When you’re decorating your home, or you’re decorating yourself, you have two options when it comes to where to buy such things.
Option No. 1: Go to a big-box store and buy all of the mass-designed, mass-produced, made-in-China stuff you want. Option No. 2: Point your Web browser to Etsy.com, look around and buy a handmade, one-of-a-kind necklace, picture frame or set of thank-you cards made by someone in your backyard. Literally. It gives new meaning to “buy local.”
The Web site, which provides artists and artisans the world over a way to sell their wares to the public, was launched in 2005 and now boasts tens of thousands of sellers. Most items are priced between $10 and $30, but the selection runs the gamut from crocheted baby booties made by a grandmother to handblown glasswork from a professional artist.
There’s a plethora of folks from across Maine who sell their stuff on etsy.com — too many to name here, though a visit to www.etsymaineteam.blogspot.com turns up a long, well-organized list of Etsy-ites working here in 207.
One of the items most available on Etsy is jewelry. In Bangor, the ironically named husband-and-wife design team of (1) Buy My Crap (buymycrap.etsy.com) sells molded resin rings and earrings, such as the striking white-and-red ring, A Little Drop of Bella, inspired by the book and movie “Twilight,” which retails for $35. Gerry and Elaine Bard of By My Crap have been making resin jewelry out of their home for the past year, and it’s anything but crap.
Farther north, (2) Folk Art Tree maven Pamela McFarland sells her work at folkarttreefandangle.etsy.com. At her home in Ashland, McFarland uses found art, vintage materials and other unique items to make an assortment of accessories, including the Intense Earth Vintage Celluloid Button necklace ($22), made of glass beads, jasper, metal chains and a vintage celluloid button.
Moms and moms-to-be can find a wealth of baby stuff on Etsy, including wee things from (3) Coco and Milkweed (www.cocoandmilkweed.etsy.com) out of Portland. Husband and wife Evan and Lila Maleah and their daughter Coco handmake bibs and blankets, including this sweet, funky gift set featuring Woodsy and L’il Hootie, two big-eyed owls, a soft but very durable bib and blanket, which retails for $52.
Niche markets find a home on Etsy. For example, the gaming community has a friend in Amy Provost of Cornish, whose (4) Broake and Thumb Studios (www.sparrowhawk9.etsy.com) makes nerd-tastic, Dungeons and Dragons and medieval-inspired crafts, such as this little drawstring bag, perfect for holding 20-sided dice — or other small items you might need to hold together. It sells for $11.
Unique is the name of the game on Etsy. Case in point: Mary Robbins of South Portland makes T-shirts, hats and bags inspired by her Moroccan family and years spent abroad. She sells them on her Etsy shop, (5) Moth Designs (www.mothdesigns.etsy.com). This T-shirt, which retails for $22, features an Arabic phrase meaning “Whales in love”— sweet, funny and a wonderful way to bring together East and West.
Personal care products are another big Etsy item, like the felted soaps from (6) Becky Rose Designs (www.beckyrosedesigns.etsy.com). Rose, based in Bar Harbor, creates soaps mixed with felt, which works as a built-in washcloth, like this mango and cocoa butter soap that sells for $8.
(7)Long Winter Farms (www.longwinterfarms.etsy.com) out of Alna is the brainchild of Amanda Nolan, and in addition to soaps and body creams, she sells luxurious lip balms, like this three-pack that sells for $8.50.
If you’re searching for the funniest, sweetest birthday, thank-you or holiday card, then surf over to (8) Sock Monkey Cards (www.sockmonkeycards.etsy.com), a line of hilarious prints and cards made by Laurie Jenson de Paolo of Cape Elizabeth. De Paolo takes your average sock monkey and puts it in interesting situations — going camping, getting a massage, going surfing or playing scrabble are just a few. The cards are $3 each.
You can decorate your fridge with handmade magnets by (9) Kristina Meyers of Auburn. Meyers, a teacher and mom of three, makes jewelry and magnets, including these cute dinosaur bottle cap magnets retailing for $7 on her Etsy site, www.kristinamyerscrafts.etsy.com.
Jennifer Payson of Warren has seemingly mastered the art of origami. One look at her Etsy page, (10) Whimsidoodle (www.whimsidoodle.etsy.com), reveals an assortment of handcrafted paper lanterns that are perfect for affixing to white string lights to hang indoors or out. A pack of 50 origami boxes sells for $50, but Payson sells packs of 20 for $20-$24.
If you’re buying gifts for others, or you’re just casually looking for a little something for yourself, you can support the work of people in Maine by buying on Etsy.com — and in these tough economic times, every little bit helps.