THERE'S A DINOSAUR IN THE PARKING LOT
EXPLORING PRIMITIVE DESIGNS IN PORT HOPE
I knew I was smitten when I saw the dinosaurs. 20 feet tall, with glowing red eyes, and meticulously pieced together from…recycled auto parts? That was our introduction to the world of all things wild and wonderful at Primitive Designs, north of Port Hope.
Primitive Designs is unique – both a shopping experience and a visit to foreign lands – all in one. Open for almost 20 years, the owners Ron and Rhonda import unique arts and crafts from around the world, including Bali, Thailand, Nepal, India, and Morocco.
On the day we visited, we got a glimpse of what incredible things we were about in encounter from the parking lot. Not only is it home to 3 large dinosaurs and a 26 foot tall robot, but also tiki bars with thatched roofs, wagon wheels and totem poles, ceramic rain barrels, wrought iron furniture and garden art.
But once inside, that is where the adventures really begin! Entering into this wonderland, we were greeted by all sorts of interesting finds…life size horses, elephants and moose, painstakingly pieced together from driftwood, hand-made sculptures including a crazy table featuring galloping horses and carved from wood, painted ceramics and glassware, live edge slabs,gongs, swimsuits, Aladdin pants and sundresses (showcased on funky, and slightly creepy-looking mannequins), jewelry and trinkets, Moroccan lighting and rugs,
antler and wagon wheel chandeliers, stained glass, stone vessel sinks from Java, Bali and Sumatra, and hand-painted Talavera sinks from Mexico, original paintings, musical instruments…the finds went on and on.
Through several rooms and across two floors we wandered, craning our necks and poking in corners, admiring all of the exotic and unusual things.
Along the way, I fell in love with a 20 foot long hand-carved lizard – I’m just that kind of girl. I would have brought him home with me, but alas, I have no room for
a 15 foot long lizard, and he would be difficult to work into my room décor. So, leaving my new reptilian friend behind, Sara and I struck up a lovely conversation with Rhonda, one of the owners. She told us about a preschool that she and co-owner Ron
have been helping to build in Belize, and about their plans to help grow an industry in this small, impoverished Central American country.
We also talked about the value of art – how everything that Ron and Rhonda bring in to Primitive Designs has been selected by hand, and painstakingly crafted by artists from around the world. We spoke about how with every item created, and artist is not only giving away their time, but also a piece of their spirit and personality, which is what makes art and handcrafted pieces so much more than just objects.
Continuing on our explorations, Sara soon found a new way to get in touch with her inner Viking when she finally found both a suitable throne, and an accompanying shield….
We wandered and played and explored at Primitive Designs for almost two hours.
It was when I started to play a selection of Tibetan Singing bowls, causing the glassware in the store to vibrate, and the other patrons to develop heart palpitations, and Sara began contemplating taking up playing the didgeridoo, of which Primitive Designs has a large selection to choose from, that we knew we should be on our way.
We loved our excursion to Primitive Designs and both felt we could have spent many more hours there. It is the kind of place where you could go every week for a year, and still you would discover new things with every visit…in part because there is so much cool stuff to see, and in part because they are constantly importing new stock from around the world.
Definitely check out Primitive Designs when you are in the Port Hope area. You will be glad you did. And don’t forget to say hello to my friend the lizard.