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The Dempsey Cup
Using nothing more than dump-bound junk and a bike-powered sander and saw, Missoula's own Jack Dempsey Boyd has solved every coffee drinkers quandary: How do you make the morning addiction more environmentally friendly?
Forget that silly, mismatched assortment of Looney Tunes mugs (which, lets face it, shatter at a rate of one a week) and get your caffeine-swilling loved one a Dempsey Cup. Boyd fashions go-mug handles from plywood scraps and attaches them to Mason-style glass jars with copper wire. The result might not be as flashy as Tweety Bird, but isn't that cobbled-together look in vogue these days anyway?
Find it at: www.dempseycup.com
Cedar canvas canoe from the Flathead
Summer's never too far away, and with it comes those windless days when Seeley Lake sits as still as glass. Outdoor enthusiasts will agree there's no better time for a relaxing paddle.
James Zielanski can put the family boater in the stern of a beautiful wood-and-canvas canoe. Heck, he's been doing it 11 years. Built entirely at Zielanski's shop in Bigfork, these traditionally keel-less canoes feature polished cedar ribs and a sturdy canvas shell. Both seats are handcrafted cane. These babies will handle like a dream even on rough waters, but caution the recipient to watch for rocks on the Blackfoot. Putting a hole in a canoe this striking is considered murder in some circles.
Find it at: Montana Cabinet and Canoe, 125 Marken Lane, Bigfork.
Heather's Heritage Hens egg shares
Three-month shares ranging from $35 to $140
Fresh, local food isn't the first thing that comes to mind for a winter holiday gift. But a winter share from Heather's Heritage Hens gets you richly flavored, locally laid eggs smack dab in the dead of the season.
Most people use eggs, so it's a practical item. And, though the price is higher than what you'd find at grocery stores, the fresh, local factor also makes it a luxury. A gift certificate allots for a three-month share and can be customized to fit the size of the family. For instance, the easy punch card allows the flexibility to get more eggs one week and less another.
Find it at: Call Heather McKee directly at 406-214-1524, or e-mail email@example.com
Starlight Arts gnome dolls
Kids love gnomes. Why? Because kids have better imaginations than scarred old-timers like us.
Anna Rummel Tenenbaum's Starlight gnomes feed those young imaginative minds that find endless wonderment in the wild colors and fantastical pointy hats of the little folklore creatures. The 12-inch female and male dolls are made entirely from wool—merino and mohair— sourced from Montana vendors in Hall and Arlee. Tenenbaum also uses angora from her own rabbits. The rainbow of colors comes straight from local plant producers who grow indigo, purple basil and onions specifically for dying materials. And, since each is handmade, no two gnomes look quite the same.
Find it at: Walking Stick Toys, 829 S. Higgins Avenue.
Customized wine bottle art and serving trays
$15 and up
Jessi Eaton, the creator of Jessi Rae Wine Designs, has made a cottage industry out of old wine bottles otherwise destined for the landfill. Eaton scavenges the bottles from local restaurants and bars, and then flattens them into serving trays and art displays embellished with wire beading. The result is practical and gorgeous.
Eaton also creates personalized labels and says she's happy to etch words on sentimental bottles emptied during anniversaries, weddings and bat mitzvahs. Sounds like a good choice for your sentimental significant other.
Find them at: Rockin Rudy's, 237 Blaine Street; Worden's Market, 451 N. Higgins Avenue; or Ellie Blue Timeless Gifts, 328 E. Pine Street. Or call Jessi Eaton directly at 406-860-8858.