WHILE PURSUING an industrial design degree at the University of Cincinnati, Carrie Collins had an epiphany: She was making waste. “You’re being trained to design trash,” says Collins, acknowledging that industrial designers are often employed to create short-lived consumer products destined for the landfill. The realization caused a career crisis for Collins, and she decided to take time off from school to reconsider her future.
Three months later she returned to enroll in a new sustainable design course being offered by her favorite professor. The class changed everything for Collins. She finished her degree, and for her senior thesis created a business model for Fabric Horse—a business that would connect design with her passions for sustainability and sewing.
When college friends Anna Bario and Page Neal reconnected at a wedding a few years ago, the pair discovered they shared an interest in creating sustainable jewelry. At the time, each had an independent jewelry label, but in 2007, decided to forgo those to launch a collaborative line, Bario-Neal, which features handmade pieces crafted from reclaimed metals and ethically-sourced gems.
AT PEG AND AWL, stories bring products to life. Every découpaged candleholder, leather book necklace and sturdy wooden caddy proudly reveals the source of its reclaimed materials. A chalkboard tablet is reborn from oak bleachers of the century-old Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa., and finished with a leather pencil loop that first served as a World War II gun holster. A scrap of leather from the drawer of an 1835 summer kitchen finds new purpose as a journal cover, sheltering hand-sewn, archival-quality pages.
Finding that special holiday gift that won’t be tossed aside with the wrapping paper can be a challenge. So, here’s our advice: Buy gifts that are totally cool. What does that mean exactly? Consider these criteria before opening your billfold: 1 Is the gift homemade? 2 Is the design thoughtful? 3 Are the materials salvaged or sustainable? 4 Is the item useful? 5 Is it made right here in Philadelphia? We’ve featured a handful of local businesses we think score really high in the cool department. All the products—the jewelry, candy, birdhouses, ceramic goods and housewares—possess quality and style, just like you. And that’s what cool is all about.
The issue will be on stands this week, but for a peak inside check out the full gift guide in the digital edition, available here.
What do you do for the literati on your list? You gave them all Snuggies® last year. Well, Philadelphia has no shortage of cozy bookstores to spend a little quiet time on your shopping spree. Complete the scene with a blanket and cup of tea and you’ve just made winter somebody’s favorite season.
Gift Guide - Sweet
#1 - Betty's Tasty Buttons - Betty’s Speakeasy offers their Tasty Buttons in a variety of seasonal flavors, including white chocolate eggnog and dark chocolate with cranberries and orange zest. Crafted using local cream and local goats’ milk, the bite-sized pieces of fudge are packaged in locally-made boxes.
Learn to have a can-do attitude
Featured Artisan: Marisa McClellan
Knowing where your food comes from makes it taste better, and being part of the process is even more rewarding. That's where home canning comes in. It not only preserves garden fresh foods through the winter months but also gives you complete control—and might even save you a few bucks.
This year, create your own ornament
Featured Studio: Hudson Beach Glass 26 South Strawberry St.
A combination of science and art, glass blowing may seem like an unattainable and exotic skill. The technique, which involves inflating molten glass into a bubble using a blowpipe or tube, can be a bit intimidating. But, at Hudson Beach Glass, the magic of playing with hot glass is within reach. Opened last October by Sean Gilvey, a third generation glass blower, and his wife Emily, the shop not only produces beautiful glass products but hosts demonstrations and instruction.
Play in the mud, make unforgettable gifts
Featured Studio: The Clay Studio 137-139 North 2nd St.
The Clay Studio's ground floor houses a vibrant gallery of pots, mugs, jewelry and decorative items produced by expert artisans, but the building also hosts three floors of studio space, with artists hard at work. Open since 1990, the studio offers a variety of classes and workshops at all levels, taught by both visiting and resident artists.