Buy Handmade. Buy Local

Marion Cardwell-Ferrer's Snowflake Sugar Cookies.

It is relatively easy to find a broad spectrum of affordable art in the Finger Lakes – you just have to know where to look. A great resource is a website created by Homer Mitchell, president of the nonprofit Finger Lakes Artists & Crafters Network (www.fingerlakesartists.com). After attending art shows with his wife Kim, a potter, he saw firsthand how hard artists and crafters work to get their products in front of potential buyers.

“Developing the virtual network and its free listing-based website was my response to the general plight of our regional artists and crafters, and the marketing dilemmas they face,” says Mitchell. His 12-year-old directory not only lists 450 artist members representing 20 different mediums, but also retail shops, museums and exhibits, festivals and events, and organizations.

Over the years, he’s expanded the scope of the website by adding six other upstate regional networks: artists of the Adirondacks, Capital Region, Catskill-Hudson, Leatherstocking, Western New York and North Country.

“Buying handmade objects is a place to start when thinking economically, ecologically and sustainably,” says artist Kala Stein, a member of the Finger Lakes Network. Named a Top Ten Emerging Artist in 2011 by Ceramics Monthly, Stein creates a popular 6- by 8-inch geographically accurate tile design of the Finger Lakes. She creates the tiles in small batches, hand pressed from earthenware with many layers of slips and glazes. An information card comes with it, and includes the lake names, their meanings, how they were formed, and their depths and lengths.

Stein’s tiles can be viewed and purchased at www.fingerlakestiles.com. Coach Street Clay in Canandaigua and Artizann’s in Naples also carry the tiles, along with her other work, including her elegant silhouette vases (starting at $70).

EDIBLE HOLIDAY ART

Yummy holiday treats can be the sweetest gift of all. You can make them yourself with the help of Marion Cardwell-Ferrer of Sincredible Pastries, a “pastry artist” based in Lansing who has developed a national following. Cardwell-Ferrer holds classes (like the popular snowflake sugar cookie class on December 15) in her pink, retro-themed, 1,000-square-foot bakery/studio. Go to www.etsy.com/shop/marionsvintagebakery to register.

If you prefer to have your edible gifts prepared by a pro, you can simply order them from etsy. Her wide variety of freshly baked treats can be shipped to your faraway loved ones for the holidays. Don’t forget to choose your own scrumptious indulgence – a tasty reward for shopping local and handmade.

ACQUIRE SOME HANG-UPS

Watercolorist Cheryl Chalmers produces an “Art of the Finger Lakes” calendar of her paintings. The calendar, her original artwork, giclée prints, lined journals and more are available at her Trumansburg gallery by appointment, at Ithacamade’s seasonal Holiday Spirit store and at www.facebook.com/CherylChalmersArt.

Chalmers is also an accomplished illustrator. She created the cover for the re-release of A Magical Christmas by New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham. The house Chalmers depicts on the cover is “almost a character in the book,” says Graham, who comments by e-mail. “I think the artwork is beautiful, and creates a perfect image – the real feel of a snowy Christmas with just that touch of magic.”

Other lake lovers on your list might enjoy receiving a lush Bill Mowson watercolor print of a regional outdoor scene, or any one of the 11 Finger Lakes. Mowson, an Ithaca-based fine artist, finds subtle differences in each lake and says, “If you look carefully, you will see that my color palette often varies accordingly.”

His signed prints are limited edition giclées pre-mounted on archival mats. They may be purchased at www.fingerlakefootprints.com, or at Handwork in Ithaca.

OUTDOORSY AND ECO-FRIENDLY

Here are some unique ideas for animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and eco-conscious friends and family members on your shopping list.

Glass artist Bonnie Scott’s “Wear-A-Memory” jewelry line, including Pandora-style single beads, pendants and earrings, is made from recycled wine bottles. A wide selection of her work, priced starting at $10, can be found at her Glass Studio & Gift Gallery in Odessa, or online at www.joyful adornments.com.

Auburn stained glass artist Tina Barry takes art outside. Her sturdy cement garden stepping stones with striking stained glass patterns are $35 and up. Barry’s many designs and other products, such as sun catchers and birdbaths, can be viewed at www.stainedglasscreations2.com.

Tara Tiberio, a fine artist in Honeoye Falls, specializes in highly detailed wildlife and custom pet portraits. Her use of colored and graphite pencils is “unique, as there are not many of us around who do this,” she says. Tiberio offers a range of prices for portraits and just recently began drawing homes, too. Tiberio’s website, www.taratiberiofineart.com, also features her original artwork on affordable functional items such as mugs and coasters.

A more conventional gift idea from Skaneateles artist Sara Davenport (www.thelegacystudio.com) is a glass ornament embellished by hand with paint pens. Davenport creates traditional and abstract styles that elevate this classic hostess or teacher gift to a work of art. One of her new lines is created entirely of American-made components, including the ornaments, paint, brushes and ribbon.

COLORFUL, VIBRANT, WHIMSICAL

Canandaigua doll artist Nancy Wiley has published two classic children’s tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ($35) and, most recently, Little Red Riding Hood. Photographs of her character art dolls posed against her vibrantly hand-painted backdrops are the books’ eye-catching illustrations. The hardcover books and limited edition companion dolls can be purchased at her studio by appointment, at Talulah’s Fancy and Friends gift shop in Honeoye Falls or at www.nancywiley.com.

The fanciful, affordable and child-friendly animal prints and note cards by Ithaca artist Mary Reynolds are drawn in ink, then colored and digitally embellished. She’s also working on a series of drawings of recognizable Finger Lakes landmarks and settings. A special image, commissioned by The Memorial Art Gallery’s in-house Gallery Store in Rochester, correlates with the museum’s 2013 centennial year. Reynolds’ whimsical use of bright colors “is irresistible,” says Store Manager Colleen Griffin-Underhill. In addition to the Gallery Store, Reynolds’ artwork can be found at 15 Steps in Ithaca, Aurora Arts and Design Center, or at www.facebook.com/StickWithMary.


by Nancy E. McCarthy