Decor Jewellery

Pewter and Basic Spirit

Pewter and Basic Spirit

Basic Spirit

Basic Spirit is a Canadian success story, one that we are proud to be associated with.  Located in the fishing town of Pugwash in Nova Scotia, Basic Spirit has been creating popular pewter items since 2002. The Shop has been carrying Basic Spirit since 2012. As with many of our Canadian suppliers, their location and history both make interesting stories.

Pugwash and the Nobel Peace Prize

The town of Pugwash sits on the shores of the Northumberland region of Nova Scotia.  With just over 700 residents, this small community is known internationally for being the first location of the Pugwash conferences.  Back in July 1957, a group of “great thinkers” got together at “Thinkers Lodge” to hold meetings about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Cyrus Eaton, the noted businessman, funded and hosted the gathering and offered to use the location of his birthplace of Pugwash. The attendees considered the meetings a huge success. This then lead to the creation of  an international organization to continue holding future events.  Over time the organization became recognized for their contributions to the advancement of peace. The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

pugwash conference
The original group in 1957


Pewter Capital of Canada

Pugwash has a second claim to fame – pewter.  Yes, Pugwash is the capital of pewter manufacturing in Canada.  Of the two pewter companies found in Pugwash. Seagull Pewter is the older and larger. Now owned by Royal Selangor, Seagull Pewter has been around for several decades.  However, Seagull got into financial problems in around 2002, ending in its sale to Royal Selangor of Kuala Lumpur.  Meanwhile, a startup was born using the skills that were still available in the area.  Basic Spirit came in to fill a gap that was left on Nova Scotia’s north shore. They began creating and producing a vast range of pewter objects from jewellery to tableware and ornaments.

What is Pewter?

Pewter is a metal alloy with the main component being tin. Archaeologists have found piecesin Egypt that go back as early as the bronze age.  In the 15th century companies made drinking vessels in Europe with the alloying process using 4% lead. This changed by the 20th century.  Other metals were substituted once the dangers of using lead in drinking vessels were understood. Today, Pewter is normally composed of over 92% tin alloyed with copper, bismuth and sometimes silver. The additional metals help give the tin strength and other properties.

Caring for pewter is easy, just wash with a small amount of soap and warm water, then dry thoroughly. Pewter tends not to tarnish in the way silver and copper do. Though it does develop a nice patina over time..  If you wish to return to the original shiny finish, use a metal polish, making sure to rub in straight lines.

Do not store food in pewter as acids could attack the finish,  and keep pieces away from direct heat sources.

Basic Spirit Pewter Designs

Popular items from Basic Spirit include pate spreaders embellished with different designs inspired by the Canadian landscape. The design of the handles range from animals to hearts and Celtic symbols as well as uniquely Canadian images. They make their cutting boards from yellow birch with pewter accents added to the designs. These best selling boards are usually coupled with a cheese knife or spreader.  Also in the collection, Basic Spirit offers tea strainers and spoons which add a classy touch to any afternoon get together.

Besides serving pieces, Basic Spirit has personal items such as jewellery. These  include a large series of bangles engraved with words of encouragement and endearment.  Choosing their favourite sayings, many customers give these bangles as gifts. They have a very affordable price yet look charming. And, importantly,  have special meanings.

basic spirit piano board
for the musician – Basic Spirit piano board


Basic Spirit Pewter Ornaments, magnets and figures

A seasonal favourite are Christmas ornaments. Available in a wide range of designs and themes, these come either boxed or carded.  Pewter figures include nativity scenes,yoga themed poses and more whimsical figures such as their set of elves.  Basic Spirit also offers box sets with three pewter magnets having many Canadian and wildlife themes.

Pewter Nativity scene

Basic Spirit Continues the Pugwash Tradition of Global Responsibility

Small town generosity continues in Pugwash. Basic Spirit has contributed 10% of its profits to a wide range of local, Canadian and global organizations. In doing so they are funding environmental, educational and animal care causes.  Various ornaments are available with labels showing where the donation will be made.

The Hunger Project 
World Food Program
World Wildlife Fund
The Humane Society 
HOPE for Wildlife
Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
Sierra Club Foundation
Canadian Pugwash Group



basic spirit ornament
Basic Spirit giving to the environment



Hoselton Sculptures – Art in Aluminum

Hoselton Sculptures – Art in Aluminum

At The Shop we have built relationships with many Canadian artists and their studios. One of our longest and closest relationships have been with Hoselton Studio, located just outside Colborne Ontario. We have offered a wide range of their sculptures and have enjoyed a tour of their operations during a visit several years ago. Their expansive studio is located near the ‘giant apple’ that you pass as you head east along the 401.
hoselton studio logo
It was here in 1967 where brothers Gord and Carl Hoselton decided to use easily obtained raw materials such as scrap metal and marble from local quarries, to apply their artistic talents. They created a range of sculptures from which they formed moulds to cast reproductions in aluminum.
Now 50 years later, Holselton Studio continues creating over 500 unique sculptures. Their artform begins as drawings and, with a collaborative approach, they are transformed into luminous aluminum sculptures, made from recycled alloy. A whole team is involved with this creation, using perfected techniques to cast, clean and polish the final product.
Ultimately the company was passed down to the next generation of Hoseltons. Gord and Carl’s daughters, Jan and Carol, took over the studio and now Jan Hoselton is the owner.

Their extensive and time-consuming process of sand casting was perfected by Gord and Allan Butters over 40 years ago. The sand cast is taken from the original image and a 2-piece mold is created. Heated to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, the molten aluminum is poured into a new mould and then cooled.

When completed, the sculpture takes on a beautiful sheen either in a shiny or brushed finish. The simplicity of design of each piece is what creates a quiet elegant connection to nature and our beautiful country of Canada.
Hoselton’s Art in Aluminum have been presented to Heads of State, Prime Ministers, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Queen Elizabeth II as well as gifts on behalf of the Canadian Gov’t.
Their pieces are a popular item gifted to foreign visitors or brought to other countries as gifts by both business and personal travelers. Several versions of loons are available, varying in size and pose.

hoselton loon with chicks sculpture
The popular loon with chicks mounted sculpture on dark marble.

Inukshuks, bears, beavers and moose are also representative of Canada, and all can be mounted on marble creating a stunning look.
Inukshuk circle on white marble
Five inukshuks in a circle mounted on white marble.

tree of life in aluminum
The Tree of Life – can also be mounted.

Decor Uncategorized

Stinson Bowls

The New York International Gift Fair was amazing! Besides being a good excuse to visit NYC, the show introduced us to new sources we don’t see at the regular shows in Toronto. What is more exciting is finding ones that are actually from Canada! Stinson Studio is a great example.

Located in Tamworth Ontario, Stinson Studio is family owned and operated since 1982. They create extremely interesting salad bowls and art pieces using woods from eastern Canada. The woods they choose show fantastic character in their grain and the shapes they create are quite artistic making great attention grabbing salad bowls, both for personal use and for gift giving. They also create pieces from burled wood that make a statement in any decor. An important aspect of their operating principle is the sustainability of the woods they acquire, ensuring that they use as much of the raw material as possible for multiple bowls and boards.

We have just received our first shipment, and we are very impressed with the quality of the work the Stinson family performs. Be sure to see the pieces in the shop next time you drop in.


Bibelot Designs

boxmirrorbirchWe are excited to be re-introducing Bibelot Designs into the shop. Bibelot Designs is Christine McGrath, who moved from jewellery design to creating “a line of fresh, modern and sophisticated home accents using glass, textiles and wood veneer.” Her pieces, especially the castle frames, were always popular items in the shop. Her present collection includes many of the favourites that we carried before as well as several new designs that make wonderful gifts and additions to your decor. Her pieces are all made in Niagara on the Lake, where she keeps her studio with her husband Reid. It is great to have their pieces back in the shop, another great addition to our wide selection of Canadian products we are proud to carry.


Decor Uncategorized

Woodstock Chimes At The Shop

Woodstock Chimes was started in 1979 by Gary Kvistad using his background as a highly regarded percussionist. His goal was to tune each tube of the chime to a different note from a scale based on the theme that inspires the particular chime’s design. This creates a chime that not only looks great, but creates music as the wind passes through and around. All of Woodstock’s chimes are of top quality and have a very artistic presence. Sizes range from the tiny pocket chimes to the very impressive windsinger line that culminates with the grandeur of the 88″ King David.

Thier products are separated into several lines. Asli Arts consists of capiz and bamboo chimes and includes many traditional and whimsical designs. The Encore line is a wide range of chimes, with various colours, sizes and materials with affordable pricing. The Signature line uses heavier gauge tubes to create longer lasting notes. Every chime is of high quality and compliments any environment that it is hung.


Inspiration for the designs comes from many sources. Eastern themes include several chimes based on Feng Shui. As well chakra chimes have been very popular. Songs from various cultures inspire several of the chimes, including European, Asian, and Tropical themes and scales. Garden chimes add artistic touches to any garden with interesting shapes and subtle sounds and designs.

We have a large selection of Woodstock chimes in the shop, representing all of the design aspects incorporated in the product line. Feel free to browse through our Windchime room and listen to the various chimes on display.

Decor Uncategorized

Lost and Found Art Blocks from Cedar Mountain

There are many great ‘made in Canada’ collections that you have asked us to expand in the Shop. One of these is CedarMountain’s “Lost & Found” art blocks made on Saltspring Island,British Columbia. This picturesque 183 square kilometre island with a population of 10,500 is filled with artists of all kinds.

We met with Suzanne, one of the co-owners, who introduced us to the new art blocks. They have added so many fabulous designs, it was difficult to choose – and at such a great price!

By expanding our selection, we needed to dedicate a whole wall to feature the large art blocks and a secondary space for the smaller sized ones.

Ask us about how to create interesting arrays for your home. We have some great ideas on ways to combine groups of various blocks!

More “shop news” to share soon.