May You Get All Your Christmas Eve Wishes!


Countdown to the New Year with Cleveland Handmade: Snollygosters

It’s one of the busiest times of the year, with celebrations and parties, gatherings and gift-giving. This year Cleveland Handmade has geared up to showcase a variety of handmade goods for giving by stocking shops on etsy and throwing three handmade markets.
Here is another featured artist in my ongoing series, to let you know of all the great local handmade items you can find.

I got to see Snollygosters work at the first Cleveland Handmade Market in Chagrin Falls. She makes the most ADORABLE babushka dolls, which would be a perfect heirloom toy. They’re particularly cute with both “awake” and “asleep” faces

Bazaar Bizarre West 2009 – Don’t be a Boxhead

Get your head out of the big box store! (That’s old-school booooring shopping!)

Visit myself and plenty other artists for all your holiday shopping needs. There’s food, there’s fabulous ipod music, there’s fun (maybe Xan will even come walk on stilts again this year), and the people-watching is pretty good too.

All you need to know is it is the same location as last year: 78th Street Studios: 1300 W. 78th St to 1305 W. 80th St., north parking lot, north entrance (behind the building) — accessible from W. 78th OR W 80th St.

Saturday December 12th from noon to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday December 13th from noon to 6:00 p.m.
There’s over 75 vendors making tons of unique items.

Meaningful Holiday Giving

As the holidays are fast approaching I’d like to take the opportunity to I’d like to give you ideas on how to find gifts that will be meaningful to both the recipient, but also meaningful in a much larger sense.

When purchasing gifts this year consider three different possibilities other than just chain stores.

1. Shop Local
2. Shop Handmade.
3. Shop Charity

Using these three criteria you should be able to find the perfect gift for just about anyone one your list that will also give back to more than just the recipient.

Here’s a few things to consider:

Shopping Locally
In a nutshell, when you shop locally your hard earned dollars stay in your own community. The taxes you pay on items go back into your community, and often a larger percentage of the cost of the item stays in your community as well, as the seller usually spends their profits on local goods. Not only that, expensive transportation costs and environmental impacts are lessened as well. If you want to read more check out an article I wrote last year about shopping locally as well.

Shopping Handmade
When you shop handmade you are purchasing items made with care and concern. Often you will find that sellers of handmade goods give extra attention to detail, offer excellent customer service and package their items with care. When you buy handmade you are helping people support artistic lifestyles, helping them to support their families. Buying handmade helps small businesses grow, which in turn are also very beneficial for the economy. If your community is short on independent storefronts visit Etsy Shop Local to connect with home based artisans near you.

Shop Charity
There are also many gifts you can give that help improve the lives of people around the world in need. Some charities offer programs where you can donate in a gift recipients name. Others have store programs where portions of their proceeds from the sales of gift items goes to help the needy. One of my favorites is World Vision. World vision has a catalog in which you can purchase things like cows or chickens, donate to small business loans, or give a water well to someone in need in the name of your gift recipient. Visit http://www.worldvisiongifts.org to find out more. I am also a huge fan of unicef, which is one of the places I love to buy my Christmas cards each year, as the money goes to help children around the world.

Stuffing the Stocking with a Novelty Idea

I love it sometimes when gifts hearken back to simpler days.  Here’s a stocking stuffer, that would be a great toy for a child (or a grown-up) to remind them that not all toys beep, blink, require batteries or a plug or interact with you.

Yet—it still teaches plenty of eye-hand coordination!

During my stocking stuffer search I was introduced to these darling, handmade and woodburnt yo-yos from The Woody Nook.  The one I saw was on sale for only $6.00 which should seem like a steal considering the price of video games today.

I know my students first encountered them on a field trip recently, and it was amazingly funny to watch how enthralled with yo-yo’s they were.


Smiley Face Yo Yo

In search of the Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Once upon a time, one of the fun parts of holiday giving (and receiving) was the fun little items found stuffed inside one’s stocking.  They might have been funny, they might have been whimsical, they may have been cute.

Despite our current tumultuous economy, there is no reason finding perfect stocking stuffers can’t still be on the holiday giving agenda.  One of the best parts about stocking stuffers, is that with enough creativity or style—they don’t have to be expensive.

So in the days leading to Christmas, I thought I’d embark on a hunt to find some nifty items perefectly sized to slide right into those stockings.

First up are the super stylish magnets from The Green Daisy (a.k.a Kimiko611)  You can find any number of designs in The Green Daisy shop; be it retro, kitschy, or cute.  There is currently a line of holiday magnets just in time for the gift season such as the  “Merry Christmas” and “Let it Snow” sets below.  Better yet, most magnets in the shop are priced between $4.00 to $6.00 so they won’t break the bank.


Merry Christmas Magnets


Let it Snow Magnets

Bazaar Bizarre Cleveland 2008–It’s Bizarre to not go!

Well, the most fun “craft” show is returning to Cleveland again this year.  First let me be a bit of a lame writer, and post the “official” press release first.  I’ll include my own two cents after the release.

Bazaar Bizarre Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio branch of this beloved national indie craft fair (with branches in Boston, San Francisco, Austin, LA and more) is returning for its 4th annual show — the biggest and best one yet!

With over 75 vendors from NEO and surrounding states, more than double the number of previous years, Bazaar Bizarre is a one-stop-shop for all your holiday gift needs — there’s even onsite gift wrapping this year! Buy local, and support local artists!

* Saturday December 13th from noon to 9:00 p.m.
* Sunday December 14th from noon to 6:00 p.m.

This year the show returns to the building complex (and former home of 1300 Gallery) where it all began: 78th Street Studios: 1300 W. 78th St to 1305 W. 80th St., north parking lot, north entrance — accessible from W. 78th OR W 80th St.

Show organizer Shannon Okey, a nationally-known crafts author and speaker, says “If you want something truly unique for that special someone this year, skip the mall and go DIY with Bazaar Bizarre!” As the show moves into its fifth year in Cleveland, it continues to attract a wide range of amazing artists who offer something for everyone.

Now as far as my own two cents:

You’re bizarre if you don’t go to this show. The fact that Cleveland get this national show in addition to other cities such as San Fran, Boston and L.A. just goes to show how cool Cleveland’s art scene really is.  We’ve got enough fun artists here to give shoppers plenty of opportunities to find unique handmade items.  I went and perused the vendor list and there’s all sorts of goodies this year from organic baby clothes, some rather interesting cleveland based t’s, soaps, jewelry, recycled homegoods, and more.  I’ll actually be there this year (Valerie Tyler Designs ) as well as some of my personal favorite Cleveland artists such as Gina DeSantis with her GORGEOUS ceramics, and the folks of Cleveland Handmade will be as well.

So yeah, come check it out and get your holiday shopping on in one cool place.