Kentucky-made treasures to tuck beneath the tree
Here’s something to add to your gift tags this year: Made in Kentucky. These three words mean this is something extra special, something to be treasured. Meet three artisan entrepreneurs crafting and curating in the Bluegrass state.
Gifts to enchant
Conjure up ye olde apothecary like those mysterious, potion-filled shops from medieval times, give it a Kentucky twist and you’ve got what surely is one of the state’s most enticing and original shops: Wicked Obscura.
The Covington-based business is all about creating unique gift sets, bath and body and skin care goodies, crystal carry pouches, hand-poured soy candles scattered with herbs and stones, smudge sticks and spray, jewelry and more. All focus on encouraging self-love and positivity; and the rejuvenation of spirit, mind and body.
Product names, like Little Briar Rose Sleep Lovers Gift Set, Bathory’s Bliss Milk Bath and Kiss of Athena European Lime Spa Salt Bar, are pulled from Greek mythology, fantasy, angel lore and Native American and spiritual influences.
“We hope our products bring a little light, peace and balance,” says co-owner Julie Spelling, whose daughter Kayla Spelling originated the brand in the summer of 2019.
New products, like holiday blessing bulbs, are introduced monthly, with the four-woman team searching the world for ingredients: cloudberry oil from Scandinavia, heather for Scottish-themed candles and Belgium beer for beer soap.
Kentucky Proud candles
Cookies for Santa. Under the mistletoe. Winter wonderland. Not only does Jennifer Huther evoke scenes of Christmas past with the holly-jolly names of her Kentucky Girl Candles, this Kentucky Proud member captures the scents: iced Christmas cookies, holiday mistletoe, English holly, fir, sandalwood, frosted musk, frosty mint, fir and raspberry. Mmm.
And what does Huther’s Christmas in Kentucky candle smell like? Pine, orange, cranberry and spice—what the candlemaker proclaims the perfect Christmas scent.
Huther’s all-natural, soy-based candles in jars burn cleanly and slowly.
“They will be as strong-scented the first day you bought it as the last day you burn it,” says the Meade County RECC consumer-member.
Huther founded her Vine Grove business in 2019 with a goal of bringing, in Christmas parlance, joy to the world. The candles are not simply candles, but experiences.
“Christmastime is full of memories and merriment,” she says. “I try and offer a variety of scents that will make all occasions during the holidays extra special.”
A Kentucky Gepetto
“I make toys,” says woodcarver Curran Copeland of Cadiz, a consumer-member of Pennyrile RECC. “It is what I do and who I am.”
The Kentucky Crafted Market Certified-toymaker and South Arts member has been making historic toys since 1962: trucks and tractors, galloping horses, clacker games, box drums, airplanes, whirligigs and more.
“I have done other things in life,” Copeland says. “I went to college to study industrial arts, served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War in Germany—where I met a bunch of toymakers—and worked as an emergency manager for years until my wife gave me a choice: the job or her.
“I chose her and started making toys full time.”
That was in 1998, but Copeland had already been selling his wood-carved creations since 1995, under the name of Sweet Sawdust. His wife, Linda, is general manager and handles the bookkeeping and quality control. Over the past 25 years he has sold thousands upon thousands of the toys, including close to 700 of his drums and well over a thousand of his log truck design.
Copeland in Toyland
Woodcarver Curran Copeland is profiled in this Bluegrass and Backroads video produced by the Kentucky Farm Bureau.
In this video, Copeland shows how to make a dancing man toy and talks about its history.
The spinning disc, also called button on a string, is one of the oldest toys. Copeland demonstrates.