Boston's punk-rock arts and crafts
The ultimate DIY holiday-shopping list
BY NINA SCHWARTZ
People really do try hard. You know this, and you understand how difficult holiday shopping can be. But frankly, since you've become a big kid, the gift situation has gone somewhat awry. Okay, maybe you can see why your parents thought you'd love to take up bonsai. But why your sister gave you that commemorative plate of America's first ladies, you'll never know.
So here's what you do. Cut out the following list, address it to the nondenominational present god of your choosing, and print your name clearly at the bottom. Then stick it in an envelope and quietly leave it on the kitchen table to be discovered by a loved one.
Come gift-giving time, you may just receive a treasure from one of Boston's many talented and creative designers and crafters. You (and your loved ones) may not have heard of them yet, but rest assured these local artists have exactly what you never knew you needed.
Don't let the name fool you. There's nothing evil about these designs. Quirky? Yes. Cheeky? Totally. Born out of the slightly tweaked mind of cryptically named, Westport-based artist MCA, the Evil Apes figurines, like Grape and Golden (available in five-inch figures for $50 or two-inch "quees" for $15), make a perfect gift for the sibling you never understood but love all the same. That goes double for the Wizard Circus Punk ($100). It's got a green and black mane and would look nasty on your desk at work. While you're toy shopping, check out some of the Evil T-shirts, stickers, and original drawings, and be on the lookout for upcoming skate decks and note cards. Totally evil. And by evil, we mean killer. And by killer, we mean cool.
Evil Design products are available for order at www.evildesign.com. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Man, some people really love their duct tape. Take Rachel Pfeffer, the designer behind Lucky Duct handbags. While she started with tape as her only tool, we're glad she's broadened her horizons. Cigar boxes, 45s, even ticket stubs are fair game for her purses. And because they're all made from found objects, you can be sure yours is unique. If you send Pfeffer a 2-D object that you like, she'll create a custom bag with it. Purses run between $18 and $30. Our favorite is made from a kitschy dentist-appointment-reminder postcard.
Lucky Duct handbags are available for order at www.luckyduct.com. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
It's indisputable: monkeys = funny. It is this principle (plus skill and whimsy) that is the driving force behind Linda McMasters's Made Monkeys. This clever crafter takes socks of all kinds and hand-sews fantastically adorable apes. These kid-tested primates are stuffed with polyester and can stand a licking. They run between $35 and $50 and come in all varieties - nubby, striped, devil, even corpse. McMasters also fills custom orders if she can find the socks you want. She'll even embroider initials or a short word on the little monkey's booty.
To see photos of monkeys for sale or to place a custom order, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at www.mademonkeys.blogspot.com.
Shivika Asthana Jewelry
When was the last time you found funky, quality, handmade jewelry at an affordable price? Shivika Asthana to the rescue. A self-taught jewelry maker, Asthana finds her eclectic materials in far-off lands and local flea markets. Her earrings and necklaces ($14-$60) are inspired by the unique stones and metals from which they're crafted - like carnelian, jade, chunky dyed quartz, unusual glass beads, and ornate pendants. Custom pieces can also be commissioned.
Shivika Asthana Jewelry is available for order at www.shivika.com. Additional locations and ordering info can also be found on the Web site.
They do so much and ask for so little - a walk, a belly scratch, and above all, treats. Now you can give your pup a cookie that'll do his or her body good. Sisters Michele and Marybeth Renaccio, of Worcester, have taken an Italian favorite one step further and developed a delicious and organic "doggie bisketti." An eight-ounce bag costs only $10, so you don't have to worry about spoiling your best friend.
Poochatelli's Bisketti are available at www.poochatelli.com.
Designer Jen Corbett aptly describes her products as "tasty designs for tasty girls." Her colorful, quirky totes ($35-$65) are delicious, her retro aprons ($20-$25) are scrumptious and sexy with black-lace trim, and her wonderfully demented Cactus Jr. plush toy ($12) is almost edible. Most notable, however, are the "buddy bags," for a woman's most "buzz-worthy" bedside possession. You can choose from two appropriately suggestive designs: popsicle or ice-cream cone.
Yum! Designs are available at www.yum-design.com.
If the wacky stuff at Robot Parade doesn't grab you, then you are officially un-giftable. Who wouldn't want monster mittens ($15) or a googly-eyed, furry monster wallet? There's Bucky, the buck-toothed wallet, his wife Enid, his brother Charles, and many more in the family (and in a variety of colors). There's even a toothy felt monster checkbook cover. These guys eat money, so it's a good thing they're only $12.
Robot Parade products are available at www.robotparade.org.
Julie A. Designs
Though iPods now control our brainwaves, vinyl has not yet gone the way of the dinosaur. It is alive and well in Julie A.'s workshop, in fact. Here you'll find one-of-a-kind cuffs made from pieces of old, unusable records that were on their way to the dump. For you purists, there are plain black cuffs for $10. For the mod vinyl-lovers, there are pendant necklaces and clear colored cuffs ($12-$15). And for the old-school and funky, there are cuffs with fabulously nostalgic labels ($15) - Born in the U.S.A., the Carpenters, even Olivia Newton-John's Totally Hot. Now who would throw that away?
Julie A. Designs are available at www.julieadesigns.com.
The holidays are a time to reflect and start planning for the next year. Nikki Rivera can help with both. She makes hand-bound journals and date books ($20-$25) featuring old-fashioned pinups and sassy text on the cover, and hand-torn paper for a real artsy, earthy look. The binding allows the book to lie flat (lefties, take heed), and custom covers with your own image are available for a bit extra. Rivera also designs pendants to support several charity organizations ($15).
Pinup Revolution books are available at www.pinuprevolution.com.
Can you say fabulous? Marie Galvin can. The Fort Point Channel resident's exquisite hats have garnered praise throughout the fashion industry and even attracted celebrity attention. Her dramatic hats include sexy netted numbers, feathered headpieces, and funky knit items. We absolutely love the Celine cloche ($185-$225), the two-toned Hoodlum with giant pompon ($100-$135), and the daring Storm Trooper ($145). Marie does much of her business at art shows - next is the South End Holiday Market - and actually encourages last-minute phone orders.
The GALVIN-ized Headwear studio is located at 49 Melcher Street, Suite #2, Boston; open Monday through Friday, from noon to 6 pm, and by appointment. Call 617.426.4885. Photos and art-show information can be found at www.galvinizedhats.com. Information about the South End Holiday Market can be found at www.southendholidaymarket.com.