Red Prairie Press’s Rachel Bone makes a list of the best local, handmade holiday gifts.
It’s December, and your inbox is no doubt clogged with offers of free shipping, small discounts, and offensive acronyms like BOGO and FOMO. If you’re feeling tempted to bite on any of the big box offers… remember your dignity!
Do yourself a favor and consider some of the unique things being made right here in Baltimore instead. Shopping local not only makes you feel proud, but it helps stick money back into the economy here in Baltimore, and encourages the artists and craftspeople here to keep on innovating and creating. My list could go on forever, but here’s a taste of what’s for sale around the city this season.
Maps by Caleb Luke Lin (also pictured above)
Trohv Home & Gift (921 W. 36th St., Baltimore, MD 21211)
These detailed, screen printed Baltimore maps by the recent MICA grad are an interesting take on an already beloved subject, and the artist himself is one of my favorite to come out of MICA in some time. His website shows a few prints I bought myself at Art Market years ago, and I’m excited to see what else he starts offering the world. For a true splurge, his one-of-a-kind globe is also for sale at Trohv – your go-to place for all things gift and handmade in Hampden. This guy is well worth encouraging, and definitely an artist to watch.
Flowers by Petal & Print // Stockings by Churchtown Chapeau Co.
Becket Hitch (Greenspring Station, 2360 W Joppa Road #110 Lutherville, MD 21093)
Need flowers? Local designer Katie McDonough creates breathtaking bouquets for private events all over the state. Lucky for you, she also offers a small collection of them for sale each Friday at this fancy new home & gift shop in Greenspring Station. Always a fine housewarming or hostess gift, and a nice compliment to the organic cotton, heirloom Christmas stockings of McDonough’s other line: Churchtown Chapeau Co. which you’ll also find at Becket-Hitch.
Papercut Artwork by Bmore Papercuts
Before starting a full time business creating paper cut pieces, Annie Howe worked for 10 years as a shadow puppeteer with the late great Nana Projects. Her understanding of negative space always amazes me, and her work stands out at craft fairs for being truly one-of-a-kind and special. It helps to love her themes – nature, gardening, love, friendship, bicycling – but her craftsmanship is what sets her apart. You can find her work on December 18 at the Charm City Craft Mafia’s Last Stops Hops N Shop event, head to Trohv in Hamden or her website here.
Craft and Skill Classes from Various Facilities & Studios in Baltimore
(look out for the new Industrial Arts Collective website – coming soon)
Shopping for someone with too much stuff? How about giving the gift of knowledge? Baltimore is brimming with public access facilities in all sorts of mediums, and many of them offer exciting and affordable classes. I’m hoping you’ll feel free to comment on this post with some more places offering classes. I have only scratched the surface with these six!
Baltimore Print Studios teaches letterpress printing, screen printing, tshirt making, bookbinding and more, and offers rentable studio hours. http://baltimoreprintstudios.com
Baltimore Jewelry Center teaches classes from beginning metalwork to stone setting. Offers rentable studio hours, and full access memberships. http://baltimorejewelrycenter.org
Station North Tool Library is known for its affordable memberships to rent out a wide selection of tools. They recently opened a woodworking shop at the facility and teach classes in machine safety and woodworking. http://stationnorthtoollibrary.org
Baltimore Clayworks teaches a range of ceramics classes (including some for the kiddos) and offers rentable studio hours and memberships. http://www.baltimoreclayworks.org
Baltimore Threadquarters offers classes in sewing, knitting, and all things fiber, and have a shop stocked with crafting supplies, which go awfully well with a gift certificate for a crafting class. http://www.baltimorethreadquarters.com
Baltimore Foundery provides classes in welding, brazing, and casting as well as providing rentable professional grade foundry facilities. http://bmorefoundery.com
Prints from Post Typography
Post Typography Offices (3 W 23rd Street, Baltimore, MD 21218)
Open House and Print Sale Saturday, December 13 from 12-4pm
The prolific designers at Post Typography will open their doors for the third year in a row to allow you the privilege of looking incredibly cool to your secret Santa victims (or incredibly dumb to the friends who know you’re giving away what you purchased here). Limited edition gig posters, fine art prints, and event posters will be discounted and fought over, books and albums will be signed by the artists, and graphic design cheekiness will ensue. Endless gifts for music and film lovers.
Chocolate from Jinji Chocolate // Kombucha from HEX Ferments
Belvedere Square Market (529 E. Belvedere Ave. Baltimore, MD 21212)
Jinji Chocolate is Raw, Vegan, and free of refined sugar. It’s the sort of Chocolate that people ACTUALLY mean, when they suggest that chocolate is good for you. Jinji is run by a Holistic Nutrition Counselor, and each hand crafted batch comes with the promise of added health benefits, such as the promotion of shiny hair, reduction of wrinkles & sun damage, and even one that boosts the libido.
HEX Ferments offers a selection of delicious small-batch flavors of this ancient fermented tea drink, along with other fermented treats and kits to make your own Kombucha at home. Each bottle boasts probiotic, gut-healing power with the added benefit of supporting organic & local produce in the making.
Two separate businesses in one location, perfect gifts for your favorite health nut.
Comics by Eamon Espey
Atomic Books (3620 Falls Rd. Baltimore, MD 21211)
Christmas shopping would not be complete without a trip to Atomic Books, and although I’m not positive that Eamon Espey’s most recent publication is available there just yet – or appropriate to give everyone on your list – I will send you there. Find the section marked with his name so that you can demand Wormdye 5 as soon as its available, and you can pick up the rest of his work in the meantime. His is a unique world made with dark humor, nightmarish subject matter, yet oddly beautiful, dream-like drawings. Gift a copy to all of your friends, but keep it out of the children’s stockings until they’re older.
Tea Towels from Open Eyes Press
Always a safe bet, and always useful, dishtowels are an easy solution to holiday shopping. These are hand printed by an artist in Baltimore, and feature old copyright free images from the days before dishwashers. Something for everyone, and if for some reason your gift recipient has no use for dish towels, then these prints come in wall hangings too. Find them in person at The Alchemy of Art Boutique and Trohv home & gift or online in her web shop.
Coffee from Red Emma’s Bookstore & Coffeehouse
(30 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD)
When Red Emma’s moved from their Mt Vernon location to a larger space on North Ave. last year, they transformed from a semi-dark & intimidating radical movement headquarters to an approachable, educational, community resource. The worker-owned collective holds free seminars and classes in social justice, writing, and democracy. Their food is tasty & they are abuzz with a diverse crowd of freelancers, meet-ups, book shoppers, and coffee drinkers. A town square of Station North, so much in line with their own mission statement that you can’t help but feel proud of them.
Support their efforts by buying into Thread: their Community Supported Coffee program. Learn more on their website or in store.
Organic Bodycare by Priya Means Love
Merry Mart (Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD)
Our skin is our largest organ, and if we’re going to preach about eating organic, then we should consider cleaning & primping our largest organ with organic things as well, I suppose. Luckily, this extensive line of organic creams, salves, scrubs and balms have your body pretty much covered, and they’re hand crafted right in Baltimore by Priya Narasimhan – a former mathematician who started the line out of necessity, after developing fibromyalgia and sensitivities to a large number of chemicals found in drugstore beauty products. Great gift for pretty much anyone left on your list with skin and a face.
Author Rachel Bone is an artist and business owner based in Baltimore. Her gouache paintings have been exhibited and collected internationally and prints are available locally at Trohv in Hampden. Her hand printed apparel company, Red Prairie Press, designs and sells its hand-printed, earth-conscious clothing at craft fairs across the country and wholesale to 45 stores worldwide. You can find Red Prairie Press clothing at Double Dutch Boutique.