Leather coffee cup insulator, firestarters and Vacationland, a novel

Last minute ‘shop local’ gift ideas

Mon, 12/23/2013 - 11:00am

    For the holidays, we’re continuing our series to shine the spotlight on Maine craftspeople who make products by hand. It’s important to shop locally and support innovators and entrepreneurs who keep the creative economy alive in this state. So each week, until Dec. 25, we will bring you this series until you can’t take it anymore. Ready. Set. Go.

    Leather Coffee Cup Jacket Insulator

    The back story

    Patricia McDonald is an artist from Union, and who owns a small business called Patzbag. Much of her business focuses on handbags and totes made of leather and other upcycled fabrics. A couple of years ago, she purchased a ceramic coffee glass with a silicone jacket insulator and got an idea.

    “I am always brainstorming for new products, especially those that don't take very much leather,” she said. “Some of the bags I make are of heavy leather and I always have scraps left over that can be used. I also love that they can be made of unusual leathers that I sometimes can just get a small amount of.”

    Where to find them/price range

    Online: they can be purchased at her Etsy shop. Cost is $10/ea. Sets of 4 (same leather) are $36. The leathers are constantly changing as my stock runs out. I list Offline: Occasionally I sell them wholesale to Archipelago in Rockland. I can always make direct sales from my shop in Union. Call me at: 207-542-7498 Email me at: patzbag@yahoo.com

    In their words

    “I try to make items that don't cause MORE global warming! These are made only from scrap leather, so they fit that purpose nicely.”


    Decorative firestarters

    The back story

    Alana Hutchins from Swanville, owns A&E Stoneworks, which specializes in house stonewares. She says she can turn anything into a craft project. Her husband Evan (the E in A&E Stoneworks) cuts firewood so his wood yard is always full of hard wood shavings.

    “One day I was helping him process a cord of wood and he cut the log at a different angle and it made the most gorgeous wood curl. I quickly collected them and starting thinking about what I could make... fire starters!” Made from paraffin wax, she added some coloring and glitter. “ I wanted them to be pretty, as well.”

    Where to find them/price range

    Online: etsy.com/shop/AandEStoneworks for 6-pack for $7

    In their words

    “These are pretty unique fire starters because they are super simple to use AND they make a great fire place decoration! No need to hide these ones in the wood box!”


    Vacationland, a novel

    The back story

    Maine writers also fit this category of making a quality product by hand. Nat Goodall is the author of Vacationland: Man plans, God laughs, a novel about a fifth generation lobsterman, Donny Coombs, whose new neighbors from away are on a crusade to save Maine from the Mainers. Set in Lincolnville and Islesboro, Donny deals with the usual lobstering issues, including territory rights and a class struggle between Donny and his girlfriend’s father.

    “I was born and raised to write this story,” said Goodall.  “From the age of my birth, every summer I came to 700 Acre Island as a ‘summer person.’  From the age of 16, I worked at Dark Harbor Boat Yard.  Thus, I have had one foot in the local community and the other in the lives of folk that come to summer on the island. This is a story about how different classes view each other, and how they co-exist.  I have to say that my heart is closer to the local, blue collar, people, but my treatment to all is square and fair.  This is a story of prejudice, of class conflict, and about a great dog.”

    Where to find it/price range

    The book is available at Amazon.com for $14.99 or the Kindle version for $ 9.98.

    In their words

    “This story is about the hidden life that rings loud and true in Maine.”

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com