A gift guide with local picks and online options from retailers throughout West Texas—from San Angelo over to El Paso.
West Texas is a region so vast and disparate that doing a local gift guide is a bit of a joke. But throughout its wide reaches, from the flat Llano Estacado plains through the deserts on the Rio Grande, the fact remains that this region boasts some fine craftsmen and -women.
Here are some of our picks for crafts, arts, and apparel, inspired by the arid landscape and big skies. Some of these things you can pick up online, others are only available for local purchase. All are good for inspiration for your holiday shopping.
Floral Bow Tie by Rebellious Bowties, Lubbock
Can anything be more sophisticated than a bow tie? Jonathan Gonzalez started Rebellious Bowties in 2017 in downtown Lubbock, and he makes small batches using unique and vintage fabrics. Like this absolutely eye-catching floral print, or dapper checks and stripes, or whimsical designs inspired by everything from Alice in Wonderland, birds of paradise, and lotería cards. With 2020 and 2021 in the rearview mirror, everyone needs an excuse to wear a beautiful bow tie, whether stepping out on the town or just upping our game on Zoom. Available to order on Rebellious Bowties website.
Bookshelf Sculptures by Kegan Hollis from Caliche Co., Amarillo
Caliche is comprised of different parts that come together as a whole: it’s a gallery, a retail space, a record store, and a space for community and mental health services. The cooperative atmosphere of Caliche “is a deliberate effort to promote growth in Amarillo.” Shop art (Lasso Gallery), records and books (Bitter Buffalo Records), jewelry, clothes, and other finds (Odd Objects), or pop in for a music show or just to hang out. Find them at 2311 SW 7th Avenue, Amarillo, TX, 79106, and online.
Roger Allen Pottery from the Chicken Farm Art Center, San Angelo
If you ever find yourself in San Angelo, make a point of stopping at the Chicken Farm Art Center, situated on three acres right in town with an on-site restaurant and bed and breakfast. Ceramicist Roger Allen started CFAC in 1971 and they recently celebrated their 50th anniversary over the Thanksgiving holiday. With up to twenty different working artist studios and two art galleries, you can browse ceramics, weavings, paintings, and more to find the perfect gift for your art-minded friends and family members. Pop in at 2505 Martin Luther King Drive, San Angelo, TX 76903. 325-653-4936. Or browse the online shop.
Leather Handbag by Cassapora Leather, Lubbock
Cassandra Trautman, the artist behind Cassapora, currently resides in one of the live/work studio spaces offered by the Charles Adams Studio Project (CASP), located in the arts district of Lubbock, where she creates gorgeous handbags, earrings, wallets, keychains, and other goods from leather and other recycled and reclaimed materials—like this buffalo handbag featuring upcycled vintage patches. Throughout Cassapora’s store, Texan and Southwestern imagery is employed (think cacti and coyotes) with sometimes wry effect (like King of the Hill earrings) and hyperlocal references (Prairie Dog Town pendants for Lubbock-lovers and locals). Order on Etsy or shop in studio during First Friday Art Trail and other events at CASP, Studio 3, 1010 Mac Davis Lane, Lubbock, TX 79401.
Bio-Knit Tote by Junes, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua
Everyone could use a tote, so why not give a fully biodegradable tote bag made from recycled plastic bottles that also impacts the local community? Junes, based in El Paso and partnered with an all-female sewing coop in Juárez, makes bags that are affordable, sustainable, carbon-neutral (you get a certificate when you order), feminist, and chic. This gift ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Useful? Check. Cute? Check. Saves the environment? Check. Helps women? Check! Available on the Junes website.
“Provencio” Handmade Ankle Boots from Tomasso Arditti, El Paso
A good pair of custom, handmade boots is like a work of art. It’s more than simple footwear, but says something about you: your outlook, your taste, your personal flair. It also might be a dead giveaway that you’re from Texas. We love these stunning ankle boots, made by master boot maker Tomasso Arditti in El Paso, but you can pursue any predilection with custom boots—from classic cowboy to intricate inlays, from alligator to rattlesnake. Get started by visiting the Tomasso Arditti website and calling 915-996-1082. 1201-C East Missouri Avenue, El Paso, TX 79902.
Bottle of Handcrafted Mezcal from Cactus Liquors, Marfa
“Alcohol is the gift of civilization,” says Cactus Liquors in Marfa, riffing on Faulkner, so a bottle of small-batch handcrafted mezcal or añejo tequila is a gift of ultimate refinement and sophistication. While you’re there, pick up a baby barrel cactus or prickly pear, as a cactus is the gift of enduring, uncompromising, lasting love. In our book, at least. Shop in store at 405 South Highland Avenue, Marfa, TX 79843. 432-729-7070. Gawkers only online at the Cactus Liquors site.
Desert Blanket from Garza Marfa
West Texas nights get pretty cold, so this wool and cotton Desert Blanket, designed by Garza Marfa and hand-woven by a fair trade co-op in India, makes for a warm and cozy winter gift that is visually striking. Use it as an accent piece or wrap yourself up with a hot cup of tea and dream of desert vistas. For the whole package, check out their ceramics (we love the cactus plates by artist Mary Aldrich) and their sleek and modern furniture designs. Now if only we could live in the Garza Marfa showroom! Available online. 124 Highland Street. Marfa, TX, 79843. 432-729-1946.