Lily Belli puts the exclamation point on Lookout’s “Keeping It Local” gift guide series with goodies for the home and kitchen, includes brooms to sweep them off their feet, a Stephen Hosmer cookbook, Doug Ross coasters and more.
This week, Wallace Baine, my colleague on the arts and entertainment beat, and I have released curated lists of gift ideas that focus on local artisans. Our suggestions cover books, beverages, visual art, food and clothing. In this final installment, you’ll find gifts for the kitchen and home.
Lookout shows you how to keep your hard-earned dollars here in Santa Cruz
In a series of stories, Lookout’s Wallace Baine and Lily Belli will cover options for arts, music, food, drink and more.
Each of these items, all handmade by local artists, is as useful as it is lovely. Some are unexpectedly so — who thinks to make a beautiful broom, or a pretty potholder? Yet each is a work of art in its own right, and glorifies the simple, everyday tasks and pleasures in the home.
Brooms by Flora Folk Craft
Artist Alanna Stock’s handmade brooms are so pretty, it can be hard to imagine actually using them to clean your home. Each broom handle is made from locally foraged hardwood, either tan oak or acacia. Stock harvested some of the wood from the CZU burn site, where the fire and a dry winter naturally cured some of the trees.
She removes the bark and handworks each handle until it shines before finishing it with a layer of her backyard beeswax: “It’s so rewarding to turn something that went through this huge, disruptive force — the fire — into something that’s really beautiful and useful for the household.”
The whisk is made of multiple layers of hand-tied sorghum, aka broomcorn, and is beautifully woven to the handle. Stock’s brooms are completely functional, and if hung off the ground after each use and kept out of direct sunlight, they will last for years.
They are so lovely and created with such care, one can easily believe that they could clean both the physical and the metaphysical areas of your home. $90-$120 for full-size brooms; $15-$45 for handheld brooms. Available at the Westside Farmers Market on Saturday, Dec. 18, via email at email@example.com and via Instagram at @florafolkcraft.
Ceramic tumblers by Olivia Cater
Ceramic artist Olivia Cater began playing with clay while living in Portland, Oregon, and when she moved back to her hometown of Santa Cruz, she launched her own ceramics line. Her hand-thrown ceramic tumblers and mugs feel earthy and alive. Blue-green glaze flows down from the rim, while the bottom of the piece is kept au naturel. It brings to mind waves crashing on the sand, or moss creeping along the edge of a tree branch. Says Cater, “Being able to make things and have people enjoy them has been really rewarding and fun, and having them in my local town feels really good.” $28 at Botanic and Luxe, 701 A Front St., Santa Cruz, and via Instagram at @mysterypots.
Stephen Hosmer vegetable cookbook at Artisans & Agency
Local Santa Cruz artist Stephen Hosmer has teamed up with his chef daughter, Ashley Malia Hosmer, to create a beautiful cookbook. Inside, the elder Hosmer’s iconic alphabet posters featuring bold depictions of vegetables accompany recipes developed by Ashley. Some are her straightforward takes on classic dishes, like her Beet Seabright Beet Salad paired with his “B is for Beet” poster, or her Good God Garlic Pasta next to “G for Garlic,” and some are more adventurous, like her Nasturtium Pesto — you can guess by which letter.
All the recipes are designed to be healthy, satisfying and plant-focused. The book is a beautiful document in and of itself — the book plates were created on hand-painted sign enamels, on aluminum panels using traditional sign painters tools and techniques. $30 at 1368 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, and artisanssantacruz.com.
Ribbon Street potholders by Dawn O’Regan
Potholders are like the socks of the kitchen. You use them all the time, they protect you from the elements, and when they wear out, you’re at risk of getting a blister. Like socks, you can’t go wrong with giving someone some new potholders, thereby letting them ceremoniously discard the old ones they’ve probably been limping along with for far too long.
Santa Cruz textile artist Dawn O’Regan makes standard potholders featuring unique and exciting fabric collages quilted with layers of double interfacing and cotton and wool batting. They are as lovely as they are useful, and would add a bit of color and beauty to anyone’s culinary space. $29 at ribbonstreet.com.
Doug Ross coasters at Artisans & Agency
Even if you don’t know late local artist Doug Ross by name, you’ve almost certainly seen his art. His minimalistic illustrations featuring the flora, fauna and landscapes of Santa Cruz can be found in public spaces throughout the county. His beautiful and charming images are widely available in a variety of mediums, from wall art to puzzles and pillows, and even drink coasters.
These wooden coasters feature four of his most iconic Santa Cruz scenes — “Humpbacks,” “UCSC Bike Path,” “Natural Bridges” and “West Cliff Bike Path” — and prove you don’t always need wall space to make room for art in your home. $36 for a set of four at 1368 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, and artisanssantacruz.com.
‘Fruitful’ prints by Hawk & Hammer Creative Studio
Artist Tina Somers’ paintings, murals and wood cuttings typically feature scientific illustrations of marine life, but she occasionally breaks with that routine to play with vibrant colors, textures and patterns. She recently released a series of watercolors that feature brightly painted fruits on bold, graphic backdrops.
They’re very fun, and would be a cheerful addition to anyone’s kitchen. Each 8-inch-by-8-inch, high-quality giclee print is printed on archival watercolor paper. The 10-inch-by-10-inch originals, painted in acrylic on cradled wood panels with custom-built wooden frames, are also available. $36 for prints; $300 for originals at hawkandhammer.com.
Shibori-dyed napkins and tea towels by Carrie Jones
Local textile artist Carrie Jones ran the craft school Hold Fast before the pandemic, and after a break has returned with her own line of indigo-dyed fabrics. Jones uses shibori, an ancient Japanese tie-dying technique, to create beautiful patterns that are more stylish than psychedelic. The oceanic blue color varies in richness from piece to piece, and calls to mind our ever-changing bay. Her cotton napkins and tea towels would be a lovely addition to any Santa Cruz home. Napkins, set of four for $35; tea towels, $12 each via Instagram at @indigo.jones.goods.