In today’s fast-paced world, where speed and quantity often overshadow quality, there is a growing demand for the “artisan movement.” Chico, with its vibrant art scene that once made it to the Top 100 list for small towns in America, is home to numerous talented makers who embrace the concept of slow art and handcrafted goods. Join us as we explore the artistic side of Chico and discover a few of the unique companies that offer carefully handcrafted local treasures.
All the Bitters
French Laundry alumni Carly and Ian Blessing spent years immersed in the world of fine dining as sommeliers at the legendary Yountville restaurant. But after the pandemic prompted a return to Chico, they shifted their focus to their growing family and alcohol-free alchemy. Fueled by a mission to create better bitters, this culinary couple started All the Bitter.
Now they produce artisan non-alcoholic cocktail bitters made from 100% botanical, wild-foraged, organic ingredients. Their bitters tap into the ancient ritual of taking bitters as a daily tonic for physical ailments. All the Bitter returns to these roots, offering bitters with benefits to be used in both tonics and cocktails alike. These hand-crafted elixirs have garnered national and international attention, and can be found worldwide in addition to Chico at the Made in Chico store.
Amy Waltz Designs
Amy Waltz’s artisan journey began with a camera and a locket. Inspired by her grandfather’s photography, this Chico State grad picked up a camera and followed in his footsteps. After being motivated to make a locket to keep some of her treasured photographic creations safe inside, her interests turned to jewelry, and her company Amy Waltz Designs was born in 2011.
Each handcrafted piece of jewelry is manufactured with thoughtful intention. As one of the first jewelers to use hand-stamped designs, she became a fan favorite on Etsy, leading to mentions in Vogue, Lucky Magazine, and Huffington Post. Over a decade later, her empowering jewelry designs are still known as “wearable love” and have kept Amy’s original good intentions at their heart. Made of fine metals, gemstones, and natural materials, each piece is thoughtfully crafted by Amy and the other local artisans she employs.
Factory 320 was inspired by the Rocky Mountains of Denver, Colorado, where its first shop was established by owner Brandon Tarbell in a shipping container in Denver in 2009. Then this custom furniture design and fine goods establishment traded those mountains for vistas of the Sierra Nevadas in Chico, California. While the view may have changed, the love of the mountains hasn’t. Tarbell brought the name Factory 320 in honor of his first 320 sq. ft. shop and his passion for design with him.
Today, Factory 320 is known for its high-quality and unique designs. Tarbell works directly with each of his clients in order to better understand and realize their vision. It’s easy to spot his work in both commercial and residential locations in town. His creations range from the rustic wood entryway signs for Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp to the sleek gallery cabinets at Svper Ordinary Gallery and the mixed material seating at Parkside Taphouse. And by using traditional and non-traditional materials like wood and welded tubes, it ensures each product is one-of-a-kind.
Alex Marshall Studios
With an extensive background in the arts, Alex Marshall brings a wealth of experience to her work as a ceramic manufacturer in Chico. Over two decades ago, this former New Yorker started selling her ceramics inspired by designs from her undergraduate and graduate days. This evolved into a full-fledged studio located in Chico.
Now Alex Marshall Studios brings art to the every day with her beautiful and functional designs. These mini-masterpieces are made for daily use, like coffee mugs, plates, serving bowls, etc. Other decorative items include vases, pendants, and lamps in a range of colors, and all are made right here in Northern California.
These are just a few examples of the incredible artisan creators located in Chico. Want to learn more about the people and places in this amazing city? Then head to Choose Chico!