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Made in California: Handcrafted gifts for the person who hates the mall

December 5, 2009 | 10:42 am

DecorativeFists As part of our series on hand-made gifts, we offer some clever decorative arts that may bring a smile or two.

Kevin Beer makes his living designing homes and offices, but it’s hard to call his offbeat “terrariums” a side business when they have landed in stores such as Blackman Cruz and Gary Gibson. His meticulously crafted assemblages set under glass domes are secret little worlds unto themselves, harboring tales that may vary depending on the onlooker. DecorativeVase “What I love about Kevin’s work is that there is a narrative, you can imagine a story,” said Stacey Coleman, whose Gold Bug gallery in Pasadena has the piece pictured at top  titled “Friends,” with two tiny figurines sitting on a miniature park bench.  Beer said the bench was once used by birds in a circus act. 

Gold Bug commissions artists to create large-scale sculpture as well as more budget-minded works. The acid-washed concrete fists pictured above right, $20 to $30 apiece, are among original designs that also include mice and baby doll heads. 

As a design student, Katherine Gray was assigned to create a vase. Instead, she created two vases in one. Her Either/Or design shown here, has a central well that acts like a traditional vase, or for a more minimal approach, a glass loop inside the vase can cradle a single stem. The hand-blown piece is 9 inches high and 5 inches in diameter. Price: $250. shibuidesigns.com.

DecorativeKrislyn We first featured the floral artistry of Krislyn Komarov three years ago, and ever since we’ve noted how frequently her designs are ripped off by copycats -- and with good reason. Her works capture the fleeting beauty of flowers but have the longevity of sculpture. One of her more affordable introductions this year: “moss hills,” 1-foot-wide assemblages of dyed moss that are arranged into simple, lovely tablescapes. (In the Krislyn's store, they also call these pieces moss pets.) They start at $80 and can be ordered online

Stay tuned: In the coming week we'll have dozens more gift ideas from local artisans. To see all of them at once, pick up today's print edition of the Los Angeles Times. 

-- Craig Nakano and David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Kevin Beer assemblage photographed by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; fists photographed by Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times; vase photographed by Nolen Niu; moss photo courtesy of Krislyn.