Bringing wilderness into art and into your home — An interview with Coco Barrett-Tormey

 Coco Barrett-Tormey

We got the chance to talk to Coco, the amazingly talented ceramicist behind the mountain and cactus mugs. In the interview below, she tells us how she got started in ceramics and where she finds inspiration.

What initially got you interested in ceramics?

I love making pottery because it doesn’t go on your wall. I fell in love with an art that people connect to in their everyday lives. A favorite mug can become apart of someone’s morning ritual. I like being associated with that slow time that gears you up for the day.

All of my work is hand thrown, painted, carved, glazed and fired. Each step is affected by the always-changing weather of Santa Cruz. When its wet and cold the clay will take longer to dry and it can be a test of my patience. When it’s hot I have to move quickly to beat the clay before it gets to dry to carve or attach handles to mugs. This timing can go from slow to fast when it’s a foggy Santa Cruz morning and I put the pieces out to dry on my truck in the sun the next thing you know it’s a blue sky day and I have to rush the clay inside and cover it up with plastic hoping to slow it down. Because of this my work is a product even more tied to the world around me and Santa Cruz the home I love.

Where did the inspiration for the cactus and mountain designs come from?

I’m a backpacker. My designs are based on the many wilderness area of California. As Californians we are spoiled with mountains, desert, and ocean. There is infinite inspiration in the landscapes around us.

Now I see the wilderness in a whole new way. I see a rock in the desert and wonder how I can get that pink blue ombre on a mug. I see mountain range and wonder about recreating the shapes of the peaks and valleys.

Mountain Mug by Coco


Santa Cruz has a thriving community of artists and skilled makers. How has living and working here been for you?

I always struggled with calling myself an artist. It takes a lot of confidence to claim. In Santa Cruz it helps that everyone is an artist.

I split my studio space on the west side with a sign painter and surfboard shaper. My partner is a sculptor and printmaker and works on campus (UCSC) in the Art Department. My housemates are musicians and bike mechanics.

Someone is always high on a new idea. The other day I was shouting in the shop excited about trying something new. We help each other stay inspired.  

What do you do when you’re not making ceramics?

Surf // summer bbqs // walk a dog // eat good food with friends

How do you find the balance between making art and running a business? Doing what you love versus doing it as a way to make money?

I feel busy in every moment. 

You have a big and loving following. Did you see this coming or were you surprised?

I think people are deeply moved by their time outdoors and want to bring it into their homes. I like helping with that.

What advice would you give artists or ceramicists trying to launch a career in this field?

Trust what you love.


You can shop Coco's mugs with us in-store and online here.

Follow Coco on Instagram.

First Friday Santa Cruz at Stripe Men: Amanda Payne

Amanda Payne Art

Artist Statement

Amanda Payne is a painter, textile, tattoo artist and performer native to Santa Cruz and is terrible at writing about herself. More of her work can be seen at F U Tattoo or on her website

You can also see her on stage monthly with Sin Sisters Burlesque.

She is available for custom work, feel free to contact her at

First Friday Santa Cruz at Stripe: Kate Jaffe


Kate Jaffe taught herself weaving and spinning from old library books. Her first loom was a redwood frame loom she built with her mother but she now weaves on a Japanese floor loom and other small looms she makes with retired fence wood. She enjoys the entire process of creating fabric - from the smell of the boiling dye pot to the texture of the finished tapestry.

Crafting is the dark, sweet bread of her life. With the rest of her time she teaches Ethnobotany, Directs a Wilderness Survival and Peacemaking program for children, bicycle tours, forages, and catches glimpses of birds outside. Her inspirations are Haiku, tea, awkward pauses, mustaches, perfectly ripe stone fruits, watching dogs meet, well cooked rice and the life cycles of salmon and ants.

Kate teaches weaving, spinning, and bookbinding at her studio on the West Side of Santa Cruz.

Caryn Owen at Stripe


Artist Statement:

As an emerging artist in Santa Cruz, California, my vibrant abstract art and giclee prints evoke the lovely shades of Northern California landscapes and beaches. I consider myself a colorist, focusing more on featuring intense colors rather than forms. My abstract paintings are modern, bold, feminine and colorful. As I layer colors on the canvas, my pictures tend to evolve, with each layer adding texture and depth. All of my paintings represent the vibrancy, style, and modernity of the Santa Cruz scene. I am inspired by trends in fashion, decor, Northern California style and always the ocean. 

See more about Caryn and her work at her website.

Caryn Owen's paintings will be up in the shop for the month of March.

Danny Shimoda at Stripe MEN



Artist Statement:

I grew up exploring the wild places of California, from the rolling oak savannas of my native Santa Barbara to the high Sierras and redwood coasts. After earning a degree in printmaking at UCSC I have spent the last few years working with plants as a farmer and gardener. My time working and living in rural spaces has deepened the relationship between the animate, other than human world and my art practice. This body of work, featuring endangered flora and fauna of California, is heavily influenced by my Japanese ancestry, traditional Japanese woodcuts, and my love for the increasingly fragile world of native plants and animals.

Danny Shimoda's work will be up in the shop throughout the month of March.


Each month we at Stripe and Stripe Men host a local artist through Santa Cruz's First Friday Art Tour. If you don't know what that is, it's an event that is held on the first Friday of every month. On this night, local businesses display an array of art, as they open the doors to the public to shop, drink, and mingle with the artist.
We are known for hosting some amazing artistic talent, but we are also known for what has been dubbed the "stripe-tini." At both stores a cocktail is created and passed out to 21 and over customers to sip on while they shop. The stripe-tini changes out with a different recipe for each month. The gin/ vodka drinks tend to be found being served at the women's store, while the whisky/ bourbon drinks are served at the men's. With the love we have received for our cocktails, we now look forward to sharing it with you. So if you missed our most resent First Friday, no need to fret! You can now follow us for recipes, along with delicious food recipes  to pair with it from cookbooks for sale at Stripe.

  • Ginger Beer 1/2 cup
  • Vodka 1/2 cup
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice 3/4 cup (about 4 lemons)
  • lemonade 3 cups
  • rosemary 2 fresh sprigs
  • blackberries 2 cups
Prepare the cocktail in a large pitcher by adding the lemonade, fresh squeezed or store bought lemon juice, ginger beer, and vodka.
Separately, muddle the blackberries. Siphon the juice from the blackberries into the cocktail mixture, or add the muddled berries for added texture. Top it off with the sprigs of rosemary for garnish.
If you are looking for a great appetizer to pair with this cocktail, try:

Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 3/4 ups mayonnaise (homemade or purchased)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
"You can grill or broil broccoli, just as is, but it tends to get a burned flavor, which is unpleasant. Mayonnaise has a really high smoke point and is great to grill or broil with. All the mayonnaise will burn off in the process, so you will not even know it was there, but it will protect the broccoli from tasting burned. All you need to do is toss your vegetable of choice with mayo and a little olive oil. Broil or grill your vegetables until it is charred all over, sprinkle with salt, and add a squeeze or lemon and fresh rosemary." -Henderson, Malibu Farm Cookbook
You can find this recipe and more from Malibu Farm Cookbook, by Helene Henderson,
the World Buyers teak coasters, and Borosil US Vision Deco Bevel 10 oz. tumbler (set of 6) here for purchase at Stripe.

Stacy Frank at Stripe

Since taking her first printmaking class at Cabrillo College in 1994 Stacy has been exploring the techniques of pushing ink into paper. The series of  Stripes monoprints featured in this one-month show are created using various printmaking techniques including collagraphy, drypoint, carborundum, offset and ghost printing. Once the prints dry they are mounted on cradled wood panels and sealed with layers of polyurethane.

Visit her website at to learn more about printing techniques and to see a selection of her artwork including traditional intaglio etchings, monoprints, drawings and paintings.

Shannon Belardi at Stripe MEN

My work is an exploration of mark making across three mediums – drawing, etching and oil paint on canvas. In these recent drawings and etchings, I investigate different ways of organizing accumulated marks on paper by abstracting them into a harmony of grids and spectrums. These works are spawned from my growing interest in the practice of collecting and archiving, specifically historical objects and their relationship to landscape history.

I currently live and work in the Santa Cruz Mountains and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Jose State University in 2015.

Prints by Lili Arnold at Stripe MEN

New Works by Taylor Wordell at Stripe