Everyone needs a memento to remind them of their beach vacation, whether it’s a shell discovered on an early morning beach walk, or coastal furnishings to make home always feel like a favorite vacation on the shore.
Here on the island, you won’t find the towering beach emporiums that clutter other resort destinations. Instead, the villages feature a blend of smaller but brightly colored stores and cottage-style shops that offer a unique blend of souvenirs that are strictly Hatteras style.
Craftsmen and artists flock to the island for its laid back charm and limitless source of inspiration, and you’ll find their creations in a number of these gift shops.
A portion of local fare comes from the regional artists of Eastern North Carolina, from Edenton to Beaufort, but the beautiful scenery and natural materials has inspired many local artist residents to remain on the island and hone their craft.
Local painters and potters can sometimes be found working on the back steps of local galleries. Beach scenes and natural landscapes aren’t hard to come by, and make an appearance in most all forms of island work.
Avant garde artists have even been known to incorporate shells, and more often, small pieces of beach glass rescued from the sand or from the soundside of villages where ancestral island families used to live. They turn these tiny finds into everything from outdoor wind chimes to upscale jewelry pieces.
At the Blue Pelican Gallery, local photographer, jewelry designer and owner Jenn Johnson offers a wide range of pieces. Like all local island galleries and gift shops, there are a number of eclectic local artists, from a variety of different backgrounds and mediums, who display their works in her shop.
These artists include Antoinette Gaskins Mattingly, a fourth generation island resident and artist who creates works in clay, and John “Fuzz” McCormack who perfects his pottery in the back of his garage and drives his creations to the gallery in his trusty pick-up truck.
The quirky character and natural backdrop of Hatteras Island is evident in all works of art and handmade mementos. And the best way to explore what local artists have to offer is to take a tour of the seven villages, from Rodanthe to Hatteras Village, and search for the back road, weathered galleries and gift shops that, despite their small facade, house an ocean full of one-of-a-kind seaside treasures.