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Diggin' It

[whitespace] Khysie Horn & Ron Higgins
Michael Amsler

Local showcase: Quicksilver Mine Co. owner Khysie Horn and store manager Ron Higgins specialize in locally made handcrafted gift items.

QUICKSILVER MINE CO. would certainly be the anchor member in our Made-in-Sonoma Hall of Fame, if we had one. In a county quick and constant in its commitment to indigenous products, this Sebastopol store distinguishes itself with particularly strong civic zeal: all the items in the Quicksilver Mine Co. are made, grown, or otherwise created in Sonoma County. Quicksilver is a perfect place to buy gifts that show out-of-area friends and relations what a gorgeous, fertile, creative patch of earth we've got here.

And even if you forgot your list, you'll find something even better on these crowded shelves.

While owner Khysie Horn gets many submissions from local artists, craftspeople, and manufacturers, she still ends up following folks around to get their goods for them. "Sometimes it takes a long time to hook up with people," says Horn. While she's out stalking potential consignments, longtime employee Ron Higgins minds the store from behind the counter, where he can sit and knit his sweaters, socks, and stiffly stuffed animals (which he sells at the store) and still keep an eye on things. Ask him a question and he won't drop a stitch.

He's been here for 10 years; he knows the merchandise.

New this year to Quicksilver are L. O'Neill tapestry garments. Made in Santa Rosa, these vests ($129) and handbags ($46-$77) feature tug-resistant buttons crafted with semi-precious beads as a perfect accent for the rich jewel-tone colors of these sturdy and beautiful pieces of wearable art.

Hanging on a rack near the corner, the linens made by Mana Textiles of Sebastopol are easy to miss. But once you get up close enough to touch these beautiful handwoven linens in simple colors and luxurious fabrics--ranging in price from $16.50 for creamy soft guest towels, to $90 for a chenille runner and $180 for a supple, heavy throw--you won't want to put them down.

Amid the multitude of jewelry, pens, and other little gadgets in the showcase, a simple wooden kaleidoscope from Greg Stevenson of Santa Rosa caught our eye. This has no little bits of plastic confetti, just a mysterious crystal embedded in one end of a smooth wooden tube. What you see when you look through depends on what you're looking at: the patterns are your view, refracted into dozens of swirling images. Low-flash toy for a high-flash era, at just $28.

There's more here, of course: food and drink (with a focus on hard-to-find wines), ceramics, books, and a rotating art exhibit in the back half of the store. But the bounty that's presently bulging from the shelves has taken 15 years to build up. The Sebastopol storefront is significantly smaller than the former Russian River location, but Horn is happier with the year-round population. And she also loves the community support for their goal, which is simple:

"We want to help keep money in local circles," she says, "and keep the artists alive and well."
--Marina Wolf

Quicksilver Mine Co., 154 N. Main St., Sebastopol, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; special hours, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m, Thursdays and Fridays only, till Christmas.

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From the December 3-9, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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