When it comes to how much we love our state, let’s be real: We’re pretty mad for the mitten.
And it shows in our home decor. Michigan-shaped products are everywhere, from ceramic serveware sets shaped like the Upper and Lower Peninsulas (crafted right here in Detroit) to pillows, cutting boards and wall signs.
Michigan’s iconic mitten shape is one of the things that make our state so unique, says Jill Flaugher of Iconic Detroit, a Metro Detroit-based specialty goods company that makes wall hangings, cutting boards, coasters and more centered around Detroit, Michigan and the Great Lakes. Flaugher says that’s why making products that celebrate our state’s special shape is so important to them.
“To me, the Michigan mitten symbolizes more than just the outline on a map, but (it’s) a tribute to the hands on, hardworking people that live here,” says Flaugher. “We are a state that is comprised of so many talented makers, entrepreneurs and hardworking individuals that are willing to get their hands dirty to create a better future!”
In honor of Michigan’s 180th birthday on Jan. 26, I decided to take a look at all the home options that exist to show off our mitten mania. Stores across Metro Detroit offer unique mitten-shaped products (see box for some options). Etsy.com, the website for handcrafted items, also has a wide range of cool Michigan wares.
Suhm-Thing, a small gift boutique on Maple in downtown Birmingham (they also have a location in Traverse City), sells everything from Michigan-shaped oven mitts to pillows. In the front window are Michigan-shaped Michirondack chairs, made in Grand Rapids.
Owner David Zawicki says there’s a big demand for Michigan-shaped products, especially for people who are looking for a special memento for those who are moving away or students who are studying abroad and want to give a gift to their host families.
“People always come in and that’s the first thing (they want) is a Michigan gift,” says Zawicki, who will soon relocate Suhm-Thing to the other store he owns, Lark & Co., right next door on Maple. “They want to buy them a reminder of where their roots are.”
One place that Michigan-shaped decor is especially popular is outdoors. Jack Pine Woodcrafting is a Livonia-based woodworking company that makes Adironack chairs shaped like the Lower Peninsula and side tables shaped like the Upper Peninsula.
“We gotta include the other half of our state!” says co-owner Nick Hamma.
The chairs are crafted from western red cedar, purchased from a Northville lumberyard. Chairs are delivered within a 50-mile radius of Livonia, but Hamma says they also ship kits that can be assembled.
So if you’re looking to keep, send or receive a little Michigan love just in time for our state’s birthday, there are plenty of options. Michigan isn’t just a place; it’s a state of mind.
Below are some places to find fun Michigan-shaped products.
■Iconic Detroit: available at more than 100 retail locations, including Pure Detroit stores, Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, and Art Is In Market at Twelve Oaks Mall, Briarwood and Patridge Creek. iconicdetroit.com/
■Made Studio + Market: 6545 Commerce Road, West Bloomfield. (248) 242-4119. www.madestudiomarket.com.
■Suhm-Thing: 122 W. Maple, Birmingham. (248) 723-9832.