With the season of gift-giving (and therefore buying) in full swing, we would be remiss if we didn’t give you some shopping ideas. And who better to point your hard-earned dollars toward than our local artists at the annual Shop Party?

On Sunday, December 18th, Santa Rosa’s annual Shop Party once again gathers together some incredible artists and makers in one spot to make your shopping easier.

Shop Party started in 2010 when friends Meredith Jayne Lenci and Olivia Browning saw the need for an outlet for creative types to sell their work to the community. “Buying a gift from one of these vendors literally puts food on some of our neighbors’ tables,” said Lenci. “That feels like a small victory to me.”

Here are just a few dynamic examples of the massive amounts of handcrafted talent to be found:

Jo Collins, owner of Mojo Soaps, likes to live a bit on the edge, and her badass soaps show it. “I almost always make my soap barefoot (safety be damned) in my kitchen with punk rock on louder than my neighbors would like – I give them soap to forgive me,” said Collins. “What I love about cold-process soap making is that it’s a combination of chemistry and art, and it’s just a little bit dangerous (lye can burn!). Precise measurement is important, just like in baking, but experimentation is fun and some of my favorite soaps have been “accidents”.”

For over 10 years Jo, who is also a personal trainer and bartender here in Santa Rosa, has been mastering the art of soap making using organic vegetable and essential oils, as well as natural colorants. Specializing in beer and coffee soaps – which means basically I’m done with my holiday shopping because she’s rocking all of the perfect things all at the same time – Mojo also makes beard oils, beard balms, solid lotion bars, lip scrubs, lip balm and whatever other body products intrigue her at the moment. “I used to buy handmade soap wherever I could find it and then begged until I found someone willing to teach me how to do it myself,” she said. “I began gifting my soaps to friends, family and clients, and gradually began selling it.”

Karen Silberg of Karen Silberg Ceramics, spins out some gorgeous pottery in her home studio. “The first time I touched clay was almost 4 years ago during a time when I really needed my heart to be filled. I poured myself into it, making friends and creating timeless functional pieces.”

Since that time, Karen has taken her passion out into the world using Periscope, a live video streaming website and app which allows her thousands of followers to watch her work on the wheel in real time, as well as interact and ask questions. After being gifted a ‘Karen’ mug several years ago and buying another recently, I can say with hot-drink confidence that she 100 percent makes the perfect mug. You should pick up a few for grandma, for dad, for me…I mean, whoever comes to mind. No pressure.

Gina Glomb of Talking Tree Designs is a self-taught metalsmith and jeweler who has worked with feathers, beads, recycled brass, leather, and more over the past several years, focusing now more on silver, gold and gemstones. Having slowly built her own metal studio piece by piece using any profits she made from selling her unique jewelry, Gina is thrilled and grateful for all of the trials and errors that have come along with making art.

“Many late nights and early mornings trying to balance being a mother/wife/artist has not been easy, but it has been worth it,” said Glomb. “Sure, there are callouses, cuts, burns and blisters. There are stones that crack at the last possible moment and ruin your whole project. But I am fully aware of the magic in this life every time I can create with my hands what I see in my mind. It is even more incredible when my vision is accepted by others!”

Finally, we mustn’t forget the florals. Venn Floral specializes in natural, expressive, garden-inspired creations using environmentally responsible floral design. Committed to sourcing the finest quality sustainable materials with which to manifest their gorgeous works of art, Sonoma County natives Heather Frye and Camille Rowan-White work closely with local farmers and gardeners. While their work is most often found at events and weddings, they do sometimes participate in pop-up sales and workshops as well. For these they branch out (see what I did there?) to create original works inspired by their obsession for plants, and informed by their art practices.

“You might say we have an insatiable curiosity for the natural world,” Frye said, “and are always looking to incorporate that in our work…naturally. Ha!” (The ‘ha’ was hers and, given my love of ‘ha’s’, I felt it was only proper to include it). Driftwood, dried flowers and mossy branches are some of the favorite materials being used this time of year.

At Shop Party, expect to find barnwood boxes – hand-built by the ladies – to use as centerpieces, mantles, welcome displays, or anything else you find yourself in need of a barnwood box for. Also air plants, wreaths and other long-lasting decorative botanical creations.

“Many of our designs are meant to span the seasons, and can be used as decoration throughout the year – no expiration date!”

This year’s Shop Party is supporting Food Not Bombs, a vital organization that makes free hot meals and serves them in downtown Santa Rosa, to anyone in need, every Sunday evening. So, stop by to shop, to snack, to compliment your local artist, and to feel good about every second of it.

Shop Party – December 18th, 11am – 3pm at the Saturday Afternoon Club, 430 10th Street, Santa Rosa, 95401

Food Not Bombs – Sundays 5 – 7 Prince Gateway Park