2022 Holiday Wish List

6 Southwest Florida-based Artisans Craft Bespoke Gifts for the Holidays

United States Golf Association-approved glass putters; heirloom-quality furniture, guitars and jewelry; and decorative fishing rods and mementos are fresh, locally crafted presents for family and friends.

BY November 23, 2022
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Sculptural Hand-woven Jewelry

At this point in her career, master goldsmith Cheri Dunnigan, of Cheri Dunnigan Fine Jewelry, doesn’t work based on trends or to appease a client base. Instead, she follows her creative intuition and works with precious metals to create sculptural works. A jewelry designer since she was 15, Cheri ran an atelier in Massachusetts before migrating to Naples, where she sold her work at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples for seven years. Now, she crafts heirloom-worthy collections that nod to her Armenian heritage and interest in textile arts. The Renaissance and Elizabethan ages inspired her new, woven designs, made of strands of sterling silver and 18-karat gold. Using techniques gleaned from knitting and crocheting, Cheri creates intricate wearable art, embellished with saltwater and freshwater pearls. “I like that they have that gemlike quality without using gemstones or diamonds,” she says. “The way the light reflects off the metal becomes an important part of the design.” Cheri is represented by METHOD & CONCEPT in Naples. methodandconcept.com

Sculptural Hand-woven Jewelry
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)


Heirloom Furniture

Punta Gorda-based Tanner J. Stevens sustainably harvests trees locally and from central California for his hardwood furnishings, done under his Peace River Woodworks moniker. From his shop along the banks of the Peace River, Tanner works mostly with maple and walnut to craft pieces, like his live-edge tables, which often feature food-grade epoxy inlays that recall Southwest Florida’s flowing waterways. He can add standout details to the designs, like gold flakes, pinecones, coffee beans or bullet casings. He works with California-based Flowyline Design for the sculptural, powder-coated legs that ground his coffee and dining tables. The pieces are made to last, so you can pass them down for generations. Tanner’s turnaround for most pieces is about four to eight weeks, and he offers free local delivery. 805-801-0128

Heirloom Furniture Tanner Stevens woodwork
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)


Glass Putters 

Bonita Springs-based Ray Mathews, Jr., of Art Glass by Mathews, crafts his putters with durable borosilicate glass, so they are not only fanciful but functional too, conforming to all United States Golf Association-mandated specs. Ray, a longtime glass artist, got the idea to make putters from his father, former Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Mathews. “Too bad you can’t make golf clubs out of glass,” his golfer father mused. Within days, Ray Jr. created the world’s first patented GlassPutter, drawing inspiration from the paperweights he’d long crafted. “The paperweight was like a mallet,” he says. “I just had to figure out how to insert the putter shaft.” Working out of his Naples studio, Ray rolls clear glass with colored chips, which are melted and hand-dropped into a mold for a smooth shape.. No two are the same. Delivery takes two-to-six weeks. glassputter.com

Glass golf putters
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)


Wooden Electric Guitars

Musicians swoon for the handcrafted electric guitars Naples’ Tyler MacDonald builds from sustainably sourced wood. A Marco Island native, the luthier hand-selects lumber with lots of natural striation to craft guitars that clearly reflect their source material. He’s meticulous throughout the process, carving the neck with rasps and files, and running truss and carbon fiber rods through the interior for a guitar that essentially “never goes out of tune,” he says. Each collection takes on a fresh life, with carved embellishments and prismatic shell inlays throughout the body and gold accents on the knobs and hardware. tylermac.com

Handcrafted wooden guitars
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)


Modern Trophies

For a fishing memento that doesn’t require taxidermy, look to Fort Myers artist Samantha “Mokie” Hansen. The Mokie Burns founder used to be a designer at White House | Black Market until she discovered the art of pyrography, Greek for “writing with fire,” and traded her sewing machine for a soldering iron. A lifelong fisher, Samantha—who plans to open a Fort Myers shop early next year—burns nature scenes onto maple, poplar and olive planks. The originals become prints for naturalist totes, phone cases, bottle openers and decals. Her pièce de résistance: Mokie’s modern take on trophy mounts, with detailed replicas of your prized catches mounted on solid wood frames. “I’m a lady angler, I pull inspiration from myself and my excursions,” she says. mokieburns.com

Mokie Pyrography
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)


Last-forever Fishing Rods

After breaking a $300 fishing rod more than a decade ago, Matt Sewell started crafting rods that stand the test of time. Through Sewell Rods, the Fort Myers-born hobby fisherman fashions fly, casting, spinning, trolling and kite rods, with mother-of-pearl or abalone inlays (get a suite with a bent-butt grouper stick, spiral-wrapped bottom jigging pole and a super-light carbon spinning rod to cover all your bases). Matt may spend up to a month talking to an angler to craft their ideal rod, with details like titanium guides and sturdy graphite seats, and his illustrious clientele includes country stars Luke Bryan and Brett Eldridge. Local anglers have hooked major catches on Sewell rods, too: One caught a 700-plus-pound marlin to win the Blue Marlin Grand Championship; another reeled a 124.18 record-sized grouper. “My niche is building rods for customers who fish for a living,” he says. “[I make] stuff that they can’t just buy.” 239-560-8252

Fishing rods
(Photo by Anna Nguyen)

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