Places to support your local artisans

The Phoenix area is fortunate to have a number of shops offering unique, handcrafted items — some items quite affordable and some approaching art gallery prices. In many cases — icing on the cake — the items are locally made.

I stopped by two shops in the last few weeks and within minutes of visiting each, I found several items that were beckoning my wallet to open. I restrained myself, but was hoping for a gift-buying reason to visit again in the near future. At such shops it’s clear that imagination and careful craftsmanship can work together to create both decorative and functional items of beauty. Some examples:

At JAM in Old Town Scottsdale, where the rooms of this historic bungalow are bursting with art and craft objects, I paused over a floor lamp made of wine corks, jewelry made from recycled materials, colorful bowties and handcrafted stationery. The little room with pet bowls and wearable items was quite amusing, too. About three dozen artists and designers, many of them local, currently sell at JAM.

At Practical Art in central Phoenix, the works generally come under the categories of wood, fiber, ceramic and glass. All pieces are functional in some way, from clocks to bowls to scarves to soap, yet have a certain artistry. I was seriously eyeing a few ornately designed pots for outdoor plants, picturing them with red geraniums.

About 100 Arizona artisans are part of the Practical Art fold. In addition, the shop dedicates one wall to a featured artist eachJAVA magazine, Dec. 2012 month, with this month’s spotlight going to Alexandra Bowers, who draws science journal-like images of Arizona flora and fauna on panels, then finishes them with a wood-burning technique. I liked the skull images of a javelina, black bear and coyote.

You can read more about JAM, Practical Art and another great store, MADE Art Boutique on Roosevelt Row, in the December 2012 issue of the local magazine JAVA at

It perhaps goes without mentioning that museum stores in Phoenix and suburbs also have terrific gift items, both decorative and functional. I especially like the stores inside the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Arizona State University Art Museum and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Where have you purchased a one-of-a-kind handcrafted item lately? Let me know in the comments section.


2 thoughts on “Places to support your local artisans

  1. Thanks for this – I need to buy a gift for a friend and had forgotten about JAM, which I have heard of but never visited. I had planned to visit Practical Arts, so maybe I’ll try both …. Another good place for those fantastic Navajo carved wood creatures is Bischoff’s Shades of the West in old town Scottsdale. They also have some beautiful hand-forged pulls and knobs.


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