Seven Cordova-only gifts that showcase Alaska and encourage buying local

Chamber’s new contest encourages the community to “Shop Cordova First”

Just like that, another holiday season is upon us and so is the daunting task of holiday shopping. While ordering online can seem so convenient, consider supporting local businesses and artists this holiday season. (Also remember to mail your packages by Dec. 17 to ensure their safe and timely arrival!)

Cordova has a unique and thriving art scene where artists incorporate Alaska, nautical and fishing elements using various mediums throughout their creations.

Here are a few ways to shop in town and share Alaska while promoting local artists and vendors.

Custom-made sculptures, wall art, fire rings and more from Peterson Welding & Machine LLC

A bear and salmon design made by Peterson Welding & Machine LLC. (Photo courtesy of Peterson Welding)

Jacob and Jesse Peterson create intricate artwork with wide ranges in use, size and price. Their artwork is visible in and out of town. Their custom fire rings provide the centerpiece for barbeques and bonfires. Most recently, a set of ship wheel coasters, snowflake tealight holders and a ship wheel trivet was featured at a silent auction held during the Native Village of Eyak’s 25th annual Sobriety Celebration. “What we can do is only limited by your imagination,” Jacob Peterson said. “If you want it made of metal, we can probably make it.” Customers are not limited to what they’ve already made. The Petersons are constantly creating custom-made pieces, from the likes of a three dimensional scorpion metal puzzle, book ends, grates and firepits to various wall art. Although they are not attending the Holiday Bazaar, keep your eyes open on their Facebook page for new offerings.

  • Owners: Jacob and Jesse Peterson
  • Facebook: Peterson Welding & Machine LLC
  • Email: petersonweld@ctcak.net
  • Phone: 907-424-7790
  • Deadline for ordering: Dec. 19
  • Shipping/mailing services: They don’t provide shipping, but are willing to work with customers on special orders.
  • Price range: $10-$1,000
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: No

2. Prince William Sound and ocean-themed artwork, stickers and notecards from Miss Liberty

Mimi Briggs, left, talks with Miss Liberty artist Karen Deaton, right, and Annette Deaton, center, during the Copper River Salmon Jam in Cordova on Friday, July 13, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Miss Liberty originally began as a brand aimed towards clothing for the commercial fisherwoman of Alaska. “I just feel like that whole community of people is incredibly creative at their core,” said owner Karen Deaton Perry. It has since broadened its scope to incorporate more of an artistic flare, with items including stickers, Miss Liberty Alaskan-themed cards and envelopes, and hand-built frames used with recycled wood found in Cordova. Deaton draws inspiration from the landscape around her which is especially evident in her most popular item, The Mermaids of Prince William Sound, which feature mermaids with orca, salmon, shrimp, sealion and halibut tails. Her new items include sweatshirts and advent calendars containing hand-painted, PWS/Cordova-themed ornaments with a keepsake handmade wooden box for storage. The advent calendars will debut at this year’s Holiday Bazaar.

  • Owner: Karen Deaton Perry
  • Website: https://www.miss-liberty.com/
  • Facebook: Miss Liberty
  • Instagram: karen_deaton3
  • Email: karendeaton3@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-370-3534
  • Deadline for ordering: Dec. 18
  • Shipping/mailing services: Ships within the U.S. and Canada
  • Price range: $6-$200
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: Yes

3. Alaska Native jewelry incorporating southeastern and Pacific northwest designs by Lovebirds

Lovebirds owner, Sean O’Brien, talks with a customer while selling jewelry at his booth during NVE’s 25th annual Sobriety Celebration at the Cordova Jr./Sr. High School on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Sean O’Brien’s Alaska Native jewelry features engravings of precious metals, including copper, silver and gold, and focuses on southeastern and Pacific northwest designs. He has been the sole proprietor of Lovebirds, his fine art and jewelry business, for two years, and sells bracelets, pendants, earrings, rings and more. “The biggest thing was I didn’t want to fall underneath anyone else’s shadow anymore,” O’Brien said. “I wanted to build my own.” O’Brien studied and learned the craft from his father, Gene Chilton, before branching out and creating his own business. “(It’s) more of just trying to venture out of my own comfort zone… and have responsibility for my own artwork and design,” he said. O’Brien experiments with different mediums, venturing into different styles of artwork. He has previously created bone, soapstone and ivory carvings.

  • Owner: Sean O’Brien
  • Facebook: Lovebirds Fine Art & Jewelry
  • Email: lovebirdfinearts@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-727-2865
  • Deadline for ordering: For local orders, Dec. 18; if being shipped, Dec. 11
  • Shipping/mailing services: Ships anywhere; shipping estimate included in cost
  • Price range: $150-$1,000 (*price may depend on current market value)
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: Yes

4. Wood Nymph Apothecary’s locally sourced salves, smoked moose hide wallets and ornaments

Items created by Angela Butler, owner of Wood Nymph Apothecary, for sale at the Ilanka Cultural Center, 110 Nicholoff Way, as seen on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

For those interested in gifting locally sourced skincare, a gift from Wood Nymph Apothecary is just the place! Angela Butler creates salves from locally harvested medicinal plants, including wormwood, cottonwood bud and devils club, which can help repair damaged skin, sore muscles, infections, and target deep tissue. She also sells bath bombs, shampoo bars and lip balms, plus knit wear, Christmas ornaments and smoked moose hide wallets. She will be selling her range of locally sourced and unique items at the Holiday Bazaar both days. If you cannot attend the Bazaar, find her creations available for purchase at the Ilanka Cultural Center, 110 Nicholoff Way.

  • Owner: Angela Butler
  • Email: smalleyak@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-429-7447
  • Deadline for ordering: Dec. 20
  • Shipping/mailing services: Yes
  • Price range: $5-$75
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: Yes

5. Give a gift certificate to a Copper River Canvas class

Hand-painted wooden ornaments for a December Copper River Canvas class. (Photo courtesy of Jessicca Morningstar)

For the aspiring artist or creative-folk on your list, consider the gift of a $45 gift certificate to Jessicca Morningstar’s Copper River Canvas class. Under step-by-step instruction from Morningstar, participants will paint a pre-determined scene, usually related to the season or holiday at the time of the class. The gift certificate can be used for any canvas class she offers! The next canvas class will be in January at the Alaskan Hotel & Bar, where participants will learn how to paint a northern lights scene. The classes are suitable for every skill level and take a few hours.

  • Owner: Jessicca Morningstar
  • Facebook: Copper River Canvas
  • Instagram: copperrivercanvas
  • Email: copperrivercanvas@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-429-7997
  • Deadline for ordering: No cut-off
  • Shipping/mailing services: N/A
  • Price range: $45
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: No

6. Vinyl letters and numbers for boats, Alaskan/nautical-themed headbands and cup sleeves from Anchors and Ribbons

Cup sleeves and other products from Anchors and Ribbons, an Alaska and nautical-themed business owned by Heidi Ritter, as seen on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

For Heidi Ritter, a teacher by trade, her nautical-themed items have proven high sellers in a variety of locations, especially in Cordova. “The nice thing about being a military wife and owning your own business is you can take it and adapt it wherever you go,” she said. “Everyone seems to like nautical themes…” Ritter started her business, Anchors and Ribbons, in 2013 and eventually made her way to Cordova in July of 2017. “Everybody was super receptive and supportive,” she said. “I’ve actually had the best amount of sales for vending events…in Cordova than I’ve ever had anywhere else in the country.” She has a variety of items ranging from Alaska-themed pacifier clips, hair bows, jewelry and reusable cup sleeves, to unique custom business signage, vinyl decals (customizable) and wall décor. This year at the Bazaar, she will be showcasing a wider range of items.

  • Owner: Heidi Ritter
  • Website: www.AnchorsAndRibbons.etsy.com
  • Facebook: Anchors and Ribbons
  • Email: anchorsandribbons@gmail.com
  • Phone: 906-362-7667
  • Deadline for ordering: Dec. 15 (*date specific for custom orders)
  • Shipping/mailing services: Ships within U.S.
  • Price range: $2-$30
  • Attending Holiday Bazaar: Yes

7. Gift a subscription to The Cordova Times

Editions of The Cordova Times newspapers rest on a table in the paper’s office on Main Street in Cordova on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Share news, local events and Cordova history with loved ones across the state, nation or world, with a subscription to Cordova’s local newspaper. To order a gift subscription, stop by the office, 400 First St., call or order online. Subscriptions are available for six months at $60 or for one year at $104.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.