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Trim Your Tree with 8 Locally Crafted Ornaments

These Southwestern-inspired decorations capture the specialness of the Sonoran.

By Nancy Erdmann

A holiday ritual many of us look forward to each year is shopping for that extra-special holiday ornament to give as a gift or add to our own collection. Finding something locally made can make the hunt even more fun. But if time is tight—or you’re not sure what to buy—we’ve rounded up eight Southwest artists whose creative wares may be just what you’re looking for. 

Desert Vision
This whimsical ornament by artist Rachel Eskandari features a llama and one of Arizona’s most recognized icons, the saguaro. “I wanted to combine my love for llamas with a desert botanical element,” she says. “The saguaro makes such a statement to anyone living in or visiting our state.” The design was hand drawn, then uploaded digitally and laser cut into a 4.25″H piece of Baltic birch wood. $12 (pinkpuddlestudio.com)

Vision in Wood

“The design idea for my turned-wood ornament comes from traditional Christmas adornments with the addition of an icicle hanging from the bottom,” says artist Ken Easley. While each piece is based on a similar style, no two are exactly alike, as each is hand-turned (including hollowing to make it lighter) on a woodworking lathe. Made of maple, the ball is stained red, with care taken to let the wood’s grain show through. The icicle, or finial, is also maple. It measures 7″L by 2.125″D. $40 (practical-art.com)

Run Rabbit Run

Scottsdale ceramist Jim Sudal has been creating Sonoran-inspired pottery for more than 20 years, so it’s no surprise that come the holidays, he loves to design something extra special. This year, it’s the Desert Jackrabbit ornament handmade from stoneware clay and coated in Desert Agate Blue glaze. “The beauty of the Sonoran Desert inspires me in all forms,” he says. “I love to incorporate its plant and animal forms in my ceramic art.” It measures 3″H by 4″L. $12 (jimsudalceramicdesign.com)

Red Hot

Glass artisan Jason Chakravarty doesn’t usually dabble in the smaller stuff, but he made an exception after driving to Santa Fe and, inspired by the iconic red chile pepper, created a glass one of his own. Each 5″L by 2″ in diameter ornament is handmade and every one is unique, just like chiles on a plant. “The amount of glass gathered or color added varies with each,” he says. “They blow up and slump differently every time.” $8 (southwestgardener.com)

Dish It Up

Based on geometric designs painted on pottery by the prehistoric Mimbres Culture and later used on dishware orchestrated by famed architect Mary Jane Colter for the Santa Fe Railway Co., the Mimbreno Ornament is a collectible reproduction by HF Coors. Available in two colorways and three motifs: Hummingbird, Thunderbird (above), and Reflection, the whimsical dinnerware piece measures 3.375″across and comes in a decorative gift box. $23 (hfcoors.com)

Making a Scene

Well-known Tucson painter Diana Madaras says she loves to explore the beauty of the Sonoran Desert because it is like no other in the world. “I created this ornament, which is a painting of Pinnacle Peak called “First Light,” as a commission for the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale,” she says. “I took photos at sunrise to capture the first rays of light on the mountain, then painted the scene at home.” The image is printed on clear vinyl and adhered to tempered glass; silver bails hold organza ribbon for hanging. It measures 3″H by 4″W. $13 (madaras.com)

Recasting the Past

Inspired by symbols he saw etched on rock faces as a young boy, Navajo artist Kee Yazzie began depicting petroglyph images on his own jewelry. In the spirit of the holiday season, he created 30 limited-edition signature ornaments of similar designs, including this 2″ in diameter sterling silver disc overlaid with the migration motif along with a turquoise piece called Sleeping Beauty dangling below. The ornament can also be worn as a pendant. $195 (heard.org)

Heart Art

Influenced by the Arizona desert, artisan Colleen Conlin makes her heart-shaped clay ornaments with designs depicting different varieties of cacti, then glazes them in bright colors. Measuring 3″W and assembled with wire for hanging, the handmade works of art can also be attached to gift bags, strung around bottles of wine or hung in the home. $15 (practical-art.com)

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