If you go
Naples Artcrafters Show & Sale, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, Cambier Park, 580 8th Street S., Naples
Third Street Farmers Market: 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Saturdays, behind Tommy Bahama's in the Neapolitan parking lot between Third Street South and Gordon Drive, Naples
Marco Island Farmers Market: 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Veterans Community Park, Park Ave. and Elkcam Circle, Marco Island
There's hardly anything nicer, says Naples potter Rinny Ryan, than wrapping your hands around a well-crafted clay mug as you drink your morning coffee.
In a world where so much experience is virtual, not to mention mass-produced, the lure of handmade objects is strong. They activate our sense of touch and remind us that an individual human being made a particular bowl, scarf or basket.
Plus, in this season of holiday giving, artisanal gifts are usually one-of-a-kind. If you want to be sure the pickiest, most jaded soul on your list doesn't already have one, think local and think handmade.
Naples-area crafters' wares can often be plucked directly from their hands at local parks and farmers markets this time of year. Or you can use the contact information below to reach an artist directly. Don't forget to visit the gift shops at area art leagues, too, when trolling for locally made fine-craft items.
One appealing outdoor marketplace materializes monthly at Cambier Park, where members of the Naples Artcrafters set up shop. The 44-year-old nonprofit group promotes excellence in the arts and crafts. Their next sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, Organizers expect more than 50 artists to be on hand.
So, if you're still searching for just the right thing for a certain person, here's a sampling of items by local artisans that offer unique gift-giving possibilities.
262-2641 or www.basketsbybb.com
"Tapestry baskets" is the phrase Barbara Burgeson coined to describe her handwoven creations.
"I try to gather local plant materials to use in my baskets," she says. Commission one of these colorful containers from her and she'll be happy to collect materials such as ornamental grasses, Spanish moss or philodendron leaves from your own backyard to incorporate into a truly individualized basket. She'll also make baskets to match a favorite fabric swatch or the color scheme of your décor.
Burgeson colors some of her weaving materials with homemade dyes concocted from beet juice, red wine and coffee. It's hard, however, to find naturally occurring substances to get blues and greens, so she's apt to turn to commercially made raffia when she wants to include those hues.
Strong and flexible, Burgeson's baskets come in a variety of shapes.
"They shape themselves as I weave. They are all different. As much as I've tried, I can't make two baskets that are identical," she notes. Her baskets range in price from $50-$70 for a smallish one and $80-$140 for something larger in scale.
"My work is functional, fun and very practiced," says ceramic artist Rinny Ryan. Plus, she does it all from scratch.
"I make my own clay and I make my own glazes," she notes. "I'm a handmade machine!"
With 50 years of experience as a potter, she's definitely an advocate for homemade objects.
"I think function is so important," she says, and her stoneware items are built to last. Ryan's bowls, mugs and vases come in earthy, organic hues, and their stylistic influences range from Asian to early American. Her appetizer bakers, hearty mugs and bread baking dishes range in price from $16.00 to $38.00; some come with recipes in them, and make great holiday gifts.
793-8418 or www.hearttohandclaystudio.artfire.com
Polymer clay is like "play dough for adults," says jewelry maker Lisa Festa-Estrada. "It's nothing like 'earth' clay. It's man-made clay that comes in bricks of color. You can roll it into thin sheets and do all kinds of things with it. It cures in a home oven at low temperatures."
Her jewelry designs are lighthearted and colorful, combining polymer clay pendants with beads and other sparkly stuff. Festa-Estrada likes to use pearlescent and metallic hues in her work. She's been making jewelry for a dozen years and she points out that every adornment she fashions is unique.
"I make contemporary upscale costume jewelry that ranges in price from $20.00 to $70.00, because I use materials like pewter and glass. I don't use a lot of sterling or gold in my work," she explained. Wearable art is "a fun, versatile medium with so many techniques to keep an artist inspired for years."
598-2529 or www.clayland.com
Graceful, flowing designs and a sturdy sense of good cheer animate the ceramic wares Annabelle Johnson creates in her studio. "The Naples environment is evident throughout my work," she says in her artist's statement. "Lizards, dragonflies, fish, and an occasional Labrador retriever decorate every piece. All of the colored slipware and majolica works are made one at a time; no commercial molds or forms are used."
Johnson can often be found at two area farmers markets. She sells her wares on Saturdays at the Third Street South Farmers Market in downtown Naples. On Wednesdays, she's at the Marco Island Farmers Market, held at Veterans Community Park. Johnson's stoneware products start at $6.00 for a tiny soap dish. From there, her prices go from $19.00 for a handsome mug on up to $150.00 for larger, more elaborate serving pieces.
Muffy Clark Gill
434-7006 or www.muffyclarkgill.com
Well-known for her batik paintings on cloth of tropical scenery, Muffy Clark Gill is an award-winning artist in Southwest Florida.
"I'm an artist who uses a craft medium as a painting medium. Fiber is my medium of choice, but I also work in mixed media," Gill says.
Normally, at $450 for a small, framed, original batik, Gill's work might be out of reach for the holiday gift giver. And she doesn't market her paintings at outdoor shows much anymore. But she works with a Fort Lauderdale company that transfers reproductions of her work to mouse pads, mugs and tiles that are much more affordable. While they are not, strictly speaking, handmade, they are highly customizable.
The best-sellers are her images of parrots, Key West gingerbread houses and the Naples Pier. You can select the artwork you want printed on the item of your choice — mouse pads cost $9.95, mugs are $12.95 and gift boxes with an inset tile are $59.95.
Gill's images can be printed on a single tile or onto several that can be combined into a tile mural or backsplash. Allow ten days for delivery once you place an order.