It’s a great feeling when you wear an accessory for the first time and someone compliments you on it. It’s an even better feeling when said article of style was not mass-produced in a sweatshop in China but lovingly crafted by a metalsmith, or handwoven by a friend, or carved by a skilled craftsman. These handcrafted items should be staples for all fashion-forward men and women.
One of my favorite activities to do — and I suggest that you try this as well — is to go to Etsy.com, click on the search button, and search for something strange and handmade — for example, hedgehog earrings.
So, my suggestion to you is to go on Etsy, type in something that you like — cats, raccoons, boats, math — specify that you are looking for earrings, or a necklace, or scarf, and see what the good Lord brings you.
Don’t forget to read the reviews and check the return policy of the seller before you buy anything from them. If the person does not have any reviews, don’t be afraid to message them and ask questions before you buy. Most of the craftspeople on Etsy are friendly and willing to work with their customers, so don’t be afraid to be friendly and inquisitive with them.
One fantastic Etsy vendor for unique accessories is Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, a craftsperson working with lovely pieces of metal. One of my favorite pieces that Wendy has up right now is called the Memento Aurum ring, and this is a perfect example of her creativity and uniqueness.
Wendy’s jewelry is a little pricier than most, but it is completely worth it. Just the care and time that is worked into every piece screams value. I am also under the belief that less is more and quality trumps quantity. Thus, it is better to have several pieces of jewelry that you wear often than a box full of things you never touch.
If you’d like to find handcrafted goods without buying them off the internet, find an American-made store near you. Now these stores are not called American Made, for the most part, but rather advertise themselves as stores that carry American-made crafts. You can find them by searching online in your area.
Most of these stores carry from local artists, which means if you like something that they make but you would like it slightly different, you have the opportunity to meet with the artist. For example, if you loved a necklace that a local artisan made but they used whales in it when you really like octopi, you may be able to envision this creation with the artist who brought to life.
Another place that you can check for handcrafted and unique accessories is at art events. Most large cities, and some small ones, have events led by all sorts of artists, where they take over the streets of the cities with their art on certain blocks one night out of the month.
In Philadelphia, this is called First Friday and it occurs the first Friday of each month. This is a great way to find unique pieces for your wardrobe and your home. I have found excellent paintings and jewelry during First Friday and it is also a great treat to watch the artists make some of their creations right in front of you. The love and passion that they place into their craft gives meaning to the object so that it’s not just an earring or a ring but something special that holds a great memory and meaning.
One such local is Megan Auman, a metalsmith and painter who makes beautiful, handcrafted jewelry and scarves. Her websites are both easy to navigate and friendly for shopping. If you are a lover of clean lines or the layering affect, or are looking for that simply-stated “wow” factor, Megan’s designs are perfect for you.
My favorite design from Megan is a pair of earrings that are so simple and yet somehow exquisite. They looking like little rain droplets and I love how they fit with almost any outfit.
Also make sure to check out the cozy/cuff section. These are great gifts for those coffee and tea drinkers in your family and they also help save the environment, so you can feel like you’re doing a good deed at the same time.
Photo credits: bsferro, Octavia Bloom, Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, epheriell.com and Megan Auman.