Stock up on Baltimore-themed holiday gifts from these local artisans

Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 25, 2015
and last updated 2017-08-23 19:17:04-04

Home for the holidays has a great ring to it for a reason. If you’re shopping for vibrant art to deck your halls or intricate crafts that remind you of home, these local makers are worth checking out.

Baltimore Print Studios

You can find Kyle Van Horn and Kim Bentley crafting hand-printed designs inside their studio on North Avenue. Their space, Baltimore Print Studios, has been open to the public since 2010, giving anyone with a passion for printmaking the opportunity to learn basic letterpress and screen printing techniques.

The husband and wife duo own and operate the shop together as an extension of their combined experience in graphic design, painting and illustration. When not assisting budding printmakers with their individual projects, Van Horn and Bentley design and press their own collection of t-shirts, posters and greetings cards.

Their “BaltAmour” print is made in-house from wood type and hand-carved wood blocks. The 12x16 inch prints come in two colorways, Ledger-Green and a coral-pink, and are available online to purchase, frame and hang to show your hometown pride.

Also sold at the Holiday Delights Pop-Up Shop at The Women’s Exchange, 333 N. Charles St. through Dec. 27.

Check out the gallery: Great holiday finds from Baltimore artisans

Annie Howe Papercuts

Annie Howe has papercuts, but not the kind you may think. The owner of Annie Howe Papercuts got her start as a community artist, specializing in large-scale puppets for lantern parades and shadow puppet shows, before transitioning to the fine art of paper cutting.  

“I spent a lot of time cutting silhouettes and figured I could use paper to make gifts for people,” Howe said. “The gifts were well received and I was encouraged to share my papercuts in restaurants and businesses. I kept at it, and over about five years it developed into my full-time job. “

Each design starts with a sketch that eventually comes to life through intricate cuts that Howe slices into the paper by hand.  These whimsical, one-of-a-kind pieces can take up to five hours to complete and come in several designs made for the Baltimore City lovers in your life. Grab a locally-printed t-shirt made using one of Howe’s original “Baltimore” or “Maryland” themed papercut designs, or check out an 8x10 print celebrating Charm City’s history and architecture.

Also sold at the Charm City Craft Mafia’s Holiday Heap at St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul St. on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Brine Hound

What’s a crab feast without a mallet and a cold beer? That’s what Brenda Fike and Scott Spector thought when they created their now-patented mallet bottle opener. The pair took over Scott’s family-owned screen printing business on the Eastern Shore back in 2012, and launched a specialty line of handcrafted bar and kitchenware called Brine Hound.

After tinkering with the idea of a crab mallet bottle opener, they gradually perfected their redesign of the Maryland food staple, and began selling them to local shops.

“The inspiration came out of our strong affection for two things that are deeply rooted in Maryland culture: blue crabs and craft beer,” Brenda Fike said. “We pronounce ‘crabsnbeer’ as a single word like everyone else in the state, so it was a logical next step to consolidate the utensils for it too.” 

Foodies can now stock up on mallets through Brine Hound’s Etsy shop, and even have the option to personalize their order with customizable engraved messages.

Also sold at the Holiday Delights Pop-Up Shop at The Women’s Exchange, 333 N. Charles St. through Dec. 27.

Write Notepads & Co. 

Chris Rothe, founder of Write Notepads & Co., is a third generation bookbinder. He’s continuing the family tradition from inside a century-old warehouse located in south Baltimore—directly across from the family’s original headquarters in 1969.

In 2011, Rothe developed the concept of Write Notepads, a line of ruled notebooks made using an in-house letterpress and a pen-ruling technique that creates the lining on each page. The company sells a range of paper products and accessories, including the “City Editions” collection of notepads that comes stamped with cover images memorializing Baltimore City, Annapolis, and Fells Point.

Rothe and his team couldn’t create a notebook company without considering the group of people who get the most use out of them—Baltimore City school students. With each notebook purchase, Write Notepads will donate a notebook to a Baltimore City public school in need of supplies. There’s a five-digit reference code inside of each purchased notepad that, when entered online, pinpoints the school that received your donation. 

Through these donations, selected schools have since implemented journaling and creative writing programs, according to Rothe. “We wanted to give kids a chance to express themselves outside of the school walls,” he said. “A vehicle to express their creativity.”

Also sold at the Holiday Delights Pop-Up Shop at The Women’s Exchange, 333 N. Charles St. through Dec. 27.

Little Green Things

Leah Boelman has worked as an ice cream maker, a rock climbing coach, and a pastry chef. Now she’s found her calling as an artist, stitching quirky designs into reclaimed wood. Boelman started creating wooden pieces under the Little Green Things moniker about four and half years ago, and has set up shop at a studio in Hampden.

She begins with a slab of reclaimed wood, and then paints on a pop of color with oil pastels. She then stitches in embroidered animals, states, and other odd objects. Browse the Little Green Things online shop for customizable Baltimore City and Ravens-themed wood embroidered gifts, which Boelman says are “small but good for compact Baltimore houses short on wall space.”

Also sold at the Charm City Craft Mafia’s Holiday Heap at St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul St. on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Found Studio 

If you’re shopping for vibrant art to deck your halls, check out Kacey Stafford’s Found Studio prints. Stafford has been painting mixed media artworks that incorporate found fabrics and textures since 2009. She is also the president of the Charm City Craft Mafia, a collective of local artists and makers who promote handmade crafts throughout the city. Her rainbow-colored silhouettes of Maryland state and collage-inspired prints of our beloved blue crab are great gift ideas for local residents.

Also sold at the Charm City Craft Mafia’s Holiday Heap at St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul St. on Saturday, Dec. 12.

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