Reno potter Tom Drakulich makes mugs in four sizes—classic, all-day, latte and espresso. They’re priced between $28 and $32. When he sells them on a large marketplace site like Etsy, he has two problems.
While the platform is ostensibly for independent creators, searches for handmade mugs also yield offers for similar-looking products that are mass-produced in factories and sold for less.
Also, “They push really hard for you to do free shipping on everything,” Drakulich said. “And it’s a nightmare, honestly.”
Clay and glazes are relatively affordable as art materials go, but other expenses—like studio rent and fuel for the kiln—factor in. For a $28 cup, Drakulich takes in about $20. Shipping costs him around $10, so free shipping cuts his profit in half.
“That drops your livable wage down pretty incredibly,” he said.
In the days when Amazon has us accustomed to free, next-day shipping on just about everything, the pressure is on. Drakulich does offer free shipping on his website, Good Livin’ Ceramics, but to minimize the dent in his income, he’ll deliver for free in Reno and Sparks.
Drakulich said a lot of his customers understand that independent artists can’t reasonably compete with free, one-day shipping in the era of megaretailers, and they know that in addition to getting a well-crafted mug, their purchases help support good design, thoughtfully made housewares—and the community of creative people who produce them.
This holiday season, shoppers can skip the shipping conundrum entirely and purchase Drakulich’s mugs (plus pitchers, teapots and other wares) in person at the Riverside Farmers Market Annual Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 19, or from the Wyld Market Collective in the Reno Public Market.
Here are more ways to skip the mall and the megaretailers, to support your local artists, and to find—or even make—creative holiday gifts.
Art sales + fairs
Santa’s Second Chance Miniature Show: The Latimer Art Club, Reno’s oldest art group—started in 1921 and still going strong—hosts an annual fall sale of miniature art at the Artists Co-op Gallery. This year, the group is holding a second sale at Reno Public Market featuring more than 240 small paintings. For those of you who shop after the last minute or need to pick up a host gift for New Year’s Eve, this event is open through late December. Nov. 10-Dec. 28 at Makers Paradise, Reno Public Market, 299 E. Plumb Lane, Reno.
Fleas the Season: Move over, Currier and Ives. Some families like to get into the holiday spirit with a car smash and a two-day loud-music lineup instead of a sleigh ride. The Punk Rock Flea Market’s holiday edition has beer for the grown-ups, drag queen story time for the kids, a free clothing swap for everyone, and rows upon rows of handmade gifts and fashions ranging from elegant to edgy. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 and 12, at the Neil Road Recreation Center, 3925 Neil Road, Reno. Single day ticket $5 in advance, $8 at the door; weekend pass $10 in advance, $15 at the door; free for kids 12 and under.
Riverside Farmers Market Annual Holiday Bazaar: Between artisans, farmers and bakers, Reno’s only year-round farmers market boasts more than 100 vendors at its holiday shopping event, including artisans like Queer As In jewelry, Tao Pao Ceramics by Cecillia Su, and Geddy Lee Woodworks. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 19, at Idlewild Park, 2055 Idlewild Drive, Reno.
Atelier holiday pop-ups: Atelier, which offers workshops in knitting and other crafts year-round, is hosting three holiday shopping pop-ups—including one to commemorate Small Shop Saturday, individual producers’ answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Artists selling prints include local favorites like Grace Davis, Julia Schwadron and Ron Rash. You’ll also find hand-dyed yarn, handmade scarves and a wide range of gifts by Atelier instructors. A note to time-challenged shoppers: Atelier and The Wedge (see below) are neighbors, so you can hit two holiday sales in one stop on Dec. 9 and 10. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25; and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, at 2135 Dickerson Road.
Handmade Holiday Faire at Urban Roots: Reno’s nonprofit urban teaching farm hosts a full-service, kid-friendly fair where you can sip a hot beverage, get your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, make your own crafts, or buy readymade jewelry, soaps and other gifts from local vendors. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1700 E. Second St., Reno. Admission $10, $5 for kids ages 5-10, free for kids under 4.
Chili Cash N’ Carry: Gift shopping and lunch in one shot? Yes, please. Members of The Wedge community ceramics studio will offer handmade bowls for $30, and you can test them out on the spot—because a hearty serving of chili is included in the price. You can also pick up handmade tree ornaments and other items. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, at 2095 Dickerson Road, Reno.
Brewery Holiday Bazaar & Market: It may sound like a beer festival, but it’s actually a festive gathering at downtown Carson City’s Brewery Arts Center, named after the Gold Rush-era brewery that was founded there in 1860. This event features handmade artwork for sale, live music and food vendors. Noon to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Brewery Art Center, 449 W. King St., Carson City.
Make your own gifts
Holiday Family Arts Festival: Kids can make their own gifts at seven hands-on art-making stations and get a free book from Spread the Word Nevada, a group that promotes literacy in Washoe and Clark counties. Giving is encouraged here, too—the event is also a drop-off spot for the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation’s toy drive. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Lake Mansion Arts & Cultural Center, 250 Court St., Reno.
Holiday Treasures: The Artists Co-op Gallery is always filled with a wide array of artwork that makes for good gifts, including landscape paintings and other Nevada-specific items—good for the out-of-towners on your gift list. This time of year, the feature room is filled with jewelry, pottery, notecards, textiles and holiday crafts, and you can meet some of the artists in person at two holiday receptions. Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with receptions noon to 4 p.m., Sundays, Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, at 627 Mill St., Reno.
Family Workshops: Arts education nonprofit Arts for All Nevada is offering workshops where kids and adults can pick up a technique quickly—and go home with personalized gift tags, hand-stitched greeting cards, linocut-printed cards or ugly-sweater ornaments. Attendees under 14 need to bring an adult, and all sessions are $35 each at the Lake Mansion Arts & Cultural Center, at 250 Court St., in Reno:
• Gift Tag Artistry: Saturday, Nov. 25, 2 to 4 p.m.
• Stitched Holiday Cards: Saturday, Dec. 2, 2 to 4 p.m.
• Print Making Holiday Cards: Wednesday, Dec. 6, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Sweater Weather Minis: Sunday, Dec. 17, 10 a.m. to noon
Atelier Holiday Workshops: Atelier’s crafty instructors will teach you how to make evergreen wreaths and ornaments that are either hand-painted or hand-embroidered in one session. They’re also scheduling private holiday crafting workshops. “These are great for team appreciation events, work holiday gatherings, or if you want to get a group of friends together,” said one organizer. Email email@example.com to schedule your own event, or visit Atelier’s website for a long list of November and December gift-making sessions. The cost is $40 to $57 per workshop, at 2135 Dickerson Road, Reno.
Shop from home
Want to get in the handmade holiday spirit without leaving the house? Many local artists sell right from their websites. Here are a few ideas to get you started—with five wildly different varieties of local flavor.
Need something that says “Nevada” loud and clear? Sydney Martinez of Song Dog Silver has a line of Silver State-shaped stones set into bolo ties ($175), pendants ($130) and other wearables available on her website or at the Riverside Farmers Market Annual Holiday Bazaar in Idlewild Park on Sunday, Nov. 19.
Michael Plyler, a former photography workshop instructor in Zion National Park who relocated to Carson City in recent years, offers packages of his black-and-white Western landscape images as sets of note cards ($25) on his website.
For every local who’s pleased with Reno’s cleaner image as of late, there’s one who pines for the days of cheap rent and $1 PBR. Ray Frost’s “Keep It Trashy, Reno” merch will take you back to grittier days. Holographic stickers ($3), T-shirts ($25) and other merch, complete with a cute, scowling possum in a trash can, are for sale on Ray’s web shop Zeppy Stardust, along with magnets, patches, pins and original acrylic paintings.
Oil painter Zoe Bray, who spent some of her childhood in the Basque country in France, is well-known for formal portraits of Basque Nevadans. She also wrote and illustrated a 2022 English and Basque-language children’s book, What Amatxi Whispered. For a customized holiday gift, Bray makes original illustrations in her adorable kids-book style on commission ($90). You can find the details on her Etsy shop.
All four sizes of Tom Drakulich’s mugs ($28-32)—plus pitchers, jugs, bowls and planters—are for sale on his website, Good Livin’ Ceramics.