Holly Chopsticks, photo courtesy A. Drauglis Furnituremaker
I am on record preferring to do all my shopping online. I hate malls, even when they’re NOT packed with crazed bargain-seekers, stressed about the state of the economy. But I’ve also spent all year trying to source my food locally and enjoying the intangible benefits of spending my dollars within my own community. Fortunately, Etsy.com, which is a marketplace for individuals to sell their crafts and handmade items, provides a handy Shop Local feature so you can specifically search for sellers in your area.
I have to admit that Etsy’s search isn’t nearly as well developed as I’d like- for example you can search item descriptions for the type of item you’re looking for, OR you can search for sellers in a local area, but you can’t search for a particular kind of item made by a local seller. Which is kind of lame, and it means that you have to be pretty committed to buying gifts from local artists to make this work. Or, you can work from our gift guide! Read on for my suggestions:
A. Drauglis Furnituremaker – I’ve got a serious crush on the Pup of Monster Cabinet. But custom furniture is a little out of my budget. Fortunately, Art Drauglis makes projects in all kinds of sizes and price ranges, A simple hanging cabinet would look great in pretty much any house, or a purpleheart and maple side table would be a great gift for someone who just bought a house. Even more economical, but still every bit as cool, are Art’s kitchen items. He doesn’t waste any wood, so scraps often get made into cutting boards and chopsticks. The cutting boards come in a couple of different sizes, and he has chopsticks available in a wide variety of woods (including holly! how seasonal!), so be sure to click through to his store and investigate. Nothing classes up takeout Chinese food or supermarket sushi like handcarved chopsticks. Also, they’re perfect for those Secret Santa exchanges where there’s a low dollar limit. Starbucks gift cards are lame and require no thought, and you know it.
Simplesong Designs – Despite my daily reliance on online correspondence, I have a serious soft spot in my heart for pretty stationery, and letterpress in particular. Custom notecards are an elegant gift for anyone, gift wrapping supplies will make your packages stand out, and library card-themed Christmas and thank you cards would make your elementary school teachers proud.
Peat – Your friend with the acerbic wit and impossibly obscure tastes? Taken care of. I particularly recommend “Dick Cheney Ate My Dog” for the politically-cynical, and “Sweet Jesus on a Biscuit” for the religiously-cynical.
Mannmade Designs – Jimmy Mann is a full-time artist who makes jewelry out of recycled materials. His silver-over-recycled-aluminum pieces are particularly striking, featuring stars, flowers, or bubbles. The cocktail olives jewelry is fun, too.
Art Shark Designs – Alexandria artist Megan Nolton has created a series of prints called “Cities of Love;” two lovers, each with a red umbrella, walk hand-in-hand against the skylines of major world cities. As you might expect, my favorite is “DC Love.” You can also get a set of any three Cities of Love prints for a slight discount.
There are hundreds of local artists on Etsy, and this is just a very small sample. I recommend that you poke around in there to see the full range of local artists making their crafts available. And if you have a favorite local Etsy artist (or ARE a local Etsy artist), feel free to link us to the store in the comments.