8 Opportunities to Check out Makers and Crafters in San Francisco This Holiday Season
The City by the Bay has been a nexus for creative souls since the rowdy days of the Gold Rush. San Francisco's diversity and edgy vibe have always allowed creative efforts to flourish, and today's makers and crafters reflect that continuing heritage. If you're looking for a hand-crafted original purchased directly from the person whose imagination and skill gave it life, San Francisco has some amazing shopping experiences waiting for you. Visit the studios and galleries listed here to dive below the surface into the world of the city's maker culture. These small businesses warmly accept American Express cards.
3 Fish Studios (4541 Irving St.)
The bright-colored prints and linocuts for sale at 3 Fish Studios include variations on love notes to San Francisco neighborhoods and lots of California bears embracing the state. The artists' love affair with the city is understandable when you visit their quiet Outer Sunset location, just about a block from Golden Gate Park and three blocks from the ocean. Stop by the studio anytime and watch printmakers at work, or sign up for a class and try your hand at the process, using the same ink and paper as the professionals. Artists Annie and Eric participate in various local festivals such as the San Francisco Festival of the Book, encouraging participants to pull their own prints. www.3fishstudios.com
Public Glass (1750 Armstrong Ave.)
Dedicated to introducing the public to the magical art of glass making, this nonprofit arts center offers you shopping, instruction and professional demonstrations. Public Glass has deep roots in the historic Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, which is easy to reach via the Muni T-Sunnydale metro line. Buy extraordinary one-of-a-kind glass pieces from their on-site gallery as well as online through their website. Take time to visit one of the serious soul-food restaurants along nearby Third Street and talk to locals about the activist history of that part of town. If someone on your gift list loves learning new crafts, then you can also gift them an introductory class or workshop at Public Glass.
Mission Workshop (541 Valencia St.)
Mission Workshop's founders wanted to produce their bags and backpacks in the Mission District, and they refurbished a warehouse to be their combination work space, storefront and shipping headquarters. Because they produce their handmade bags in small runs on-site, the Mission Workshop artisans are able to confidently offer you a lifetime guarantee. If you're shopping online, you can view videos that tell you everything you need to know about these best-of-the-best backpacks and bags. Better yet, visit their extraordinary workshop on bike-friendly Valencia Street and speak with the makers themselves. Their location is easy to reach, less than two blocks from BART's 16th Street Mission station.
Taylor Stitch (383 Valencia St.)
Also located on Valencia at the edge of San Francisco's oldest neighborhood (Mission Dolores), Taylor Stitch creates an entire community around its locally manufactured apparel. You can drop by their workshop and store to get a fitting for a custom shirt while selecting your favorite fabric, styles, buttons, thread colors and so forth. Every Wednesday, the designers release a new set of items on their website for crowdfunding. When a design receives full funding in about a month, it goes into production for those who helped fund it. Taylor Stitch turns customers into friends by outreach through multiple channels including pop-up shops, a newsletter, social media and events at its two San Francisco locations.
Dandelion Chocolate (740 Valencia St.)
Catch the outstanding views and sunny microclimate at Dolores Park, and then walk a few short blocks to Dandelion Chocolate. Sitting at their maker bar, you can watch the whole beautiful artisan chocolate process from green cocoa beans to the silky, gourmet-finished product. You can tour the factory for free to get tasty samples, and you can even sign up for chocolate-related classes. If you're shopping for a chocolate connoisseur, Dandelion offers an extraordinary tasting experience. Their selections include chocolate sourced from single locations, allowing customers to taste the differences between Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Venezuela.
Secession Gallery (3235 Mission St.)
Located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, on the south side of the Mission District amid a collection of eclectic ethnic eateries, Secession Gallery is a hub of art activity. A gallery, boutique and workspace all rolled into one, Secession has been awarded the title of Best Art Gallery for four years by the "San Francisco Bay Guardian." This unique art space invites art lovers to join their creative community for curated exhibitions of paintings, jewelry, home decor and wearable art. Fifty local artists and designers are represented by Secession, offering a range of work from the whimsical to the stunning, all with a San Francisco flavor.
Creativity Explored Studio Gallery (3245 16th St.)
For 30 years, Creativity Explored has been supporting artists with developmental disabilities to create, display and sell professional-caliber artwork. The studio and gallery provide space for artists to engage with mentors, peers and art lovers while creating outstanding art pieces in many forms of media. In addition to the busy studio and gallery on 16th Street at Guerrero Street, Creativity Explored also maintains an online store and a diverse events calendar. Come to a dance party at the studio or an opening-night reception.
San Francisco Open Studios at "ArtSpan"
Many artists who work in textiles, printmaking, apparel, jewelry, ceramics, photography, sculpture and fine art are busy working and can't keep their studios open all the time. The annual San Francisco Open Studios is an opportunity each year for you to visit more than 800 working artists in their studio spaces. This program is the largest and oldest of its kind in the country, another demonstration that San Francisco has always been a magnet for artists. Open Studios includes special events, artist workshops, exhibition openings and educational programs. Meet the local arts community as you search for that perfectly distinctive creation.
Original gifts are a way of telling your friends and family that they're special to you; furthermore, handmade gifts bought from the hands of San Francisco artists and crafters let you give a little piece of the city's flavor.