it has to pop,” said Choi’s daughter, Chloe Do, of the yearlong renovations.

Added McKeen, “Little Beetle’s lovingly restored farmhouse setting is located right along our craft crawl route, and not only has great food and fine coffee, but provides a terrific venue for more artisans.”

In fact, two more of this year’s newcomers will be featured at Little Beetle Bistro: Carla Swope’s custom jewelry creations and Karen Hamilton’s abstract paintings.

• This year’s Christmas Craft Crawl features seven stops and 10 artisans, which include: Greendale Pottery and Country Guest House with Greendale Herb and Vine; Rustic Soap Co.; Chilliwack River Valley Natural Honey Ltd.; Hamels Fabrics; Little Beetle Bistro, featuring artist Karen Hamilton and jewelry maker Carla Swope; Flowers by Renee; and Winks Home Garden and Gifts.

The crawl runs from Nov. 25-27, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 25 and 26, and from 12-4 p.m. Nov. 27.

For more information on vendors, and for a map, visit the website at www.chilliwackcraftcrawl.com

CRAFT CRAWL NEWCOMERS

CARLA SWOPE:

Carla Swope is still a youngin’ at just 26 years old, but her jewelry making style is definitely old-school.

There’s no machines or glue involved in her creations.

Just her hands, she says.

Swope’s “one-of-a-kind” bracelets, necklaces and earrings are made through a solderless wire work technique that uses the pliability of her hands with a little help from needle-nose and round-nose pliers.

Not easy for most, but for Swope, who’s created thousands of pieces, “I’ve got pretty efficient at it over the years,” she says. “I can probably make something in 15 minutes now, whereas before one piece would take four hours.

“It’s about knowing where the wire is and understanding where to position your hands.”

Swope’s jewelry often channels nature, incorporating “earthy” things such as feathers, dinosaur bones, pine cones, and fossils, and then adds a touch of feminine sparkle with glass beads and gems.

“Everything is done by scratch … and I love every minute of it,” she says.

Carla Swopes jewelry can be seen online at www.carlaswope.com.

KAREN HAMILTON:

Karen Hamilton turns her brain off when creating her abstract landscapes.

When she first envisions an image, she strips it almost bare, to its most simplest form, until she reaches that “heart and soul” gasp moment a person gets when first spotting a spectacular sight.

Then, she pulls out her pastels.

“I take the complexity of a landscape and simplify it as much as I can with as little lines as I can so that I create a piece that is just recognizable,” she says.

Trees are frequent muses.

She’s painted green trees, blue trees, white trees, red trees, forests of trees, tall trees, shoreline trees, women-like trees…

“I’m quite known for my trees,” she says.

“They have a spirit for me. They represent life.”

At the crawl, Hamilton will be featuring a wide selection of her canvas paintings, as well as cards and magnets.

A gallery of her work can be viewed online at www.khartist.com

kbartel@theprogress.com

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