Visual Arts » Crafts

Perfectly Present-able



Shop Small Saturday may be just behind us, but there's ample time for shopping adventures that support local business--and central Indiana's hometown makers--this holiday season. And who better to ask about the goods created here than the people who make and sell them?

We reached out to area artists, shopkeepers and food-makers to find out their favorite such go-to gifts.


Allison Ford
Owner & Operator at studio AMF

Allison Ford is a jewelry-maker who works in metal and wood. She's also a mother to Harper and Margot, a yoga teacher, a gardener, a hiker and a sailor on her 14-foot catamaran. Her rings, bracelets and earrings are made primarily of hand-carved wood, sometimes shaped from layers of different woods, sometimes embedded with starlike sterling silver. Ford loves others' work that connects with nature and that reveals the beauty of raw materials.

Locals who make her list:

   ·Sara B Jewelry & Metalsmithing, by Sara Biniecki, who Ford describes as a "kindred jewelry spirit" explaining, "she's using sterling, stone, fossils--she's from Michigan, so she draws inspiration from that, from the nature there, to create subtle drama in every single piece she makes." Sara B's jewelry can be found online at Etsy and at Homespun: Modern Handmade in Irvington.

   ·The Binding Bee's leather journals, created by Megan Winn. "These are truly inspiring and amazing journals," says Ford. "They feel like you would pull them off a shelf in a 16th-century library--thick handmade paper, hand-bound, and made of recycled leathers with found objects as closures." Winn's journals can be found at her online shop and at Homespun.


Todd Robinson
Owner of LUNA music

Todd Robinson opened LUNA music in 1994. The shop's moved around, but settles in solidly at 52nd Street and College Avenue these days. LUNA specializes in indie releases and an impressive stock of new and vintage vinyl, but it also has some of the most distinctive store T-shirts around, thanks to designs by Nathaniel Russell, as well as prints created by Mile 44's Dave Windisch and Amy McAdams Design. Robinson also features local music in the shop and recommends the new DMA release by the former songwriter of Jookabox.

For the design or fashion enthusiast on your list--or for someone who just loves a local-done-good story, Robinson thinks you should pick up:

   ·Commercial Article 1 through 6, created by James and Jon Sholly at Commercial Artisan, with help from historian Connie Ziegler. "The latest one, about Norman Norrell is an impressive thing--it folds out to more than 6 feet long," says Robinson. "It's amazing to see somebody from here who had so much impact on the fashion industry. And each issue just keeps getting better." You can purchase Commercial Article online--and, when we were chatting, Robinson declared that he really should add some copies to LUNA's selection, too.


Emily Schwank
Professional Photographer & Artist, Raincliffs Photography

Emily Schwank captures family life, life transitions (think: babies, weddings and the like) and fabulous shindigs through her photography business, but also works in fine art photography and balances her camera time with her mama time. She has five kids and plenty of energy. When she's looking for a lovely gift, Schwank likely heads to Artifacts, Silver in the City, Homespun (a bit of a theme among local makers) or Global Gifts.

But when asked to highlight a locally created product, Schwank picks:

   ·Nancy Lee Design jewelry. "Her work is fantastic, really beautiful," says Schwank. "It's unique without being too strange, and her craftsmanship is unparalleled." Schwank has relied on Lee's skills more than once when selecting the perfect gift for women in her life. According to Schwank, Lee's work is at once distinctive, apart from ho-hum mainstream work, but still fits into professional settings. Nancy Lee Designs are available in her online shop and at Arts A Poppin.


Carrie Abbott
Owner of Newfangled Confections

Carrie Abbott began her career of feeding people as a 7-year-old, demanding that her best friend "order" from her menu in the early 1980s. A few decades later, in 2012, she launched her business with Frittle, a sweet that's not quite fudge and not quite brittle. Since then she's added sweet-spicy nuts, pralines and chocolate buttermints to her creations, all of them what she would describe as "updated grandma candies." With a lifelong obsession with food, her preferences for presents are solidly culinary in nature.

Abbott suggests that you consider:

   ·B. Happy Peanut Butter - "This is dessert in a jar," says Abbott. "It's meant to be a spread, but, really, why? Just take a spoon to the peanut butter and eat it." This family business, based in Zionsville and started this year, has six different peanut butters. B. Happy's PB additions include white chocolate, pretzels (a favorite of Abbott's), trail mix, popcorn, toffee and crisped rice cereal.  So, it makes sense that Abbott thinks B. Happy's lineup is perfect for "someone who appreciates food and deserves a real indulgence." The PBs are available at Lilly Orchard, Inga's Popcorn and via email order.

   ·Art 2 the Extreme - Nicole Lewis gathers thousands of scrap crayons and recasts them, rainbow-style, into fun shapes for Art 2 the Extreme. For Abbott, the Legolike bricks, cupcakes, tiny skulls, Christmas trees and robots are "an awesome gift" for grandparents to buy in multiples. "And, everyone has seen this kind of project on Pinterest, but no one is actually doing this, you can just visit Nicole," says Abbott. Art 2 the Extreme has an Etsy shop and will be found at upcoming craft events including INDIEana Handicraft Exchange and YELP's Totally Bazaar.


Mab Graves
Artist & Illustrator

Mab Graves creates adorably odd depictions of girls, animals and worlds. She works in "pop surrealist" style, a whimsical illustrative approach that focuses on storytelling and imaginative imagery. She also recently published a book of paper dolls, Little Lost Girls, with Dover Press, the same publisher who put out the paper dolls that she loved so much as a child that they remain in her current home, in a shoebox. You can pick up the book locally at Kids Ink Children's Bookstore.

Both of her local recommendations feature playful and nostalgic approaches to illustration, but with quite different themes:

   ·Amy Earles' articulated paper dolls are perfect for "any girl in the world from 4 to 94," according to Graves. "They make the neatest, coolest gifts--they can be a card, a toy, a piece of art," says Graves. She also recommends framing them in open frames, so they can be interactive wall art. Earles sells her work through her Wool and Water Etsy shop.

   ·Working as Dead Ace Co, Ryan Abegglan creates "clever, witty and very graphic, in a kind of old-timey way" posters. Who is the ideal recipient? "Someone stylish with an incredibly quirky sense of humor and laugh lines--or perhaps Wes Anderson, whoever is on your gift list." Graves adds, "I buy a piece for all the men in my life, because it's so much fun to give." His work, both prints and originals, can be purchased through his Etsy shop.

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