Holiday Gift Guide: Handcrafted in Plymouth

Delight everyone on your gift list this year with something locally made with love by these Plymouth-area artisans.
Julia Westling's needle-felt sheep

Kids: Julia Westling

Wunderkind might be the best way to describe 14-year-old Julia Westling, a mini-art-mogul who launched the highly successful 2creativekids shop just a year ago with her twin brother, Michael, as part of a homeschool art and business project. Her signature items are little wool animals, which she creates through an intense process called needle felting—literally stitching and re-stitching, creating tiny little knots in the wool by hand, pieces of pre-dyed wool until they become balls and shapes and pieces of felt.

Mom Lori knows a thing or two about art; she’s owned Art 2 Heart in Hamel for two and a half years, and founded the business in 2004. “Julia has that unique balance of being very creative and very organized,” she says. “She’s helped in the shop since day 1, so it’s been fun getting to be her support for a change.”

Now in eighth grade at Heritage Christian Academy, Julia Westling offers custom animals of all kinds—and she’s branching out into many different media through her own business (one she doesn’t have to share with her twin), So Cute Creations. Among these are work she does on a Cricut machine, as well as paper quilling, a very old and almost lost art form involving twirling strips of paper to create unique designs that she often turns into cards, magnets and even picture frames. Like with the needle felting, every bit of this is done by hand.

“I see myself always doing something creative,” Julia Westling says. “Whether that’s as a career or as a hobby—it’s just great.”


Cost: $6

Perfect for: Collectors


Cost: $12

Perfect for: Kids


Cost: $10

Perfect for: Coworkers

Turkeys or Reindeer

Cost: $16

Perfect for: Anyone on your list

Available at: online


Photo Art: Susan Stone

In her artist profile, Susan Stone writes, “I am a wife, mother, photographer, traveler and observer”—add to this humble genius, adoring pet-enthusiast and grateful lover of all things Minnesota, and you’ve got just the start of a picture of this portraitist-turned-mixed-media artist.

After a career in advertising sales, she started offering clients and coworkers her own photography to help in their marketing needs. This quickly expanded into candid images of children and pets. “Life, mainly, is my inspiration,” she says, even six years after moving on to digital photography and infusing mixed media—think paint, tiles and photos intertwined to create unusual textures and dimension—into her finished products.

Stone has lived with her muse husband, Bob, and son, Alex, on the Plymouth/Medina border for 20 years; best friends and dog models JJ and Angel (both are Norwich Terriers) also reside here. 


Cost: Varies. 9x12 panel on wood, $75; cards $4 each, or four for $14

Perfect for: Urbanites, budding photographers and artsy men in your life


Cost: $12 each

Perfect for: Friends, social drinkers and in-laws

Available at:;;

Susan Stone Prints/Cards


Fabric Jewelry: Giselle Santos


If you had to choose just one word to describe both Giselle Santos and her fabric jewelry, colorful would be the word. “Colors inspire me more than anything,” the Brazilian native says in her lilting accent. “Usually I ask myself what color I can create right now that I might put into an earring or necklace or clutch.”

Colors are what make up her culture; her grandmother, who still lives in Brazil, often sends her ribbon and samples that she incorporates into her pieces. Other inspirations include her daughter, who turns 1 next month. And it’s really in that year that she’s come into her own as an artist, just launching an Etsy site Elle Jewels in June, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t in tune with her audience.

“I think my jewelry is very suitable for a person who’s not afraid to be out there and be creative, because it’s not very subtle,” she says. “People who like to be noticed in their jewelry or clothing style will love it—it’s bold.”


Cost: $8–$10

Perfect for: People who like to be noticed

Clutch and necklace set

Cost: $20

Perfect for: Girlfriends with a penchant for some Hispanic flair

Available online.

 Fabric Jewelry: Giselle Santos

Blown Glass: Darelyn Payes

By the time Darleyn Payes moved to Plymouth in 2002, she was already three years into a consuming glasswork hobby that was taking her from stained glass to kiln creations to custom-colored jewelry. What started innocently enough in a class at Minnetonka Center for the Arts took off after she brought some of her wares to a local craft show.

“The fun thing about melting glass in a kiln is you never know what color you’re going to get until you’re done,” she says of her favorite component: creating new colors. “I’ve been known to shop for clothing based on a piece of jewelry.”

But this is truly a labor of love for the wife and mother, who also shares her home with a cocker Spaniel and a bunch of fish; she works in IT for Target during the day. “A fun, addicting hobby is the glass, but it’s something unique a lot of people haven’t seen before.”

Sunset field dichroic fused glass pendant

Cost: $18

Perfect for: Romantic types

Ocean blue dichroic fused glass pendant

Cost: $15

Perfect for: Wives and girlfriends

Icy rainbow dichroic earrings

Cost: $20

Perfect for: Teens and ladies just coming into their own

Dichroic mosaic pendant

Cost: $15

Perfect for: Moms and mothers-in-law

Available at:;

 Blown Glass

Beadwork:  Barbara Peterson

“I don’t know—all of a sudden one day I decided to learn,” 34-year Plymouth resident Barbara Peterson says of her beading. “And when I learn something, I do it all the way.”

Her story is a bit more complex than that, of course. Peterson was a successful agent at Plymouth Travel for more than 18 years when her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Having just started her new hobby, she was somewhat torn regarding spending time with her husband in the evenings and learning new stitches; finally, as his cancer progressed, she took a leave of absence from work and began beading bedside when her husband was in one of multiple lengthy hospital stays. And her work started to catch the attention of the nurses and staff. “He started helping me design stuff towards the end,” she says of her husband’s influence in her craft. “He was a good sounding board, because he was opinionated.”

She never went back to work. Since her husband passed away seven years ago the mother-of-two, who has lived in Plymouth since 1977, shares her home with two cats and her father—and her beading has really taken off. She throws out terms like “odd-count peyote stitch,” “Dutch spiral with herring bone cord” and a “triangle count” with the ease of an expert. Her inspirations are “oh!—so many things!” From nature to the TV show Bones, Peterson will try any type of bead once. That’s what makes it so unique; her necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets are usually one-of-a-kind, each with a story behind it.

Angel earrings

Cost: $10

Perfect for: Grandmas, moms and mothers-in-law

Available online

 Beadwork: Barbara Peterson


 Shoe Pillow Art: Rita Pearl Lerman

Rita Pearl Lerman has many little masterpieces. “I paint a lot of things, and I love shoes,” the 30-year Plymouth-area resident explains simply. “I think they’re fun.”

Lerman’s husband, Jim Erickson, has a slightly more pragmatic take on his wife’s hobby—one she’s been honing since 1993, mind you: “It’s art you can lean on,” he says, removable art that adds a panache to any room, sofa or settee. That’s because Lerman has turned some of her shoe paintings into custom pillows.

Inspiration strikes in many different forms, not the least of which is her own expansive shoe collection (more than 230 pairs). “I’m always looking in magazines,” she says, “and it doesn’t have to be shoes. I saw a flower bouquet and decided I wanted to paint a shoe bouquet. A lot of nature—sky, clouds—and also color combinations. A lot of things feed off of each other.” Lerman, who’s been selling the microfiber sublimation-printed pillows on Etsy and her own website, blogs and tweets daily about her fancy footwear.

And if shoes are her inspiration, her husband is her muse: “My husband believes in me and my tenacity,” she says. You’d have to in order to share a house with that many feet.


Cost: $60–$75 (4x6 or 5x5 canvases)

Perfect for: Modern art lovers and colorful personalities


Cost: $129 each (five designs to choose from)

Perfect for: Fashionistas and shoe fanatics

Available online

Shoe Pillow Art: Rita Pearl Lerman 

Fashion: Adrienne Yancy

Adrienne Yancy launched what would become her fulltime business when she was just a sophomore in college seven years ago. But the 25-year-old has been designing her own shawls, skirts, wraps and swim attire since she was 15.


Growing up in a small house in Plymouth, the middle child in a family of seven kids knew from an early age she wanted to be crafty. “I’ve always been an artist,” she says. “One of my first fashion memories is of my mom and me watching the Oscars and the Emmy’s, and I  just loved that.” Disregarding her parents attempts at encouraging medical or dental school, she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., for fashion merchandising and incorporated ArielSimone—named for her favorite childhood cartoon character and her middle name—in 2006.

Her most-popular items, by far, are her custom bathing suits; sales pick up in advance of March’s spring break and go strong all summer long. “It’s the longest-lasting season,” she says, noting she does a full line of both spring/summer and fall/winter collections each year. Watch for her newest genre—weddings. “Lately I started getting into bridesmaids’ stuff, so in 2012 I hope to be doing more bridal stuff,” she says.

Holiday skirt

Cost: $79

Perfect for: Your BFF or yourself!


Cost: $129

Perfect for: Mom or mom-in-law

Available at:;;;

Fashion designer Adrienne Yancy models her own classic fall 2011 cape, and Filgreed and antiqued crystal golden shadow brass earrings, $44; a crystal golden shadow and key brass bracelet, $88; and a 14mm crystal golden shadow bracelet, $132.