Jewelry made from twigs. Surrealist birdhouses. Old bike parts retrofitted into robot statues. These items are just a taste of the unique goods popping up on––and flying off of––Magpie's shelves. But don’t fret—there’s plenty more where they came from. Indeed, impermanence is part of the charm at Magpie, an eclectic bazaar of indie and locally made crafts that are as aesthetically beautiful as they are stunningly unique. What began as a booth at the annual Bazaar Bizarre craft fair transformed into a brick-and-mortar shop when Magpie’s owners recognized the public’s taste for one-of-a-kind items that weren’t manufactured in a factory or built by creepy elves. So they tapped local artists and crafters and filled their shelves with quirky, handmade, and entirely original items that run the gamut from hand-bound journals, to t-shirts, to Queen Bee vinyl handbags. A true champion of local artists, Magpie not only sells artists’ work, but also displays it on its walls, and the shop hosts a regular artist-of-the-month promotion to help promote some of their favorite local designers.
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Combining her love of art and travel, Deb Colburn created Nomad to provide local homebodies and world-weary backpack buffs alike an opportunity to explore and purchase unique collections of clothing, jewelry, textiles, art, and home furnishings from around the world. Nomad is a supporter of eco-friendly clothing and fair-trade goods, often purchasing items directly from artisans. Pillage through a profusion of vibrant clothing to discover fashionable, one-of-a-kind sweaters or blouses, or pretend to be Bihari royalty with ornate ear adornments from the wide selection of domestic and international trinkets. Consider adorning a living-room shrine or baby's room with a piece of global folk art, such as a Día de los Muertos skull or a colorful, screaming dragon.
Blue Cloud Gallery has a focus on local art. That’s the principle laid out by owner Betsy Lenora, an art aficionado and photographer who has been curating New England’s best local art for some time. She currently oversees the influx of art from more than 100 local artists at Blue Cloud Gallery. The walls, shelves, and tables are covered with unique crafts including ceramics, jewelry, glass, woodwork, fiber, and graphics. Resident artist Marshall injects some modern art methods into the gallery, as well. Using digital techniques to add depth, color, and tone to original photographs, Marshall produces digital paintings that are collected by clients from all over the world.
At Abodeon, functionality and fashion happily coincide. That's because the curators, husband and wife team Dale and Terri Anderson, call on their extensive art and design backgrounds to stock their store. The result is a bounty of vintage and current housewares that aren’t just pretty little things, but play an important role in whatever space they inhabit. Vintage lounge chairs mingle with teak salad sets and tree-shaped pepper mills, creating a showroom that inspires homeowners' imaginations like an attic door that says “Monsterworld.” The Andersons constantly replenish their store with vintage finds and housewares from local and international designers, allowing clients to come back to a new selection with every visit.
Art teacher Bessie Blum shares her love for handmade objects at Made by Me, where she teaches classes that uncover each painter's hidden creativity. Under her guidance, attendees learn the fundamentals of craftsmanship, using a potter's wheel to fashion pottery pieces or fusing glass into bowls, picture frames, or whale-proof aquarium windows. Bessie's selection of pre-made pottery, meanwhile, serves as a canvas for results-oriented DIY-ers, who can skip the creation process and go straight to adorning pieces with custom layers of colorful food-safe glaze.