Instead of buying all your Christmas gifts online, why not support some local creatives?
Many local crafters, painters and other artisans also peddle their wares online either through an official website or solely via social media pages. Often these custom pieces of art can be purchased without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair — and at least one of these local crafters may hand-deliver your purchase to your door for free.
Skip dad’s tired tie or giving yet another gift card. Instead, invest in your community and in your gift-giving by checking out these six artists offering everything from cosmic paintings to jewelry and a quilt to cuddle up into during the long, cold Wisconsin winter.
Katie Metzelaars and her sister-in-law Meganne Malen create “fairytale and heirloom clothing.”
At least that’s one of the mottos for The Wild Purple, a small business based in Shorewood offering dresses and other clothing made from vintage textiles.
Metzelaars said about 90% of the dresses offered are made from repurposed fabric. The only non-vintage elements are the thread and sometimes linings. The duo also work to recycle all scraps.
“I wanted clothes that I couldn’t find anywhere else,” Metzelaars said.
After gaining a following on Instagram (@wildpurple) during the platform’s early years in 2015, offerings from The Wild Purple sell out “within a couple of minutes of posting.”
Metzelaars and Malen create their dresses and post them in a “drop” each month on social media. They also offer “one-of-a-kind Wednesday” where they release a single unique piece weekly. Sizing ranges from infant to a 12 or 14.
The duo also occasionally create made-to-order items like bonnets and other less involved pieces that can be created quickly. The bonnets are especially popular during the holidays for family photos.
Fabrics come from sources like thrift stores, estate sales, eBay, and other online marketplaces. Clients can bring in their own fabric for custom work. Pricing starts around $35 for bonnets, but dresses can reach up to $400 depending on the textiles and the time involved in creating it, with most projects taking between four and eight hours.
Visit www.thewildpurple.com to learn more.
Waukesha resident Megan Chitel enjoys spending her time with Aurora.
No, Aurora is not a person or a pet ― it’s her sewing machine.
“I always name all of the things in my shop. It’s just something quirky I do,” she said. “It brings character to the things you really appreciate and love.”
Chitel opened Cream City Patchworks after she got her LLC in early summer 2021 and makes quilted and sewn goods. Chitel took up quilting in January that same year, learning primarily from YouTube videos after she was inspired by a friend.
In addition to quilts, Chitel also offers pillows, tote bags, wall hangings and more.
Much of her inspiration comes from Instagram (@creamcitypatchworks) ― that’s also where she is most active, posting her own work and where clients can contact her. She does operate a Facebook page as well, but said that isn’t as updated. For those without either, they can email Chitel directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her prices range from $5 up to $600 for bigger things like throw quilts and “the ones I spent a lot of time on.” Projects can take her upwards of a month to complete, sometimes longer.
Chitel is accepting custom orders and is often making stockings around Christmas. She’s also found an interest in creating cat toys. Chitel often hand-delivers orders to customers in the Waukesha and Milwaukee area for free.
Kat Richards wanted to slow down and refocus on the simple things in life. After making some custom wedding gifts and other projects for friends and family, she launched SimplistiCreations, a wood jewelry and home décor business.
Richards, who lives in Wauwatosa, said she’s “wanted to enjoy the little things in life” and the name was a reminder to her when she’d start scatter-braining all the things she wanted to do and make.
Richards loves the smell and texture of wood.
“It definitely has a different feeling compared to other materials I’ve played with in the past,” she said. “The joy of making your own things is you aren’t really restricted.”
Richards sources her wood from a small business. She offers many completed designs on her website, www.simplisticreations.com, and she’s open to custom work with a rough estimate of a two-to-three-week lead time for smaller, less intricate projects.
Richards likes making things with geometric designs based in nature. She also creates items inspired by the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises. She’s looking into Advent calendars as well to “slowly build that excitement” toward Christmas.
Her premade products range from $6 to about $40. Custom project cost varies depending on the job’s size and intricacy.
May Klisch, a local painter from Shorewood, owns a studio in the Marshall Building in the Third Ward. She makes prints of some of her favorite paintings to allow more people to enjoy them.
Some of her work consists of paintings of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Her main work is in abstract realism and impressionism.
Klisch said she gets joy not just from creating art but sharing it through shows and sales.
“I already had my experience, and now you have yours,” Klisch said.
The prints range from $20 for a mini up to $600 for an original. She also offers signed 8×8 prints for $98. She is open, but selective, on custom or commissioned work.
“I try to give people an entry, the gateway drug to collecting your art,” Klisch said. “I want to give them something that can grow on them over time.”
Klisch said her gallery is open seven days a week but doesn’t keep regular hours so it’s best to reach out to her. She also has her work on display in numerous other local galleries listed on her website, www.mayklisch.com.
Katy Stechner of Franklin makes custom earrings from home to sell herself or to donate to church fundraisers.
She calls her business “All Things Fab” and her Facebook page, FAB Finds, showcases her work.
After seeing expensive, leather leaf-shaped earrings at a show about five or six years ago, a friend gave Stechner the idea of making them with scraps. She offers earrings that are about an inch-and-a-half long. She does double leather and has made minis as well. Recently, Stechner has branched out into creating leather envelope clutches.
Most of her leather comes from grab bags sold on Etsy. She also has gotten “leather by the bagful” from American Science and Surplus in Milwaukee.
Stechner does take custom orders for specifics colors or designs ― she once did a Greendale Panther set.
Her earrings typically sell from between $15 and $23, depending on style and material.
While the best place to see her products is her Fab Finds Facebook page, Stechner is working with some local businesses ― including a friend who is opening a facial spa ― to stock her earrings.
“I like them being out in the community and people know I made them,” she said. “It’s important to support those making things with their hands and local.”
South Milwaukee’s Matthew Tomczak has been a “professional practicing artist” since 2016 and his paintings can be described with one word: cosmic.
Tomczak said he paints celestial events such as planetary collision, galaxies unseen or ideas like exogenesis.
He said his work is a form of escapism and a “blending of scientific curiosity and imagination.”
While he’s been drawing since he was a little boy, Tomczak didn’t start painting until his time at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 2012. He said traditional mediums like paint and pencil work “carries not only visual content, it carries the personality of the artist, and not every hand makes the same stroke.”
Tomczak said he’s inspired primarily through telescope imagery from Hubble and James Webb. Artists in the sci-fi and fantasy fields also drive his ideas.
Tomczak displays his work on his Instagram (@matthew.tomczak) where he shares updates on current projects. He is overhauling his website, www.matthewtomczak.com right now.
He said if someone has an idea for a custom piece or wants to check if a specific painting is still available, they can reach him at email@example.com. Most of his paintings range from $55 to $100 with price equivalent to size.
Contact Erik S. Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org. Like/follow his Facebook page,The Redheadliner, and follow him on Twitter at@ES_Hanley.
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