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Annual Welcome Back to Otterville studio tour draws regular visitors from all over

By Chris Abbott, Postmedia Network

Lois Day browses the upcycled decor products available at Stix 'N Skids Saturday afternoon, Nov. 18 during the 21st Welcome Back to Otterville Studio Tour. Day has been 'coming back to Otterville' from London for more than 15 years.

Lois Day browses the upcycled decor products available at Stix 'N Skids Saturday afternoon, Nov. 18 during the 21st Welcome Back to Otterville Studio Tour. Day has been 'coming back to Otterville' from London for more than 15 years.

Lois Day and Cindy Ciapka always feel welcome in Otterville.

It's what brings them back year after year going, back 21 years, for the Nov. 18-19 Welcome Back to Otterville Studio Tour.

"Anybody that's got a (yellow) flag, we go in," said Day from London. "You never know what you're going to find. And usually our trunk's full by the end of the day. I don't very often miss any, not unless we run out of time or get hungry."

"It's different," said Ciapka from Aylmer. "I've never been disappointed and I've always bought something. And I never buy the same thing twice."

"Absolutely," said Day. "As I say, you never know what you're going to find. I bought a deacon's bench once, and she bought a ladder last year. And it just depends what you find. I bought a painting the one year."

The day started early for Ciapka and Day, who arrived in Otterville Saturday morning at 10 a.m. to begin their tour of artists and crafters.

Shops and studios on the tour this year included Ralph Moore & Sons, Nordale Woodworking, Mae Leondard, Tammy Gould, Lianne Todd, Linda Hoffman, Trudy Verberne, Shirley Hokke, Sue Goossens, In Bloom Designs and Stix 'N Skids.

"The first one we walked in and she said, 'oh you guys are back,'" said Ciapka. "And she knew where we were from."

"She said from Aylmer, I said no that would be my daughter," Day laughed.

"We are an upcycle decor craft business," said Stix 'N Skids' Kelly Pinnoy, who joined the tour in 2016.

"It's just an awesome little past-time that we started a couple years ago," said Pinnoy. "It started with barn-board benches we saw in gardens and we thought, 'We can do that!' And here we are today.

"We make everything. Everything is pulled from the 'burn' pile that people want to get rid of - it's all upcycled. Very little is brand new. We want to make sure the environment stays healthy and we reclaim things, re-purpose them. That's what upcycling is all about. A lot of them are old cabinet doors, or true barnboard from collapsed barns, sticks, skids."

The friendly atmosphere is what Otterville is known for, said Pinnoy, and it's what keeps people coming back.

"We're cool people," she laughed. "And everybody's got a great little story to say about where they come from. We always ask questions, find out what they're all about, find out why they're here."