Holiday Gifts: Fun, Funky Fiber Art — Woolly Scarves, and Down and Dirty Angels

"South Beach Gizzy," $300, by Cordelia De Vere, who worked in glass until cancer struck in 2009. Photo by Barbara Newhall

“South Beach Gizzy,” $300, by Cordelia De Vere, a glass artist who took up fiber art after cancer struck in 2009. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

More funky gifts from the artists and craftspeople of Berkeley, California. This time we celebrate fiber art in the form of in-your-face dolls and woolly felt scarves.

Cordelia De Vere's fiber art doll, "Vintage Angel #3." As she healed from cancer, her dolls became more light-filled. Photo by Barbara Newhall

De Vere’s “Vintage Angel #3.” As she healed from cancer, her dolls became more light-filled. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In-Your-Face Fiber Art Dolls

Either you’ll love them — or they’ll give you the willies. They’re intricate, multi-layered works of fiber art up from the unconscious of East Bay cancer survivor Cordelia De Vere.

Cordelia’s dolls will set you back a bit — 300 bucks or so — even though they’re made from much-used, much-battered materials, including (some of them) petite gloves that once belonged to the artist’s grandmother and great-grandmother. Originally a glass artist, Cordelia is not against tacking a glitzy sprinkling of Swarovsky crystals to her otherwise earthy dolls.

The more you look at these dolls, the more they get a hold on you — and creep into your unconscious.

Funky Gifts: Miriam Abramowitsch’s Hand-Made Felt

They’re one-size-fits-all, cozy, warm — and cool, cool, cool. They’ll dress up a plain outfit, and keep the winter chill off your neck.

Miriam Abramowitsch was wearing one of her whimsical scarves during a visit to Open Studios at Berkeley’s Sawtooth Building earlier this month. She makes the the felt herself — by combining wool, soap, water and pressure. (Wool’s the only fabric that transforms into felt, she tells me.)

Her scarves are one of a kind, funky but sophisticated. Hmm. Maybe one will be coming my way this Christmas.

To learn more about the artisans’ studio hours and outlets, check out their websites. If you can’t visit them in person, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to order by email or phone.

The annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios with its self-guided tour and sale featuring more than 100 local artisans continues December 19-20.

More handmade gift ideas at “Bernie Sanders Earrings, and Clocks Made of Vintage Books.” Also, “Sue Johnson’s Lamps and Shades — Works of Art in Berkeley.”   Booklovers . . . it’s not too late to download an ebook copy of my book, “Wrestling with God” — in plenty of time for Christmas and Kwanzaa. 

Miriam Abramowitsch wears one of her scarves made of hand-made felt at Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios Dec. 2015. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Miriam Abramowitsch wore one of her scarves of hand-made felt during a visit to Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios. Photo by Barbara Newhall



  1. I’m sticking with last week’s Bernie Saunders earrings, Barbara! Might order a Bernie key ring for my nephew. Even all of us conservatives agree that Bernie is the nicest guy in the race!
    Merry Christmas!

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