Local craft: Artisans in SLO County are creating functional art for your gifting pleasure
By The New Times Staff
December 6, 2018
Art doesn’t need to hang on your wall, just like the gifts you give this year don’t need to suck. You can buy presents from local artisans that the special someones in your life can do more than look at— those one-of-a-kind gifts that an artist painstakingly sewed, stamped, or painted just for your friend or family member to utilize. And just for you, we’ve combed through Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, and the interwebs to find some crafty creators who could be your neighbors.
For this year’s Last Minute Gift Guide, New Times editorial staff is highlighting just a few for your viewing pleasure. Don’t like what you see? There’s more. Way more. Do a Google search. Walk through one of the many downtowns in San Luis Obispo County. Find something truly unique, local, and handcrafted. You’ll be glad you did.
Randy Stromsoe’s studio-workshop looks largely the same as metalsmith shops have for centuries. There are various shaped anvils, hammers, blocks, dapping and punching tools, forms on which to shape metal, a place to anneal, and materials to buff and finish his crafts.
With more than four decades of experience, Stromsoe is a master of designing and creating fine crafts in sterling silver, gold, pewter, copper, and wood. Most pieces are in the Arts and Crafts period style of his mentor, the late Porter Blanchard, but Stromsoe has carried on this ancient art by adding his own unique contemporary twist.
To say he’s busy is an understatement.
“I’m being featured on the PBS Crafts in America TV series representing California Craftsmen on Friday, Dec. 21,” Stromsoe explained. “I’m currently on a loop video at the Clinton Presidential Library—one of six artists chosen to represent American craft artists—as well as having my work displayed as part of the White House Collection of American Craft. I’ll also be featured in an exhibit at LA’s Craft in America Center, representing California artists, which opens this month. In the latest news, we applied—after a 20-year hiatus—to the Smithsonian Craft Show and were accepted. Now what? It’s difficult to get back to Washington, D.C., with a booth (we don’t even own one anymore!) and all our gear and work. We’ve got a couple weeks to make a decision.”
His work has also been featured in The Renwick Gallery MCI Collection and The Oakland Museum Permanent Collection. He’s constantly working on private commissions, though he does have various pieces in stock for immediate purchase.
He and his wife, Lisa, own and manage Stromsoe Studios, tucked in the hills between Cayucos and Cambria, which is only open by appointment.
• Silversmith Randy Stromsoe’s studio in the hills on the North Coast is open by appointment only. Visit stromsoestudios.com for more info or call (805) 237-8632.