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New art project paying homage to old Barrie business

Downtown Barrie BIA Communications and Public Realm Coordinator, Sarah Jensen, holding one of the aluminum circles that will be painted. Supplied by Downtown Barrie BIA

A new art project in the alleyway next to P_ZZA in downtown Barrie, Ont., is looking to honour an old Barrie business in a new and creative way.

The downtown Barrie BIA has partnered with 16 local artists to pay homage to Fab Trays. The artists will paint designs on aluminum discs to hang in the downtown Barrie alley, drawing inspiration from the vintage trays.

Designed and handcrafted in Barrie in the 1960s and 70s, Fab Trays were made by Hardy Glenwood Products, using designer fabrics sealed in a clear polyester composition and were carried in major department stores throughout Canada and the United States.

“A layer of polyester would go down, then the fabric, then the second layer of resin,” recalls Gary Ransom, who helped develop the manufacturing method.

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“That would be put into boiling water to soften it, and then we would cut them into circles with a machine designed to cut out shoes. Then we’d put them back into boiling water and then into a wooden mould.”

Fab Trays made by Hardy Glenwood Products, using designer fabrics sealed in a clear polyester composition.
Fab Trays made by Hardy Glenwood Products, using designer fabrics sealed in a clear polyester composition. Supplied by Downtown Barrie BIA

Production of the trays stopped in the 70s when the material to make decorative products became too expensive.

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Though production of the trays has long since stopped, the BIA said they remain popular for their fun and funky patterns and have become a sought-after item by vintage and thrift collectors.

The contributing artists are Alexandra Gronfors, Jenn Guerin, Petra Victoria, Emily Lemen, Monika Matus, Tamara Benoit, Tiffany Szymanski, Robin Luoma, Linda Laforge, Marne Grahlman, Jocelyn Chassie, Noemi Manguerra, Meaghan Oldershaw, Ryley James, Shauna Umney-Gray, and Sarah Benoit.

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Painting is set to start this week, with installation planned for early spring.

This project was made possible by Pratt Homes and their Art Builds Communities partnership with the Downtown Barrie BIA and is one of several artistic endeavours that have graced the walls of downtown Barrie over the last year.

“We’re excited to see this newest project take shape and look forward to sharing it with everyone this spring,” the BIA said in a statement.

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