Wrapping It Up: The 2018 RI Holiday Gift Guide
Judi Powers Fine Jewelry
Fluff Alpaca pillow and scarf
Sleepy Jones pajama separates and slippers
Stephanie Boyd Works
Hoogs and Crawford Glass
Joy Newton tea towels and napkins
Milea Estate Vineyard
Plum Brook bark
Where we live, you don’t have to travel very far to find unique gifts that are sure to please and impress. Whether you're looking for a memorable "thank you" for a holiday party host, or something local to send to a friend or family member far away, choose from our list of artisanal, handmade goodies and don’t forget to include a card that reads “from the RI region with love.” As always, if you're looking for more great ideas, check out our guides from previous years.
Judi Powers Fine Jewelry
Powers designs and handcrafts all of her jewelry in her Hudson, New York studio. Her creations range from chunky beryl statement necklaces and boldly colored tourmaline pieces to delicate dendrite earrings and slim stacking rings, but all come from recycled and ethically sourced metals and gemstones. To her, “Jewelry tells the stories of our lives in a simple, artful, and intimate way."
When Spruce Ridge Alpaca Farm in Old Chatham closed its door, another one opened, with some of the same friendly faces, and some of the same animals, too. Suzanne and Bob Werner’s new storefront on Warren Street is an extension of their farm in Hillsdale, New York, where 10 former Spruce Ridge alpacas now live. The fluffy friends supply the yarn for the shop’s scarves, hats, gloves, sweaters, coats, socks, blankets and other items.
Sleepy Jones at Privet Lives
Sleepy Jones was established five years ago by three friends who met while working at Kate Spade/Jack Spade, and a collection of men’s and women’s pajamas was born. The line, which can be found at Privet Lives through the end of the year, includes pajamas and onesies ($98 and up) that range from comfy classic stripes or gingham to gold lame or John Derian’s colorful painted dots. Some pajamas are sold as sets, but many of the tops and bottoms are sold individually for those whose bodies aren’t one size fits all, or who like to mix and match patterns. Other items include robes, underwear ($22 and up), and slippers that are a collaboration with the brand Minnetonka ($66 and up).
Stephanie Boyd Works
“Each piece is designed with a sense of joy and attention to detail,” says Boyd, and it shows. Each of the pieces, created in her Williamstown, MA home studio, is beautiful but also fun. Her dinnerware, serving ware, vases and sculptural work come in solids, fun florals and raised dots. Occasionally, you'll find something a little edgy, like a dog-shaped dish or, my favorite, a mug with a flower on one side and curse word on the other. You can find her pottery online; at the MASS MoCA, WCMA and Hancock Shaker Village gift shops; at Local in Lenox; and at the Shindy in Pittsfield this Saturday and Sunday.
Hoogs and Crawford
A partnership between artists Nathan Hoogs and Elizabeth Crawford, this Canaan, NY-based business offers hand-blown glass art, made one piece at a time. The studio and gallery are open to the public, where you can find glass paperweights ($45-$75), vases ($45 and up), stemless wine glasses ($90 for a set of 2), bowls (prices vary depending on size and style) and other items. If your giftee is a bit more adventurous, the shop also offers glassblowing classes by appointment.
Joy Newton Designs
This eco-conscious line of 100 percent natural flax linen napkins and tea towels is hand designed and printed in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. The ink is eco-friendly and the prints are created using a hand-pulled technique, so no two are exactly alike. These kitchen linens are made to be highly absorbent and incredibly durable, so you’ll be able to enjoy them for many years to come. The tea towels are sold individually ($29) or in bundles of three ($79), napkins are $79 for a set of 4, and both come in bright prints featuring pears, beets, figs, lemons, oysters and other foods. Check them out in person at this weekend’s Shindy or order online.
These aren’t your grandmother’s candles, unless your grammy was an eco-friendly witch. These all-natural soy candles are made “small batch” style in Winsted, Conn., with premium grade, phthalate-free fragrances and essential oils, lead-free cotton wicks and no added dyes or chemicals. The scents Christmas Ghost, Kitchen Witch, White Rabbit and others are available in 8 oz. mason jars ($24) or travel tins ($7). The collection that won me over was Betelgeuse (inspired by the movie) and its scents “Recently Deceased,” “Strange and Unusual,” “One Big Dark Room” and “Shrunken Head.” Cottage Wicks also makes body oils and lotions, face mists, lip balms and soaps in “White Witch,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Séance” ($6-$12).
Currency Coffee Co.
Inspired by the town of Dalton’s long history as a source of paper for US currency, this two-year-old coffee roasting company is located on the second floor of The Stationery Factory, a building formerly owned by Crane Paper itself. All of the images and fonts used on their labels are taken from US Currency printed before 1900. Order online or stop by the showroom to purchase their fair-trade, organic single-origin coffee, as well as their signature blends, in whole bean, drip grind, Chemex grind, cold brew packets, or “coin cups” for your Keurig. If you don’t own a Chemex, lucky you, you can buy one from their large selection, in addition to grinders and other java-related equipment. If you’re a business, you can buy your bulk coffee and the equipment to brew it in the same place. You can also find Currency at Wild Oats in Williamstown and at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.
Milea Estate Vineyard
In 1984, Barry Milea and his father bought part of the Rymph Family Farm in Staatsburg, NY. After years of research and experimentation, Barry, Ed Evans and Bruce Tripp formed Milea Estate Vineyard in 2015. The first crush resulted in award-winning wines, and now the expanded 98-acre estate produces chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot rose and others. A tasting room is being built on the site, and until then you can find Milea wines at Rhinebeck Wine and Liquor, Sipperley's Grog Shop in Red Hook and Pine Plains Fine Wines.
Plum Brook Chocolate
This small Woodbury, Conn. business offers toffee, caramels and truffles made from fresh local ingredients and the finest fair trade certified chocolate. Gift-wrapped sampler boxes run $5-$12, barks and toffees are $12, and a milk or dark chocolate Santa with a bow is only $2. If you live in the area, you can order online or by phone and have your treats delivered. You can also find them at Ovens of France Bakery in Woodbury, CT, The Smithy in New Preston and at the Litchfield Indoor Farmer’s Market (check their weekly updates of participating vendors).
This year’s book picks include two beautiful architecture tomes worthy of any coffee table: David Sokol’s Hudson Modern: Residential Landscapes and Frederic Church's Olana on the Hudson: Art, Landscape, Architecture. Both books celebrate homes that honor their Hudson Valley surroundings by making them an integral part of the design. You’ll find plenty of photos and meaty backstory in both to inspire you. The two nonfiction standouts this year were penned by local geniuses of the genre, Simon Winchester and Susan Orlean. Winchester’s The Perfectionists traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age and grapples with how all this precision has changed us. The Library Book is Orlean’s deep dive into books, libraries and librarians, with an emphasis on the 1986 fire that ravaged the Los Angeles Public Library. Vassar College professor Amitava Kumar rounds out our selections with the highly praised Immigrant, Montana: A Novel, the timely tale of a young immigrant from India who comes to the United States and searches for love.
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