The season for giving usually conjures images of last-minute trips to the mall, excruciatingly long lines and generic gifts. This season, step away from the giant stores and consider the handmade gift.
Making a handmade gift doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. Local crafter Kim Fox, Academy Avenue, suggests making a family recipe, while local crafter Karen Krieger, Holly Lane, recommends watching an online tutorial to teach you how to make any craft.
“When you spend time making something for someone, you’re sort of spending time with them, even though they don’t know it. That is a lovely way to spend time,” Krieger says. “Any time spent being creative, even if you don’t think you’re creative, pays back with benefits: a time to be quiet and contemplative.”
If you’re not a crafty person or are just too busy preparing holiday celebrations, you can purchase handmade gifts from these skilled local crafters. Crafted gifts are guaranteed to be as unique and special as your loved ones and friends.
If you enjoy perusing shops to find the perfect gift, Pittsburgh has two perfect venues for you.
Many of the artists included in this feature sell their work at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, 1635 McFarland Road, or Handmade Arcade, an annual craft show at the David Lawrence Convention Center. At The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, you can find handmade arts and crafts from more than 200 local artists. They also host the Ornament Spectac ular featuring a range of handmade holiday ornaments. www.artsmithspgh.com.
This year’s Handmade Arcade will be Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with more than 100 vendors from across the country. Nine Mt. Lebanon artists will be featured. If you want the chance to start shopping an hour earlier and leave with a goodie bag, you can buy an Early Bird pass for $15; otherwise admission is free. For more information and to buy Early Bird passes, visit www.handmadearcade.com.
Kim Fox, Academy Avenue, specializes in tin art. This holiday, she will be featuring colorful, 4-by-4 inch ornaments made from tin and reclaimed wood. Fox also makes tin name signs that are great for a child’s room or above a fireplace. You can buy her work on her Etsy shop called Worker Bird, www.workerbird.com, or at the Commonwealth Press store’s Pop Up Shop.
Sandra Ward, Lemoyne Avenue, offers great gifts for new homeowners or pet owners alike. Her custom pen and ink drawings, which feature a home or pet, start at $125. Ward can also turn the custom portrait into holiday greeting cards. To order your own portrait, you can contact Ward through her website at www.gallery4wards.com. Ward also offers a range of art classes for children and adults in her studio on Washington Road. You can purchase a set of classes for a loved one, or you can treat yourself to art classes as your own holiday gift.
Linda Mitchell, Park Entrance Drive, makes cheese trays, spoon rests and wall hangings by melting glass bottles. Her items make great gifts for a party hostess or foodie alike. Mitchell says that guys are always impressed by the melted beer bottles. You can purchase her work from her Etsy shop called MitchellGlassworks.
Arthur Lapidus Do you need a gift for the man in your life? Arthur Lapidus makes industrial and steam-punk-styled art ranging from business card holders and bottle openers to coffee tables and wall pieces. Lapidus, who started his business less than a year ago, sells his work at the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.
Karen Krieger, Holly Lane, will be selling her handmade ornaments this holiday season as part of her Paper Julep line. She also makes a range of jewelry and paper compositions with Japanese Chiyogami paper. You can buy her festive ornaments for $10 and other art at Handmade Arcade, on her website www.paperjulep.com or by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy Rooney, Catalpa Place, is known for her Steelers mural on the Pittsburgh Steelers Headquarters Building. This holiday, you can purchase a print of the mural for your favorite Steelers fan from her Etsy shop called KRooneyPittsburgh. Rooney also does illustrations of Pittsburgh landscapes and has a line of black-and-white illustrations called Ancestors.
Amber and Justin Van Slyke, Hillaire Drive, started their business, Nailed It Artistry, in June. Since then, the Van Slykes have made wall art using wood, nails and thread for anyone from young children to retired Navy veterans. Many of their orders are custom, and you have the option of choosing the image, wood stain and thread color. You can purchase their work, which ranges from $25-$40, from their Etsy shop called NailedItArtistry.
Noelle Griskey If you want to give a store-bought gift a personal touch, include a note on stationery handmade by Noelle Griskey, Lakemont Drive. Griskey makes a range of holiday greeting cards and thank you cards. Consider using her recipe cards to exchange family recipes with friends and neighbors this holiday. You can shop for her products on her Etsy shop called PinkBathtubDesigns.
Malia Bennett, Royce Avenue, crafts Hawaiian-inspired functional pottery, including plates, bowls and mugs. Her hibiscus mugs are a great gift for anyone who needs a reminder of warm summer days during Pittsburgh’s cold winters. You can find her pottery on her Etsy shop called MaddrielPottery or at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.
Samantha Bower, Beverly Road, has a full line of jewelry, including statement necklaces, cocktail rings and earrings, made from material such as brass wire, gemstones and upcycled paper beads. Although she specializes in jewelry, she recently started making funky coasters plastered with iconic Pittsburgh images. You can purchase her products on her website, www.designsbysamanthapgh.com and at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.
Ashley Episcopo, Broadmoor Avenue, sculpts handcrafted dolls from porcelain. Episcopo makes and hand dyes the wigs. She also uses watercolors to paint the dolls’ faces and give them unique designs. These display dolls are upscale gifts perfect for any art collector. Her work is available at the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh and on her website, www.ashleyepiscopo.com.