2016-12-08 / Front Page

All Leelanau

Please choose Leelanau for your holiday gifts. Here are some ideas.
Hubbell By Amy and Burgess Brandt Patti


SANTA’S HELPER, Sandy Hoxsie of Antler Ridge Farm in Williamsburg, left, showed off Santa’s reindeer “Dancer” to kids and families at an “Antlers and Elves” event Sunday afternoon behind the Enerdyne and Brain Storm! stores in downtown Suttons Bay. More on Christmas events in Leelanau can be found throughout this edition. 
— Photo by Eric Carlson SANTA’S HELPER, Sandy Hoxsie of Antler Ridge Farm in Williamsburg, left, showed off Santa’s reindeer “Dancer” to kids and families at an “Antlers and Elves” event Sunday afternoon behind the Enerdyne and Brain Storm! stores in downtown Suttons Bay. More on Christmas events in Leelanau can be found throughout this edition. — Photo by Eric Carlson The Leelanau Peninsula has been the “land of delight” for generations.

But this time of year it can be your North Pole — a source for Christmas gifts that are uniquely Leelanau.

Regardless of what you call the Peninsula, it offers plenty of local gifts — both sentimental and sensory — sure to take their beneficiaries to a comfortable place.

We’ve scanned across the Leelanau looking for gifts that say or were made in Leelanau. Following are seven. Let us know if you have others.

Tile themes


LEELANAU TILE artist Leif Spörck shows off his No. 1 bestselling tile, the trillium. Tiles that are all Leelanau can be found at Spörck Tileart in Fishtown and on M-204 on the curve in Suttons Bay. LEELANAU TILE artist Leif Spörck shows off his No. 1 bestselling tile, the trillium. Tiles that are all Leelanau can be found at Spörck Tileart in Fishtown and on M-204 on the curve in Suttons Bay. Step into Leif Spörck’s studio and you’ll see hundreds of tiles in various stages of completion, from squares of clay ready to be carved to racks with trays of finished tiles ready to be shipped to customers or sold at one of two Spörck Tileart locations. They are found at his studio on M-204 just west of Suttons Bay and in Fishtown.

Spörck estimates that he has created more than 600 designs since starting his business in 2001. Nearly every tile in his inventory is unique to Leelanau or Michigan, though some are custom made for people — like the tiles he recently made of a customer’s two dogs, and another depicting a couple’s wedding date.

COOKIE THATCHER’S ‘lake effect’ lavender soap, with fir and lime, evokes memories of a spring walk on the beach.COOKIE THATCHER’S ‘lake effect’ lavender soap, with fir and lime, evokes memories of a spring walk on the beach.
His all-time best-selling tile is the trillium, a little green beauty that has been around for about 16 years. Another popular tile is one that depicts white pines at Good Harbor and another of the state of Michigan.

Each tile is made by hand. While many of them are pressed from ceramic molds Spörck has made of his best designs through the years, creating a tile is still a labor-intensive process that includes hand-glazing each one.

“I can spend all day on a tile if it’s really detailed,” Spörck said.

While he recently shipped a tile to a customer in Austria who had seen his work at a local art fair, most of them are sold to Leelanau’s summer residents and visitors. They’re also sold around the state at the more than 40 art fairs Spörck attended this summer from Detroit to Marquette.

Spörck’s work can be seen at www.Sporcktileart.com.

Christmas wines

Leelanau County has been called the Napa Valley of the Midwest. The 680 acres of wine grapes grown in the county represent 25 percent of the state’s total acreage.

So why not shop for a little bit of Leelanau in a glass?

Award-winning wines in white, red, rose and sparkling wines as well are produced by Leelanau’s 24 different wineries. Each winery has its distinct personality and individual wine-making licenses, which may or may not allow product to be shipped.

Given this, the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, has another suggestion.

“Give the gift of ‘experience’ by buying event certificates,” said trail spokesman Lorri Hathaway. “We have 10 different wine events and the certificates can be used for any of those.”

Certificates, available for $40 each, are good for admittance to any of the Trail’s events. They include Sips & Soups (January); Taste the Passion (February); Small Plates (April and August); Sip & Savor (May); Harvest Stompede (September); The Hunt for the Reds of October (October) and Toast the Season (November).

A “Year of Events along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail,” valued at $285 per person, is available for $150.

“They all have food pairings, so you get to enjoy the flavors of Leelanau foods and wines,” Hathaway said.

A full list of wineries and information about the gift certificates is available at www.lpwines.com.

Leelanau Scents

It is said that smell evokes memories. If that’s the case, there’s one gift sure to remind anyone on your list of life Up North — handcrafted soap from Bay Lavender Trading Company of Glen Arbor.

Soapmaker and business owner Cookie Thatcher started to experiment with soap-making when she discovered she was allergic to man-made fragrances. It was then that she discovered the therapeutic properties of lavender.

Thatcher uses lavender and other natural scents such as fir and lime to create soaps sold in beautiful hand-cut bars or in liquid form. The “lake effect,” a turquoise and white bar, is among Thatcher’s most popular items.

“It reminds you of a spring walk on the beach,” Thatcher said. “The scent of lavender, lime and fir are like a fresh clean breeze off the lake.”

Other popular soaps include her Skinny Dip Cake Slice scented with grapefruit, lavender and lemon and — for the man on your gift list — the Bullseye Hand Cut bar that smells of anise, West Indian bay and black pepper.

Bath time is often the only time when a person can be completely alone. It’s also a good time to relax.

“When you unwrap the soap it makes the room smell wonderful and when the water hits the bar it takes you back…,” she said. “You’ll want to use the bar all the way to the sweet end.”

Her creations are sold from her shop, located at 5777 S Lake St, in Glen Arbor or online at www.baylavender.com.

Leelanau jewels

Liz Saile learned the jewelry-making craft from her father William F. Martinek in the family jewelry store.

Saile spent 27 years working at the former Martinek Jewelers in Traverse City, but now spends her time making and selling her unique, one-of-a-kind pieces at three stores located in Leelanau County.

L. Saile Designer Jewelry is located in downtown Cedar, but her jewelry can also be seen at the Ruth Conklin Gallery in Glen Arbor and at the Catbird Seat in Leland. Pieces can also be seen on Saile’s Facebook page.

Saile’s designs are casual, meant for the relaxed, up north style of living.

“We live in our blue jeans up here and if it doesn’t go with your blue jeans...” Saile said.

She works mostly with gems and minerals that are native to Michigan, like the Petoskey stone, Leland blue and Thompsonite, which is found in the Upper Peninsula. Some stones she buys, like the cache of Thompsonite she found at an estate sale, but most — about 95 percent — are gathered along Leelanau’s beaches.

“Diamonds are the most fun to sell, but I’m having fun finding my own Petoskeys and Leland blues,” Saile said.

Saile also uses cultured, freshwater pearls of all shapes and colors to set off the beauty of the stones.

She also does engraving and minor jewelry repairs, including pearl and bead restringing.

Books, calendars

Nothing says “Leelanau” quite like a collection of Ken Scott photographs, and the best of the best are compiled every year into a calendar sold by the Leelanau Enterprise.

The photographs in the calendar are chosen from those that run every week on the last page of section one, also known as the ‘back pages.’

The calendar is $15, and this year about 750 have been printed up.

Also being sold is a coffee table book made up of several of Scott’s well-loved photos, “The Back Pages of Leelanau County.”

Published in July 2015, the book contains every Ken Scott photograph ever published on the back page of the weekly newspaper up to that point — more than a decade of the county’s most iconic places.

It also includes essays by Susan Ager, the award-winning former Detroit Free Press columnist and National Geographic writer, and by Alan Campbell, co-publisher of the Enterprise.

The cost is $40. Copies autographed by Scott are also available for the same price.

Or you can combine the gifts. The calendar and hard-cover book are sold as a package for $50 by the Enterprise.

“It’s a great gift to highlight the beauty of our area,” said Ken Lorincz, print manager at the Enterprise. “It shows off the different seasons and the picturesque landscape and it’s a great way to remind everyone who can’t spend the whole year here what they’re missing.”

The calendar and book are available at the Enterprise, which will ship to any location. Both can also be purchased at Scott’s website at www.kenscottphotography.com.

Leather works

Ted Gilmer has been a northern Michigan leather craftsman for the past 40 years. Gilmer lives in Kasson Township and creates nature-inspired functional art.

“I use natural stones and wood to embellish my work,” he said. “I won’t tell you where I get them. That’s like revealing your secret mushroom spot. But I will say they are stones that you can find walking anywhere along Lake Michigan.”

His products include purses, tote bags, luggage, laptop/tablet covers, envelopes and leather-bound journals and sketch pads. Or you can ask him to incorporate your vision of Leelanau into a leather gift.

The smell of his leather creations, reminiscent of days gone by, appeal to lovers of Americana as well as shoppers abroad.

“I ship around the world including Japan and parts of Europe,” he said. “They like my stuff because it looks ‘American.’”

Gilmer travels to large craft shows throughout the country. But always makes time for the Empire Artisan Craft Fair held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Items can be purchased through his website, leelanautradingco.com or at the Secret Garden in Empire or at Great Goods in Suttons Bay.

All about Christmas

For some Leelanau love on your Christmas tree, don’t miss the Country Christmas store on M-72, where about half of the inventory is handmade by American artists — many of them from Leelanau and from store owners Bill and Lee Ann Smith, who have been running the store for 33 years.

“We really specialize in handmade things, local things,” said Bill Smith. “Customers seem to prefer homemade items.”

The handmade American items are easily identified by shoppers as they all carry a red tag.

And it’s all Christmas, all the time in the store, where they biggest sellers are the pieces of driftwood painted up as Santas that can be hung on the tree. Each one is different and unique and made by the Smiths.

Ornaments made of Petoskey stones, needlepoint and blown glass can also be found, as well as a wall of handmade Santas, including the collection that have been poured from chalk molds and hand-painted by the Smith’s.

The store is in full swing starting in November and is open seven days a week — from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

But don’t expect to hit the after-Christmas sales, as the store closes on Christmas Eve and doesn’t open until spring.

And while the store has a website at www.countrychristmastc.com, nothing is sold on the site. That’s because each item is so unique that the ornament or Santa that arrives at your door might not look like the picture, Lee Ann Smith said.

Editor’s note: Please pass on your all-Leelanau gift suggestions to us. Email Amy@leelanaunews.

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