Artisan and Handmade on the Backroads

Pierce County’s close proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro area makes it a haven for artists and handcrafters who have escaped the city to focus on their art. Hidden art galleries, artist studios, and collaborative art shops are hidden throughout the countryside makes finding one of kind, handcrafted pieces like following a map to lost treasure. Consider this itinerary your treasure map for your artisan adventure!

Beginning at the convergence of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers in Prescott, you’ll find the Orange Dragon Art Gallery. The collective of local artists, supported by the non-profit Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council (HPAAC), oversee the shop, which features an ever-changing collection of unique and interesting locally made art and handicrafts. Opening receptions kick off each themed seasonal exhibit where visitors can meet the artists and learn more about their inspiration and techniques. Shoppers will find an eclectic collection of wall art, glass, pottery, jewelry and more! It’s a favorite of locals looking for an extra special or one-of-a-kind gift.

Wisconsin's Great River Road

Next you’re off on the Wisconsin Great River Road along the Mississippi to Maiden Rock. Your first stop is Cultural Cloth where you’ll find one-of-a-kind handmade textiles, décor items, and accessories handcrafted by artisans from thirty developing countries. Owners Jody Slocum and Mary Anne Wise collect these works of art on their travels around the globe. The shop represents mostly women artisans, with a goal to support the makers’ economic independence. Every piece as beautiful as the next–there’s an inspiring and heartwarming story behind every item and Jody and Mary Anne are happy to share them. While at the shop, pick up a copy of “Rug Money: How A Group Of Maya Women Changed Their Lives Through Art and Innovation,” which tells the story of how Jody and Mary Anne’s Cultural Cloth journey working with these global artisans began—you’ll be inspired!

Just a few short blocks up the street from Cultural Cloth is The Nest Gallery. Artist and entrepreneur Leah Sheldon first opened the shop to showcase local and regional artists during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as artists lost opportunities to sell their work. Today, the shop continues to feature the original art pieces of regional artisans. You’ll find handcrafted candles, pottery, jewelry, and more in the light and airy shop.

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Jewelry, Artistry and Creativity in Pierce County

Dragonfly and Damsel in downtown Spring Valley is the working studio and shop of jewelry designer Brenda Haack. Along with Brenda’s creative jewelry designs, you’ll find a shop filled with handmade art and gifts by over 50 makers. Jewelry, paintings, pottery, candles, soap, textiles, wood, stained glass, mixed media, and mosaics all live in harmony, making for a fun shopping experience. Brenda’s jewelry designs will catch your eye. She describes her designs as a collision of materials: sterling and fine silver, copper, Lake Superior stones, torch-fired enamel and natural gemstones. She brings it all together with beautiful results; modern, classy, and all original. Go ahead—pick up a new statement piece for your collection.

At YB Urban? in Ellsworth, Angie Whelan’s artistry is unique among the tour. Part artist, part scientist, part farmer, Angie specializes in artisan crafted personal care products and aromatherapy. Years of research and experimentation has gone into her products, many of which contain ingredients grown on the Whelan family farm in rural Ellsworth. At YB Urban? luxury and practicality combine—all natural ingredients and simple minimalistic packaging comes together to create natural and eco-friendly creamy body butters, soothing lotions, healing lip balms, and more. All formulations are created in her workspace in the rear of the shop, which is easy to find… just follow your nose!

Get Creative!

If your visits so far have stirred your creativity, you’ll want to stop by Brush Stroke Art Supply. For those who love to sketch and paint, and can’t resist the allure of a blank canvas or sketchpad, this will be your new happy place! If time allows, plan to take advantage of their open art hours or check the class schedule. You can express your creative side and head home with something handmade by you!

At the adjacent East End Gifts boutique, you can browse home décor, accessories, and seasonal items, all handmade by local crafters and makers. The small shop offers a great variety and an ever-changing inventory. The locals know East End Gifts as the “best little store that has something for everyone.” Whether you find a gift to give another, or something for yourself, we think you’ll agree!

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The River Falls Art Scene

Now you’re off to River Falls and the Art’s House Gallery. An undertaking of the River Falls River Falls Community Art Base (CAB), a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating community arts-related events and projects, Art’s House Gallery is a community space where local artists showcase their work. Every month a collection of new artists display their wall art, pottery, glass, wood sculpting, and jewelry. During their Second Saturday events visitors can Meet the Artists and enjoy live music and refreshments, while browsing the shop’s offerings. You’ll also find many unique, handcrafted boutique gift items by local artists, such as jewelry, scarves, bookmarks, and more. Greeting card collectors will enjoy their selection of cards—many beautiful original designs to choose from means you’ll always have the perfect card for every occasion. Art lovers will want to watch for other CAB sponsored art events taking place throughout the year, including the popular juried art fair, Art on the Kinni.


Glass by Pauly/Quarry Glass Blowing Studio is the studio of glass artist Pauly Cudd. This is the place to experience the glass blowing process as Pauly demonstrates how he makes one-of-a-kind pieces from molten glass. Browse the gallery space, which includes ornaments, paperweights, bowls, vases, sculptural glass, and whimsical art. Also popular and unique are Pauly’s “Memories” pieces, which contain human or pet cremation to create a special remembrance of a loved one. Check the Glass by Pauly website for current hours or to arrange an appointment for a personal shopping experience.

Enjoy Locally Crafted Wine

A perfect end to the day is a visit to Belle Vinez Winery, where you can enjoy locally made wine crafted from regionally grown and imported grapes. Start with a wine tasting to find the perfect wine for you. Then order a glass to enjoy with one of their brick-oven pizzas as you reminisce about the day’s adventure and artistic finds.