Singular Sensations

Looking for standout holiday gifts that aren’t easy to pick up in the aisles of big box stores? Find the ones that you want (and maybe the ones that Sandy, Frenchy, and Rizzo want, too-ooh-ooh) at this week’s ninth annual One of a Kind Show in the Merchandise Mart, opening Thursday, Dec. 3 and running through Sunday. Organizers have put together a mixed bag of more than 500 juried artisans, who will be showing ceramics, glass, furniture, wearable art, sculpture, and a whole lot of jewelry (judging from previous years). This year’s attendees will be receive a free one-year subscription to ReadyMade magazine, and be able to visit an Etsy artist pavilion that showcases the crème de la crafts of the popular online handmade marketplace. I was pleased to see Susan Lowenberg (AKA the Pencil Lady) on the roster of exhibitors again—the Chicagoan uses vintage advertising and art pencils to embellish small furniture pieces, frames, and accessories, and her booth was one of my point-blank favorites at this show a couple of years ago.

Just the ‘Facts

It’s no secret that we’re fans of the Ravenswood resource for both major and minor vintage antiques, Architectural Artifacts, so office excitement is palpable when owner Stuart Grannen sets the dates for his annual no-holds-barred inventory sale. It’s up and running, folks, from now until December 23, and everything in the huge store is at least 25 percent off. This year, Stuart has marked all mantels and lighting half-price, and for those items that he “doesn’t love anymore” the discount increases to 75 percent. (Love is always sweeter the second time around, don’t cha know?) This Argentine behemoth in cast stone is among the fireplace finds, and was originally priced at $32,000. At nearly nine feet wide, there’s ample room for stockings, even if you’re Octomom.

Roseville Rodeo

Just Art Pottery, a Peoria-based online store specializing in just American fine art ceramics, has roped in an extensive collection of more than 275 grade-A Roseville pieces and has started to  list them for sale on its comprehensive, educational website, Owners Greg and Lana Myroth have a great passion for and knowledge of American ceramics from the likes of Grueby, Teco, Van Briggle, and Rookwood—they started the business in 1997—and although they don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, they have liberal return policies and offer layaway plans. The couple is also interested in purchasing collections, and will keep a wish list for you if there is a specific style you covet. This charming Morning Glory green vase is from the new Roseville offerings, stands a smidge over six inches tall, and is priced at $495. For more top-drawer ceramics, as well as sturdy Stickley furniture, hammered brass lamps and platters, and a wealth of other Arts and Crafts materials, check out John Toomey’s Dec. 6 auction at Oak Park’s Treadway Toomey Galleries.

See More Ceramics

For additional, au courant crockery, Evanston’s McGaw YMCA is having its Holiday Ceramics Sale this Friday through Sunday, with 12 area potters exhibiting one-off, functional tableware and cookery and art pieces at the Y’s 1000 Grove Street location. Twenty percent of proceeds go to support McGaw’s youth scholarship programs, and admission is free.

Family Matters

Ronald McDonald House Charities is trying to raise money for a new location at 211 E. Grand Avenue, in part by selling doormats imprinted with messages such as “Comfort Is in the House,” “Love Is in the House,” “Hope Is in the House,” and “Groove Is in the House” (kidding on that last one). The coconut-fiber mats are 18 by 30 inches and sell for $50, and you should buy one. Seriously, the only person who thinks your “Wow, Nice Underwear” and “Come Back With a Warrant” doormats are funny is you, and frankly, you might want to reconsider. Mickey D’s Houses are a great cause, as they provide housing for the families of kids being treated for serious issues at local hospitals. This downtown facility will be the largest of the 280 houses around the world, and hopes to be finished by 2012, so let’s help them out. Tis the season.