Sunshine and Hides gift shop opens in Maple Lake

By Brenda Erdahl

Maple Lake’s main street has attracted another business thanks to its charm and community feel.

“We wanted a community with an old-town, main street type feel, we wanted character,” said Justine King one of the owners of downtown Maple Lake’s newest shop, Sunshine and Hides.

Located at 58 Birch Ave, the gift shop focuses on arts and leather work. Justine runs the store with her husband Tim and they stock it with everything from leather totes, messenger bags, traveler’s notebooks and journals adorned with handpainted art and carvings, to signs, canvas art and personalized furniture.

Most of the artwork is done by Justine and Tim themselves, but some items are provided by different local artists. As more artists get on board, Justine expects the inventory to evolve and change.

It all started for the Big Lake couple two years ago when they opened an on-line store called J.T. King Leather. Their uniquely decorated traveler’s notebooks became very popular among certain crowds and collectors. From there the couple branched into hobo bags, message bags, carry pouches, makeup bags and custom wallets, all decorated with their unique style of artwork. Tim is the leather worker and Justine does all the painting.

She uses professional grade leather paints on well prepared leather to make her pieces. The high-quality leather paint ensures the longest life possible. The process involves using five or six light layers of paint then a sealer, so her items will still look like new 10 years later. She and her husband will also carve designs onto leather pieces and use a burning technique called pyrography to create an image.

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