Maine Made Gifts: Swans Island Company

Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Sharyn Peavey

We are so blessed to live in Maine, and not just because of the warm, sunny summers and the picturesque white winters, but because Maine is home to a large number of talented crafts people and artisans like weavers, potters, soap makers, chocolatiers, woodworkers, and jewelers. In every shop in every town, you’ll see incredibly-crafted, unique Maine-made products.

Since many of our couples wish to surprise their wedding guests with welcome bags and/or favors of authentic Maine made products, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite Maine made gifts in this blog series. Of course, many of these handcrafted items would make wonderful bridesmaid or groomsmen gifts as well as gifts for parents of the wedding couple. For guests looking for a unique and meaningful gift for the lovebirds, you will find gift inspiration in this series, too.

How did the business start and who are the owners?

This year, Swans Island Company celebrates 25 years of crafting exquisite textiles here in Maine. Our company was founded in 1992 by John and Carolyn Grace, two retired lawyers seeking a return to the land. They began producing wool blankets by hand on on Swan’s Island using traditional techniques, local fleece and natural dyes, winning a Smithsonian Blue Ribbon for Craft. Our current owners, Bill Laurita and Michele Orne, purchased Swans Island Company in 2004. We’re now located on the mainland, carrying on the tradition of handcrafted heirloom blankets, throws, and apparel with our small and talented team of makers.

Describe the products you sell including how they’re made.

Everything we do at Swans Island – from hand-dyed yarns to our signature handwoven blankets – is a testament to the beauty and value of a handmade life. We craft blankets, throws, pillows, wraps, scarves, in our dyehouse and weaving studio. We also collaborate with small, family-run American mills to produce fine knit apparel. From fiber sourcing to our finishing room table, we believe in creating objects of beauty and utility in authentic and earth-friendly ways here in Maine. All are welcome to come visit our Northport studios to learn more about our processes.

Who typically enjoys your products?

Swans Island’s woven goods are modern-day heirlooms, and our customers come to us time and again to help celebrate life’s many milestones: weddings, anniversaries, welcoming new babies, and more. Our hand-monogramming service and exquisite linen packaging transform our unique handwovens into unforgettable commemorative pieces, designed to be cherished for years to come.

People who love Swans Island Company generally care deeply about how things are made, have strong ties to the Maine coast, and appreciate the traditional approach we take to ensure that everything we produce is at once luxurious and sustainable.

What’s the best way to purchase them?

Swans Island Company goods may be purchased at our Camden or Northport locations, online through our website, and by telephone.

What’s your favorite thing about Maine?

We love Maine for its dramatic natural beauty, which inspires so much of our work.

Bill Laurita, Michele Orne
Swans Island Company
231 Atlantic Highway
Northport, Maine 04849
(207) 338-9691
(888) 526-9526

Secondary Address:

2 Bay View Street
Camden, Maine 04843
207.706.7926
[email protected]
www.swansislandcompany.com

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Featured photo by Sharyn Peavey Photography

Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Caitlin MacRae Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Douglas Mott Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Douglas Mott Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Douglas Mott Maine Made woven wedding gifts | Photo by Douglas Mott

 

Maine Made Gifts: Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections

We are so blessed to live in Maine, and not just because of the warm, sunny summers and the picturesque white winters, but because Maine is home to a large number of talented crafts people and artisans like weavers, potters, soap makers, chocolatiers, woodworkers, and jewelers. In every shop in every town, you’ll see incredibly-crafted, unique Maine-made products.

Since many of our couples wish to surprise their wedding guests with welcome bags and/or favors of authentic Maine made products, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite Maine made gifts in this blog series. Of course, many of these handcrafted items would make wonderful bridesmaid or groomsmen gifts as well as gifts for parents of the wedding couple. For guests looking for a unique and meaningful gift for the lovebirds, you will find gift inspiration in this series, too.

How did the business start and who are the owners?

Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections began in 1983 when Tom Wilbur and Catherine Carty-Wilbur opened a small candy shop on Bow St. in Freeport, Maine. Tom and Catherine were both school teachers at the time and were just looking to supplement their income; selling chocolates and candies made by other companies in their store. It was a few years later that they decided to try making chocolates themselves and secured their first wholesale customer: L.L.Bean. We now have three retail locations, a chocolate factory in Freeport and as of 2016 Andy Wilbur, Tom and Catherine’s son, is the new owner of Wilbur’s of Maine.

Describe the products you sell (including how they’re made, if applicable).

So many products to describe! We make homemade caramels, creams, melt away truffles, needhams, buttercrunch toffee, turtles, marshmallow, fudge, hot fudge sauce, brittle, peanut butter cups, traditional truffles, chocolate dipped cherries, solid chocolate that is molded into just about any shape you can imagine (sea shells, lobsters, bunnies, fish, Santas, shamrocks, pigs, hockey pucks….) we could go on! We can’t forget, of course, our panned chocolates. We are one of very few factories in New England producing panned chocolates, they are the largest part of our wholesale business and include amazing items like chocolate covered blueberries, chocolate covered cranberries, malt balls, chocolate covered almonds, pretzel bites, and many, many more! We produce 100’s of different chocolates and confections.

How are these items made? Well, there are far too many items to explain in detail, but we do try to use local ingredients whenever possible, each item is made with care and by hand in small batches. Also, everything we make is done in our Freeport factory at 174 Lower Main St. in Freeport. There are viewing windows into the factory at all times and we offer tours on select days and times. Best to consult our website or Facebook page for that current month’s event/tour dates.

Who typically enjoys your products?

Anyone and everyone! Chocolate knows no bounds! It brings generations together and is the perfect gift. We have products that are made with 72% dark chocolate and other not-too-sweet items like dark chocolate covered ginger and dark chocolate covered orange peel so even if you think you don’t have a sweet tooth, you’re likely to find something here you will enjoy!

What’s the best way to purchase them?

Our website wilburs.com is being updated weekly with more and more products being added and is the perfect way to have our fine confections shipped all over the country to yourself or a loved one! If you are lucky enough to be in southern Maine visit us at one of our three locations:

174 Lower Main St. Freeport, ME 04032 (factory and retail store)

13 Bow St. Freeport, ME 04032 (retail)

143 Maine St. Brunswick, ME 04011 (retail)

What’s your favorite thing about Maine?

It’s hard to answer this question without sounding too cliché, but if we’re being honest it’s for two reasons: first, because the people here are relatable through all walks of life. Second is the available outdoor space. As we mentioned above we try to source a lot of our ingredients locally and that is made possible in part because of our suppliers have access to this resources of this great state of ours. Our sea salt comes from a company in Marshfield, Maine and is captured from the ocean’s water using Solar power and our vanilla is made in Portland, Maine.

Owner(s) Name: Andy Wilbur

Business Name: Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections

Address: 174 Lower Main St.

City/State/Zip: Freeport, ME 04032

Phone: 207.865.4071

Email: (general questions) [email protected]

Website: wilburs.com

Facebook: Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections https://www.facebook.com/WilbursofMaineChocolateConfections/

Pinterest: Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections https://www.pinterest.com/wilbursofmaine

Instagram: Wilbur’s of Maine https://www.instagram.com/wilbursofmaine/

 

 

Maine Made Gifts: Black Dinah Chocolatiers

Maine wedding favors Black Dinah Chocolatiers

We are so blessed to live in Maine, and not just because of the warm, sunny summers and the picturesque white winters, but because Maine is home to a large number of talented crafts people and artisans like weavers, potters, soap makers, chocolatiers, woodworkers, and jewelers. In every shop in every town, you’ll see incredibly-crafted, unique Maine-made products.

Since many of our couples wish to surprise their wedding guests with welcome bags and/or favors of authentic Maine made products, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite Maine made gifts in this blog series. Of course, many of these handcrafted items would make wonderful bridesmaid or groomsmen gifts as well as gifts for parents of the wedding couple. For guests looking for a unique and meaningful gift for the lovebirds, you will find gift inspiration in this series, too.

How did the business start and who are the owners?

Black Dinah Chocolatiers (BDC) opened it’s doors in 2007, on tiny Isle au Haut, Maine. Steve and Kate Shaffer operated both BDC’s confectionery production, and a busy seasonal cafe, from their island home until 2015. In June of 2015, the business relocated to Westbrook, Maine.

Describe the products you sell (including how they’re made, if applicable).

Black Dinah Chocolatiers specializes in handmade chocolate confections, and gift-worthy presentation. All truffles, sea salt caramels, and novelty confections are made with fairly-traded and sustainably-grown chocolates and sugar. All of our confections are made from whole ingredients, grown locally and/or organically, including cream, butter, fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Who typically enjoys your products?

Our confections are most commonly purchased as gifts by people who want to communicate a sincere, heartfelt message to a friend, client, or beloved family member. Our confections are family and holiday traditions, and are gifted privately, or used as coveted favors for large corporate celebrations or highly personalized weddings.

What’s the best way to purchase them?

Our full line of chocolates and confections can be purchased on our website, or at our retail locations in Westbrook, Maine and Blue Hill, Maine. Our truffles and barks are sold at retail partners throughout Maine and New England, and across the country.

What’s your favorite thing about Maine?

The abundance of fresh, healthful, and beautiful food, grown, produced, and shared on small family farms.

Kate and Steve Shaffer
Black Dinah Chocolatiers
869 Main St.
Westbrook, ME 04092 and 5 Main St., Blue Hill, ME 04614
207-887-9763
[email protected]
www.blackdinahchocolatiers.com
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Do you have a favorite Maine made gift? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Maine Wedding Gifts: Tandem Coffee Roasters

Maine is quickly gaining attention as the mecca for small batch custom creations. We’ve long been a center for craft microbreweries, high-end chocolatiers, and more recently, craft coffee roasters.

Tandem Coffee in Portland, ME offers some of the most delicious caffeinated brews in the state. If you are looking for a great favor that not only reflects your Maine experience but something your guests will actually use and love, this is where you should go.

Order online and create DIY custom favors for your guests, or have some available on the morning of your big day to keep your wedding party awake and ready to dance all night.

Check them out online at www.tandemcoffee.com.

If you find yourself in Portland and need a quick pick-me-up visit Kathleen and Will Pratt at the cozy, custom-built cafe and roastery at 122 Anderson Street.

Maine Wedding Venue | Maine Destination Wedding

Beat the Heat: Plan Ahead For Hot Weather on Your Wedding

Maine Wedding Location

This past weekend was the first unexpected heat wave of the summer here in Maine. Although our property is perfectly set against the backdrop of the ocean with a nice breeze coming across the gazebo where most couples host their ceremony, we still prepare for the summer scorching sun and high temperatures. We have plans and backup plans to ensure our couples have the perfect day despite the heat and their guests are comfortable and have a fantastic time.

If you are planning your wedding for a weekend in June/July/August and concerned that the heat will affect your ceremony here are a few things to keep in mind while working with your other vendors:
Flowers:
Choose flowers that fare better in the heat and won’t immediately wilt in the sun. Work with your florist to create the perfect bouquets that will hold up in the heat. Calla Lillys, Roses and Orchids are some of our favorites. Consider incorporating grasses, branches or succulents for an interesting look and greenery that will hold up in any weather.
Cake:

We will help to make sure your cake is kept cool and ready to eat for your reception, but when working with your cake designer there are some things to consider to make sure you don’t have a melted lopsided cake in the heat. Whipped cream, cheesecake and fondant cake are the worst 3 choices when for a hot weather summer wedding. The best choice would be buttercream icing with a fruit filling. Thicker frosted cakes seems to last much longer than any other kind of wedding cakes. Try to avoid decorating the cake sides with accents that will slide or shift in the heat. Well secured flowers will look fresh and stay put.

Beauty:

Less is more when the heat starts to affect your make-up. Fresh and light will be your motto. When buying products if you are doing your own make-up look for waterproof options. Also, if you are planning a mid-summer wedding, having a professional beauty consultant is worth the money. They know every trick to keep your face looking natural and glowing without looking sweaty or weighed down.

Favors:

You want to give your guests a party favor they will remember. Even better, make it a party favor they will actually be able to use. A paper parasol or fan will be extremely useful during the ceremony and create color and movement that will look great in photographs. Other favors to include in small baskets or bags are single service suntan lotion or sunglasses.

Maine Made Gifts: Seawicks Candles

We kicked off our season last weekend with a very romantic wedding. It was a gorgeous day, and as the sun set the dining room came alive with dozens of candles. As guests sat to eat dinner the space was glowing. Wouldn’t it be amazing if each guest could take a piece of that romance home with them?

Seawicks candles would make the perfect wedding favor, or gifts for bridesmaids and anyone who helped make your wedding a special day. They are hand crafted in Maine, are 100% high quality soy and smell amazing!

Their candles are available in glass (60 hours burning time) or tin containers (30 hours burning time). The line is carried in 80 stores, primarily in New England, and on the Seawicks Candle Company website,www.seawicks.com. If you live in the Boothbay region, the candles are carried by Casual Interiors and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.