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Well-crafted gift-giving

Handmade pieces make artful presents and these 30 items are all sold in Los Angeles.

December 05, 2009|By Lisa Boone, David A. Keeps and Craig Nakano

Shoppers, think of it as the Home section's mini craft show: 30 handmade gifts that are beautiful, largely inexpensive and occasionally eccentric. All are sold locally. To see more photos, check our L.A. at Home blog,

61A California-based artist who goes by Lukas What What makes hand-screened patches sold for $5 apiece at Monkeyhouse Toys in Silver Lake. The textile scraps have simple motifs (chairs, clothespins, tea bags) and can be treated like tiny pieces of retro art suitable for framing. Monkeyhouse owner Mayra Baligad says Mr. What What sells the patches to finance his world travels. "Last year," she says, "he was in Indonesia touring with a traveling circus." (323) 662-3437,

62To improve the flavor of mass-produced wine, half-inch-thick pieces of white oak are added to stainless steel vats of reds and whites as part of the fermentation process. Marina del Rey furniture maker Cliff Spencer takes that discarded wood and transforms it into pieces such as his Malachete table ($2,250). The gorgeous striping of the tabletop is a sign that the various pieces of wood were steeped in everything from Pinot Noir to Pinot Grigio.

63Los Angeles artist Mark Brunner decorates hand-made wooden boxes with resin prints of his original artworks. The one pictured here is $50.

64Los Angeles letterpress artist Elinor Nissley of Krank Press has developed a following for her offbeat designs, including calendars and gift tags. Her greeting cards include Tokyo taxis (vibrant saturated colors) and what she calls "yard fauna" -- urban critters such as raccoons and coyotes. A set of five cards is $12.

65Atwater Village felt artist Tanya AguiƱiga's designs include modern rugs and classic folding chairs sheathed in soft, hand-felted wool. At the more affordable end of the spectrum: felted mockingbirds, robins and chickadees that roost in four colors ($36 each).

66The offbeat Pasadena gallery Gold Bug commissions artists to create large-scale sculpture as well as more budget-minded works. Acid-washed concrete fists, $20 to $30 apiece, are among original designs that also include mice and baby doll heads. (626) 744-9963,

67Tyler Bender makes custom hand-bound journals composed of recycled and vintage materials. You can provide an old book cover, wallpaper, vinyl record artwork, scrap paper, your own drawings, whatever. Most are $40. /TYLERBENDER.

68Joan Takayama-Ogawa, a professor at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, shapes ceramic platters to mirror the forms and patterns of nature. A 17-inch-long glazed earthenware piece carved into the silhouette of a lotus flower with a single leaf -- stunning in black -- is $275.

69L.A. artist Hannie Goldgewicht combines pine-needle basketry and ceramics to create distinctive bowls, vases and urns. We admired the bud vase pictured here, wrapped with her carefully tied needle design, $80.

70As a design student, Katherine Gray was assigned to create a vase. Instead, she created two vases in one. Her Either/Or design has a central well that acts like a traditional vase, or for a more minimal approach, a glass loop inside the vase can cradle a single stem. The hand-blown piece is 9 inches high and 5 inches in diameter. Price: $250.

71Local crafter Christine Offutt turns old bottle caps into jewelry and magnets with colorful scenes inside. We picked up three magnets for just $7 total at Heather's Store in Eagle Rock. (323) 550-1625,

72Santa Monica mom Jeana Greulach launched J Clay Pottery this year as a creative outlet after the birth of two daughters. Her work landed in Zero Minus Plus at Fred Segal, but you can buy her new collection directly from Greulach via Etsy. Serve Yourself, Serve Others is a line of wheel-thrown stoneware that's glazed on top and inscribed on bottom. Most bowls run $25 to $30 apiece, and serving dishes and bowls are $75 to $85. The collection is beautiful, functional, and safe in the oven and microwave.

73Richard and JoAnn Patterson craft beauty in their respective ways, he in woodwork and she in ceramics. Though JoAnn has started making large-scale sculptures that have found their way into the homes of Kanye West and Saudi royalty, she also carves beautiful earthenware vases ($80 and up) whose faceted facades lend a contemporary touch to an ancient form. One of Richard's most recent designs: two elegant nesting tables ($4,000 for the set) cut from the same camphor tree, so the wood is perfectly "bookmatched." Both artists are represented by the Altered Space Gallery in Venice, (310) 452-8121,; the artists' personal website is

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