Santa Gets Some Serious Help from Crafty, Artistic Locals
Great gifts? Look no further than local artists: Online, in-store and at upcoming events, they've got your holiday shopping creatively covered!
Gift giving season will soon be in full swing, and all across town talented elves are stepping up production. Maplewood's an artsy place, but the plethora of creative artisans and crafty folks in our midst is truly daunting. From local shops that support town talent like Tenth Muse, Kokoro and Perch to craft shows and online offerings, there is an absolute abundance of prime presents to purchase made right here in Maplewood.
Two upcoming events offer great ways to scratch some gifts off your holiday list while supporting home-grown crafters and artists: The Holiday Bazaar at the Maplewood's Woman's Club this tomorrow from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. is the perfect place to kick off the season with a unique selection of creative offerings. I know Joy Yagid, a Patch contributor and a phenomenal photographer will be there with some of her wonderful work.
Next, 1978 Maplewood Arts Center will be hosting its incredibly popular 'Small Works Show' during the first two weekends of December. The annual fundraiser features local artists who offer smaller pieces for sale at gracious prices to benefit the center. "It's a wonderful way for people to support local artists and be able to afford to gift others with original works of art," says Ellen Greenfield, board chair of the center. "It's really a great event every year—everybody wins!"
ETSY is also a high-tech way to shop local and connect with our creative community from the comforts of your own keyboard. You can make your search as Maplewood specific as you'd like and still find a stellar selection of fiber artists—Kari Capone of The Spinning Hand, the wildly whimsical dolls from Second Star to the Right, and the illuminating illustrations and tremendous talents of Susan Brand. (Her riveting, ravishing raven print is on the top of my holiday wish list.)
Maplewoodian and talented jewelry maker Melissa de la Fuente also has an impressive ETSY following at her 'luckylife' shop, but says you can't beat the personal connections you make in a town like Maplewood. "I find my things really connect in person, so I get sought out by a lot of people who've seen jewelry on friends," explains Melissa. Local appreciation for creativity and art is a big part of the reason she feels the majority of her pieces are sold by word of mouth.
Online or in person, de la Fuente's customers also get the benefits of that 'small town' relationship for the lifetime of owning her work: "I want my pieces to last and I create them that way," she says. "So I would gladly replace or repair any item that ever had a problem." She's never had to make good on that guarantee, though, because—delicate and precious as they might appear—all her prototypes go through the rigorous testing and tugging of her in-house testers: two rambunctious daughters.
In addition to ETSY, The SOMA Artisan's Guild is another great way to connect with local creatives. Since August 2009, the Guild has been providing a venue of support for independent artists and crafters in our two towns. Founded by artists Katie Clayton (of Crafty Katie) and Ann Vollum (of BeastlyBeasties) the group is a fabulous forum for creative networking. The Guild is also a great resource for pointing shoppers in the direction for finding folks who might be creating the unique presents you're hoping to find this shopping season.
Now go forth and creatively conquer that gift list! (And PLEASE feel free to post your sites, photos or suggestions for homespun local creations below!)