This article is brought to you by our friends at Beaver County Auto
I am a sucker for handmade, artisan wares. Not only are handcrafted items often of better quality than many pieces you might find in big box stores, they’re unique. They just feel more meaningful than something grabbed at Target, don’t they? And huge bonus – they’re more environmentally sustainable because they aren’t mass produced! Luckily for all of us, the creative spirit is alive and well in Beaver County. (Oh! Another bonus – contributing to the local job market and shop small movement!) So, without further ado, here are some can’t-miss local artisans.
458 Third St., Beaver, PA 15009
Paula Johnston of Generations features scores of local artisans – beach glass jewelry created by a local geologist, purses and bags made of cork, pottery with Pittsburghese sayings – the list is too long to keep going here. Paula herself believes that handcrafted items just mean more; it’s clear that effort went into the making of each piece. She also loves talking to the artists because it’s so evident that they love what they do. Stop in and learn the stories behind these artists and their creations – it makes each piece that much more meaningful.
Cord+Iron is an online-only store, but each product is handcrafted in Beaver. Owners and artists Kevin and Leslie Dinello create “unique, fun, and yet functional items” – primarily gorgeous candles poured into large, cement cylinders. They love that each piece they create is slightly different, making it “fun to watch people pick the one that’s right for them!” Be sure to check out their Fireside candle, which has a wood wick that crackles like a real fire, and Sweater Weather, a fan favorite.
507 Seventh Ave., Beaver Falls, PA 15010
The Handmade Market at Stray Cat Studio carries work from more than 90 artists – all local to Western Pennsylvania. Owner Renee Suhr discusses the creative process and the impact it can have on the community:
“We feel passionate about making and spreading beauty as an essential component of community life. It instills dignity, inspiration and hope to all who engage it (either in our public art projects like our mosaic on 7th Ave., the products in our shop, or through the making of items in our studio). There is something special about handmade items that is hard to define. They seem to carry with them a quality and humanness that is hard to replicate in products that are not created individually by human hands.”
Renee also stresses how important it is that we continue to make an effort to support small, local businesses:
“We have also worked hard to keep the profits from the artwork in the community itself. While even the best small businesses keep about 65% in their local economy, we estimate that over 90% of our income goes back into Western PA due to sourcing our clay locally in Carnegie, PA. We feel more certain that people must intentionally choose to ‘shop small,’ or shops like ours will disappear. The lure of online shopping is a temptation we all must be aware of if we want actual brick-n-mortar places to shop.”
531 Third St., Beaver, PA 15009
Courtney-Laughlin Frame Studio & Art Gallery, owned by Kathy Courtney and Jamie Laughlin, is… guys, it’s a gorgeous little art gallery that you really just have to see! Kathy and Jamie are both certified picture framers, which is truly an artform all on its own and a large part of what they do, but they also show work from local artists. They display and sell Shaky Blessings, pottery by Jim Caldwell; Carol Begley’s paintings; Fused Inspirations, fused-glass artwork; Emmanuel Panagiotakis photography; Noreen Yazvak’s painted angels; Campbell Pottery; Gary Means’ chalk pastels, and so much more. They also have original and reproductions of local maps from the 1876 Caldwell Atlas, which look amazing framed – and amazing reprinted on marble coasters, which you can get, too. As Jamie says, they carry pieces that are often nostalgic and close to people’s hearts. And Kathy knows that because they are artisans themselves, they’re better able to gain an understanding of the people they work with. Both women feel they are giving back to the community by providing a venue for artists, and we’re so lucky they choose to do so! Be sure to follow them on Facebook for updates on artist receptions and events.
Blessings and Boxwood is another online-only selection, an Etsy store selling natural-looking wreaths crafted right here in the county. Stephanie, the owner, grew up on a farm in Ohioville, where she loved being surrounded by nature. Combined with her “artsy-craftiness,” she discovered she had the “perfect recipe for making natural greenery wreaths.” She notes that “Blessings and Boxwood has giving me the crafty outlet needed to sell my goods as well as the financial freedom to take care of my family and home. I rely greatly on my project management, retail, customer service background to run my business. The Etsy selling platform has opened up the doors to partner with other businesses including BridgeNine Candle Co and 1-800-Flowers (EEK!) to name a few.” As for her handcrafted wreaths, Stephanie feels that boxwood wreaths will always be a big seller, but she’s seeing a trend towards eucalyptus and olive leaf wreaths as well. Her prediction for next season? The soft, pale greens of Lamb’s Ear. Spring, her busiest season, is right around the corner, so be sure to get your orders in soon!
635 Third St., Beaver, PA 15009
And finally, where do you go to find artisan apparel and home décor that celebrates this very county that we write about? Beavtown, of course! Owner Carrie Ondrusek talks about her inspiration and why she loves what she does: “The handcrafted items at Beavtown were all derived from and pay homage to a hometown I love… Beaver, PA. I am reminded why I love this town every time I watch people shop at our store. They chuckle at the phrases on shirts and beam when they relate to a landmark that reminds them of our town and county!”
From t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies to steel-cut signs and ornaments, throw pillows, totes and more, there’s seriously something for everyone at Beavtown.
Drop us a comment and tell us where you shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items!