Affordable Booty in Time for Chanukah

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CORAL & TUSK
Being crafty runs in Stephanie Housley’s family, particularly in the women. Her great-grandmother made complex and beautiful tatting, even after she went blind. Together, Housley and her grandmother made dolls from any piece of scrap fabric they could find. And her mother was always happy to fulfill Housley’s constant requests to sew pockets on everything she owned.

And although her mother encouraged imagination and creativity, the Cincinnati native’s earliest memory of drawing is with her father. “He would begin a drawing, then pass it to me for phase two, then back and forth until we were satisfied,” Housley explains.

Graduating from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, Housley discovered a passion for textile design — and travels to India several months each year to design collections. Inspired by her travels, and the handling of colors and surfaces in the textiles and crafts she’s come across, she and her husband, Chris Lacinak, began their own Brooklyn-based company, Coral & Tusk, in 2007.

Beginning with an original drawing, Housley machine-embroiders her storybook-style designs of woodland creatures, feathers, teepees, pirates and more onto earthy linen pillows, felt accessories (badges, charms, baby booties), onesies and scarves, plus designs hand-cut stationery and framed artwork.

“The machine allows a final product that doesn’t compromise my integrity, but allows a product that people can afford to purchase,” she says. “I believe in good design for everyday and that people should have the opportunity to live with things they love. We strive to take something that is familiar and generally over-commoditized, and make it our own by actually drawing the stitches as the drawings — rather than plugging in some generic embroidery stitches into a clip art design.”

Inspired by everything from the Alexander McQueen exhibit at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to watching a funny squirrel in the park, Housley translates what she sees into her work. Captivating, nostalgic and often funny, Housley’s designs tell a little bit of a story that makes the buyer want to know more.

“I love that people get to use their imaginations and their curiosity is piqued. And I love that I get to create these characters and subtly convey their stories through the drawing.”

Find Coral & Tusk pieces at the Purple Bear, Birmingham (248) 645-0400, or visit coralandtusk.com.

STUDIO KALEIDOSCOPE
Susan Kaplan finds inspiration in a lot of places. Her father, the late architect Ken Neumann, helped direct the early path of Kaplan’s career, which for 20 years was as a project designer for architectural firms in Metro Detroit and Los Angeles before beginning her own interior design firm, Kaplan Design. Growing up in a modern house, she has a fine-tuned understanding of modern architecture and art, but she also has a passion for beautiful objects from the past.

Just over a year ago, Kaplan, who lives in Birmingham with her husband, Ross, and two sons, brought her architectural and design passions together — on a smaller scale — by starting Studio Kaleidoscope, where she creates one-of-a-kind handcrafted contemporary art jewelry.

“I used to be a quilter, until my sewing machine quit on me,” says Kaplan.

She also took classes at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in metal-design jewelry making, and did coursework in ceramics, sculpture and furniture design while studying for her master’s in architecture at the University of Michigan.

As in architecture, she employs precision to assemble colors and patterns in jewelry design, particularly her manipulation of materials, like polymer clay. A relatively new media in the art world, polymer offers endless color possibilities as it can be mixed like pigment paint. “People are amazed when they realize that all of my bead patterns are made from clay, like pieces of a puzzle, and not painted,” says Kaplan.

Besides being unique and wearable, Kaplan’s pieces are affordable. Earrings start at just $12, while pins, hair accessories, bracelets and necklaces range from $25 to $75. “Each piece is very time consuming, but it does me no good to have it sitting around,” says Kaplan. “I want others to enjoy it — and to feel good about their purchase.”

Find Studio Kaleidoscope at studiokaleidoscope.etsy.com, the BBAC Museum Gift Shop, or contact Susan Kaplan at sk@studiokaleidoscope.net to find a boutique show or to commission an original piece.

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