Art & Design gift guide 2008
The gorgeous photos; witty, substantive essays; and handy timeline and websites included in Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95) should appeal to both skilled artists and casual shoppers at the Renegade Craft Fair, where authors Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl conducted some of their research. Handmade Nation compiles interviews with 24 fashion designers, jewelry makers and other indie crafters from across the U.S. Their workwhether twee, political or porntasticreflects the growing number of alternatives to corporate crap. Available at Prairie Avenue Bookshop (418 S Wabash Ave).
This American idol
Lots of people have crushes on This American Life host Ira Glass, but Abbey Hambrights probably the only one whos created a felt puppet in his image. The Chicago artist, who sells her wares under the name Abbey Christine, has such an extensive line of puppets that you can spend hours making up conversations between Glass and Barack Obama as well as film characters like Harold and Maude, the Royal Tenenbaums and Lloyd Dobler. But then we suggest you get some therapy. Available at Renegade Handmade (1924 W Division St, 773-227-2707, renegadehandmade.com), $15.
For its first series of art prints, Ravenswood-based studio Sonnenzimmer (whose posters for bands like the Walkmen and Silver Jews reflect a fanatical attention to detail) collaborated with Chris Kerr, Anders Nilsen and Carrie Pollack. Their editions of 75 each couldnt be more different: Pollack came up with a complex, multilayered abstract design; Nilsens barren landscape resembles his distinctive comics, and Kerr produced a twisted but hilarious depiction of sharks attacking a shipwreck. Available at sonnenzimmer.com/artprints.html, $220.
Weve enjoyed Jessica Helfands graceful, erudite essays on the popular blog Design Observer since 2003. The graphic designers Scrapbooks: An American History (Yale University Press, $45) is just as impressiveand at 2.8 pounds, this lavishly illustrated survey is much less ephemeral. Marshaling more than 200 scrapbooks from the past 200 years, Helfand traces how Americans from all walks of life transformed collections of family mementos, news clippings and other objects into personal narratives. Available at Quimbys (1854 W North Ave, 773-342-0910, quimbys.com).