Maybe it’s the chill in the air, the splashes of crimson in the trees, or the sound of a familiar melody you haven’t heard since, oh, about a year ago.
Do hints of the impending holidays send you straight to the nearest mall, where you fight fellow frenzied shoppers for mass-produced presents?
This year, forgo the status quo. Instead, take a deep breath, peruse the following pages, and then do some shopping you can really feel good about.
Like an army of Santa’s helpers, many of your creatively gifted neighbors are busy in their workshops crafting one-of-a-kind items that are sure to garner many oohs, ahhs and heartfelt thanks from your loved ones this year.
F Is For Frank
Have a dreamer on your gift list? Pewter doorknobs sculpted into whimsical shapes — a sleepy-faced owl, a cartoonish mushroom, and a red-eyed lady bug resembling a Tim Burton design — are among the clever creations crafted by the brilliant ladies at F is for Frank.
Shannah Frank, who once worked with a restoration company, founded F is for Frank a few years ago. Neighborhood resident Casey Melton, a student of sculpture and marketing, became a partner last summer.
“I knew I wanted to do functional art,” Melton says. “This was a good fit.”
The twosome’s talents meld beautifully to produce pieces of form and function. In addition to trendsetting hardware, the designers have a line of nature-inspired jewelry — one of Melton’s favorite is the Sea Sponge Ring in gold-plated pewter. Men’s cufflinks look like tiny cave drawings on gold and pewter.
“We are constantly coming out with more jewelry — each piece is sculptural and architectural,” Melton says.
And each looks like it was plucked from some mystical place on planet Earth. The women’s passion outside their craft? Their pups.
“Our dogs come to work with us,” Melton says.
In honor of the furry muses, F is for Frank launched a line of dog tags (they are “crazy cute,” Melton says) just in time to stuff in doggie stockings.
STOREFRONT: 1216 Manufacturing
PRICE RANGE: $16-$85
We’ll soon tackle the topic of presents for pets — but first, what about those pet-obsessed people? You know one, right? Maybe that coworker whose cubicle is crowded with framed photos of her cat?
Casa Linda resident Patti Haskins can custom create cushy critters to closely resemble your friend’s beloved cat, your own furball or any other pet you commission her to immortalize — she has even done ferrets.
Send Haskins a photo of the subject and give her about four to six weeks to complete a plush impression.
“It will be my interpretation of your photo, and it will be crocheted, so it won’t look exactly like your pet — but it will be a good representation.”
For on-the-fly gifts, Haskins has an assortment of handcrafted critters, pillows and other plush playthings including a detailed and accurate yarn version of Moishe from “Where the Wild Things Are”.
There is a story behind each piece in Haskins’ collection, which she shares on her Etsy website, pattihaskins.com.
And locals, if you’re lucky, you might be able to evade the small shipping fee, Haskins says.
“I sometimes meet people at Starbucks [or the like] to deliver their order.”
On your gift list, no doubt, there’s a woman who is tough to figure out — she’s a free spirit who treasures individuality, loves bright colors, and leans toward the spotlight.
This holiday season, introduce her to a kindred spirit, the “subtly eclectic and understatedly quirky” LolaFalk — known in her human form as Lauren Lola Falkowski, designer of dynamically detailed handbags and totes.
The designer with a knack for taking seemingly incompatible textures, patterns and colors and making them coexist learned from workshops and online tutorials how to sew and craft totes.
“It all stems from this desire to have a certain type of handbag that I couldn’t find anywhere, so I made the one I wanted for myself,” she says. “I think you’ll find a lot of independent artists got started that way.”
Every LolaFalk bag is a one-of-a-kind. There are several styles — the roomy Urban Lola Tote, the structured Jackie Bag, the delicate Lulu Clutch, and vintage-y Greta Purse — but each is made from varying fabrics and colors. No two are the same.
What goes well with a LolaFalk bag? Folksy, color-fueled accessories from Superchica by neighbor Judy Stump. Wrist cuffs, headbands and funky T-shirts are just a few of Stump’s signature items. Check them out at superchica.com.
Eye On the Sparrow
Like a quality tattoo, each piece in Abbie Chesney’s “Eye on the Sparrow” collection is stylishly edgy, and each is infused with a compelling story. Her guitar-string bracelets and earrings are the perfect (removable) body adornment for the rock star on your list.
Chesney started crafting jewelry from used guitar and bass strings following the death of a friend, Dallas musician Carter Albrecht, in 2007. She wanted to do something symbolic in his memory, but that inspiration went through several stages before taking shape.
“I tossed a lot of ideas around…I got a tattoo. It was just a long process of me listening to myself and letting the idea grow organically,” she says.
The “aha!” moment hit when her boyfriend, a guitarist in the band Shibboleth, was re-stringing his instrument and lamenting the trashing of his worn strings.
“They throw the strings away,” Chesney says, “but there’s a lot of memories and music locked into these strings. I started tinkering around with them. Turned out it was pretty easy to make the first bracelet.”
Now, Chesney is contriving new jewels with each donated string — chunky designs are made with E bass strings, while slimmer styles are fashioned from acoustic guitar strings. And a portion of each sale goes to the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation, which supports Dallas musicians.
CAC Mosaic Designs
Who doesn’t want to see something pretty when they look in the mirror? The recipient of a CAC Mosaic looking glass will see beauty even on a post-party, pre-makeup morning. Little Forest Hills artist Connie Chantilis uses glass, shells, rocks, minerals, fossils, vintage pottery and “anything else that speaks to me” to craft wall art, sculpture and furniture evocative of a mysterious underwater world.
“I am a collector of everything under the sun,” she says.
About nine years ago, she “started messing around with” collected items, and they morphed into these imaginative pieces.
You can pick up items from Chantilis’ collection throughout the month of December at Curiosities in Lakewood Shopping Center, or call to schedule a studio appointment.
IN STORE: Curiosities, 2025 Abrams
PRICE RANGE: $75-$1,700
Seed Sucker Inc.
Is there anything more comfy than a perfect-fitting lightweight T-shirt? Seed Sucker Inc. (“spreading eco-awareness one T-shirt at a time”) has the ideal apparel for your favorite treehugger.
The clothing tags contain a blend of seeds that, if properly planted, will produce pretty flowers — hence the Seed Sucker moniker. In addition to bamboo-organic-cotton-blend men’s, women’s and kids shirts bearing messages (“recycling one 3-foot stack of newspapers saves one tree”), Seed Sucker sells baby onesies with thoughtful quotes (“make a change, my future depends on it”).
The enthusiastic owner, neighborhood resident Debbie Wright, started making the Seed Sucker brand as a fundraising endeavor.
“I had been doing these fundraisers for my daughter’s school that were pretty boring,” she says, asking her website viewers, “Do we really want another bucket of cookie dough?”
Wright started making the eco-friendly and educational shirts as an alternative to the traditional school/scout/team fundraiser. The fundraiser with a facelift, she calls it, “that won’t cause your friends, co-workers or family members to go running for the hills when you show up with the dreaded catalog order form full of not-so goodies,” she writes on the site.
Wright recently moved the Seed Sucker team to a building at the corner of Swiss and Good Lattimer, where business will continue to bloom with several new lines and designs.
What goes well with a Seed Sucker T? A cozy autumn-colored crotched hat from neighborhood-based Modest Ambition, purveyors of dazzlingly dainty things. Visit y-e-arning.blogspot.com.
Big Boy Bones
Good news for those furry family members who love to chew on everything. (No, not your crazy cousin Eddie). This neighborhood-based line is dedicated to the dogs. Samantha Abedin, who as a child learned to sew from her grandmother, was happily in the business of crafting fashionably feminine and nostalgic-looking purses, when a donation of high-end sample fabrics got her thinking outside the handbag and about the bones that her schnauzer Snoopy, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, liked to chew into an unrecognizable rawhide wad.
“I decided to make him a dog bone [from the fabric samples] to comfort him,” Abedin says. “He seemed to love it, so I made my terrier Yahoo one as well.”
That marked the birth of her company, Big Boy Bones.
Now, if you’re thinking that letting dogs chew on expensive fabrics is extravagant — think again. At just $10 each, these bones are built to last.
“Yahoo usually destroys any toy you give him the very first night and his bone lasted him over a month, which was amazing.”
The handmade bones come in a plethora of patterns fit for all breeds from the frilliest little pups to the biggest toughest hounds. After Abedin started making them for friends’ dogs, the brand took off.
Big Boy Bones are now available in six area stores, and Snoopy, who was feeling pretty bad back when this all started, has bounced back into life.
“He serves not only as the inspiration for Big Boy Bones,” Abedin says, “but also as the CEO, traveling with me for as long as our Texas summers will allow.”
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