Looking for a cozier shopping experience to discover unique gifts for friends and family that support local crafts people?
Many local artists create jewelry, bowls, pillows, capes—items that add local interest and beauty to all rooms of your house and to your wardrobe. Many artists sell online or at fairs and festivals. Finding them is easier than you might think. I know three of the artists in this article, and simply asked them for recommendations of other artists.
My list is meant to give you a start on finding locally made items to wrap for holiday and other giving.
Many local gift shops, museum shops, and art galleries sell area-made artisan work and even books by local authors. My favorite shops to find local artisan gifts are the Brookgreen Gardens Gift shop, Treasures Fine Jewelers at Market Common, and the Sunset River Marketplace Art Gallery in Calabash and the Conway Glass Studio in Conway.)
Consider this article as a starting point—add your own artists to it.
When it comes to the ocean, I am a collector—shells, sea glass, and even pebbles. So, it is no surprise that Myrtle Beach resident Meg Carter who designs and makes jewelry from mermaid’s tears, a commodity better known as sea glass, is one of my favorite local artisans. I have ordered custom pieces and shopped at her website www.madebymeg.net . She transforms only genuinely sea-tumbled glass into exquisite wearable art. She is a trained silversmith and much of her work is done in silver. Making jewelry is her full time profession. Although custom engagement rings can take 30-45 days, most custom work can be completed in about a week. Carter says she will be shipping items daily from the pre-made options on her website and will ship in one to two days.
“Working with sea glass is unique because every piece is unique,” Carter said. “She notes that rare colors are becoming even more difficult to find so she has pioneered a process that with a prism effect, takes a piece of white, genuine sea glass, and makes it appear as a pieces of red or yellow or other rare color.”
She offers these on www.prismglass.com.
Albatross Pottery is managed by another artist who takes her inspiration from the sea. Many of the colors of the work featured on Myrtle Beach native, Amy Cox’s website — show the soft colors of the sea on a sunny Grand Strand Day. Of course, Cox will create in any colors a client wishes as well. Cox says that although she had always dabbled in creative media of various sorts,
“I began working in clay in college. There was just something about taking a raw piece of clay and being able to make it into anything. Such a sense of freedom.”
Cox does custom work and has also made corporate gifts and wedding favors. Locals can see her work at Keepsake’s Gift Shop in Brookgreen and Pawley’s Island Mercantile in the Hammock Shops and online at www.beachpottery.com for ready-made and to inquire about custom options. For readymade and to see her new line of beach-inspired candles, check out her sop on Etsy.com at www.etsy.com/AlbatrossPottery.
Cox adds, “My pottery is the crafting of my passion for the beach and pleasure of working in clay. Living in the heart of coastal South Carolina provides a constant source of inspiration for all of my work. My hope is that you can have a little of the beach just within reach, no matter where you live.”
If you want something custom-made, you will have to hurry—those can take two-four weeks to get ready. Christmas orders with local free delivery will be taken from November 17-December 2 and Etsy orders usually ship in three-five days. Clay is also the preferred medium for Audrey McBride. She says she revels in the spiritual connection between first organisms and clay and clay and fire. She begins with a slab of clay and takes her inspiration from motifs in the cultures of the Americans, Africa, Asia, early European and Mediterranean cultures. “I produce all manner of artistic, function, and what is called, “organic” work. You can see her pieces at the Sunset River Marketplace Art Gallery in Calabash and the Encore Florals and Gifts in Conway.
While you are at Sunset River Marketplace, also check out clay work by Betsy Russell.
“I have been doing pottery 15-16 years. I began pottery when my sister game me a gift certificate for my birthday. It took off from there. I do all hand-built pieces.”
While Russell does some functional things as bowls, plates etc her first love is making one-of-a-kind jewelry in particular, clay pendants with wire and beads.” If someone has a special bead or something from an old piece of say Grandmas stuff I will work that in to a piece of clay but such custom work takes 6-8 weeks.
If you like your clay formed into decorative Japanese raku, Sunset River also carries the work of Charles Chrisco, who has specialized in this 16th century Japanese clay form since 1988;
He says, “Translated, “raku,” means great happiness, a title bestowed upon the earliest raku wares by the reigning ruler of Japan.”
He notes that due to the spontaneous nature of the art’s firing process each piece becomes unique in its design and therefore cannot be duplicated. Raku clay is very porous and is not intended to hold liquids.
Are fiber arts more what you had in mind for Christmas giving? There are three artists on my list and you may know more. Emily Bonneau makes one of a kind items, mostly capes and ponchos that will keep you warm and looking fashionable. She sells at local craft fairs and you can find connections to her work on her facebook page, Emily Piccarelli Bonneau. Her items are sold at craft fairs in the area. This year she has committed a large part of her stock to a private show and will not be able to do any custom work. If you see something you like on her Facebook page and send her a private message about getting to see it in person. But Christmas is not the only season for gift giving, so keep Emily’s information handy.
More interested in pillows and other household décor items? Mona Bendin’s work is available at the Sunset River Art Gallery and Marketplace in Calabash as well as on her Facebook page, Mona Fabric Art.
“My sister and I dye many of my fabrics using an ice-dye process, which produces unique images on the fabric as the ice melts, making each pillow a one-of-a-kind treasure. Some of my most popular pillows include hand-written sayings that I sew on top of the dyed fabric. I also search for the most appealing decor fabrics, colors, and trims and often use handmade clay buttons. For the holidays I’ve added Christmas stockings using fine linen.”
Mona said that many of her pillows are special orders and in most cases she can provide a two-week turnaround.
Barbara Streeter who does work with her husband in the glass studio also maintains a fiber studio there mostly making large art pieces. She said, “I began working with crochet and knitted yarn when I was thirteen. My mother and grandmothers taught me the simple handwork of crocheting, hand sewing, and embroidery.”
She uses natural indigo dye and at the glass studio, in addition to her art pieces you can find napkins, table coverings and silk scarves, knitted hats and scarves.
Online, you can find out more about my work at www.conwayglass.com/fiber-studio. If you are looking for an ornament for the tree or for gifting, the Conway glass studio, of course, also offers glass! Ed Streeter makes stained glass and blown glass items for sale.
The studio is open by appointment on Sunday and Monday, and open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
“My career in glass spans 40 years. Many Horry County churches have stained glass windows designed and created by Conway Glass. I’ve also taught hundreds of students the art of stained glass. In addition, I restore stained glass windows, tiffany-style and bent-panel stained glass lamps.” In 2010 the studio designed and handcrafted a blown glass ornament, designed to look like the Atlantic Ocean, for the White House Christmas Tree and they sell replicas in the gallery. Custom orders can usually be completed in 4-6 weeks during the glass blowing months of October through April. The gallery features many hand blown ornaments and other gift items and they ship anywhere in the USA.
Start with this list, visit the places where these artists sell their work and you will likely discover many more local artisans for unique and lovely gifts.
Artists (in order of listing in article)
Meg Carter: www.madebymeg.net and www.prismglass.com
Amy Cox: www.beachpottery.com and www.etsy.com/AlbatrossPottery
Audrey McBride: contact through Sunset River
Charles Chrisco: contact through Sunset River
Betsy Russell: contact through Sunset River
Emily Piccarelli Bonneau: Facebook
Mona Bendin: Mona Fabric Art on Facebook and Sunset River Marketplace
Barbara Streeter: www.conwayglass.com/fiber-studio
Ed Streeter: www.conwayglass.com
Local Galleries Mentioned
Sunset River Marketplace Art Gallery
10283 Beach Dr SW
Calabash, North Carolina 28467
Encore Florals and Fine Gifts
225 Kingston St
Conway, South Carolina 29526
Conway Glass Center
708 12th Ave
Conway, South Carolina 29526
Keepsake’s Gift Shop in Brookgreen Gardens
1931 Brookgreen Dr
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina 29576
Pawley’s Island Mercantile
10880 Ocean Hwy
Pawleys Island, South Carolina 29585
Treasures Fine Jewelers
981 Hackler St
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29577