Nov 15, 2013
01:24 PM
Style & Design

All Hail Etsy: Holiday Gift Ideas from the Web's Most Ginormous Crafts Market

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"Snow Dusting" Fine Art Photograph, $28/2014 Kitty Angels Calendar, $24, by mariegradypalcic (Enfield)

When Marie Grady Palcic says she takes photos of "everything around her," you can take her at her word. Her Etsy collection includes still lifes, landscapes, animal portraits, flowers and urban environments, some focusing on the tiniest of details (like a single bleeding heart blossom) and others incorporating broader, deeper perspectives, such as "Snow Dusting." Taken along the Connecticut River, this shot—printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper with a lustre finish, has the look of one of those handtinted postcards from the early 20th century (Palcic notes that she shoots with digital equipment and sometimes enhances her photos with certain textures to "provide a timeless quality or artistic feel.") Her 2014 Kitty Angels Calendar, a project shot to benefit the Coventry rescue Kitty Angels of Connecticut, features 12 images photographed at the shelter itself (a detail is at right). All photos available can be ordered at a size different from those listed in the shop, and custom work is welcome.


Sterling Silver Gas-Pump Nozzle Earrings, $136/Fine Silver Molotov Cocktail Pendant, $155, by PartsbyNC (New Haven)

   Of the million or so vendors on Etsy, sometimes it seems about a half-million sell "novelty" jewelry—items like clay earrings fashioned to look like food (pizzas, sandwiches, etc.) or necklaces with nontraditional charms (typewrriters, telephone booths, you name it). Then, of course there are the fine jewelers and artisans: dealers of valuable gemstones and silversmiths who turn out traditional handcrafted pieces in classic forms such as hearts, flowers and geometric shapes. It's much more rare to find a shop-owner who marries fine artisan skills and material with "novelty" concepts. Say hello to Amy DeLorenzo, who sells "Jewelry That Plays by its Own Rules": power-line necklaces and piston-rod earrings made of fine .999 silver, sterling silver gas-pump nozzle jewelry (above), hearts made of a string of mini copper pipes. Whole sections of her shop are devoted to chainmaille jewelry and explosives and weapons (like wee blasting box and Molotov cocktail pendants,at left, in fine silver). Odd, yes, disturbing, perhaps; but there's no doubting their conversation-piece value or the skill that went into making them. DeLorenzo (who took the photos here) assures buyers that her pieces are built to last, even though most of them are made of fine 99.9-percent-pure silver, the substance that results when you kiln-fire silver metal clay (reclaimed silver particles held together by an organic binder). "I've been known to abuse my accessories, so I would never put my name on, or sell, anything that couldn't take my punishment and still look like the day it was made," she says. All items are shipped first-class insured, usually within 24 hours. DeLorenzo is also happy to accept custom orders.


"Candy Land" Hand-Spun Two-Ply Thick 'n' Thin Bulky Art Yarn, $24, by NewTwist (Sherman)

Tal Hadani specializes in hand-picked, hand-dyed, hand-blended and hand-spun (on her Lendrum DT spinning wheel) yarns, available in a dizzying array of color combinations, styles and textures. She works with Merino, mohair, Border Leicester, Cormo, cotted and Angora wools—to name a few—blending in other elements like bamboo, colored thread and Tussah silk yarn. (Her "Candy Land" blend, below, is 70 yards of oh-so-soft, 21.5-micron Merino.) She also sells supplies—available right now is a selection of picked mohair in a rainbow of hues—and offers all comers (particularly those who don't do needlework) her services in creating-to-order the knitted, crocheted or woven apparel of their choice. The shop is currently offering a pre-holiday 10-percent-off sale to those using the coupon code LOTSOYARN. She's also set up her own website/blog,, which offers video tutorials on hand-spinning your own yarns.





African Rosewood with Bird's-Eye Maple Jewelry Box, $299, by Exotichardwoods (West Haven)

Because he likes to show off the natural beauty of the hardwoods he works with—which include lacewood, white ash, black walnut, curly maple, red oak and cherry—Vincent Russello uses no stain, dye or paint on his handcrafted lazy susans, cutting boards and jewelry boxes. The beauty shown here contrasts African rosewood, a dark, rich wood with dramatic grain patterns, against blonde bird's eye maple, which gets its name from its eyelike markings. The box is coated with three applications of Danish oil and a coat of buffed hard wax; Russello hand-carved the handle and biscuit joints and molded the feet. Inside, the box is lined with suede and features a removable sliding tray with ring/cufflink holders. The bottom of the box also has removable dividers. It's finished off with brass hardware: stop hinges that hold the lid in place when the box is open and, of course, a lock and key for privacy (it's hard to imagine just your everyday jewelry being kept here).  


Mineral Eyeshadow Set (Vegan)-10 5-Gram Jars, $47.60, by Etherealle (Willimantic)

 All-natural, cruelty-free, vegan handmade cosmetics and skincare products equals a selection of colors and textures unique to Cynthia C's shop—she refuses to use premade base powders or fillers from other companies, instead opting for organic and fair-trade ingredients whenever possible. There are blushes, bronzers, primers and foundations aplenty here, along with a fab selection of mineral lipstick colors (many now on sale) and eyeshadow/liner formulations, all blessedly free of parabens, talc and bismuth oxychloride. The shop offers sets of cosmetics as well—the 10-shade eyeshadow kit is available in both 5-and 10-gram jars (you pick the colors, from delicate Meringue to shimmery, deep sapphire Oceans)—but if you prefer to sample the products carefully before diving in, there's more than 150 samples available in sizes smaller than a gram for prices that are easy to spare.

All Hail Etsy: Holiday Gift Ideas from the Web's Most Ginormous Crafts Market

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