Handmade gift ideas from Summit County businesses
When I was growing up, many of the Christmas gifts that were exchanged in my family were handmade. We kids offered up the blobby fired-clay animal statues we had made in school; we made potholders for Mom, paperweights for Dad. My mother did beautiful crewel work, and several of her fantasy woodland scenes sewn in deep greens, browns and oranges have traveled with me, hanging in the city apartment or house in the mountains, over the course of my life.
Something that is made by hand seems to possess a kind of spirit that is not present in a commercially manufactured item. A spark of life from its creator, a splash of the essence from a place we’ve loved.
Summit County is home to a remarkable range of artists and craftspeople. Many have their own studios, while some sell their artwork through local shops and even in brew pubs. There could be no gift that expresses more fully the spirit of our mountains than something unique, created by one of our local artisans.
Here is a guide that by no means covers all of the artists in our area, but seeks to highlight creations for this holiday season.
GLASS BOTH FUNCTIONAL AND BEAUTIFUL
The Gatherhouse, Frisco. The Gatherhouse is both a retail space and a working artist’s studio. For sale are beautiful and functional art glass pieces — from vibrantly colored vases, to exquisite sets of stemware, to delicate pendants and earrings. Small group classes are also offered at The Gatherhouse. On a recent visit to the studio I chatted with owner and glassblower John Hudnut while he finished off the bottom of a luscious green and orange swirled vase. With his help, a couple had just made the piece together for their new home.
Prices range from $25 for pendants, $34 for ornaments, and $70 and up for vases and art pieces. A three-hour class for two to four people runs from $145 per person, plus the cost of materials.
The Glass Art Company, Breckenridge. All of the design work and engraving is done on site at this local company that creates custom-etched glasses for wine and spirits, hipflasks, decanters and more. Prices range from $10-$80.
MOUNTAIN CHIC CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
Magical Scraps, Breckenridge. Founded in 1998 by Mary Anne Collins, Magical Scraps today has its very own studio and retail store in downtown Breckenridge. The shop offers mountain chic women’s hats, belts and headbands; jaunty children’s clothing; and great inspirational pillows. Products are made on site: local artisans prepare the materials to spec, and master seamstresses create the final pieces. Handmade pillows run from $25-$35; kids items begin at $25; women’s military hats and trucker hats are priced at $28 and $32.
Cornflower Boutique and Gallery, Frisco. The boutique offers a wide variety of handmade goods, from paintings by local artists, to pottery, to handmade jewelry and scarves. Featured is fiber artist Linda Roberts, whose handmade pillows, as well as colorful wool and silk scarves, begin at around $95. Artist Laura Amble offers scarves for both men and women, starting at around $84.
Stellar Ltd, Breckenridge. “In the spirit of style, attitude and gratitude” Linda Watts, founder of Stellar, has created a jazzy line of neckies and bandanas. Your gift recipient will immediately up his or her style game on the slopes with one of these colorful neck warmers. Watts will meet you at Elevate in Frisco to show you her wares. Items run from $22-$28.
JEWELRY FOR WILD-HEARTED WOMEN
Spicyheart, Breckenridge. Alicia Clark Fulcher, who is originally from Peru, says her jewelry has been created for “the mountain girl and the traveler.” Pendants and earrings are made with exotic beads, textiles and crystals that seem to evoke the shamanic magic of the Andes. Find Fulcher’s work at Vintage Cheek and Chic, Fun vs. Awesome, Wandering Daisies and Broken Compass Brewery. Prices range from $18-$36 for earrings and $24 to $68 for pendants with precious crystals.
Wild Balance, Breckenridge. For women with wild hearts — and day jobs. Founder Annie Kerr’s idea was to create a line of jewelry for the Colorado lifestyle, pieces that are easy to wear, and work throughout all the transitions of our days: “My favorite necklace is simple and delicate — I never take it off,” Kerr said. Beautiful stones are surrounded with antique metals, copper, brass, sterling silver and 14 kt. gold fill. Visit Kerr at Fuqua Stable, in the Breck Arts District; she’ll create a custom piece for under $40.
SOAPS FOR PAMPERING
Fresh Soap Company, Breckenridge. Kim Jones Nieuwoudt hand crafts all of her deliciously scented, colorful soaps and pampering beauty products right in the back room of her store in downtown Breckenridge.
Her recommendations for the holiday? “Christmas Morning” with little prisms and stars and Christmas trees. “It smells like pine and oranges,” she said. Or Peppermint Park, with mint green trees, pink gingerbread men and sparkly glitter on the top.
Prices from $3 for a tiny sample to $10 for the regular-sized bar. Also available are sugar and salt scrubs, lotions and massage candles made from soy.
HOUSEWARES WITH A WESTERN FLAIR
Frisco Emporium. Abby Stetson’s handmade Western-themed divider screens can be seen in use in shops throughout Frisco (such as Prescription Alternatives) and are for sale at the Frisco Emporium on Main Street. Stetson also creates one-of-a-kind lampshades and other decorative items.
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