Meet the Makers: The region’s artisans offer plenty of options for holiday shopping
Sun., Dec. 9, 2018
The search for that something special for that someone special on your list sometimes is daunting. You want it to be meaningful, useful, beautiful. In a word, you want it to be perfect.
This holiday season, turn your search to local makers. From prints to pottery, jewelry and bags to yarn and tea, there’s something for everyone on your list.
We’re highlighting just a few of the makers from the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area here. To find more, and that perfect gift, check out local maker events or search online.
Who: Autumn Bunton, 38
Makes: Functional and decorative pottery.
Inspiration: Bunton’s inspiration comes from antique floral design and the natural beauty of the Inland Northwest.
“I love to create unique pottery for your home; I want the items to be special to you. I used to be an oil painter so I love to spend time on surface decoration,” she said. “Lately midcentury modern has a large influence in my work. My work is always changing as I am dreaming up new ideas.
Buy: goblinpottery.com and www.etsy.com/shop/Goblinpottery as well as Pottery Place Plus, Atticus, Spokane Arts, Goose Gallery, Tsuga, Urban Art Coop and local art shows such as ArtFest and Art on the Green.
Who: Josh Jensen, 45
Hometown: Spokane Valley
Makes: Bottle openers, small furnishings and screen prints
Inspiration: “The inspiration behind Jensen Handcrafted comes from my faith journey, my grandfather Frank, my uncle Larry and George Nakashima,” Jensen said. “As a child, I watched my grandfather consistently create seemingly something out of nothing. Time and again, he invented things or ways to achieve a goal. My uncle, a small-business owner himself, did the same sort of thing – figuring out how to provide for his family by using his skills, ability and creativity. George Nakashima, born in Spokane in 1905, learned and refined his passion for fine carpentry during his internment at Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho, during WWII.”
A family emergency helped bring an urgency to getting the business off the ground.
“At 2 1/2 years old, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Once we wrapped our heads around the enormity of such a diagnosis, I started to wonder, ‘How do we pay for this?’ ” Jensen said. “Several years later, we launched Jensen Handcrafted. The big idea? Create revenue by doing something that I already had a passion for, to alleviate some of the financial burden that we and others had unwillingly found ourselves under. Through the sales of our goods, we have both reduced our financial burdens and consistently given to local charities that share the vision of helping others.”
Buy: Pop Up Shop and www.jensenhandcrafted.com
Who: Amy Jennings, 45
Hometown: Spokane, born and raised
Makes: Maps of anything – your school, your cabin, your church, your neighborhood – plus Spokane-themed posters
Inspiration: “Spokane is just such a jewel and I’m really proud of it,” said Jennings, and the city serves as her main inspiration. She started Spokaloo in 2004 when she was dating her now husband. He’s a big fan of the city, too. And, the city was really blossoming then, she said.
In the beginning, she created Spokane-themed shirts featuring things like the Garland Theater and White Elephant signs that she sold at Boo Radley. Spokaloo fell by the wayside for a while. Then, a few years ago she created a map of the Manito area. She’s always loved maps and vector art. And, “that one just kind of looked cool,” she said, especially with the green spots for the neighborhood’s parks: Manito, Cannon Hill, Cliff and Comstock.
Since, she’s added more Spokane neighborhoods, like Garland and Browne’s Addition, plus has some for other cities, including Seattle, Coeur d’Alene, Walla Walla and Austin. Her goal is to go national, even international.
Buy: www.spokaloo.net; Metro Eclectic, 604 N. Monroe St.; or shows like BrrrZaar. To find out where Jennings will be, follow her on Instagram, @spokaloodesign.
Northwest Tea Co.
Who: Lorri Garcia, 51
Hometown: Originally from California, now lives in Post Falls. Business is in Coeur d’Alene.
Makes: Tea, she has 120 different blends and 150 teas altogether. “I use the freshest ingredients possible. I use natural flavoring. Most are organic and gluten-free.”
Inspiration: Garcia has been making teas for almost eight years. She started selling online and wholesale and farmers markets in 2012, and opened her shop in August. It’s a one-woman show. “I’ve kind of always been a tea lover. I used to make teas all the time for my own personal use,” she said. “Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and I think, ‘That would be good together.’ ” Sometimes, people ask for custom blends.
Inspiration comes from all over, she said. It comes from eating a dessert and saying, “Oh I bet I could make a tea taste like this.”
Buy: 4055 N. Government Way, Suite No. 3, Coeur d’Alene, or online at store.northwesttea.com/
Living Earth Naturals
Who: Brandi Mayes, 43
Hometown: She grew up in Billings, moved to Coeur d’Alene in 2008, and to Post Falls in 2010.
Makes: All-natural, herbal infused body care products, using only organic and sustainably harvested ingredients, including herbs she’s personally grown or harvested in the wild. Her product line is extensive, and features soaps, body scrubs, creams and lotions, lip balm, salves, shave balm, shampoo bars, bath salts and shower steamers.
Inspiration: “Ever since I was a young girl, my sense of wonder, adventure, fulfillment and belonging has been nurtured by spending time outdoors. Through Living Earth Naturals, I’ve blended my love for the natural world with my skill for creating,” Mayes said. “My goal is to help people connect personal and planetary care. In addition to organic, sustainable and natural ingredients, I prioritize biodegradable, compostable and recyclable packaging and green business practices.”
Buy: www.LivingEarthNaturals.com and Etsy. This holiday season, she has products at Northwest Artists in the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene, and has a limited line available at Gaiwan Tea House in CdA. Look for her also May through September at the Saturday Kootenai County Farmers Market.
Who: Lisa Repp, 42
Hometown: Originally from Wisconsin, but has lived in Spokane for 20 years.
Makes: Organizational decor, such as multi-functional mail organizers, coat racks, chalk boards and dry erase boards.
Inspiration: “My love for travel over the years has exposed me to so many design styles,” Repp said, but she’s consistently drawn to midcentury modern architecture and design, and that’s reflected in her products. They are available in various sizes, colors, materials and options, including with small, solid wood shelves and hooks. My work involves wood-working and metal fabrication to compile pieces.
“I love being able to create organizational decor items that are not only functionally intuitive, but add to the overall aesthetics of a home,” she said. “The potential to help simplify and beautify my client’s homes and businesses is a constant source of inspiration, along with a sunny day and great music playing in my shop.”
Who: CJ Morrison, 27
Hometown: Born in Long Beach, Washington. Moved to Spokane last year from Norman, Oklahoma, after living there for 10 years.
Makes: Geometric wood wall art panels, serving trays, geometric floating shelves, and wall hangings for modern home decoration.
Inspiration: Morrison grew up in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. She’s also loves isometric patterns, Southwestern design and the natural variation in wood grain. All of those influences come out in the art. Some pieces depict mountains, others feathers, others more abstract designs. “Each piece I make inspires the next,” she said.
Roaming Roots has been her full-time job since 2015. “I had zero experience in woodworking when I started Roaming Roots, and discovering the simple joy of creating something by hand has driven me to build this outlet into my livelihood,” she said.
Buy: www.roamingroots.co or Etsy. Locally, it’s available at the Pop Up Shop in downtown Spokane and at Tsuga Arts in the South Perry District.
Who: Lydia Brown, 35
Hometown: She was born in Portland and has lived in Spokane the past 23 years.
Make: Hand-dyed one-of-a-kind artisan yarn for fiber enthusiasts on a variety of luxurious bases.
Inspiration: “I am constantly inspired by the things around me and I pull ideas from everywhere,” Brown said. “From flowers, to my favorite literary characters, song lyrics, and simply just color combinations that speak to me. As a maker I feel like the entire world is my palette and yarn is my canvas.”
Buy: Oh Loops is available www.ohloops.com and at www.yarnandewe.com, and in stores at KnitKnit the Studio in Spangle and at Blizzard Yarn & Fiber in Vancouver, Washington.
Inland Candle Co.
Who: Ransom and Sarah Storm, 24
Hometown: Coeur d’Alene and Boise
Inspiration: Inspired by the overabundance of inauthentic scented candles available on the market, Inland Candle Co. owners Ransom and Sarah Storm challenged themselves to create their own. “We would literally go out on trips during the weekends on hikes to these places that we liked being outdoors and just collect juniper berries or sagebrush and pine needles and then bring them back and match them to the oils until we found ones that really smelled like the real thing,” Ransom Storm said.
Above all the couple wanted “to make candles that smell like the outdoors as we know them and as we experienced them growing up.”
Buy: Pop Up Shop in the Steam Plant, CdA Clothing Company, Union Roasters, CdA Yoga, La Chic Boutique in Sandpoint;
Who: Ben Fife, 37
Makes: Handcrafted, heirloom-quality leather goods and accessories.
Inspiration: “My inspirations come from arts and culture throughout history, and the idea that slowing down a process, working with intention and respect for the craft and the consumer, produces not only quality work, but quality of life,” Fife said. “My hope is to provide products the will tell a deeper story, that of the artisan, and that of the owner, and tie us both back to traditions and heritage that live within us all as a people.”
Buy: www.westwardleather.com. Follow @westwardleather on Instragram for process and perspective as well as exclusive releases.
Sarita Star Designs
Who: Sarita Morgan, 41
Hometown: Morgan was born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and lived in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane until moving to Arizona as a child. She moved back to Spokane in 2005.
Makes: Earrings, necklaces, bracelets and bags – most have leather incorporated into them. She began with her signature feather earrings and eventually branched out to other styles of jewelry and accessories.
“The bracelets are a newer thing and also one of my more popular items,” she said. “Those are a lot of fun, mixing around the stones with the leather.”
Inspiration: Morgan takes inspiration from all the places she’s been. She uses Pendleton prints in her bags, for instance, because they remind her of both the Northwest and Southwest.
“I like to incorporate where I’ve been with what I do, mixing my past and present together,” she said. “I love Arizona but this is where I am and I love it here, too, so I try to feel at home with what I make.”
Morgan’s father is a designer and sculptor, so creating was in her blood. She taught herself to sew making her own clothing and baby slings.
“I’ve always had creativity but it took me awhile to find my thing,” she said. “Having a dad as a sculptor, designer, engineer-type person, it’s intimidating if you don’t have this thing that shows up right away. Where do you fit into that? It took me awhile to find that for myself then once I did, this is what I do.”
Buy: Earrings available at Fringe and Fray, 1325 W. First Ave., Suite 102, and Chosen Vintage, 7 W. Main Ave. Earrings and all other products available at www.saritastar.com or local shows. Morgan will be at Terrain’s Winter Brrrzaar on Dec. 15.
Who: Brittany Stodgell, 32
Makes: Paintings, greeting cards, prints, apparel and other art pieces using a wide variety of mediums.
Inspiration: “I’ve been highly inspired to create from a young age because I’ve always been better at expressing myself visually versus with words,” Stodgell said. Some pieces, especially her paintings, express her inner-most thoughts and feelings. Her prints and cards are inspired by feeling connected.
“Whether I’m making a full brand for a client, something hand-crafted just because, quippy prints, greeting cards or a large-scale art installation; my main motivation has always been to relate with people on a level that makes them live in the moment, even if for just a split second,” she said.
Buy: Dec. 15 for Terrain’s BrrrZaar Christmas Market at River Park Square, The Pop Up Shop, Etsy (Brittany Made This) and http://blacksheeppaperco.com/.
Who: Brooke Martinez, 31
Makes: Ceramic mugs, tumblers, and planters
Inspiration: Martinez takes inspiration from Spokane and the Inland Northwest in addition to contemporary, Aztec, and Native American art. “I draw inspiration from a lot of different places,” Martinez saiddowntown and nearby from which she has taken inspiration. “If I’m walking into an older building and there’s a really cool tile pattern … I’m always finding ways that I can incorporate those patterns into my pottery.”
Buy: Atticus, the Pop Up Shop at the Steam Plant and online in her Etsy shop, 2232ceramics.
Side Hustle Syrups
Who: Dillon Hueser, 26
Hometown: Born in Soldotna, Alaska, moved to Spokane in 2001
Makes: Hueser makes both craft syrups – ginger beer and tonic – and simple syrups, with flavors like orange-vanilla, spiced cranberries, elderflower, chai tea and lemon-lavender.
Inspiration: Side Hustle Syrups began after Dry Fly Distilling’s Patrick Donovan, Michael Lenox and Don Poffenroth asked Hueser to make their house made ginger beer.
“When they opened their tasting room, they wanted to find a product they could potentially serve in there that was diverse so they reached out to me knowing that I’m the kind of person that goes headfirst and dives in,” Hueser said.
After some trial and error, the folks at Dry Fly suggested Hueser market his syrups. Hueser now works as a distiller at Dry Fly part time, which allows him the chance to also work on Side Hustle.
“Side Hustle is literally a side hustle,” he said. “I work in the distillery to learn about my own product, in a way, how it’s going to be crafted and designed, what goes good with what. I learn all the distilling side in order to better my product.”
Buy: Dry Fly Distilling, 1003 E. Trent Ave.
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