Each week through December 11 we're featuring gift ideas on a different theme. Several of the artists mentioned here are offering their wares at sales and fairs this weekend. See Holiday Sales on page 68 for locations. Next week we highlight gifts for the gourmand and cook.
Local artist Susan Dwyer honors a humble staple of the city skyline with her handmade ceramic water towers, which can be used as small planters or vases. a$68, in white or gray, at Post 27, 1819 W. Grand, 312-829-6122, upintheairsomewhere.com. Dwyer will also have a booth at the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale, Sat-Sun 12/6-12/7 at Pulaski Park Field House.
MnM Treasures, a local husband-and-wife team known simply as Michele & Mike, make Jada belt buckles with resin, papier-mache, glass, and wood. Leather belts, in black or brown, are $10. a$10-$18, mnmtreasures.etsy.com.
Our new president-elect has made it chic to be from Chicago. You can broadcast your pride with this Chicago's Finest messenger bag emblazoned with the city's flag. a$115 at sojournbags.com.
Jason Loper of Ravenswood-based Zola Jones Designs makes these shopping totes with sturdy upholstery fabric, but the brown and blue houndstooth adds a stylish flair, whether you're picking up baguettes and fresh flowers or beer and frozen pizza. a$22 at Zola Jones Designs, 1944 W. Montrose, 773-275-1845, zolajonesdesigns.com or zolajones.etsy.com. Loper will also be at the One-of-a-Kind Show and Sale Thu 12/4-Sun 12/7 at the Merchandise Mart.
Classes at the Lill Street Art Center cover more than just ceramics and glassware: students can learn to cast bronze reliefs or master a chain maille weave. A range of hand-crafted gifts—from textiles to paintings—will be available at the center's annual holiday show, which runs through the end of the month. aCourses, from one-day workshops to ten-week classes, range from $30 to $350, Lill Street Art Center, 4401 N. Ravenswood, 773-769-4226, lillstreet.com.
Ornaments inspired by the designs of architect Louis Sullivan make a pretty addition to the tree or a novel adornment for a wrapped gift. This one is based on the elevator lintels in the old Stock Exchange, which was demolished in 1972. a$15.95 at the Chicago History Museum store, 1601 N. Clark, 312-799-2262, chicagotogo.org.
Local designer Sara Bradstreet collects random bits of vintage jewelry and solders, drills, or otherwise joins them together to create dramatic new pieces like the Bittersweet necklace, which incorporates various metals and a gold feather. a$30-$120 at Wolfbait & B-Girls, 3131 W. Logan, 312-698-8685, wolfbaitchicago.com, and Pivot, 1101 W. Fulton Market, 312-243-4754, pivotboutique.com, or broadstreet.etsy.com.
Historian Neil Harris was browsing the stacks at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library years back when he came upon bound issues of the Chicagoan, a little-known literary magazine that from 1926 to 1935 was the second city's answer to the New Yorker. Harris's new coffee-table book, The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age, published by the University of Chicago Press, includes a brief history of the magazine and some of its best work, including features, covers, and cartoons, as well as one issue in its entirety. a$65.
Osaka native Hiroshi Ariyama earned a BFA from Columbia College and has spent most of his adult life here. His Chicago screen prints, awash in rich colors like deep blue and burnt orange, offer a fresh look at familiar city scenes and architectural landmarks. a$25-$45 for archival prints, $150-$165 for signed, limited-edition original prints, ariyamastudio.com.
The Chicago Athletic Association, founded in 1890 by prominent Chicagoans like Marshall Field and Cyrus McCormick, closed its doors last year but some of the club's monogrammed china and silver plate is still available. The association's logo was later borrowed and adapted by the Cubs after the team was purchased by club member William Wrigley. aChina plates, $24 apiece; silver plate, $38 to $250, P.O.S.H., 13 N. State, 312-280-1602, poshchicago.com.