13th Annual Lithia Artisans Christmas Fair at the Historic Ashland Armory

The Holiday Season is just around the corner. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven, pumpkin pie for dessert, and the 13th Annual Lithia Artisans Christmas Fair to look forward to the very next day. Thanksgiving weekend is a time of family, community, and giving thanks for the abundance of this life. It is also about tradition. It is becoming a tradition for the artisans of our area will fill the Historic Ashland Armory with handcrafted gift items every Thanksgiving weekend. At the Christmas Fair you will find finely crafted items that are unique and representative of simpler times when people took particular pride in what they could create with their own two hands.

I’ve been part of this talented group for 19 years, and never have I seen so much quality and authenticity. As the market manager for the last two years, I have made an effort to reach out to the creative, vibrant, spirited new artisans of our region and encourage them to come out and present their art-form at the market. I’ve also made it part of my mission to encourage veteran artisans of our market to focus their creative spirit and continue to fine tune their skills and artistic vision. We are growing in such a positive direction. I am thrilled by the quality of our crafts and the enthusiasm of our artisans.

One of the many talented members of our market is Dave Summers of “Elf Mountain Leather.” He is a leather shoe maker, but also makes leather backpacks, juggling balls, and whatever he is in the mood to create on a given day. What he says about his shoes could be said about many of the things you will find at the Christmas Fair. According to Dave, “Handcrafted shoes have a special vibration. They are full of love and vibrate harmoniously with the Earth. Not only that, shoes made exactly for your foot fit perfectly and are therefore incredibly comfortable. I prefer to make the shoes especially for the individual. There is no pair of shoes more comfortable than the pair made specifically for your feet.”

Things made by creative hands and imaginative minds have that special vibration that Dave talks about when referring to his shoes. There are no two items at the Lithia Artisans Christmas Fair that are exactly the same. Everything is made by hand and therefore absolutely unique, full of love. Right here in our community people are creating beautiful art objects that will stand the test of time.

One of our new comers to the market is Jasmine Patten and her clothing business “Dervish Clothing.”  She makes some of the most innovative, wearable, comfortable, and eco-friendly clothing you will find anywhere. When you see a beautiful woman walking down the street with a button up wool sweater that is unlike anything you have ever seen, clean lines that highlight the feminine details, made of up-cycled wool materials, that is likely a Dervish original. Jasmine promises to be well stocked for Christmas Fair with amazing new creations. Every piece of clothing is a work of art and is made to last a lifetime.  As Jasmine puts it, “Things that are well made last a long time. There is no reason to have things, including clothing, be disposable. I want my pieces to last for years, and even to become heirlooms with personal stories attached to them.”

Dan Clark, our resident silver smith, has a way with words. Dan is a simple man who made his way to Ashland by way of Chicago, Illinois. Dan is what I would call “salt of the earth.” He does his work and lets the pieces speak for themselves. He calls it “building equity.” Every time he cuts a cabochon for a pendant he is building equity. He is a man who knows his craft. He is out there on the road meeting the old timers who have hoarded away gem material that is no longer easily obtainable. Dan is not a flashy man, nor is his display. However, if you pay special attention you will start to see the treasures presented in his handmade displays. These pieces all tell a story. Dan can tell you where the material is from, who mined it, and the history in each piece. He is searching for that classic form in everything he does. He is working with materials, Biggs Blue Sky Jasper, Montana Plume Agate, and others, that are getting rarer to find. His pieces are one of a kind, just like Dan. Classic!

Touching the timeless, using techniques established by the Navajo Indians and materials sacred to her, Lavelle Foos has been making her living sculpting copper and wood for over three decades. Lavelle was a member of the market back in the 80s, and moved to the Ashland area as part of the alternative, “hippie movement” of the 1970s.  “I wanted to live in a place that was ripe for me to explore being a visual artist,” remembers Lavelle. She is an inspirational artisan. Her pieces are beautiful, healing, full of life, and accessible. As Lavelle puts it, “My art is an expression of sanity, an honoring of beauty and expressing messages from nature that we humans need. I trust my art functions as a mirror, reflecting self-acceptance for myself and others to make our lives more beautiful and more meaningful.”

These highlighted artisans are just a small sample of the quality of people and art that await the fair go-er at the 13th Annual Lithia Artisans Christmas Fair. 50 artisans will be showing at this year’s event, and live music will fill the halls at the Historic Ashland Armory. Crafted items at this year’s event include fine art, woodwork, photography, clothing, jewelry, glasswork, hand-carved stones, hand-wrought copper and silver, pottery, leather work, and much, much more. Quality is the name of the game, and it is well represented at this year’s Christmas Fair. The fair is open to the public Thanksgiving Weekend — Friday, November 29th from 10am – 7pm, Saturday, November 30th from 10am – 6pm, and Sunday, December 1st from 11am – 5pm.

For more about the Christmas Fair go to our website:, or follow us on Facebook at

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The Artisans of the Jefferson Region (Southern Oregon and Northern California) have joined together to form two corporations ~ The Lithia Artisans Market of Ashland and the Lithia Arts Guild of Oregon. Through the election of separate Boards, the Market and the Guild serve distinct, yet interconnecting functions within the community. The Market Board is completely involved in promoting events in the Bear Creek Valley. These events have included the Artisans Market on Calle Guanajuato, Holiday Galleries & Festivals, and now a website. The Guild, as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, serves through interfacing with Ashland Parks, the City and the greater community. Projects of the Guild have included the formation of the Lithia Artisans Market of Ashland, helping with the restoration of Calle Guanajuato after the 1997 New Years Day Flood, encouraging the Arts within the city of Ashland, and the establishment of a dialogue between local artisans and artists working in our sister city ~ Guanajuato, Mexico. The people of Oregon have a long and unfaltering commitment to the Arts. The oldest Artisans Market in the United States is the Saturday Market in Eugene. The Portland Saturday Market is a close second, to Eugene, being established the following summer. And, of course, there's the grandmother of us all, the Oregon Country Fair. The Oregon Country Fair now covers more than 300 acres, west of Eugene near the town of Veneta; and it was this Fair that initially inspired the folks that founded the Eugene Saturday Market. It is this network of Festivals and Artisans Markets, throughout the state, that has allowed the Artisans Community to flourish. The community of Ashland and its visitors are incredibley supportive of the Arts. Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University, Jefferson Public Radio, and the First Friday Art Walk. The community is genuinely interested in the Arts, and this interest has been rewarded with a culturally diverse environment rivaling any small town in the nation.
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