The Town Where Time Stands Still
Made by using techniques that have been passed down for generations, in a town that prides itself on providing a slice of the past, you'll be hard-pressed to find items more unique than these.
Silver Dollar City (www.silverdollarcity.com, 11 miles from Branson), a historical theme park tucked away in the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri, is a haven for the handmade. In addition to shows, rides and attractions, this little town boasts more than 60 unique shops where artisans keep old-time traditions alive. At Silver Dollar City, you'll take a trip into the past, wandering among blacksmiths forging pieces of metal, pottery makers spinning their wheels and dozens of other craftspeople demonstrating the skills they've spent decades working to perfect, using techniques gleaned from generations gone by.
Master Craftsman Becca Travis Wagon Wheel Rug, $65
Forget the couch. This hand-woven, cotton rug — which is just as soft as it is beautiful — will make you want to forgo seating for a sweet spot on the floor. Becca Travis uses a loom and a wagon wheel weaving technique to fashion her famous rugs, a practice dating back to a time when wagons were the main mode of transportation and women used spare wagon wheels to craft rugs from scrap materials while on the road.
VALLEY ROAD WOODCARVERS
Master Craftsman Pam Gresham Carousel Rocking Horse, $8,000+ Pam Gresham will bring back your nostalgia for the simpler days.
Drawing from childhood dreams to create her show-stopping carousel rockers, Gresham carves intricate designs with a short-knife blade adding vibrant oil paints to bring out beautiful grain patterns.
Master Craftsman Vada Swearingen Explorer Hat, $50
Modern-day city slickers may never have an occasion to wear Swearingen's handcrafted, red and black chinks, but they'll be sure to make one in order to be able to rock one of her equally famous leather hats. What makes these hats so special is that she uses special leather tools and stitching techniques that she learned as a child to put her individual mark on each custom leather item.
Master Craftsman Jeff Walker Tall Vase, $196
Walker throws unformed balls of clay onto an old-fashioned potter's wheel and stretches, pulls and shapes each piece by hand for hours, until it's just right. His shop offers oodles of one-of-a-kind decorative items in vivid colors like the fiery red one pictured, but for the more sensible rather than decoratively inclined, there are also plenty of pretty, practical pieces, that might just inspire you to dust off a cookbook or even try one of your grandma's recipes to show 'em off.
HAZEL'S BLOWN GLASS FACTORY
Master Craftsman Todd Nelson Floppy Bowl, $180
This cobalt-blue number, featuring a modern, bright orange pattern, is one of the hundreds of new designs available at Todd Nelson's shop this summer. Nelson heats bars of glass in a 2,400-degree furnace and then works quickly to mold them into his stunning creations. The certified master potter says his favorite piece is always his next one, and his prolificacy proves this sentiment. 'Tis not the season yet, but his Christmas ornaments are a year-round favorite among collectors.