In the Florida Keys, distances are short and often bikeable, attire is comfortable and the lifestyle is largely free of the logistical pressures felt by those in larger, faster-paced locales.
Since Keys residents’ minds aren’t cluttered with routine day-to-day concerns (“How do I juggle picking up necessary groceries and getting the dog to the vet?”), there’s head space for extraordinary creativity to thrive.
The relatively simple logistics of living also allow the time for creativity. It’s possible to explore, experiment and ponder concepts, techniques and ingredients for developing everything from the perfect hot pepper sauce to handcrafted fishing gear.
The Florida Keys are home to artisan sandal makers, jewelry designers who work with gemstones and sea glass, brewers of island-inspired beers and distillers of wickedly potent spirits.
There’s an angling aficionado who crafts heirloom-quality fishing rods, people who ink and print actual fish using the ancient Japanese art of gyotaku, and a woodworker/sculptor who makes custom furniture pieces from local hardwoods such as wild tamarind, mahogany and Jamaican dogwood.
Foodies can appreciate the independent beekeepers who produce flavorful local honey, a chocolatier who specializes in truffles and chocolate “crocodiles,” and purveyors of an almost limitless array of Key lime products (including dog treats).
The island chain also nurtures scores of other freethinking spirits who indulge their talent for crafting wares as individualistic as they are.
But it’s not just the artisans who benefit from the creativity that flourishes in the Keys. It’s also a boon to people who discover the unique products made by enterprising locals. A sampling of 'Keys Crafted' items can be found here, and many can be ordered online.
Why does it matter that something, whether organic skin cream or hand-shaped pottery, can be called “Keys crafted?”
It matters because such things are made by people truly invested in their creations, who work with care and take pride in quality. A Keys crafted product represents both the artisan who made it and the island chain where creativity is free to blossom. And it should be enjoyed and treasured as a tangible reminder of the Florida Keys.
Seaglass Creations, by Marathon's Cornelia Hoover, emphasize one-of-a-kind handmade design, inspired by marine life, tropical and island life vibes.