They turn old bottle caps into jewelry, upcycle clothing and, yes, sometimes put birds on things. They're your crafty friends, and the gift options are plentiful. Because this is Portland—it's what we do.
808 SW 10th Ave., 224-9097, craftywonderland.com.
It's right there in the name. And with soft, pastel walls, scratchy Queen albums on the record player and the sweet smell of handmade soaps, Crafty Wonderland is indeed a land of wonder for appreciators of adorable arts and cutesy crafts. The eclectic furniture used as shelf space sports the handiwork of hundreds of local artists and crafters, from board-game handbags and color-slide lampshades to woodblock prints of pensive-looking animals and bow ties for cats by—wait for it—Business Casual. Although some of it will make you roll your eyes (how many products can we add a mustache to?), it's hard not to be charmed by all the crafty wonder.
1. Buy this: Mini chalkboard necklace by Coco Delay ($24).
4183 SE Division St., 488-0022, yarniapdx.com.
Yarnia lives up to its name—it's magical. What may at first glance appear to be a typical yarn store with colorful spools adorning the shelves soon reveals itself as a land of soft, fluffy enchantment where knitters can combine colors and fibers to create the yarn of their dreams. That's right: Yarnia spins custom yarn and sells it by the pound. Up to six strands can be woven together, with fibers like cotton, cashmere, bamboo, acrylic, wool, mohair, alpaca and shimmery Lurex, with a full rainbow of color selections to spin the ideal weight, color and texture. If you're new to making yarn, the store's helpful employees can walk you through it. Or, just look for Mr. Tumnus to guide the way.
2. Buy this: A pound of custom-blend yarn for the discriminating knitter (or playful kitten) in your life (price varies).
Tender Loving Empire
412 SW 10th Ave., 243-5859, tenderlovingempire.com.
Tender Loving Empire is a Portland-based independent record label, hosting artists like Radiation City, Hosannas and Y La Bamba. To further foster local art and creativity, Tender Loving Empire has a small retail store where they sell the arts-and-crafty wares of Portland's many do-it-yourselfers. From the enormous cardboard diorama on the ceiling to the solid tunes on the store record player, Tender Loving Empire's vibe is about as Portland as it gets, with the wares to back it up ranging from the girly (handmade jewelry) to the hipster (baby mustache pacifiers) to the fucking adorable (hand-knit cactus gardens). And if you just can't decide, it's hard to go wrong with a kick-ass record.
Buy this: Hand-knit cactus garden, which says "I care" way more than a real cactus does, by the Chic Chickadee ($35-$45).
3279 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-6120, magbig.com.
Mag-Big is essentially Etsy come to life. The shop fits a lot of creativity into a very small space, hosting the work of nearly 500 local designers, crafters and artists. In a store that's dubbed itself a "maker's department store," the fashions range from screen-printed tees and dresses sewn from vintage sheets to handmade underwear. Jewelry is crafted from vintage postage stamps or shellacked with rainbow sprinkles. It's how I picture Zooey Deschanel's closet might look, or even her study, with miscellaneous items thrown in like seed-bomb capsules and desktop garden kits.
Buy this: VC Bath & Body Treats handmade vegan soap in the "Naughty & Nice" scent ($5). Toss in a pair of handmade panties to up the sexy/creepy vibe.
2915 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 294-0769, scrappdx.org.
Sometimes it's a fine line between "crafter" and "hoarder." Nowhere is this more evident than at Scrap, the craft thrift store. But that's the beauty of the store: All the materials that otherwise might have been dumped in the trash have been donated to become a crafter's wet dream. Filing cabinets filled with thousands of old photographs and color slides sit next to garbage cans brimming with rubber bands and vinyl scraps. If you're looking for baby-food jars full of buttons or wine corks by the pound, you're in the right place. And just imagine how much fun your friend will have digging through bins of bottle caps and shelves of used wrapping paper. Scrap also has a gift shop and gallery to get the inspiration flowing for all you dumpster divers, er…crafters.
Buy this: A gift certificate, as opposed to what might look like a box full of garbage. One person's trash is another's treasure, but only the beholder knows which is which.
23 NW 4th Ave., 575-9769, handeyesupply.com.
For those whose idea of crafting involves tools and machinery that require protective clothing, Hand-Eye Supply is the place to go. Geared toward artists, designers and builders, Hand-Eye offers tools and supplies that up the cool factor. Safety glasses resemble Wayfarers, and work shirts could easily be worn to the bar later. A small but visually impressive library of design books offers inspiration on everything from graphic design to architecture. Gorgeous hand tools shine in a case that looks for all the world like a museum display, while high-quality pens and pencils beckon the artist within. The kitsch factor is low (Japanese throwing star magnets!), making it clear that Hand-Eye Supply is for the career designer or serious do-it-yourselfer.
3. Buy this: Red Clouds Collective Coffin Tool Roll ($45).