2019 Craftsmanship Quarterly Gift Guide

Looking for for the perfect, handcrafted gift — or maybe a workshop or some other unique experience to give to your favorite unique people? Our 2019 Craftsmanship Gift Guide is here to help. 

By CRAFTSMANSHIP EDITORS

Hugo Kohl makes his vintage-style jewelry in six different precious metals, from silver to gold and platinum, and from 14 karat to 18 karat levels of metal quality. photo by Preston Slaughter

Giving a well-crafted, handmade gift directly supports the principles and the kind of built-to-last economy that Craftsmanship Quarterly champions. To get you started, we’ve selected dozens of ideas drawn from some of our more recent stories. If you’re looking for information about a specific craft from a past story, try our newly improved text-search bar on the top right of your screen. Or, you can search by “Materials”, which are linked in the sidebar on any of our feature articles. You might also consider browsing by “Topics” to track down the perfect treasure in our archives. 

The Whitehalls started as working vessels, for the chandlers who needed to ferry goods to and from the big ships who worked San Francisco ports. Today these boats are used for recreation, races, and to provide safety support for swimmers.

GIFTS FOR BICYCLISTS & WEEKEND WARRIORS

The Orca is Orbea’s flagship road bike. Designed for professional bikers, the Orca is one of the bikes that reflects Orbea’s decision to become one of the bike world’s early adopters of carbon frames. photo courtesy of Orbea

For custom bikes, bike repairs, and top-notch accessories, you can’t go wrong with Thomas Crenshaw’s full-service bike shop, Frame up Bikes, located in Pleasant Hill, California. The legendary bike company’s co-operative business model was mentioned in our story, “Could Co-ops Solve Income Inequality?”

From his headquarters in American Canyon, north of the San Francisco Bay, Marshall has access to the bee colonies he keeps in more than a dozen locations scattered across four counties, including one on top of San Francisco’s storied Fairmont Hotel. photo by Rob Waters

From the same story, worker-owned Orbea Bikes (Spain) was among the first of the major bike manufacturers to introduce customization. My O(rbea) allows customers to choose their bike model, color, tires, handlebars, crankset, and other customized features.

The serious swimmer or boater in your life might appreciate a membership to a club of like-minded water-spirits, such as San Francisco’s Dolphin Club — profiled in our recent mini-documentary, “Whitehall: The Beauty of a Timeless Rowboat”.

For nearly 40 years, on an old back street in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, Jacqueline Margulis’ culinary obsession has made her little French restaurant the only one in the U.S. focused entirely (and exquisitely) on soufflés.

GIFTS FOR FOODIES

Touted for its healthful (and delicious) properties, artisanal honey makes a perfect small gift for almost anyone. The best varieties are said to come from Greece, but many local producers offer excellent versions as well. Start with the Resource Guide from our latest feature, “Greece’s Secret to Perfect Honey”.

Souffle may be the ultimate slow food and Bay Area foodies, or anyone planning a San Francisco trip soon, will appreciate the unique dining experience profiled in our mini-documentary, “Café Jacqueline and the Art of the Souffle”.

For wine lovers, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Amarone: “The Slow Wine of Valipolicella”. The author’s Resource Guide also offers several budget-friendly alternatives.

SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING & TEXTILES

“Although many companies do not recognize this, sustainability is not only about protecting the environment, and economic stability,” says Nand Kishore Chaudhary, founder of the Jaipur Rug Co. “It’s about bringing dignity into the lives of people.”

Sustainable fashion and sustainable fibers are big news right now, but it can be tricky for the average consumer to know where to start. Our partners at Fibershed (also listed under Experiences below), are committed to building sustainable fiber systems and have affiliate programs across the globe.  

We can also recommend the ethically produced, handwoven Indian rugs from Jaipur Rugs, featured in our story “India’s Rug Saint”.

Even if you can’t get to Italy for the holidays, there’s still time to purchase authentic, rust-printed textiles from Antica Stamperia Marchi, featured in in our short film, “The Ancient Mangle of Santarcangelo di Romagna”.

In “Argentina’s Textile Crusader”, we discovered why clothing and other textiles made from guanaco wool are a sustainable choice. The author’s Resource Guide provides more information and shopping tips.

THE ULTIMATE GIFT FOR GUITAR LOVERS

Guitar players, music lovers, and collectors know that some of the world’s best handmade guitars come from Paracho, the little town featured in “Mexico’s Master Guitar Makers”. See the Resource Guide for recommendations.

Guillermo Rubio tests the strings on one of his recent guitars. Like most of the luthiers in Paracho, he only plays enough to test his instruments. “We don’t have time to learn to play music,” he says. Hard woods, such as ebony, are inlaid on the neck to help the fretboard withstand a guitar pick’s attacks on the strings. photo by Andrew Sullivan

One of the most distinctive and recognizable Norwegian sweaters is the lusekofte or “lice-pattern sweater” of Setesdal. The oldest sweaters had a wide white section at the hem.

SPECIAL SEASONAL GIFTS FOR ANYONE ON YOUR LIST

Norwegian sweaters: A holiday classic — and here’s how to find one like those made by “The Norwegian Sweater Detective”.

Ethically sourced, handmade jewelry: For wearable art with an interesting history, try Hugo Kohl Fine Jewelry, profiled in “The Jewelry Archaeologist”.

Glassware: The artist behind Annie Morhauser glassworks, aka “Annie Glass”, profiled in our story “The Glass Builder”, has an incredible inventory of handblown dinnerware, serving dishes, and more. Some of her creations are displayed in The Smithsonian.

Indie perfume: If you enjoyed our story, “Led by the Nose”, here’s a handy Indie Perfume Resource Guide to scouting a unique fragrance for a loved one (or for yourself!).

For Bruno Fazzolari, a San Francisco-based artisanal perfume maker and visual artist, an aroma evokes a color. This cognitive condition, called synesthesia, inspires some of his unusual ideas for perfumes. For example, the darker, peppery notes in his award-winning fragrance “Lampblack” came from India ink. photo by Barbara Tannenbaum

Handmade snow globes: The finely detailed creations of Paulina Ciepał, profiled in our blog article, “Crafting Snow-Covered Castles”, can be ordered through her website, Juriperus.

The living art of bonsai: Bonsai Mirai offers an American take on this beloved ancient art form from Japan, as seen in “The Bonsai Kid”.

GIVE THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE

Special events and experiences are perhaps the most sustainable gifts of all, shown to be more memorable and bring more happiness than even the loveliest material things. In that spirit, we’d like to highlight some of the classes, workshops, and other experiences offered by our excellent partners. (Please check dates, availability, and other details on their respective websites.)

At the 2019 Fibershed Gala, guests could choose from a variety of hands-on workshops, such as learning to work with natural, plant-based dyes. photo by Paige Green Photography

Fibershed, which focuses on building sustainable, local fiber systems from the ground (or soil) up, offers a plethora of classes and workshops in the fiber arts, along with sustainability demos, farm-to-table dinners, tasting events, and more. They now have more than 50 affiliate programs around the world. If you’re local to the Bay Area, there’s still time to catch one of their Saturday Marketplace Pop-ups at the Ferry Building — see their website for dates.

The Crucible offers industrial arts classes in 19 different disciplines, youth classes and camps, family-friendly workshops and events, and much more at their impressive West Oakland facility. The website makes it very easy to gift an upcoming class, and their annual “Gifty” craft show and open house, featuring local artisans’ wares, is coming up December 7-8, 2019.

American Conservatory Theater: San Francisco’s beloved A.C.T. — whose acting students narrated many of the stories in our inaugural podcast series — produces everything from classic favorites like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to shows by top modern playwrights, such as “Gloria” by Branden Jacob-Jenkins. Advance tickets are always recommended — their “Choose your own subscription” package is a fantastic deal for locals who can take advantage of it.

© 2019 Editors of Craftsmanship Quarterly, all rights reserved. Under exclusive license to Craftsmanship, LLC. Unauthorized copying or republication of this article is prohibited by law.

Published: November 24, 2019

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