OUR EXPERTs TEAM
I have always been interested in woodworking but never had the space or the tools to do it as a regular hobby. I did
however make space and time in my life for acquiring antiques and many needed repair.
Thirty five years ago a close friend had a business in Swift Current and although they sold antiques, his strong skill set was refinishing and repairing items. I spend many hours in his shop as he shared his skills with me. It might have been gluing a chair, fixing a drawer, or tightening up the legs on a wobbly plant stand.
I consider what we do as a type of recycling, restoring items or even
repurposing them for a new use.
Lloyd started out by breaking things and learning to fix them. He moved onto working with computers, doing IT support, and ended up making a career of it.
Most recently, Lloyd was a co-director for IT for the Western Canada Summer Games where he were responsible for keeping everything that plugs in from breaking. This involved some creative troubleshooting. Printers were repaired, radios programmed, cell phones argued with, laptops cobbled together, and televisions made to work a few weeks more.
Lloyd strongly believes that things should be repaired and valued rather than tossed. Lloyd's specialty? The no-hope computers.
Heather Benning has been working with her hands for almost 20 years as a sculptor.
She grew up on a farm and was often working next to her father repairing something.
She has had both formal training, with a BFA and Master degree in sculpture; and informal training, worked at a bronze foundry, apprenticed with a building restoration company, and farming.
She loves the idea of repairing things, as she hates the idea of continual disposal of something that can have a second life. The most memorable thing she has “Fixed” is Heather once turned an abandoned farmhouse into a life-sized dollhouse.
I've been repairing or helping repair equipment since I was old enough to hold the flashlight and dig in the wrench drawer.
Since an early age I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. In high school I worked at an auto repair shop and after graduation I worked for 3 years and took 2 years of trade school for automotive service technician.
I still use my tools frequently at home. My wife and I bought our acreage, we couldn't afford to buy a yard tractor but found a 1939 Ford 9N and a 50's Massey 44 tractor parked in a tree row. After a couple months in the shop, I was out moving snow with them and I still rely on them.
I get enjoyment out of seeing older things revived and being put to use again as they would have been decades ago.
In my teens I started making and selling
daisy chains. I picked up basic jewellery repair techniques over the years - broken clasps, snapped cords, and unlinked chains.
I'm a firm believer in trying to fix things - if they were important enough to spend money on, they are worth a little TLC to repair. Jewellery often has sentimental value so there's extra value and the repairs are often just a little detail work.
On the flip side, jewellery materials are notoriously bad for the environment. They are often treated metals, bone or horn, glasses, plastics, stones mined from delicate areas... the fewer of these that get tossed into the landfills, the better.
Ray Gowan has been working in repairing electronics for over 30 years. He became interested in electronics because of a need to fix his own broken stuff. He is mostly self taught with help from a local expert.
Ray is proficient at repairing almost anything but loves the challenge of fixing electronic items. He finds electronics and the repairing of electronics as endlessly fascinating.
His greatest achievement in electronics repair was, oddly, an early repair of a digital clock radio that had been returned to the factory twice for repairs. That was 25 years ago and it’s still running!
Curtis started out by breaking things which meant he had to learn to fix them and to fix them pretty well. He started working with computers and doing IT support.
Most recently, Curtis was a co-director for IT for the Western Canada Summer Games where he was responsible for keeping everything that plugs in from breaking. This involved some creative troubleshooting. Printers were repaired, radios programmed, cell phones argued with, laptops cobbled together, and televisions made to work.
He strongly believe that things should be repaired and valued rather than tossed. Curtis is pretty good with most computers, including Apples.
How long you have been working with repairing things?
As soon as I was old enough to break things. Many years.
Why did you get interested in repairing?
I couldn't afford to buy new things, so I fixed broken things.
How did you learn your skills?
Mostly self taught but going to school helped a lot too.
What types of things you like to repair?
Basic electro-mechanical things.
Why do you love fixing stuff?
It feels good to not throw things away.
I have been riding bicycles since I was seven like everyone else. I started messing around with “fixing” them as a teenager. In 1998 I took some night school training on bike repair (16 weeks) and got a job with a manufacturer of department store bikes. There I learned the use of more specialized tools and procedures. I currently work on bicycles for friends and family and bikes that I might want to ride such as vintage 3-speeds and single speeds.
Keely Williams is a maker of things: ceramic, knitwear, woven items, sewn items, felted items, anything wool or textile.
Time and use give items value and Keely believes that careful repairs show an item is well loved. Keely often re-purposes old items to make them useful again.
Williams likes learning how things are made and put together.
I come from a family who believes in the inherent value of materials - wood comes from trees and trees take our entire lifetime to grow. We need to respect that about wood and all the other materials we are taking from the earth and not putting back. Repair and reuse has always been a way of life for us. Being a jack of all trades was necessary and something to be proud of. I grew up helping and learning to repair and build in various materials and trades.
What is most memorable about repair or fixing something is those MacGyver moments of ingenuity when something has broken or failed and you look around you and discover a material you can abstract for the purposes of making the fix. It is creative process at its best.
Raene Poisson has always naturally worked with her hands and fiddled with stuff, even from a young age growing up on the farm. With her family as a great influence for repairing things and "figuring it out" she also mirrors those qualities. With the formal education of a BFA and a Cultural Conservation diploma, her training includes the repair and conservation of objects - such as ceramics, paper, textiles, metals, and wood - for museums and private clients. One of her favourite conservation treatments was a rare "Brown Bess" Musket from the 1800's (whose length was nearly as tall as her!).
SWIFT CURRENT LIBRARY
Andrea McCrimmon is an Information Expert and the Manager of the Swift Current Library. She can show you the power of libraries to connect you to the people, information, and ideas that you need to change the world. A large part of her work at the Swift Current Library has focused on making technology training accessible and comfortable for people of all ages. Talk to Andrea about how the library can help you learn, get inspired, or stay entertained. Ask her the meaning of life, or how to fix a toilet. She’ll help you find the answer!
SWIFT CURRENT PUBLIC LIBRARY
“Idle hands, idle minds” that’s what Sharon Bonifacio’s grandmothers used to say to her and her five other siblings. They also taught her how to sew and mend clothes along with her home economics teachers. Having earned a BS degree in Clothing Technology and a few years in fashion export and retail in Manila, Philippines further enhanced her skills. While working in the library of an international school in Beijing, China she learned basic book repairs and continues to do so as a staff member of the Swift Current Branch Library.
SWIFT CURRENT PUBLIC LIBRARY
ROSE WANG NOBLE
Ever since Rose Wang Noble was little, she loved to repair or fix small things. She never throws anything out and is big on recycling or ensuring items have a long useful life.
As Chinook Regional Library's IT Program Coordinator, Rose has extensive experience with a wide variety of software, apps and cloud platforms. She helps people of all ages with their computer and device issues. There are no problems she can't solve across Apple, Mac, Windows, Google, etc. Her expertise also extends to websites and social media. Rose can help you get started with 3D printing, or get your computer or mobile devices problems sorted.
SWIFT CURRENT PUBLIC LIBRARY
I am a retired High School Industrial Arts teacher. Major areas of expertise are woodworking and introduction to welding
and engine repair.
I began sewing and crafting as a pre-teen on a farm in SE Sask, with my father helping me along when I didn’t know how to do something. In grade school I entered a sewing contest at The Bay in Regina and modelled my outfit. The love for sewing eventually led me to the University of Saskatchewan and into the College of Home Economics. In addition to the required courses for my degree my electives were in Clothing and Textiles. I sewed many of my own clothes.
I cannot imagine life without a sewing machine. I repair and remake my clothes and other fabric items in my home.
From a very young age, I was always encouraged to look after and maintain the tools, machines and objects that we use every day. As I grew up, I was able to learn the skills needed to repair and fix these. I have always been interested in all things mechanical and electrical and how they work together. My knowledge areas include small engine repair, carpentry , restoration of antique radios and tools , light machining, model engineering and furniture finishing.
I started taking apart computers and electronics when I was a kid.
Then about 10 years ago when I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go in life, I decided to go to school for my Computer Technology Professional Diploma. After that I landed a job with a school division as a Computer Technician who handled everything from hardware servicing, to software repairs and upgrades. Then I got contracted to the Department of National Defense Canada for Deskside Support.
I have a lot of technical experience in the IT and Desktop Support field.
As long as I can remember I have enjoyed working with my hands, building and repairing broken Items and taking things apart to see how they work.
Lately it has being fixing my grandson’s toys or my wife’s electrical appliances (hairdryer, curling iron,) or helping my son Tristan (Repair Café Expert) with home renovations.
Fixing things gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment and provides an economic and sustainable solution to disposal of broken materials.
I love to fix assorted items... have lots of repair experience, from personal knowledge and previous jobs.
In my work history, I have worked at Electrolux, United Motor Electric, Voths Plumbing and Heating, Jomars (cash registers and photocopiers). I worked at Superior 8 and Days Inn for the last 18 years. I am currently employed at Warner Industries as maintenance personnel.
I enjoy repairing, fixing and always learning new techniques of rebuilding items. I firmly believe items can be repaired rather than discarding and cluttering the environment.
Look forward to sharing knowledge with others and becoming a member of the Repair Cafe team!
Tana Fraser is a master craftswoman who creates functional art furniture out of old and new wood and other items and makes it into items that everyone wants and more beautiful than you ever could have imagined.
Her facebook page is called Revive and her website is reviveartcreations.com
She lives in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and has always had an artistic talent.
I started to sew in grade 7 in my first home economics class in Virden, MB. Our teacher was a young Dutch immigrant with a great sense of fashion! My parents supplied me with clothing I needed but the mod clothes of the mid sixties were not on their radar.
I’ve been sewing for almost 54 years. Basic skills were learned at school but my mentor was a professional tailor and seamstress.
Mostly I repair domestic things such as jackets, clothing, and hunting gear. I really like to mend heirloom linens.
I love the creative process that sewing entails: choosing a pattern, changing or altering it, picking special fabric, and then step by step changing flat paper and cloth into clothing! Nothing beats having a true compliment on something I have created.
How long you have been growing and caring for plants?
Most of my life, I gardened with my Grandma Edith since I was five. I like plants - they clean our air, they provide us food, and they are very beautiful and interesting.
I learned a lot of my plant caring skills from working at V&J Plant Shop on Granville Island in Vancouver. I also do a lot of watching, reading and researching too.
What types of problems can you fix with plants?
Sometimes plants need to be repotted, or need extra nutrients, or more or less light. Changing up these variables can help a plant thrive instead of just survive.
I've been repairing things (mostly broken by me) since I was young. My dad fixed a lot of items around our house with my "help" so I had always just assumed that you find a way to fix something when it's broken. If something had screws, I took it apart and put it back together.
I taught myself to fix computers so that I could continue playing games. I've learned to rebuild and renovate houses. I've fixed guitars and audio equipment. I've sewn hockey equipment and tent trailers back together. I fix people's internet, tv, and telephone service all day at my job.
All broken items have potential to me and it feels like such a waste to give up on them.
I grew with the axiom ”Make do or do without. Use it up and wear it out.”
I have always had a love of textiles and hand made things. I think repaired/mended things have a extra special kind of beauty, as if someone has said “You still have value”. That’s what makes thrift store treasure hunting one of my favorite activities.
Mom and Home Ec taught me sewing. My aunt taught me to embroider/knit. My mother in law taught me to crochet.
I raised 3 farm kids so had lots of practice keeping them patched up/clothed, remaking coats, other clothing into “better than new” things.
Tim has been working with his hands since he was a teenager. His interest in repairing was sparked by working alongside his father.
Tim has worked as a carpenter, artist, art teacher, and preparator. He developed his skills over many years of apprenticeship in the construction industry and the arts.
He has repaired most household objects. – and whatever his wife asks him to do.
Tim’s greatest repair job was residing and roofing 3 out buildings of our past acreage. However he most enjoyed rebuilding and designing his deck at the lake.