Nothing feels better than finding the perfect gift for the art lover on your list. Even better is one they can use day after day. Luckily, the Sunshine Coast is home to plenty of artists and makers of all craft who create unique and functional art pieces. Made by the hands of local residents, the following gift ideas are guaranteed to wow those in your life with even the most discerning of tastes.
Not only are you bound to find a gift that will impress your recipient, but you’ll be supporting independent, locally-owned businesses too. Below, we’ve assembled our favourite gifts—from rain chains to heirloom blankets woven on 19th century shuttle looms—to help you tick off your holiday shopping list.
MacGee Blankets, Roberts Creek
If you know someone who appreciates quality goods, bespoke textile fabrics, and cozy evenings spent curled up on the couch at home, look no further. Macgee Cloth Company—a heritage textile company based in Roberts Creek—makes blankets that sit at the intersection of design, comfort, and tradition. These gorgeous blankets are woven on antique Dobcross shuttle looms lovingly reclaimed from mills across the pond. The designs vary but follow traditional patterns, such as herringbone and plaid, and have a true selvedge edge which can only be made by a shuttle loom weaving a continuous weft thread. The blankets are made from ethically-sourced materials, including lambswool and ring-spin organically grown North American cotton—fibres that not only feel good to snuggle up in, but you (and your giftee) can also feel good about.
There is arguably no greater embodiment of wabi-sabi, the Japanese concept of imperfection and transience, than ceramics—especially those handmade and without the use of a mold. From rough glazed cups and mugs to slightly misshapen dinner plates, pottery serves as a reminder of our own flaws as artists and humans—and that’s exactly what makes it beautiful. You’ll find many local potters on the Sunshine Coast, each with their own practice, taste and eye. From handpainted checkered vases by Pinto Projects to thrown kitchen goods from Elle Bee Art Studio, and every plate, cup, mug, and vase in between, the choices are endless. You can peruse the works of local potters at home in their studios, holiday craft fairs, or at local stores like The Kube Studios in Gibsons, Redecor in Sechelt, and Collective Interiors in Powell River.
Hardwood Rolling Pins, Powell River
On the list of pastry paraphernalia, most bakers will file a handmade, wooden rolling pin as nice to have. They’re not essential, and it can be hard to graduate your gadgets, especially if they’re easy to come by in a familiar form (wine bottle, anyone?). But there’s something special about taking an everyday item and elevating its status to something that is durable, functional, and beautiful. This is where a handmade rolling pin comes in. There’s no need for a rolling pin to be relegated to a pastry junk drawer with these gorgeously crafted rolling pins by Dave Johnson of Hookin’ and Woodin’ (available direct and at the Powell River Farmers’ Market). Made of local hardwood, and shaped like a French-style pastry pin with slightly tapered edges, they’ll make any bakers’ time in the kitchen more fun and tasty, too.
Ora Leather Goods and Upholstery, Powell River
If you’re buying for someone who has held onto a beloved leather belt for years, you know they hold a high appreciation for both function and form. Leather goods take on a patina that with time reflects the wearer and the wearer only. It’s a gift that ages well. Enter: Ora Leather Goods, the brainchild of a leatherworker based out of Powell River. From bags and backpacks to lighter pouches and fringed fanny packs, Ora Leather Goods features a whole range of functional goods that are just as pretty to look at as they are useful. Even more unique? Ora doubles as a custom upholstery business under the name Aro, which creates insanely cool, detailed custom seats for motorcycles and bikes. Both businesses feature high quality leather hides that range in finish and hand. Details like the stitching, hardware, and trim ensure your gift is both irreplaceable and irreplicable.
Rain Chains, Roberts Creek
How do you turn the Pacific Northwest’s endless winter rain into something that celebrates it instead? A rain chain. Made by local sculptor and artist Robert Struder of This Is It design studio, these rain chains offer a meditative and stylish approach to appreciating the weather. A series of origami-like copper triangles link together forming a long, sinewy funnel that rain can cascade down, creating a soothing sound akin to a babbling crook or gentle waterfall. Like leather, the copper takes on a patina, oxidizing with the elements and turning a blue-silvery hue, making this a gift that will evolve with time. These rain chains can be used both indoors and outdoors, or even as elegant plant holders too. If your giftee is someone who dreads the winter rain, these rain chains might just help them feel a little more zen about the forecast.
Kids Wooden Toys, Powell River
Kids playrooms are notoriously messy, but there’s no reason why your child’s toy can’t look just as nice strewn about the floor as it does stack neatly on a shelf. This is where Jalu Toys and Woodpecker Toys come in handy. Both based in Powell River, these toymakers create delightful and handcrafted wonders destined to be passed down from generation to generation. The husband-and-wife team behind Woodpecker Toys use locally harvested and sustainable wood, which is then shaped, turned, and trued at their workshop in Powell River to create colorful playsets inspired by the scenic coastline of their backyard. They also create felt costume items like hats, capes, and crowns help transform the everyday into one of imagination and possibility.
It’s easy to mistake Jalu Toys’ stackable, handpainted wood toys for colorful bookends. These gorgeous toys bring a dose of warmth and vibrancy to shelves of all kinds while keeping a small footprint. A series of nested wood shapes, they’re designed to help young minds fine tune gross and motor skills, learn patterns, and sharpen their memory. Made of local, sustainable wood and painted in bright hues, they take shape as waves, flames, and rainbows, each one reminiscent of a Chilli Thom painting (meaning they’re as fun for you to look at as they are for your little one’s!).
Crib players take the game seriously, treasuring both good hands and boards. But not all crib boards are created equal. Sure a travel-sized one is great for games on the go, but gift a board that’s worthy of permanent residence on a coffee table, and your favourite crib player might just go easy on you next game. Many local woodworkers draw inspiration from the Sunshine Coast surroundings, using locally milled hardwood to craft crib boards that feel reminiscent of a serene forest even if the game gets tense. It’s a gift strategy that is both strategic as it is thoughtful (if for your sake only). Both durable and beautiful, crib boards are bound to last for many games and make many memories. Your best bet for finding a local crib board is at local markets, craft fairs, and galleries in Gibsons, Sechelt, and Powell River.
Locally Made Preserves and Jams
Food is art. This is true, whether you’re enjoying an elevated meal that turns your plate into an edible canvas, or admiring the toppings piled high on a simple but tasty hot dog. Here on the Sunshine Coast, local growers and makers share the same sentiment. With so much bounty to choose from, they turn local produce into gorgeous jars of preserves, jams, and jellies. These edible items make the perfect stocking stuffer: not only will they spruce up any pantry shelf or kitchen counter, but they offer a taste of the Sunshine Coast. From local blackberry jam to fig chutney to tomato jam, preserves come in all colours and hues, a veritable edible rainbow. Pick some up at holiday crafts fairs, Goodacre Market in Gibsons and Plethora Fine Foods in Sechelt. Bonus: treat yourself to a dinner at Brassica, where you admire their row of jams and jellies, then peruse the small-batch local goods—including hot sauce and chocolate—they carry in a “pop-up” style storefront tucked away in a cozy nook of their restaurant.