My favorite part of giving gifts is that moment when the person opens the package, sees what the item is, and you can tell from their expression that you nailed it. I spend a lot of time carefully thinking about the right gifts for each person we give to, and even when I go a little over budget, it's usually worth it to achieve that perfect fit.
I still have a lot of shopping to do for my own family, but I put together a few things that I hope can help you as you shop for yours. Let me know what you like!
images via retailers listed
I've always had a bit of a fascination with handwriting. Of course, there are the analyses of the slant and what certain loops and strokes say about your personality. And somehow there are always girls that have that same (it seems) super feminine, rounded, bubbly lettering. My writing, which admittedly has become much less lovely due to all the typing I do, is a full mix of print and cursive. Also, how can they stop teaching cursive in schools?!
But, I digress. Really, handwriting is pretty unique and often seeing an old card or letter written in someone's hand can bring back memories or powerful feelings. That connection is the impetus behind the custom handwriting necklaces by BrittanyLeighJewelry on Etsy. Jewelry designer Brittany Isenberg started fabricating these pieces after creating one as a meaningful gift for her mother following the death of her grandmother.
The 14k gold version is available in polished yellow or white gold, or you can select polished or matte sterling silver (shown above); bracelets and keychains are also options.
At the end of the year and during the holidays people naturally spend a lot of time thinking about loved ones. This is a simple, pretty way of keeping someone you love close, whether that person is truly gone or just lives far away.
images via brittanyleighjewelry
Sometimes we need a mental health day, right? Or a day where we can look at beautiful things, not necessarily to buy, but to slow down, appreciate beauty, nature, and color, to be inspired or feel renewed. I could use a day like that, but in lieu of an entire day, I can't stop looking at this image displaying a rare selection of natural pearls on loan to London's Victoria & Albert Museum from the Qatar Museums Authority Collection for a joint exhibition.
Can you believe these are natural and not man-made? The colors are so gorgeous and the shapes are perfectly imperfect. In a way, I wish you could see pearls like this more often, but then of course, these wouldn't be as rare.
Pearls, an exhibition presented by the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority, is on exhibit at the V&A through January 19, 2014.
If you can't make it to London, as I sadly cannot, there is a great deal of information on the museum's website including some history, and additional pictures of art and jewelry that are part of the exhibit. All of the jewelry pieces are fascinating either for their unique settings or the age of the gems, some as old as the Roman Empire.
The V&A does have jewelry, books, and more for sale in their museum shop, as well.
H/T to W magazine for making me aware of this exhibit.
image via w magazine
One of the easiest ways to create a look that's truly your own is to include handmade products in your house. The best thing about handmade goods is that they're generally limited in quantity, so few people will have the same pieces as you, and even those that aren't so limited are still special because it's very difficult to achieve uniform precision on each creation. But, I bet artists and designers prefer it that way; the happy accidents and imperceptible mistakes behind each piece may be totally unrecognizable to you but tell the story of their process.
The story behind each piece, or more precisely, the story behind the Maker of each piece, is exactly what the site BRIKA is after. How the designers got started, what music they listen to when creating, what inspires them—all of that matters and creates a connection to people all over the country pursuing their passion.
One of those people is Karen Young (above), the Brooklyn-based designer behind Hammocks & High Tea. Karen is a joy—I've been lucky enough to work with her in the past—and is just one of dozens of women (mostly) and men featured who've dedicated their lives to the imprecise, but monumentally fulfilling, work of crafting their products by hand. Karen is selling some of her fabulous dopp kits in exclusive patterns for the site.
Also, completely randomly, I came across jewelry maker Penelope Rakov who went to my high school, graduating only a few years ahead of me (I remembered her name)! Small world.
Many of the products featured on BRIKA are modern interpretations of traditional techniques practiced by past craftspeople and artisans, and the founders of the site hope that the pieces bought today will become new heirlooms to be passed down.
Here are my favorite products available at BRIKA right now (click the images to purchase or see more):
Check out the site and let me know which pieces are your favorite!
product images via Brika
I'm in awe of people—especially young people—who charge out into the world and try to truly enact change for the better. And I'm equally, if not more so, in awe of people who are in extremely disadvantaged positions and fight to be agents of change for their families and their communities. All the women behind Mercado Global are such people.
Founder Ruth DeGolia began the company as a college student in 2004 after spending time in Guatemala and seeing the abject poverty and lack of opportunities. Over the last nine years, with her heart and business savvy, she and her team have built a nonprofit fair trade organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and developing an infrastructure for female artisans to support themselves. More than 400 skilled women in 30-plus cooperatives across Guatemala craft by hand jewelry, pillows, and bags to be sold in North and Latin America. Mercado Global partners with the indigenous women to educate and empower artisans, and to connect them to the literal global market in order to create the opportunities needed to break the cycle of poverty and to provide education and nutritious food, among other needs, for themselves and their children.
Their chic new handcrafted bags, now available at Red Envelope, directly support the process.
all images via red envelope
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© 2014 | mrkt