Calaveras Artists Craft Perfect Holiday Gifts

Calaveras artists create unique art perfect for the discerning holiday shopper looking for hand-crafted, unique pieces that will be cherished for years. Read on for more information on what’s being created locally.


Calaveras Artists: Steven Brownell | Jason B Smith
Steven Brownell | Jason B Smith

In a sunny valley near Mountain Ranch, Steven Brownell is standing in the open doorway of his garage, sipping coffee from one of his signature mugs. Behind him, several shelves of ceramic art sit in various stages of completion. A ceramics class at Calaveras High School introduced Brownell to the craft, and he would go on to earn his MFA in ceramic arts from San Francisco State.

In 2012, he decided to return to his childhood home in Mountain Ranch to commit himself full time to making his work. An ongoing relationship with the Calaveras Arts Council has helped introduce a larger audience to his products, which are on par with anything you might find from a high-end retailer.

Calaveras Artists: Steven Brownell | Jason B Smith
Steven Brownell, Brownell Ceramics | Jason B Smith

As Steven explores his vision with new directions in ceramic vessels, the mugs, demitasses and vases are hot items that he promotes through his popular Brownell Ceramics Instagram feed, the Calaveras Arts Council gallery and at events in the Bay Area. You can also visit the Brownell Ceramics website as you go looking for the perfect porcelain gift this season.

Looking for lodging nearby? Find lodging near Mountain Ranch here.


Calaveras Artists: Staria Stine | Jason B Smith
Staria Stine | Photo by Jason B Smith
Staria Stine trucker cap
Hand painted trucker cap by Staria Stine

After a decade in academia; ceramic and mixed media artist Staria Stine began to crave a lifestyle less urban, but more connected to the process of making things. “I would go crazy if I couldn’t make,” Stine says, “I don’t idle well and I don’t know what I would do with myself otherwise.” The opportunity for a reinvention came when a childhood friend introduced her to Calaveras County.

A major theme in her work is addressing the relationship between environment and industry, and this region with its complicated history of both reverence for nature and heavy handed treatment of the natural world has proved a fertile ground for Stine’s creative process. She finds inspiration not only within the small details of the geological and biological diversity of the area, but also loves to incorporate the metallic elements of industry into her work.

Known for her popular tiles, Dia de los Muertos calaveritas, and inspiring hand-painted trucker  hats; Stine has recently launched a line of hand-painted upcycled children’s jackets. Looking to find her work hidden throughout Calaveras? Visit Staria Stine’s website to shop on line, or visit in person, but visit soon, her one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces have been flying off the shelves.

FInd Staria Stine’s:

  • Dia de los Muertos calaveritas at Allegorie or on Staria Stine’s website.
  • Hand-painted trucker hats available on her site or in person at SNAC in Arnold and Murphys,
  • Upcycled, hand-painted children’s jackets found at Murphys children’s consignment and artisan boutique My Little Apple.
Calaveras Artists: Staria Stine | Jason B Smith
Staria Stine | Jason B Smith


Calaveras artists: Dave Christian | Jason B Smith
Dave Christian | Jason B Smith
Dave Christian poster
Dave Christian’s Big Trees poster

Dave was on a trip through Europe when he was inspired by a series of vintage travel posters. The artists’ interpretation of the landscape blended with period typography, all hemmed inside a well-balanced rectangle was something that captivated Dave Christian. It was as much for the sense of place as it was for the hand drawn lettering that advertised the location – he’d been passionate about typography and calligraphy ever sense he was a child.

His next destination was Patagonia, and the Torres del Paine national park inspired his first attempt at emulating the travel painting. Once home in Calaveras County, friends recommended he do similar paintings of Yosemite and the Sierra, and at the 2012 Murphys Irish Day he took a risk and set up a vendor booth. One sold, then another, and he was hooked.

Christian and his wife now spend part of their year traveling to art shows around the West, selling the popular travel posters, and you can also find the work anytime online, or in select locations around the county, such as the Big Trees Visitor Center.


Dave Christian: Bear Valley Mountain
Dave Christian’s Bear Valley poster


Calaveras County has many creative makers that call this place home – Check out some of these other places to find great locally made art and functional craft. Some of those listed below create items that could be listed under several categories, so we put them in their primary category:

Allegorie  |  Art on Main | Galerie Copper  |  Petroglyphe Gallery  |  Prestidge Gallery |  The Gallery

Moon Alley Candle Shop

Quyle Kilns | Poulson Studios & Gallery

Firefall Jewelers | Goldrush OriginalsIndependent Mercantile

CR Tallow |  Hoof n Boots

California Cashmere Company  | RanchoNC Alpacas Farm Store and Art Studio