Eek! My last post was Halloween-themed and it’s almost Thanksgiving. I’d better get a jumpstart on the next holiday with some gift giving suggestions for Christmas and Yule. Here’s what I want for Christmas: Support these and other indie artisans so that we’ll be living in a world full of creative, talented people. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive: If I listed all of the artisans and companies that I love, this page would never load – and some of my favorites (you know who you are) aren’t actively selling their work right now. There are also tons of jawdroppingly talented handcrafters and artists that I haven’t even discovered yet. Don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments! And now, without further ado, I present to you:
Nydia Macedo, a Brazilian witch and the artist-owner behind Carioca Witch, says, “Creating and recreating goddesses and gods from several pantheons, as well as familiars and runes, is how I fulfill an important part of my spiritual path. Hand-embroidering and sewing them together is like bringing these adorable deities to life over and over again, honoring their power and reaffirming my spirituality. This is the reason why Carioca Witch exists – my love for my pagan path and the opportunity of seeing my art being sweetly spread in literally hundred houses around the world – from Canada to China.” I’m constantly struck by how beautiful Nydia’s work is, and how each design is so evocative of the deity it represents. When her creations arrive, they’re always even richer in color and workmanship than I imagined from the photos. My long-term plan is to collect the gods and goddesses related to healing and plants and hang them around the edges of my herbal workshop, with a scarf or garland swagged between them.
Make it personal: By giving a god or goddess that is special to the recipient, or who might be particularly helpful to the recipient at this time.
If you just can’t decide: The Yule ornaments are absolutely stunning!
How to order: Browse Carioca Witch’s Facebook page and then message Nydia for more info. Custom creations take time to make – and to ship from Brazil – so order early and often ;-)
Sweet Enemy Art
Kristin Richland swears her artwork isn’t “whimsical,” and I understand why. We often use the word “whimsical” to dismiss work that has a fantastical element, and you just can’t dismiss Kristin’s artwork: Sometimes I look at one of her pieces and find it charming – and then am absolutely caught up in the depth and specificity of expression on this rat’s or that tiger’s face. Sometimes I look and think, “oh, that’s cute,” and then realize that the image is actually complex and haunting, and sometimes even rather disturbing. Kristin Richland’s brain contains some pretty cool worlds.
Make it Personal: Peruse the offerings on Society 6 (prints and products) and Etsy (original), or get in touch with Kristin to ask about a piece you don’t see there.
If you just can’t decide: Quick, get the advent calendar! Or, for this time of year when we celebrate light in the dark days, get a print of “We Gathered One Night.”
How to order: Click the links above, and don’t forget to follow Sweet Enemy on Facebook and read the blog.
Your Local Potter
I first fell in love with pottery at Doolin Pottery, in County Claire which – sadly – is no longer there. I’ve since branched out, and I’m a repeat customer at Dancing Pig‘s and Glen Cross’s Pennsic booths, and this year I added Please Touch Pottery to my favorites. The tea pot I use for herbal teas is a gorgeous fairy-tale-like creation from Rooftop Pottery, right here in Vermont. When elsewhere, pottery is my favorite souvenir, as it’s fully functional – not just a shelf-sitting knick knack. On the other hand, it’s not merely functional: I find tea and hot chocolate taste so much better drunk from a handmade mug than a mass-produced one, and my life also feels richer and more textured when I use handmade cups and bowls. Since I’ve collected mugs of various sizes, as well as water glasses and a few bowls, I’m currently on the lookout for plates, which I understand are surprisingly hard to make. Some day I’d like my full collection of dishes and bowls and vessels to be handmade, all mis-matched from different makers and with different memories.
Make it personal: Purchase a cup, goblet, or mug that’s just right for the giftee’s favorite beverage, and include ingredients for said beverage.
If you can’t decide: You really can’t go wrong with a good mug. How about this one?
How to order: Visit your local farmer’s market, craft show, or craft store, or check out the links above.
With Urban Moonshine, you give the gifts of yumminess and good health all in one. These bitters and tonics are a delicious way to take your medicine, and they come in gorgeous packaging. The people at Urban Moonshine are flippin’ brilliant, and they source crazy-vibrant herbs, many of which come from Zack Woods Herb Farm (another business I’m a huge fan of). If you’re in on the trendiness of bitters in cocktails, you will absolutely love this company’s product. If bitters sound like something you’d rather avoid, take heart: They’re amazing for your health and, after a while, actually taste good. For a start, try Urban Moonshine’s Maple Bitters, which has been called “bitters with training wheels.”
Make it personal: Use the Urban Moonshine Holiday Gift Guide (click on image at right) to suss out which bitters or tonics are best for your giftee.
If you just can’t decide: Embrace the holiday spirit and give them Joy.
How to order: Right here at the Urban Moonshine website.
Juniper Ridge Incense
This is the one company on this list that I’ve always bought via a ‘middleman,’ my local co-op, rather than direct from the source. That being said, their product speaks for itself: This is pretty much the only incense I burn. The scents are amazing, not at all perfumy, thanks to their use of wildcrafted, minimally-processed plants to make this incense. I always keep their sage on hand because I find sage a little heady while it’s burning but love the scent it leaves in the room. The other varieties that I’ve tried (sweetgrass, pinon pine, and juniper, which might be my favorite), are so delicious that I can sit right near them, and it’s only after a while – or after leaving the room and returning – that I realize what a gorgeous scent is filling the space.
Make it personal: Choose a scent that has special meaning to the giftee (or, even better, make your own incense in that scent).
If you just can’t decide: You can’t go wrong with sweetgrass.
How to order: Right here at the Juniper Ridge website, or ask for it at your local co-op.
So, there are a few ideas to get you started, and hopefully to inspire you to look around your own region for awesome artists, artisans, handcrafters, and other concoctors of wonderful things. If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments!
PS: I know some blog posts of this sort are paid advertising. This one isn’t! I’m just posting about these people and products because I like them :-)