The Fine Art Souvenirs of Cailin Henson
● By Gary VanDeWalker
By Gary VanDeWalker
Photo: Taryn Burkleo
Cailin Henson’s pen rose slowly from the pool of black ink to touch the white paper. Her childhood love of drawing houses guided her hand as the stone building emerged across the blank postcard before her. The patient artist smiled as the rock house of the Seven Suns Cafe in Mount Shasta came to life. Her passion for black ink, her hometown and a trip abroad would set a course for her art.
Henson moved to Mount Shasta from McCloud in the third grade. “I didn’t appreciate where I lived,” she says. “It took leaving for college in Long Beach and coming back again to realize what surrounded me.”
Growing up, Henson’s parents traveled with their family in the summer. Traveling continued as she married Tim, an engineer, and opportunities to travel with his job brought her to Wales for their wedding anniversary. She enjoyed buying souvenirs on her trips, but she lamented that the trinkets were hardly useful and would lay somewhere forgotten, along with her memories. In Wales, the couple toured a woodworking shop which sold wooden spoons with the burnt image of a dragon. The utensil became cherished as it made meals and brought back the trip to Wales with each use.
The couple settled back in her hometown of Mount Shasta. Piano, painting, drawing and creating an online magazine filled Henson’s days. She wanted to interact with people, to use her talents and passions. The wooden spoon reminded her of her trip and sparked an idea. People travel to Mount Shasta, but is there anything they could bring home like her wooden spoon from Wales? She began to dream of usable souvenirs.
Alpenglow Manor products were born as Henson’s fingers held a wood-burning pen over a wooden spoon, etching the image of Mt. Shasta on its surface. She took the spoons to a local shop, and she began to see sales on their first day in the shop. The spoons were left natural wood, without finish, to be used as both a reminder of the city and a tool to be used at home.
Henson learned that many travelers looked for Christmas tree ornaments as a token of their trips. Taking medallion slices of cedar, she crafted and burned the image of Mt. Shasta into ornaments. “I finally found the outlet for my creativity,” she says.
She applied her ink pen to cloth, creating an image to be printed on tea towels with an eco-friendly ink onto fair trade cotton. Her black-and-white drawings moved to eight specialized notecards featuring images from the area. Soon she was cutting out the shapes of local animals, adorning them with chalkboard quotes. Pushing her boundaries, she learned to etch glass and created a set of wine glasses with views of Heart Lake, Castle Crags and Lake Siskiyou.
“I like learning new techniques and mediums. Every Christmas, I choose to learn something new and make things for my family,” she says. “Where I once didn’t appreciate my home, now I love being here, and am grateful how my passions and where I live come together.”
Henson’s elementary school sketching grew into a cottage industry. Her day is a testimony to her creativity. Her desk produces New Identity, an online Christian magazine. Her easel transforms her vistas into paintings for her friends. Her pen and ink, wood-burning pen and glass etcher place her world on useful objects which travel to the homes of strangers.
“What I do is for the people who travel here, not for me,” she says. “I specifically want for someone to enjoy and bring Mount Shasta home.”