Local Original Affordable: A Holiday Shopping Guide by Alex Ebstein

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28 Chinese at the Rubell Family Collection: Photo [...]

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Oh Mama, Cass!

The holidays are a stressful time of year. Between travel, cooking, gifts, and a dreaded trip to the mall to pick up a GAP sweater for your fussy, conservative relatives, you can be left feeling soulless and uninspired. For those who have an interest in supporting local artists this holiday season, but don’t have the budget, or interested recipients, to buy original works for everyone on your Xmas list, FEAR NOT!

We’ve compiled a selection of artist-made goods that directly support the studio practice of these artists/makers, and also make excellent, unique gifts for your family and friends – even the ones who don’t seem to like anything. And lets face it, not everyone wants an original piece of art as a present. Although local art clearly falls outside the interests of many, some of these items may be a way to help a new audience find their way to the extensive talent in their region.

1. Tote bags by Beth Hoeckel $22
Durable, great quality tote bag produced through Society6. Artwork appears on both sides of the bag. With 1″ straps and they are machine washable.

WORK_PRINTAvailable for sale through Beth’s website, (follow the link to her society6 profile!). Beth also offers a number of limited edition artist prints and other products.


2. Notecard Sets by Pellinore Press $12
One easy way to make any gift more unique – add a letterpress greeting card!  Pellinore Press, run by Ursula Minervini and Jonathan Poliszuk, is a local letterpress company with a line of their own products and welcoming custom projects.  Offering a variety of cards, individually or in sets of 3 with envelopes, these make either a nice greeting of a thoughtful gift!


Becca - kitchen items

3. Kitchen Utensils by Becca Morrin (starting at $16)
Local artist, Becca Morrin makes these awesome hand-dipped wooden kitchen utensils, available through Hunting Ground on Falls Road in Hampden. The perfect present for the culinarily inclined!
Becca’s website:
Hunting Ground:


Cloud Planter

4. Vases, Planters and Necklaces by Jess Hans (starting at $80)
Although she has left Baltimore for Philadelphia, Jess Hans’s hand-built planters, necklaces and vases are some of the most stunning ceramic works I have seen in a while!  Already widely recognized for her work, this is the time to add a piece of hers to your home (put this on your own xmas wish list!)


5. Mini artwork in crates by Ryan Syrell ($60 – $200) and

Local painter Ryan Syrell recently began a series of small shipping crates – some as small minimalist sculptures, and some as functional miniature cases for miniature paintings. For the person who already loves art and the behind-the-scenes craftsmanship that goes into the storage and transportation of artwork, these pieces are the perfect small sculpture to add to a collection. They are also the perfect scale to brighten up a boring desk at the recipient’s day job!

If you happen to be in Miami, they are currently available through the Rubell Family Collection – or you can contact the artist directly through his website. Ryan will also have small works on paper and editions available at Current Gallery’s Art Market on December 14th and 15th.

Elena phone 1

6. Iphone Cases by Elena Johnston ($35) and

Baltimore-based artist Elena Johnston makes fun, colorful paintings and collages – the perfect work for printed reproduction. Recognizing this, Elena has used her work to create a number of products that available through Society6. While her work looks great in all the available formats, the bold, abstract iphone cases are a step above rest. An undeniably cool gift for your iphone-using friends.

EmilyB2 copy

7. Necklaces by Emily Burtner ($35)
Artist website: necklaces available at:

Another artist who has left Baltimore for Philadelphia, Emily Burtner makes a number of brightly-colored polymer clay goods available through her tictail site. Her necklaces in particular are lightweight, stylish and have a ton of personality. Emily uses a mix of handmade and purchased beads along with hollow rubber cord to create her asymmetrical statement pieces. Each necklace is one of a kind!


8. Red Praire Press – ($18 – $52) and

Red Praire Press, owned and run by local artist Rachel Bone, is one of my main go-to gift sources for almost all occasions – especially when shopping for babies. Do you have an infant on your holiday list? Might I recommend the dino onesie?


I am also particularly fond of Rachel’s elegant selection of flat scarves – at $24 they make a great gift for your mom or sister!


9. Nikkuu Designs – Table Lamp ($145)
Artist Website: Design site:
In addition to her talents as an artist, musician, and educator, Melissa Moore is also an incredible designer. Her company Nikkuu offers a variety of home decor and wearable accessories, including jewelry, planters and mirrors. For the design-savvy loved ones on your list, Nikkuu is a great website to explore! At $145 the Mizuu Plink table lamp is a beautiful gift for someone special!


In the lower price range she also offers $25 individual, triangular desk organizers, which are also offered in a set of 3 for $65 (pictured above).


10. Fancy Macrame Jewelry by Emily CD (starting at $20)
Artist website: / Tumblr:

Emily C-D, an artist, illustrator, muralist and world traveler who splits her time between Baltimore and Mexico is back in the country and hawking her fancy new macrame accessories!  Made from South American waxed cord in a variety of bold colors, Emily makes wearable fiber art in the form of necklaces and earrings.  Contact the artist directly through her website, and images of her work can be found on her tumblr.


11. Print/Collect ($200)
Artist website: Print/Collect website:

I would be remiss to make a holiday list of artist-made goods without mentioning Jen Coster’s Print/Collect portfolio. This is hands down the most effective way to directly benefit 9 Baltimore artists and the perpetuation of an amazing project all at once. Print/Collect is a portfolio of limited edition works by 8 local artists: James Bouche, John Bohl, Chris Day, Molly Colleen O’Connell, Cindy Cheng, Colin Benjamin, Graham Coreil-Allen, and Andrew Liang, as well as a catalog complete with images and essays. Curated by Jen Coster, Print/Collect’s goal is to create an introduction to local work through an affordable, informative package. Coster intends to continue the project and the proceeds from the sales of the portfolios support the next edition as well as the 8 featured artists.

Buy local, buy art, happy shopping!

* Author Alex Ebstein is a local artist, curator, and writer.

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