Celebrating Our Salish Sea Island Makers
A haven for artists, the islands dotting the Salish Sea boast otherworldly beauty, endless inspiration, and frequent wildlife sightings. So, it’s no surprise that a large handful of Made In Washington Makers ascribe to the island life.
In this blog, we’ll pop around the Sound, explore the Salish Sea, and celebrate the Makers who call the islands home. Steep a steaming cup of your favorite tea (might we suggest something from Inspired Earth Botanicals in Briggs Shore’s Blue Sea Mug? More on both below) and settle in for the trip of a lifetime—one that brings with it memorable stories and heartstring-tugging souvenirs.
But first, what is the Salish Sea and where is it located?
Spanning the U.S. and Canada borders, the Salish Sea is a marine ecosystem that includes the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and the San Juan Islands. The name was coined in 1989 by Bert Webber (1921-2006, a professor emeritus from Huxley College at Western Washington University in Bellingham) to reflect the entire cross-border biosphere. The name also celebrates the Coast Salish people who have lived amongst its waters and islands for millennia.
Bursting with rich cultural history, spectacular beauty, and biologically diverse marine waters, the Salish Sea is one of the many places in the world that has to be experienced to be fully felt. Our island Makers get to experience it every day, and their integration of terroir into their art is showcased in every product they create.
Made In Washington’s Island Artists and Makers
Anacortes, Fidalgo Island
The launching point for millions of trips to the San Juan Islands every year, Anacortes is a popular home base for fishermen, including the man behind SeaBear Smokehouse. What started as a backyard smokehouse that smoked salmon for local taverns has become a local institution. Started in 1957 as Specialty Seafoods, SeaBear’s founder, Tom Savidge, invented the company’s famous Gold Seal pouch. He used this pouch to vacuum seal his fish, cooking it in its own natural juices. That brilliant process has led to popular products like the Pacific Northwest Icons Smoked Salmon Gift Box, One Pound Smoked Wild King Salmon, and Sasquatch Approved Smoked Salmon, which are all moist, flaky, and unlike any other smoked salmon in the world.
Coupeville, Whidbey Island
Briggs Shore moved to Whidbey Island (about thirty miles north of Seattle and known as Puget Sound's largest artist colony) from Iowa in 2016. She opened her eponymous ceramics studio in Coupeville in 2020. Like many of our Makers who opened shops during the pandemic (Colina Bruce of Noir Luxe, Kevin Cummings and Ryan Berry of Murder Hornet Hot Sauce, and Quincy and Whitni Henry of Campfire Coffee, to name a few), Briggs said, at first glance, “The timing couldn't have been worse.” Now three years in, she doesn't know what she would have done without her little shop, the perfect space to make and sell her work. That work includes what she likes to call “The Goldilocks of mugs,” a hand-thrown porcelain Blue Sea Mug, inspired by Midcentury Modern, Scandinavian, and Contemporary West Coast styles, that is not too big, not too small, and the ideal vessel for your next warm mug of coffee or tea.
An independent nonprofit that supports highly trained volunteers who do education, outreach, citizen science, and stewardship to sustain a healthy Puget Sound environment, Sound Water Stewards has active chapters on both Whidbey Island and Camano Island. Their partnerships include researchers, governments, universities, state and local parks, and other nonprofit organizations that focus on work in the Salish Sea. Their guide, Getting To The Water's Edge, is the resource for anyone interested in shoreline access and facilities, parks, marine life, stewardship, and the natural history of Island County, Washington.
Langley, Whidbey Island
Veritable sculpted and cast glass art experts, Robert Adamson and Janis Swalwell have been designing and making hand-blown decorative pieces for upward of fifty years. Their business, Island Art Glass, started in Seattle and moved to their 16-acre farm on Whidbey Island in 1995 when they repurposed old barns into new glass studios (how cool is that?!). We carry a variety of Island Art Glass’s outdoor bird baths, which add the perfect artistic element to any yard, as well as a beautiful place for your favorite winged fowl to take a breather and a sip.
Small-batch, natural, handcrafted, and non-GMO, Walden Lane Gourmet’s products are all full of special touches. Show off at your next dinner party by teaching your guests how you stack their bottles of Mandarin & Fig Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Chile & Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil when you’re done dressing salads. Or, host the perfect warm-weather grilling session with Walden’s Double Bluff BBQ Blend. Whatever you cook, we know you’ll be tapping into your inner culinarian with Walden Lane Gourmet.
Deer Harbor, Orcas Island
Born in Brooklyn and living on Orcas Island since 1998, Local Goods’s owner Rob Kirby worked in food service nearly all his life. By the time he landed on Orcas Island (the largest of the San Juan Islands and not actually named after the majestic sea creatures often seen in pods around its edges), friends and family members had been asking for his signature Riesling-Basil salad dressing for a while. Requests for other recipes and sauces led to the opening of Local Goods, which is now well-known for its organic, shade-grown coffee and a variety of small-batch artisan food products that feature local and regionally-sourced ingredients. Our picks? Rob and team’s Pappardelle Pasta, Pacific Northwest Spice Rub, Orcas Chili Sauce, and Kale Goddess Salad Dressing.
Eastsound, Orcas Island
Another East Coast transplant, Girl Meets Dirt’s Audra Lawlor walked away from a successful Wall Street career and convenient city life with her husband Gerry and their two dogs to head West. They landed on Orcas Island, where Auda noticed the fruit from their heirloom orchards wasn’t being used. She started making jams and preserves, and before long, Girl Meets Dirt was born. Use her Mini Shrub 4 Pack to dress up your cocktails or mocktails, or gift a set of her Mini Spoon Preserves. Everything is cuter when it’s mini!
A 118-acre certified organic botanical farm on Orcas Island, OrcaSong Farm makes small-batch, premium-quality plant extracts and wellness products. Inspired by the wonders of nature, it was founded by owners David Dotlich and Doug Elwood as a project to support the land and the people who care for it. Since 2019, the farm has focused on promoting nature as a boundless source of healing. David and Doug cultivate lavender and other wildcrafted botanicals that inspire calm, creativity, and everything in between. Start with their Floral Scents Aromatherapy Gift Box, add their Lavender Organic Essential Oil to your shelf, and wash your way to botanical bliss with their Orange Lemon Hand Soap.
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
Born out of a bout of soul searching, each Inspired Earth Botanicals product is personally crafted by Owner & Culinary Tea Blender Bobby Ryan on San Juan Island (the second largest of the San Juan Islands and most populated). Along with tea blends, Bobby also makes bath and body products using ingredients from San Juan Island farms. Quench your lips with a swipe of the company’s Calendula & Lavender Lip Balm and your thirst with a warm mug of Earl Grey's Garden Tea. Mmm, cozy.
Brady Ryan’s Maker Story explores the origins of his business based near his home on San Juan Island. He hails from a long line of island farmers, but his is unlike the rest. At its core, San Juan Island Sea Salt is simple: sea salt made with the power of the sun, which locks in the salt’s innate natural vitamins and minerals. This slower, more intentional process brings with it a bigger and brinier flavor. It also offers a base for all sorts of fun products, including the company’s Friday Harbor Seafood Blend and oft-gifted Salted Honey Caramels. Not sure where to begin? Start with the Gift Set, even (and especially) if it’s a gift for you.
Celebrate Island Makers At Made In Washington
As you can see, creativity is at its peak on the Salish Sea islands. Whether you’re enjoying ti-to-table salts from San Juan Island Sea Salt or boiling a batch of Local Goods pasta, you’ll be leaning into island life every time you support one of our island Makers.
Take yourself—and your loved ones—up, down, and around the Sound with products from each of the island-based small businesses, and show them off on your socials for us to see. We’re @madeinwashington_ on Instagram and @Made.In.Washington on Facebook.