Holiday Shopping Guide: Locally Made Gifts Your Loved Ones Will Actually Love by Rachel Bone
It’s December. The cocoa is brewing, the mistletoe hung high, and it’s time once again to drain our savings, hit the streets, and show our undying love for each other with merchandise! Read on if you want to avoid the mall and still be invited to Christmas again next year, because below is a gift guide of local businesses and products you should know about.
TWIGS AND WOOL – Locally made & sourced knit ware – $25-$45
Corrine Nadine Gasiorowski was a recent college graduate with an English degree when she decided to start her own craft business. (Thus proving an English degree can be just as useless as an art degree – just in case my parents are reading this). Her lifelong love of knitting manifested easily into a simple, well-made collection of hats and scarves in a variety of pretty fall colors. She sources her materials entirely from the USA, and for every piece sold, she donates a similar piece to House of Ruth, a women’s domestic abuse shelter in Baltimore.
A gift that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, both literally and figuratively. Available at Double Dutch Boutique in Hampden, Women’s Exchange in Mt. Vernon, and online at www.twigsandwool.com.
MATT FOUSE – Upcycled Furniture – $150-$1500
Formerly an airline employee and physical therapist, this full-time artist is now well known among Charles Villagers for (among other things) a maniacal laugh that carries for blocks. Not to mention a back-alley metalwork studio that attracts the “apprenticeship” of neighborhood kids, DIY art installations on Abell and Guilford Avenues, and a rumored habit of shooting rats with bb guns in the backyard.
He dresses as a rat for neighborhood festivals, and has the self-inducted title of “Rat Czar of Baltimore,” selling stickers and tees that mockingly celebrate our city’s pest problem. Fouse’s likewise one-of-a-kind furniture is made of vintage industrial metal, glass, and reclaimed wood. Sturdy, full of character, and charmingly blunt, just like its maker. The coffee tables can be found at Trohv in Hampden, the rest can be commissioned at www.mattfouse.com.
ANDREA PIPPINS – I Love My Hair Coloring Book – $11
Perhaps you’ve noticed your friends diving into adult coloring books as a meditative past time recently? The trend is gaining a rabid following from lifestyle bloggers and instagram narcissists alike, posting staged photos of cozy wintery scenarios involving cocktails & coloring. I hadn’t jumped on coloring myself yet (too much embroidery floss in stock, and still chasing that friendship bracelet dream), but I’m officially intrigued.
If there’s a coloring book to buy for anyone this holiday, it should be from Andrea Pippins. This Baltimore artist has become a force to be reckoned with in the past few years, building a successful blog, design business, art practice, and a dedicated following. The number of toes she has dipped in multiple platforms should be inspiring to any arts entrepreneur. Her new book, “I Love My Hair,” celebrates diversity through the hair of empowered and proud women of the world. Can’t beat girl-power as a stocking stuffer. Available at bookstores all over the city, or www.barnesandnoble.com.
BOWERBOX PRESS – Letterpress cards and prints $15-$25
It seems only fitting that a studio focused on a centuries-old printing technique would be run out of an old barn in Monkton. We’re talking chickens waddling around the yard, an organic veggie garden, and windows overlooking an almost humorously patriotic field of wheat. Artist Val Lucas recently quit her day-job in the big city (Baltimore) to pursue the life of a printemaker full time, and delivers a line of cards and prints of her fittingly timeless illustrations of birds and wildlife. Her illustration blocks are carved by hand, and wording is set from an in-house supply of old lead type.
In addition, she will print by commission, and does so expertly for wedding invites, birth announcements, holiday cards, and the like. She even offers foil stamping. The Bowerbox instagram account is worth stalking to see the cool side-projects that happen to those chickens’ eggs. (Lucas has been known to experiment with Russian egg dying techniques in her spare time). Sold at BMA Giftshop, Trohv, Women’s Exchange, and online at www.bowerbox.com.
FOUND STUDIO – mixed media paintings – $22-$88
Know someone who loves art but never buys it for themselves? The mixed media work of Kacey Stafford seems to please everyone, and go with everything; an affordable art gift for someone with a new home, or re-decorating a room. Stafford creates her farm and homesteading themed paintings by layering cut paper & fabric on wood panels and painting over them with layers of paint. She teaches private lessons in her collage techniques, as well as co-organizing local craft fairs with Baltimore’s Charm City Craft Mafia, and manages to run her painting business full time from home while simultaneously raising two kids – who regularly appear paint-smeared and grinning on social media “helping out” with the paintings. What better way to start a family business?
Sold at Becket-Hitch in Greenspring Station, and Trohv, as well as online at www.foundstudioart.com.
KNIT SOY & METAL –handmade candles – $14.95
I’m not a huge scents person. I generally sprint past the perfume counter at the mall (wait, we all do that, right?), and have regretted every purchase of nice-smelling lotion or body oil after putting it on my skin because it never smells as good mixed with my own inferior smell. But I recently stopped at the Women’s Exchange in Mt. Vernon and started obsessing over the nice scents and sweet design on the candles from Knit Soy & Metal. Subtle but tasty smells that made me feel kinda wholesome for standing near them.
The difference of course is, the former items are manufactured chemical smells. The latter – carefully handmade by artist Letta Moore – use real ingredients from nature, in a healthy soy base. Now, maybe it’s not rocket science to separate these things into opposite categories. I’m sure you figured this difference out for yourself sometime before your thirties, and already own respectable candles like these. But if you need more, choose these. I re-evaluated the ban on scented candles in our household and discovered I want one of these in every room.
Knit Soy & Metal candles, along with Moore’s knit products, are additionally sold at Keeper’s Vintage in Mt. Vernon, Vita Baltimore in Belvedere Square and online at www.knitsoyandmetal.com.
BETH HOECKEL – Printed collages – $20
You (or your Secret Santa victim) might know Beth Hoeckel’s collage work from the cover of a popular album by Future Islands (“Singles” released in 2014), but you should pay attention to her for lots of reasons.
Hoeckel is enjoying an award-winning career of freelance illustration in her trademark vintage, apocalyptic-sweet, collage style and has appeared in magazines such as The Atlantic, Wired and Cosmopolitan. The prolific artist also sells her original work, along with prints, tote bags, pillows, and even shower curtains for affordable prices, and has gained a huge following in Baltimore. Prints sold at Hunting Ground and Trohv in Hampden, as well as online at www.bethhoeckel.com.
STITCH AND RIVET – Waxed Canvas bag $84
Know someone with too much baggage to carry… Literally? Try these hand sewn waxed canvas bags, expertly sewn by DC studio Stitch & Rivet. The line’s utilitarian style is really appealing and the simplicity appeals to both men and women, so buy now – decide who gets it later! Designer Katie Stack sources leather and vegan-friendly waxed canvas from all American finishers and salvage warehouses–with every effort made to eliminate waste.
Stack recently converted part of her DC studio into a storefront, where she sells her bags, wallets, belts and accessories alongside carefully chosen pieces from other local crafters. You can find Stitch and Rivet pieces at Gala Artisans in Kensington, Tanglewood Works in Hyattsville, and online at stitchandrivet.com.
MARYLAND FILM FESTIVAL – Gift Membership or Donation – $25-$2000
Looking for a present for the person who owns everything? They like movies, right? Perfect! Did you know you can gift a membership to Baltimore’s prestigious MD Film Festival and score them free tickets to year-round events and screenings and first picks and discounts during the festival itself in May.
Memberships are tiered and range from $25(student) to $2000 (Premiere Member). Already a member, you can also donate in someone’s name to the renovation of the historic Parkway Theater on North Ave, being undertaken by the festival this year. The theater will feature first looks at independent films, both local and international. A highly anticipated treasure, with the recent extinction of independent video stores leaving a gap in film resources. More info at www.mdfilmfest.com.
BOYS OF HAMPDEN – 2015 CALENDAR – $10
I can’t even begin to tell you who to give this calendar to. It’s so stupid. It really is. I can’t believe I’m recommending buying it on an art blog. But I love it despite – or maybe because of – its dumbness, and you will too. The Boys Of Hampden 2015 calendar comes in two levels of weirdness – “Mild” and “Wild.” It features local male shop owners, artists, and employees in neighborhood, willing to bare all (or ok… almost all) for the sake of charity in photos by BmoreArt Contributor Justin Tsucalas. 100% of proceeds go to the Hampden Family Center which provides programming for all ages in the neighborhood. Afterschool care for kids, lunches for seniors, adult literacy classes are just some of the things that have been offered for more than a decade.
If you don’t have a good humored Baltimore friend to buy this for, just get it for yourself. You’ll never go for ice cream at the Charmery without blushing again. Available at shops in Hampden (Trohv, Atomic Books, Sixteen Tons, Watermelon Sugar, and more) and online at loucatelli.wix.com.
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.