I have always loved stuff. I can’t explain it: I’m not materialistic, and I don’t own or desire name brands or designer goods. I just love stuff. My friends (affectionately, I think) refer to me as a hoarder from time to time, though after watching an episode of Hoarders where a woman saved expired raw meat in her refrigerator’s ‘crisper’ drawer, I’m beginning to take offense. Plus, the stuff I love isn’t bad; it’s beautiful, it’s artsy, and it’s unique. As that under-the-sea hoarder, The Little Mermaid, once sang, “You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty…But who cares, no big deal, I want more.”
When I was younger I had many collections. Apart from the typical stuff (books, stamps, postcards), I collected spoons. You know, those baby-sized spoons gift shops sell in both ritzy hotels and highway rest stops? You know, the ones your friends look at and say, “Who would ever buy that?” Well, I did. You think I am kidding? For a while, my spoon collection was hung proudly on the wall of my parent’s dining room.
Most of the stuff I love, however, is handmade. I’m not a visual artist, but I like to think that in another life I could have been. I did snatch up the “Best Female Artist” superlative back in high school, but I was one of only two students who elected to take an art class — and I was the only girl. What little remains of my artistic ability, I invest into wine-laden craft nights and DIY art projects.
So it’s no surprise my artsy, DIY, stuff-loving brain nearly exploded with the advent of Etsy, a website dedicated to the production of small-batch, beautiful handmade goods (with a large vintage presence on the side). What’s best, it’s easy to find artists who are into the same wacky things I am. For instance, there’s practically a surplus of bookish knick knacks and literary ephemera. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift, adding to your personal stockpile, or squirreling away goods for a rainy day, Etsy has a multitude of crafty sellers who will amaze you with their bibliophilic whimsy.
I recently did a little online window shopping and handpicked some of my favorite literary Etsy shops. Each artist melds his or her love of literature with a passion for both crafts and fine arts, yielding a beautiful (often surprising) collection of items that anyone would be lucky to own. Why purchase your stuff anywhere else? Through Etsy, you can directly support the artists who made it…and apparently, just for you.
Writer and illustrator Evan Robertson’s shop offers original illustrations, posters and prints with a literary slant. He believes that “the best thing about paperbacks (apart from the smell, of course) is that when a little jewel of a sentence grabs you, you can underline it.” His posters, depicting his own artwork alongside quotes from literature offer a unique way to underline – by hanging it on your wall as art. The 32 gorgeous black and white designs featured on Etsy include the words of authors ranging from William Shakespeare to Vladimir Nabokov, Jack London and Virginia Woolf.
Anyone who knows me, or got as far as the title of this blog post, knows that I love a good pun, so right away I was drawn to this shop. The owner, Lauren Davidson, offers unique on-trend brass cuff bracelets with literary edge. Each is engraved with a classic quotation from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickenson, among others. The designs on each are beautifully rendered and connected with the artwork associated with the text.
London-based artist, Jess Purser, creates gorgeous works using pages from classic books. She predominantly offers ACEOs, which I recently learned stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals. The works of art can be made from any medium (Purser paints on vintage book pages before mounting on card for durability). The only requirement of an ACEO is its miniature size; 2.5” x 3.5” – the size of a standard sports trading card. (Where was ACEO collecting when I was an artsy child in need of a hobby?) Her book page canvas serves as a unique template for her art, which takes a variety of forms apart from ACEO. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet bookmarks, Jane Austen greeting cards and French literature post cards, oh my!
Artist Debbie Ritter came upon the idea for Uneek Dolls while creating inhabitants for a dollhouse her husband had built. Afterwards, she quickly realized that miniatures provided a way to create the authors and characters from classic literature that she loved so much. Custom orders are accepted, but with such a wide selection of authors, historical figures and literary characters to choose from, I’d be surprised if there was anyone she missed! From Edgar Allen Poe to Edna St.Vincent Millay. Looking to score some brownie points with the book-loving child in your life? May I suggest a dollhouse Pemberley? I know where you can find a miniature Elizabeth Bennet ready to make it her home.