CHAFFEY'S LOCK - Dreamscapes Rideau fine arts owner Barb Osborne-Monaghan is attracting sales in a whole new way.

No longer running the roads to summer craft fairs, Barb has moved to online sales. She is taking advantage of a Digital Main Street program and free Digital Service Squad support to build a website, launch social media accounts and develop online sales with Shopify.

"It's a total game changer," says Barb of how her tiny craft business is transforming and expanding despite the ravages of COVID-19 on enterprises such as hers. It has made all the difference, she says, and encouraged her to get out artwork she'd boxed up and nearly forgotten about.

Suddenly with the online presence, it is a small business and not just a summer hobby, says Barb. She is an educational assistant for a local school board who initially thought she would be selling her artwork to a small circle of local customers and at fairs in the summer months.

Selling online hadn't even been considered until she heard about free support to become more digital. She was encouraged to get business and HST numbers and she did. They also helped her to set up her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In so many ways it is creativity meeting technology and the union is working for her, she says.

Barb started her small workshop 5 years ago in a one-room school house near her family home. She began with fine arts commissions and classes and developed her love of fused glass for jewelry and home decor. She also works with textiles. Her work is regularly on display at The Mill at Chaffey's Lock Art Gallery, a historic site.

"I've drawn since I was a little girl. Art has always been important in my life. It's a great way to channel curiosity and interest," says Barb. Having her creative space in the beautiful Rideau Lakes area and on Indian Lake is a bonus.

"It's a special place where you can't help but be inspired," Barb says. "My work is designed to capture the magic of the Rideau."

Much of her creativity is shown through her fused glass.
"I love it and with the kiln it is like throwing a wild card into the mix. You're never sure what will happen but art is about light and shadows and you can create a lot of that with glass - always fascinating."

One of Barb's big sellers is "favourite spots on the lake" where locals and annual visitors can have their special view from their home or cottage on a fused glass necklace, a piece of home decor or a painting. She also does a lot of pet portraits.

"My art is joyful, expressive and a combination of colour and light," says Barb.