12 Places to Buy Artisan Gifts
Steal the show this holiday season. Surprise everyone on your list with something affordable and unique from one of our local museum or art league gift shops, plus a host of other spots around the state.
Find special merchandise from the Saint John's Bible exhibition, as well as items from Delaware by Hand artists, at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover.
Here is one very special gift: Show your love through Hanging at the Biggs, a permanent acrylic tile art display of images supplied by supporters. The display is similar to a commemorative brick project, but you contribute customized wall tiles. Your children’s art, family photographs, fine art, quotes, commemorative dates and more can be scanned and printed onto a 4-by-4 inch tile. Tiles will be installed in groups of 75, as they are sold ($50 each), in the museum atrium, and all proceeds benefit the Biggs. While visiting, don’t miss the Delaware By Hand Gift Shop, which features handmade items from local artists and artisans, as well as items from the museum’s collection. “We change out the artists quarterly,” says Stephanie Adams of the Biggs. “Jewelry is very popular, and so are scarves and pottery. Every time you come in to the gift shop it is different.” Great gifts include handmade notecards ($10), photography prints (starting at $10), jewelry (starting at $15) and pottery (starting at $30). The Biggs will also have special merchandise from The Saint John’s Bible Exhibition, which opens Dec. 4. Notecards are available for $16.95.
406 Federal St., Dover, 674-2111.
The popular Critter Sale will be Dec. 5-6
All year, the museum offers items by local artisans such as pottery and jewelry. “We sell beautiful wood jewelry that is very lightweight, as well as sustainable and eco-friendly,” says shop manager Cheryl Stolis. But what people really look forward to is the annual Critter Sale. The sale takes place Dec. 5-6 and will be available in the museum shop through early January.
Starting in March, more than 100 volunteers meet weekly to gather natural materials such as seeds, pods, pinecones and berries to craft nearly 9,000 unique critter ornaments The first were created in 1972 by a group that was asked to decorate a small tree for display during A Brandywine Christmas. Since then, the critters have become more elaborate and creative. Prices range from $5 to $45 per ornament. Specialty items, including wreaths and large tabletop decorations, start at $50. Of course, the shop also offers prints of famous Wyeth family paintings and, with Brandywine Conservancy’s emphasis on the environment, seeds of native wildflowers that are perfect for your favorite gardener.
1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-2700.
The art museum's holiday sale is Dec. 17-24.
The museum store has one of the most anticipated holiday sales of the season—and for good reason. Members receive a 20 percent discount in the store, and non-members receive 10 percent off all purchases Dec. 17-24. The sale features a terrific selection of prints, books, handcrafted jewelry, accessories, ceramics and unique textiles. During the Winter Arts Festival Dec. 11-12, shop for gifts from 16 regional artisans as you enjoy live music and floral arrangements from local designers. The artisans include Nancy Butler of Alley Cat Jewelry Studios, Angela Colasanti of VIELA Jewelry, Carole Fox, Karyn Warner Hammock of Metal Aesthetics, Irina’s Original, L. Patrice, Meg Kennedy, Kristen Margiotta, Leslie Marsh, Jane Kavanagh Morton, Pamela M. Levin of Nivell Jewelry, Diane Podolsky, Kathy Robinson, John A. Styer of The Lathe-meister, Beth Trepper and Bonnie S. White.
2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington, 571-9590.
Find arts and crafts from local artists at DCCA
During DCCA’s contemporary craft show Dec. 4-5, 16 local artists will offer original fine art and crafts that are ideal for holiday gift giving. Artists were selected for the quality of craftsmanship and approach to their mediums. Find jewelry, ceramics, glass, clothing, woodturning, quilts, sculpture, prints, illustrations and photographic prints on wood. Work will range from affordable (less than $25) to collectible fine art. Look for artist Nicole Logan, who will be selling illustrations and prints for $3-$78, Jamie Agins’ jewelry starting at $10, and potter Katlyn Cofrancisco’s ceramics, including clay planters for as little as $20.
200 S. Madison St., Wilmington, 656-6466.
The gift shop, Fun in Store, is the place to find unique gifts for kids. If your children love the creative educational toys by Melissa & Doug, you’ve hit the motherlode. Dress-up outfits include pirates, pilots, princesses and more for $30. Paint and decal wooden trains, planes and racing automobile models are $5 per kit. Jigsaw floor puzzles show dinosaurs, castles and the ocean deep for $15 each. Other makers and toys include Steve Spangler Science’s Mountain of Doom volcano kit (with blizzards, eruptions and real mudslides) for $24. And what kid can resist a kit made by Sick Science ($20-$22)? If you want to blast a 2-liter bottle into space, this is the place.
550 Justison St., Wilmington, 654-2340.
Dinosaur and animal themes rule the gift shop at the Delaware Museum of Natural History
The gift shop offers plenty of educational and nature-themed toys, books, puzzles and more for children, but it’s not full of kid stuff. Shop for jewelry from Wild Bryde, a sterling silver line that includes animal and plant designs in the form of earrings, pins, necklaces and bracelets ranging from $20-$50. New in the gift shop is gem-quality amber jewelry by Vessel ($30-$80). “It is very nice for the fall and winter,” says visitor services manager Jessica Hill. The store also offers items themed to its current exhibit, “Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies.” Pick up an adorable dinosaur pendant or a sustainable, eco-friendly wood ornament handcrafted by Nestled Pines Woodworking ($10.99-$15.99).
4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 658-9111.
Bargains on local artists' works can be found at the Dover Art League.
The Dover Art League is bringing a whole new meaning to the term “shop local.” During its Give the Gift of Art exhibit and sale, members will sell their wall art ($50-$450), pottery ($50-$200), photography, handmade jewelry, stained glass and more. The sale, which continues until Dec. 26, will be replenished with new items every Tuesday and Wednesday until Dec. 9. The gallery will also be open extra hours during Small Business Saturday (the day after Black Friday). Gallery manager Jacklyn Weldin says the countless gift items will include handmade mugs and jewelry for $10-$75.
21 W. Loockerman St., Dover, 674-0402
Late November is the time to begin shopping for holiday items at Longwood. Ornaments include icicle pendants ($9.99-$19.99), blue and white Christmas balls ($19.99-$39.99) and traditional items ($9.99-$29.99). There are also plenty of flower bulbs, holiday plants and pots in an array of colors. Regular gift items include garden-themed clothing and jewelry, as well as the classic volume “A Longwood Gardens Christmas” ($39.95), which is full of inspiring holiday decorating ideas.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 388-1000.
"Blue Chicago" by C. Mercedes Walls, $900
Through early January, the league will have a special art show called “The Perfect Gift.” “We are an art league of over 300 members, over half of whom are artists,” says president Judy Struck, so it is encouraging them to enter reasonably priced pieces for holiday shoppers. Gift items will include hand-painted ornaments, lovely pottery pieces, cards, jewelry sets, and a variety of tabletop and hanging art.
5 N. Walnut St., Milford, 430-7646.
Find reasonably priced fine art, crafts, pottery and jewelry at the Newark Arts Alliance.
The alliance’s Holiday Art Market is a juried sale of fine art, crafts, pottery and jewelry, all reasonably priced. Some artists will offer items for less than $10, including a selection of porcelain ornaments. Jewelry and fiber art begins at $15, pottery and fused glass starts at $20. Even some framed paintings can be found for less than $100. The sale runs until Jan. 2 (for you late shoppers). Meet many of the featured artists during a free reception with light fare and drinks on Dec. 5.
276 E. Main St., Suite 102, Newark, 266-7266.
The Rehoboth Art League is bustling, promoting members’ work as great gifts. Browse the Corkran, Tubbs and Ventures galleries for fine arts and crafts during the annual Open House on Dec. 5. Find special pieces from basketry artist Beatrice Whitehead, woodworking artist Michael Quattrociocchi, stained glass by Sherry and Steve Whorl, and pottery by Susan Gladstone. Prices range from $5 to more than $1,000, but many items are offered for $100 or less.
12 Dodds Lane, Rehoboth Beach, 227-8408.
If you or someone on your list has always wanted a membership, this is the time to buy one. Through Dec. 31, Winterthur is offering year-long family memberships for $85. (The benefits are countless.) Find other great gifts in the Winterthur Museum Store and Winterthur Bookstore, where many items are inspired by the current Tiffany exhibit. Find a Tiffany Roses umbrella ($34), tote ($38) or shirt ($55), as well as beautiful jewelry inspired by flowers for as little as $35. If you spend $60 Dec. 3-6, you will receive a free pashmina. Wednesdays in December bring 10 percent discounts on gift items.
5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, 888-4600.