Handmade holiday: 3 Isabella County artists with handmade artisan gifts

Handmade by someone in your community - whether it’s carved, sculpted, painted, or woven - when it comes to artisan gifts there is something for even the most difficult person to shop for.

The holiday season is fast approaching and artisan gifts are a great way to check off everyone on your shopping list while also supporting local businesses. Here are a few local creators to consider this year when doing your holiday shopping.

A kids craft for a beaded pumpkin is part of Mama Bair Art's Take & Make offerings.

Self-taught artist Megan Bair created Mama Bair Art in 2017 shortly after the birth of her son. "I was on maternity leave with our son in 2017, and I realized that I really can’t sit still that long," says Bair. "I love being social and offered a local pottery business my skills in teaching painting classes. The owner, Michelle at The Painted Turtle, was thrilled and we’ve been partners ever since! Working with her gave me the confidence to try it in my own."Mama Bair Art — Megan Bair

Mt. Pleasant resident Megan Bair created Mama Bair Art in 2017. The self-taught artist is a mother of two whose work is distinctively vibrant and colorful. She primarily uses acrylic paint on canvas, but experiments frequently with other mediums.

“I like to think I’m a pretty colorful, happy, and bright person,” says Bair. “Using these bright fun colors in all kinds of styles is really my thing. I want my art to brighten the room and make people smile when they look at it.”

Bair recently made modifications to Mama Bair Art as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now offers Take & Make sets, Wine & Paint Parties via Zoom, and pre-recorded tutorials.

Bair’s art is available for purchase at MI Rock Stop Gifts & More in Clare. For more options, visit facebook.com/mamabairart or visit mamabairart.com.

Inspired by her faith, many of artist Rebecca Hamilton's mixed media pieces are created using Bible of hymnal paper.

Oh My Soul Art — Rebecca Hamilton

Lake Isabella resident Rebecca Hamilton began creating art three years ago. She discovered her knack for it while in recovery following a struggle weaning off of an antidepressant her doctor prescribed 16 years earlier when her daughter was born.

Oh My Soul Art creator Rebecca Hamilton began making art three years ago while she was in recovery after difficulties weaning off an antidepressant that lead her to developing serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal if left untreated. "When I came home from that hospital stay, I couldn't function," says Hamilton. "I had to constantly always be doing something and if I wasn't focused on something, then I was in other places.""I did about 25 pieces of art in just a couple months," she says. "I felt as though God was directing me, almost like this is my calling, you're supposed to help others and this is a way to do it."

Much of Hamilton’s artwork is mixed media, created using Bible of hymnal paper and often accompanying psalms or emphasizing words.

“A lot of these words that you see are words that I either meditated on, or really focused on, when I was in recovery,” says Hamilton. “I read the Bible a lot and these hymnals a lot of them stuck out to me.”

Hamilton, who works as the Children’s Director at the First Church of Christ in Mt. Pleasant, says that her art is inspired by her faith and desire to bring awareness to mental health issues.

“Every time I do a class or sell a piece of art, I always try to raise awareness for mental health and provide some resources,” says Hamilton. “Yes, I love the art, it's fun to do and it inspires people, but they might have a niece, a sister, themselves, or a spouse that is struggling and that just might just be the answer to their prayers.”

To see more of her work, visit Oh My Soul Art at facebook.com/reb.hamilton.

Kim Patishnock's "littles" creations are all knit by hand using sock needles. "They take a good long time," says Patishnock. “Sock needles are about a third of the diameter of the finest pen you have, it's really teeny.”
Littles — Kim Patishnock

Mt. Pleasant artist Kim Patishnock’s creations are colorful, cheerful, and, frequently, little.

Patishnock works for an interior design company and does graphic design on the side, but says any spare time is filled with an artistic endeavor.

Mt. Pleasant resident and artist Kim Patishnock works for an interior design company and also does graphic design on the side.“I do a little bit of mask-making, quite a bit of drawing and painting, and lots of little craft work,” says Patishnock. “It's nice to have a hobby that you can have something to show after a long day of work, and they make great gifts.”

Seven years ago when her great-grandmother died, Patishnock says she found sock needles among her relative’s belongings. She discovered that she could do small-scale knitting and began making what she calls “littles,” miniature and colorful creations made from embroidery floss.

“I just love that you can take a little with you anywhere and have it be a real feature,” says Patishnock. “It's quite hard to drag my watercolors everywhere. It's a great thing to do in your spare time and I love that you can always come up with something new.”

Patishnock’s creations are available at Art Reach of Mid Michigan. To see more of her work or to commission a project, she can be reached at kim@patishnock.com.


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Read more articles by Liz Fredendall.

Liz Fredendall is a photojournalist and communications professional with experience working with nonprofits. In addition to her work with Epicenter, Liz manages communications for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, runs her own photography business, and writes for several publications. During her free time, Liz enjoys reading and exploring with her husband Erick and their Corgi, Nori. Contact editor@epicentermtpleasant.com or follow her on social media @lizfredendallphoto.