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Gravel & Gold

Magical Outpost in the Mission

The sun pours into the Mission when the fog lifts in San Francisco. The warmth draws people onto the streets to wait in line for salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery or to bask on the lawn at Dolores Park. Slightly off the main drag is Gravel & Gold, tucked on the corner of Lexington and 21st, providing a cool retreat from the heat and crowd.

It’s a shop run by a trio of women: Cassie McGettigan, Lisa Foti-Straus and Nile Nash. Since May 2008, the three have created an outpost in the heart of the Mission where a hand-selected mix of artists and makers exhibit their crafts. You can find just about everything here from things to wear, to write or to work for your home.

A stable door serves as the entry of the newly relocated Gravel & Gold. I step inside what feels like a log cabin in the Pacific Northwest. To my right is a corner window seat big enough for friends to spread out and people watch. There’s even a wood burning stove ($950) and a long wooden table that adds to the rustic sense in this urban setting.

The table is laid out with an array of eye-catching items from makers of different geographic locations. From the east coast, Brooklyn artist Jean Pelle carves beautifully shaped candle holders out of wood ($24 to $42). Hailing across the Pacific Ocean, a Los Angeles expatriate in Japan creates Postalco paper products which include brightly bound notebooks in elegant, functional designs. And nearby from Point Reyes, California, are bottles of artisan bath salts ($24) that invoke a sense of its peaceful environs.

Along the white walls are shelves of more unique finds such as Dori Midnight’s jars of honey. She’s a witch from Guerrero Street. For $30, you can find her charmed potions such as “Hot Sex Honey” or “Fertility Honey,” concoctions of just the right amounts of wildflower, herbs and spices fit for such desired conditions.

Serve some hot tea in the cloud-shaped teapot with a rainbow handle ($42) which is one of my favorite kitchenware items. You’ll also find ceramic mugs to serve the charmed potions by Hue Yang. Originally from Taiwan, she hand sculpts each mug in her studio in Oakland where she also hand draws subtle patterns and Chinese translations on the surfaces. All of her handiwork is both dishwasher and microwave safe ($30 each).

Not to miss are the things to wear at Gravel & Gold. There is a corner stocked with vintage wear in great condition. I found a navy wool pea coat ($130) on the men’s rack. For me, the most fetching piece was a beige shift hand painted with a gleaming border of gold, fuchsia, melon and orange. If only it had fit!

The striped long sleeve shirts from Mohnton, Pennsylvania are some of the most popular, selling for twenty clams ($20). R.P. Miller’s stripey shirts come in a variety of color combinations that are all made with soft cotton. Try one on in the dressing room. The benches are covered in pompoms of brightly colored yarns.

Cassie, one of the owners, writes in an email, “We love telling our customers about our friends and honorable makers who have crafted the items in the shop, so that they know that when they buy something from us, they are directly supporting a craftsmen or stand-up producer.”

Stop by to inquire about future workshops, concerts, dinners and exchanges held at Gravel & Gold. It’s a chance for you to meet and even work with the makers who have come together to make this outpost so magical.