Content by Toni Shiurba
“Made in the San Juan Islands” is a relatively new catch phrase. But the islands have been home to artists of every kind since the first Northern Straits Coast Salish people arrived thousands of years ago. Today, our community supports an increasing number of talented members who make an inventive assortment of handmade items. Several exceptional shops and galleries promote these artisans by selling their handmade jewelry and crafts.
1. Dan Levin Originals
If you have an appetite for the finer things in life, we have remarkable goldsmiths to fulfill your cravings. Dan and Diane Levin own Dan Levin Originals where they fabricate imaginative, one of a kind, island-inspired masterpieces. For nearly fifty years, they have honed their skills designing, casting, cutting and filing this precious, yellow metal into works of original art for your body.
He forges, casts, embosses, and engraves orca whales, octopi, crabs and sand dollars into gold treasures to adorn a cherished partner or loved one. Couples can find unique engagement rings and wedding bands that are singularly distinctive. Dan Levin Originals creates the extraordinary! Come and see for yourself.
Located at 50 First Street near to Herb’s Tavern, they are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and by appointment.
2. Deer Hazel
Want to indulge your free spirited side? Up the way on the second block of Spring Street is where Kerry and Jeanne hammer, shape and stamp silver, copper and brass into amazing designs. Deer Hazel is a clothing and handmade jewelry store with a light-hearted flair.
Whether you are looking for delicately sculptured shapes or bold, eye-catching contours, you’ll find it here. Contemporary, one of a kind rings, bracelets and earrings decorate the flowing tops and chic jeans on display. The backroom is a workshop where the two women configure metal, crystals and beads into stylish jewelry.
They have established their store as a place of trendy fashion with a dash of the carefree. Along with their own designs, they have incorporated handmade jewelry from a few other local artists. Flowers preserved in resin hang as necklaces and earrings. Sterling Silver leaf clusters dangle with earth-toned beads and stones into baubles every woman would adore.
Located at 165 Spring Street they are open everyday from 10:30 to 5:30pm.
3. Island Studios
If a cross-section of local San Juan Islands artists is what you seek, bear right at the end of Spring Street into Island Studios. Sea Glass and Dichroic, light-reflecting glass earrings, pendants and bracelets fill the display counters. Pounded Sterling Silver bracelets and bangles wait to be admired and taken home.
You’ll notice eclectic lamps, driftwood tables and chairs, pleasingly packaged soaps, knitted scarves, wall art of every kind and ceramic cups and dishes on every surface. With such a large space to fill, you’d think some corner might be devoid of cleverly crafted goods. But, as you will find out, that is not the case.
Island Studios holds the largest compilation of handcrafted items in the County. And the prices are very fair. Like a Saturday Farmers Market only with handmade crafts and open everyday! OK, so not very much like it, but you get the idea. Meandering through the shop gives the customer a pretty sampling of the available art in the San Juan Islands.
In case you get turned around in our three-block downtown, Island Studios is found at 270 Spring Street.
4. Waterworks Gallery
More serious art connoisseurs will find the Waterworks Gallery a grand discovery.
The handmade jewelry is eclectic. Large gemstone necklaces and pendants with metal, ceramics and wood lend a tribal feel to the wearer. Nature-inspired pieces are made from hardwood, bone, fossilized ivory and stone. Hammered silver formed into geometric shapes, leaves and branches, shells and feathers continue the forest and seashore theme of the jewelry found here.
Paintings, large monolithic sculptures, encaustic wax compositions and print work are some of the diverse mediums Waterworks displays. The assortment of artistic endeavors changes with the seasons. All pieces are high quality standouts. If you are creating a mood in a new or renovated home or office space, this is the gallery to shop in.
It is situated near the Health Club and the Bowling Alley at 315 Argyle Avenue.
“What are you waiting for?”
Wander the world of Friday Harbor’s mini metropolis. Don’t worry about traffic, though. Take to heart the words of my 8-year-old grandson who lives in Haines, Alaska.
As my daughter waited patiently for some traffic to pass in their small town, he asked “What are you waiting for, Mom?” She began to explain how big city road congestion is called “rush hour”. “Oh, I see,” he replied surveying the five or six cars passing by. “Maybe we can just call ours “rush minute”.
Take a ferry, sail a boat or wing-it in a plane but you’ve got to get here and explore everything the San Juan Islands have to offer. Stay with us at the San Juan Island Inn Collection, just a few blocks away from all the action!