A small storefront in the sleepy coastal village of Bodega houses a treasure-trove of hand-made delights. From watercolors to glass jewelry, footwear to pottery, scarves to baskets, and more, the Artisan's Co-Op showcases the diverse work of as many as 50 local artists and artisans.
"It's a unique combination of things. There's a lot to see in a little place," said Martha Cant, who has been a member of the co-op since its founding nearly 20 years ago. "It's all unique. Everything is individually designed."
Wander the store and you'll find Cant's handspun yarn in many fibers, both undyed and dyed, from her own sheep. She also takes special orders for yarn or woven items.
The total number of artists participating in the co-op varies, but currently there are about 50. Most are consignment members, meaning they pay the shop a percentage of any of their work that sells. About a dozen are full members who, instead of paying a percentage, volunteer their time to run the store.
Which means any time you drop by the Artisan's Co-Op (it's open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) you'll be greeted by one of the artists whose work is on display. If things are a bit slow, chances are that artist or artisan may be working on a project while waiting for customers.
And the members do artist demonstrations on the first Saturday of each month. If the weather permits, you'll find someone under a big umbrella out front, possibly operating a pottery or spinning wheel, weaving a basket, or demonstrating shoemaking tools or watercolor techniques.
"Whatever our particular art is, we try to share that," said Angél Fiorito-Leddy, owner of WindWalker handmade footwear. "We're a dedicated group of local artists who have this vision to continue to offer handmade art."
The items for sale in the shop change fairly frequently, as member artists bring in new work, and the co-op is always looking for new members, to keep things fresh. However, everything in the shop must be handmade, and of the finest quality.
"We don't accept everything. It has to be a good match," Fiorito-Leddy explained.
The co-op is just one of many fun places to explore in Bodega (pop. 220), a scattering of houses and businesses nestled in the gentle hills just four miles inland from the coast. You can't miss the tall white spire of the St. Teresa of Avila Church, made famous by a 1953 Ansel Adams photograph and later glimpsed briefly in the 1963 thriller, "The Birds," by suspense film master Alfred Hitchcock. Just up Bodega Lane you'll find the old Potter School House (now a private residence) that was also featured in "The Birds."
The Bodega Country Store carries a unique selection of "Birds" theme souvenirs and Hitchcock memorabilia, as well as organic groceries and take-out items. The Casino Bar & Grill provides a local gathering place for a drink, a bite to eat, or a round of pool (and despite the name, there is no gambling). Colleen's Coffee Shop offers organic coffee and espresso drinks, breakfast sandwiches, daily lunch specials, hand-scooped milkshakes, and blended drinks.
Hamilton Trading Company (housed in a former stable) features a wide variety of antiques and collectibles, including tools, books, art, swords, and guns. The Bodega Landmark Studio Collection represents more than 25 established and emerging regional artists, with hundreds of one-of-a-kind pieces. Other shops in Bodega include Sea Gull Antiques Gifts and Collectibles and Northern Light Surf Shop.
Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.