It’s Christmastime in the city, and when shoppers rush home with their treasures, they don’t have to rush home from the national chain big-box stores. You can buy from local merchants and give your loved ones presents they aren’t expecting.
Here are a few of our favorite things — not raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but iron skillets, concert posters, “A Christmas Story” souvenir lamp, and dinosaur sculptures made out of found metal.
Camp Chef cast-iron skillets
Why I love it • Cast iron is the cookware of choice these days, but you don’t have to pay for enameled colors or fancy French names. An old-school black cast-iron skillet — which comes already seasoned — cooks just as well at a quarter of the price. I use mine at least once a day, maybe more, to grill sandwiches, sear meats or bake breads and desserts. Yes, it’s heavy; a 14-inch skillet weighs about 10 pounds. Just store it in the oven and enjoy working your muscles every time you heave it onto the stove.
Where • Sporting-goods and farm stores throughout the state. Find a dealer at campchef.com
Cost • Vary by location, but a 14-inch skillet costs around $33.
Whom to give to • Expert and wannabe chefs.
Travis Bone’s concert posters
What makes it unique • The 30-year-old Utah Valley University graduate (who earned a degree in nanoscale chemistry) combines his love for music with his love for visual arts and has become one of the area’s most prolific concert poster designers. His promotional posters have been commissioned by promoters at Red Butte Garden and the Twilight concert series, and left-over posters are available for purchase. Bone’s designs are whimsical with a nostalgic edge, and they serve to commemorate concerts gone by.
Where to buy • The Hive Gallery at Layton Hills Mall, or at furturtle.com
Price • Varies, but can run from as little as $10 or as much as $40 or more
Whom to give to • You know those friends who save every ticket stub from every concert they’ve ever been to? Well, concert posters are much easier to frame.
Leg lamp, inspired by the movie “A Christmas Story”
What makes it unique • This isn’t a cheap novelty item — it’s a real lamp created by real lamp-makers. It’s not only cool, it’s fra-GEE-lay.
Where • The Lamp Company, 1443 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-487-9636; thelampco.com
Price • $179 (special order)
Whom to give to • Fans of the movie. Including me.
Scott D. Pierce
Chupacabra Raptor sculpture
What makes it unique • On his website, artist Fred Conlon’s work is touted as “original metal art that doesn’t suck.” His found-metal raptor sculptures at the Natural History Museum’s gift shop appear gracefully inventive, the kind of art that serves as a reminder of Utah’s recent past (thanks to feet made out of wrenches) as well as our region’s ancient history (thanks to a raccoon skull representing the raptor’s head).
Where • Natural History Museum of Utah, 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City; 801-581-6927; or www.sugarpost.com
Price • $150 — which is expensive, but these are one-of-a-kind sculptures. And Conlon’s website also offers smaller pieces.
Whom to give to • Anyone who likes artwork with a backstory.
Heliosphere solar time piece
What makes it unique • This beautiful sculpture, made by Logan artist Joyce Popendorf, is notable for its elegant lines, featuring a graceful glass sphere balanced on a curved metal base. When the timepiece is placed in sunlight, the sphere displays the approximate time.
Where • Natural History Museum of Utah, 301 Wakura Way, Salt Lake City; 801-581-6927
Price • $225; information at heliospheredesigns.com
Whom to give to • Any collector who loves function as much as form.
Pop Art gourmet popcorn
What makes it unique • Two reasons The Tribune’s movie critic doesn’t eat popcorn while watching movies: I don’t want to balloon to 300 pounds, and most theaters don’t have anything as tasty as Pop Art’s gourmet blends. The Salt Lake City-based company makes its corn in four flavors — rosemary truffle, Thai coconut curry, white cheddar jalepeño and white pepper Parmesan — and uses air-popped organic corn, natural and organic spices, and GMO-free cheese. The Broadway Centre Cinemas always has it in stock, and it’s also available at various supermarkets.
Where to buy it • Whole Foods Markets, Harmon’s, Cali’s Natural Foods and other stores.
Price • $4.50 and up in stores; $6 at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.
Whom to give to • The movie buff whose palate is as sophisticated as his/her film tastes.
Sean P. Means
The book “Christmas Memories: A Family Diary”
What makes it unique • This 40-page, hardcover book, created by a local grandfather for his family, serves as a Christmas diary. There’s space for brief entries for 20 years of holidays — and it will just take a few minutes to fill in and record your family’s memorial celebrations.
Where • The 15th Street Gallery, 1519 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, or online at FamilyChristmasDiary.com
Price • $19.95
Whom to give to • Anybody with a family who wants to remember each Christmas but is too busy/lazy to spend a lot of time writing anything down. In other words, everybody.
Scott D. Pierce
Tumbleweeds Film Festival tickets
What makes it unique • This film festival — scheduled for March 15-17 — is for kids, and the Utah Film Center does a great job of programming engaging movies. These aren’t just grind-’em-out kids films — and this special offer will save you a lot of cash.
Where • Online at utahfilmcenter.org or in person at 122 S. Main, Salt Lake City. Purchase by Dec. 14 to have tickets in hand by Christmas. In-person sales end Dec. 20; online sales end Dec. 31.
Price • 10 tickets for $25 (instead of the regular price of $60)
Whom to give to • Parents who are sick of taking their kids to the latest crummy children’s movie out of Hollywood.
Scott D. Pierce
Why I love it • When buying granola, it’s easy to sound like Goldilocks: Some are too chewy, others too sweet, too expensive or too fattening. But this granola from a Woods Cross shop has become just the right topping for my daily blueberries and Greek yogurt breakfast. It’s made with rolled oats, brown sugar, sea salt and a handful of other recognizable and easy-to-pronounce ingredients. It comes in several flavors, but my favorites are vanilla nut and cranberry orange.
Where • Gregory’s Wheat Shop, 930 S. 500 West, Woods Cross; also sold at Associated Food Stores around the state.
Price • Vary by location, from $6 at Gregory’s to $9 at grocery stores.
Whom to give to • Anyone who likes a mildly sweet, crunchy granola, or just likes to support Utah food producers.
Gift cards redeemable at Graywhale
What makes it unique • Graywhale sells its own gift cards, but the local indie record store also accepts gift cards issued by Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. After Christmas, just bring in those big-box retailers’ gift cards you received, and Graywhale will honor them, dollar-for-dollar.
Where to buy it • Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart; redeem them at the six local Graywhale stores (find locations at fatfin.com)
Price • You decide
Whom to give to • People who prefer to shop local — even if their great-aunts gave them a gift card to one of the stores that are stealing business from the indies.
Candace Jean notecard sets
What makes it unique • Jean, a Salt Lake City artist who is entirely self-taught but has a charming aesthetic, creates the kind of greeting card you wish friends and family would send during the holiday. These soothing, graceful and charming original artworks of animals and other holiday-themed miniatures reproduced on milk-white paper have all the impact of a whisper in the ear —to which you listen with just a bit more focus.
Where to buy it • Friends of the Library store, Backyard Birds and Gardens and Tracy Aviary
Price • $8
Whom to give to • Anyone tired of packaged greeting cards with a penchant for animal figures and small-scale holiday scenes.
Trent Call T-shirts
What makes it unique • Call needs no introduction among Salt Lake City’s art cognoscenti. And while the artist’s commissioned work doesn’t come at budget prices these days, his unique style of combining cartoon humor with street graffiti flair can be had for a song on T-shirts and other apparel at Blonde Grizzly. T-shirts are available in multiple colors and sizes, and even under a parka or jeans jacket they sport a mischievous look. If you don’t care for Call’s art, you can always spring for shirts by the “Panda Propaganda” instead.
Where to buy it • Blonde Grizzly art gallery and retail space, 213 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City; 801-355-9075 or www.blondegrizzly.com.
Price • $20 and up
Whom to give to • The tweens, teens or 20-somethings in your life who want something — anything! — different from what their friends already bought at Hot Topic.
Seeking local art and artisans?
Here are a few of our favorite shows.
Holiday jewelry trunk shows • (Today and Saturday, Dec. 8) Natural History Museum of Utah showcases the copper jewelry of Fred Wilhelmsen; gems and mineral jewelry of Kim Kendell; and Jessica Bolda’s bead work at the show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Proceeds benefit the museum.) Also save 10 percent on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m. in December at the gift shop, 331 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City; 801-581-6927.
Art Barn’s holiday craft exhibit and sale • (Through Dec. 19) Salt Lake City Arts Council holds its 29th annual sale at the Art Barn in Reservoir Park, 1340 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City. Work for sale includes letterpress cards, holiday ornaments, scarves, hats, cups, bowls, jewelry and art glass. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and until 9 on Gallery Stroll tonight. Info at 801-596-5000 or www.slcgov.com/arts.
Holiday market at Gallivan Center • (Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 22) The market focuses on local, hand-made goods and one-of-a-kind items. Free admission; 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City.
Vine Street holiday market • (Saturdays through Dec. 22) More than 25 vendors will offer locally made items, art, jewelry, vintage wares and artisanal food at this market in a 1906-era church, 184 E. Vine St. (5144 South), Murray; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, and Sunday, Dec. 16. Artists seeking information should contact email@example.com. Info at www.vinestmarket.com.
Dickens Festival • (Today and Saturday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 10-15) Olde World charm — and everything from hand-made rocking horses to hand-carved rubber-band guns to an appearance by Santa Claus. At the Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City; weekdays 4-9 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; admission $7 adults, $5 seniors (65+) and children (4-12); dickenschristmasfestival.com.
Craft Lake City • The nonprofit local guild is holding a “12 Days of Craft Lake” auction on eBay. Check out daily videos through Dec. 12 at craftlakecity.org.
More favorite things
I If you know of local products that you think would make perfect holiday gifts, send an email explaining why (with a link to the item) to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will consider for a blog post or future story.