By Paul Morris
I’ve always loved talking to people who are handy and creative. I’m curious about everyone, but especially people who work with their hands. Craftspeople have the skills that a klutz like me will never have. They’re productive, good with tools, and often have happy looks on their faces as they go about their day. How I envy them.
Recently, I discovered a place where I can see master craftspeople at work, talk to them, ask questions, and buy their wares. And it’s all in one spot! In Gilbert, inside an old Quonset hut, is Barnone, a gathering space for artisans that’s also open to the public.
The space has been redesigned into a modern multi-store facility. You’ll find a bit of everything here: two restaurants (Fire & Brimstone and The Uprooted Kitchen), a letterpress stationery store (Prickly Pear Paper), a florist (Everybody Loves Flowers), a brewery (12 West Brewing Co.), a wooden-sign maker (Lettercraft), a winemaker (Garage-East), a salon (Wander), and even a gunsmithing shop (Johnston Arms). Dreamday scenario: Stop by for lunch, pick up a stack of locally made notecards, learn about how wine is made, buy a bouquet of fragrant white roses, then toast your treasures with a tall glass of Arizona-brewed beer.
At Prickly Pear Paper, owners/designers/letterpress masters Mark Johnston and Lauren Elliott have papered the walls of this delightful shop with their handmade greeting cards, stationery, posters, and signs. The work showcases their colorful, contemporary style, often with sweet and humorous messaging. In the store, Johnston and Elliott have a small handpress on which they personalize letterhead for customers. (For more local stationery shops, see “Something to Write Home About” in our summer issue.)
When I spoke with Johnston, he shared with me the immense pleasure and satisfaction he finds in the creative process of making something, building something, of working with his hands to cultivate a one-of-a-kind product. As we talked, I couldn’t help but notice: He had that happy look I see on people who spend their days making wonderful things.
Address: 3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert 85296
Phone number: 480-988-1238