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6 Artisan Markets Not to Miss this Holiday Season

By Annelise Kelly

The verdant stretches of the Willamette Valley have a long heritage of attracting creatives and “makers” of all crafts. In pioneer times, everyone was a maker; spinning wool, building furniture, sewing clothes. The historical do-it-yourself culture has evolved into today's region of craftspeople, where artists hone their crafts and share their passions with all comers. 

Patronizing artisans is the ultimate “buy local” act. It supports our communities by keeping dollars in the region while minimizing the environmental costs of transport. And it just feels right to reward the love and care creators devote to their products. When it's time to buy gifts for others (or yourself!), check out the artsy-craftsy talents of the region. Ramble the valley's picturesque back roads and meet the people behind the products, watch hand-crafting up close, or maybe even fashion something beautiful yourself. Here are some of our favorite places, where gifted souls make goodies to tickle all your senses.

Apples to Oranges, Silverton

Fiber lovers swoon on entering Apples to Oranges, a temple to textiles in charming Silverton. A rainbow of yarns - alpaca, merino wool, yak, even mink! - compels yarn arts devotees to fill a basket with soft, luscious skeins. Local hand-dyed yarns and exposed brick walls confer a gallery vibe to this high-ceilinged space - a former woolen mill, according to a National Register Historic District plaque. A couch and table offer lounging space and host classes, private instruction and open-knit Tuesdays. Hot tea and bulk tea, along with a few gifts, round out the offerings. 

Puddin' River Chocolates, Canby

The irresistible fragrance of old fashioned handmade chocolate confections seduces you before you cross the threshold of Puddin' River Chocolates in Canby. Survey the action behind the counter, where owner Teresa Sasse and her small team concoct small batches of buttery toffee dredged in Oregon hazelnuts, chocolate bark with northwest dried cherries and blueberries, truffles, caramels and more. 

Slab Soap, Salem

Dozens of varieties of handcrafted soaps promise lavish scented suds at Slab Soap in Salem. Individually sliced slabs range from hyper-local, like Douglas fir and Oregon lavender, to exotic, like plumeria and sandalwood. Bath bombs are created on site: Watch makers blend a bowlful of all natural ingredients, and then press them into spheres. Drop one in the tub for a spa experience scented with therapeutic oils.

Young at Art, Salem

The happy ring of children's laughter greets visitors to Young at Art in Salem. This spacious studio has abundant and tidy supplies for children and adults to make their own masterpieces, while awash with enough splash and splatter of paint to reassure artists that they're free to create with joyful abandon. A large room is available for parties, and there's also individual work space where grandparents bond with grandkids on crafting outings. Plan a family visit to make holiday cards, gift wrap or decorations. 

Calapooia Clay Pottery Studio, Albany

At Albany's Calapooia Clay Pottery Studio, shop the gallery of members' creations, or perhaps build a gift with your own two hands. After taking a class, available for beginners or experienced potters, students can become members and work independently, either throwing on one of the nine wheels or hand forming. Private parties can bring in their own wine or beer, a popular team building activity. 

Eugene Holiday Market, Eugene

If there's anything artsy or craftsy you haven't found yet, you'll find it here, at the Eugene Holiday Market. This winter-weather indoor version of the Eugene Saturday Market is stuffed to the rafters with talented makers and their wares. From modest stocking stuffers to heirloom-quality treasures, the vast display of imagination and talent would inspire a rock. With an international food court and live music, it's the ultimate place to support local craftspeople with your thoughtful dollars. 

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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