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.
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.
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.
The styles in the window and the way people pay might have changed since Berk?s Store opened up shop in 1900, but the store still maintains its commitment to providing its customers high-quality casual footwear and apparel. As they peruse the store, shoppers can find boxes filled with desert boots by Clarks, sstylish flats by Toms and Dansko, and the ghosts of basketball players past wearing classic Chuck Taylor high-tops by Converse. For those who prefer to shop by phone or telegram, the store offers free shipping within the continental United States.
Ali Mohammad and Nadeem Mazen never got the memo that it was dangerous to play with lasers; they’re willing to carve intricate graphics into almost anything, including the 215 loaves of bread it took to animate the autumnal music video for OK Go’s “Last Leaf.” Now, from their shop—whose sign warns passersby that “it’s the future in here”—they etch equally creative messages and images into the gadgets and gewgaws of their clientele. Laptops, iPhones, and other electronics take on customization, as well as items stocked by the shop itself, from metal business cards to pint glasses and hardwood planks awaiting to become personalized kindling. The showcase demonstrates their expertise with pictures of previous projects, such as a guitar body carved with an elaborate swan and a kitchen knife inscribed with an ominous message.