Instead of risking your life for cloned pieces of plastic from big box stores this holiday season, consider investing in pieces of art that are not only one-of-a-kind, but support local female artists. From plush animals to sterling wearables, these makers craft memorable gifts that will make anyone on your shopping list swoon.
Local artist Lauren Tobey has been metalsmithing for 15 years. “I've been mesmerized by jewelry-making since I was a kid,” says Tobey. “Over the years that turned into a full-on fascination with metalsmithing. It's my passion and my livelihood.” Tobey finds natural and organic pieces—seeds, twigs and the like—and casts and solders them, incorporating semi-precious stones, to create beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the “inconceivable beauty of the natural Southwestern landscape.” You can browse her designs at Mariposa Gallery in Nob Hill, the Railyards Market in Barelas or at the Meltdown Studio Holiday Sale on Dec. 4. You can learn more about Lauren Tobey herself and make purchases for anywhere between $25-300 at laurentobey.com.
Avra Elliott runs the show at Spindle and Sparrow, a one-woman gallery of handmade stuffed animals and plush wearables. “I primarily make stuffed animals for both children and adults that evoke emotion—joy or nostalgia. I've always loved The Velveteen Rabbit, so my goal is to make toys that will last and be 'real' for their owners,” Elliott says. These whimsical toys take the shape of literal catfish, purrmaids (a cross between a cat and a mermaid) and other fanciful designs. “I take a lot of inspiration from my own childhood,” Elliott says, “I was always surrounded by dreamers, readers and whimsy.” Find your new best friend online for between $12 and $40 at Elliott's Etsy shop, spindleandsparrow.et
The paintings and ink drawings of Susan Dawson “focus on organic shapes in contrast with geometric shapes,” as Dawson puts it, “many of the pieces have an emphasis on lines and design.” Using wood, paper and acrylic paints, Dawson creates striking abstract works with moody colors and thick, bold lines. “Both of my grandmothers were artistic women,” says Dawson, “they support my yearning to create and influenced my decision to study art.” It was through that formal education that Dawson began to think of art as more than just a hobby. Browse some of Dawson’s work at susangdarts.com, where you can also inquire about specific pieces and pricing.
Pottery by Liz Roberts
“Everyone should invite fairies into their home,” Liz Roberts told me when I purchased one of her hand-shaped, ceramic fairy doors at last month's Octofair. Using a variety of techniques, she carves designs into wall niches and altars, mugs, plaques and more, finishing them with delicate colors and glazes. “I use a lot of symbolic imagery. I combine form and imagery in a complimentary way that is pleasing to the eye as well as practical in use,” says Roberts. She has a variety of muses including trees, ravens, owls, Celtic knots and dragons. Roberts began working with clay more than three decades ago; as she describes it, “it was love at first class.” Browse all of Roberts's designs at lizrobertspottery.co
Working out of a small studio in her backyard with an acetylene torch passed down from her grandmother, Jessica deGruyter creates beautiful jewelry pieces out of found materials that include plexiglass rescued from stream waste and natural components like molted feathers and insect wings. “I'm inspired by the natural world, but especially where it interfaces with the trappings of humanity,” says deGruyter. “I like to challenge other people's ideas of what can be beautiful and precious—almost everyone can appreciate a butterfly wing, but a grasshopper wing is often repulsive. Why is a 'Pecos diamond' from Roswell less valuable than a princess-cut diamond from Zales via South Africa?” Every piece that deGruyter crafts is given the attention and detail to make them precious. Visit her at the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair, Metallo Gallery in Madrid and the Octopus and the Fox in Albuquerque. You can also explore deGruyter’s work online at foundinabq.com where prices start at around $50.