Oh, Baby! 10 handcrafted gifts for the modern, sustainable nursery
Decorating your first nursery is almost a right of passage for parents. There are so many decisions to make — from the color of the walls to the safest crib to the comfort blanket you hope the little one will come to love forever.
It has been 12 years since I first searched for onesies and stuffed bunnies, but I can still remember the feeling. Imagining your little one, face and fingers still unknown, cuddled up in the perfect little nest created just for her.
The trend of preparing an eco-friendly nursery was already strong back then. I received boxes of secondhand organic onesies from my sister-in-law in California, gift bags were full of Burt’s Bees organic baby products and reusable diapers, amber teething necklaces and wooden stacking blocks. But perhaps the most cherished gift of all was the hand-sewn, wool-filled swaddle, saved for decades in a closet in Bratislava by my mother-in-law.
Both of my babies were born in the winter, and her handmade creation not only kept my babies warm and snug through the coldest months, it is now neatly packed away waiting for the day I can give this one comforting item, filled to the brim with love and history, to my own grandchildren.
Today, you can find onesies and pacifiers and blankets galore. You can search endlessly online through thousands of mom blogs touting the newest trends, plenty of sites with cheap, factory produced solutions, and there are more eco-friendly baby collections than I can count.
But at Locorum, we are here to offer you a different solution, whether you’re buying your first baby trousseau or searching for a gift for the new parents-to-be, we think handmade is the way to go. Built to last in small craft studios and workshops, each handmade item is unique, often becoming a cherished piece, passed from generation to generation.
Not to mention, when you buy from independent, locally owned businesses rather than large chains, you can feel good you’re supporting a small business owner’s life and craft and helping to keep those skills alive a bit longer.
And while all the goodies on our list below are handmade with care, you can also rest assured that you’re filling baby’s room with healthy, ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly and organic brands that will last.
“The imaginary world of Gugus is poetic, vibrant and cuddly. It is inhabited by a bunch of kind, furry monsters. They are greedy, romantic, funny, playful, soft, cozy and cheeky. It is a large bestiary, worthy of a naturalist’s work.” The words of Gugus founder, Fanny Beltrami, are as charming as the magical menagerie she has created. Her handmade furry creatures come with fantastical stories. The short-haired Plant Gugus, for example, are “born in a cold land of the Gugus world. They cultivate and take care of the balls-of-wool trees. Yes, there are trees in the Gugus universe (on which all sorts of fruit grow).” Or you may not be able to resist Magma Auris, also known as Big Ears. This snow-loving rabbit is particularly fond of ice cream, and he is able to ask the clouds to shower him with sweet-scented snowflakes. Like the entire gang of Gugus, this one loves being cuddled.
Laine Maison by Josephine Broekhuizen
“I love collecting. Ceramic in earth tones, stones, feathers, drawings, just simple things that for some reason never stopped catching my eye,” says Josephine Broekhuizen, a fine artist and object designer, who founded Laine Maison to create “honest things to tickle children’s imaginations.” The core of her work is always simplicity. Her wicker and wood hummingbird mobiles, birch dragonflies and wicker flower sculptures are studies in refined simplicity. From her garden studio, Broekhuizen also crafts Waldorf-inspired toys, like her fairy in a shell, peg dolls and mini dollhouses. And which is her most loved? “I’ve got a passion for whales, the graceful giants of the sea. My company started with the whale. It feels like a talisman.” Her wicker whales float and illuminate and are covered with kite paper — mesmerizing in the nursery.
Handmade in: the Netherlands
Cutts & Sons by Jessie Cutts
Textile artist Jessie Cutts still has the trusty sewing machine she bought in an antique store 20 years ago. These days she uses it to apply finishing touches to her modern, slow-stitched handmade quilts and wallhangings. Her intention is to create “something to give a new baby, a keepsake to have forever, hang on a wall, pass down to their kids.” Made by the sea in Kent, her timeless quilts incorporate a mix of up-cycled clothing, scrap materials, deadstock and responsibly sourced fabrics. Cutts often takes her hand-stitching with her to the skate park or the beach. She enjoys the quiet, slow process and the knowledge that she’s elevating a humble home-craft to something that can be enjoyed in a new and modern way.
Handmade in: the UK
“Welcome to the warm little world of Friendly Toys. We’ve been in the business of making wooden toys for 10 years and we’d like to share our story.” Thus Sigita and Donatas introduce visitors to their Friendly Toys website. The proud parents of two daughters, the couple wanted to make sure their children had the kind of beautiful toys that would inspire their imagination — “toys they could love and cherish.” But they were also concerned about safety and sustainability. When their search for eco-friendly playthings proved futile, they decided to start making their own wooden toys. Using sustainably harvested birch wood, non-toxic water-based milk paint, raw linseed oil and linen string, Sigita and Donatas ensure their products are as natural and safe as they can be. Remember wooden pull toys? Check out the drum-beating rabbit, the dachshund and duck, or the non-traditional camel and dinosaur. Friendly also makes rattles, teething rings, toy cars and name blocks. “All of our toys are heirloom quality, and our dream is that they’ll be passed from generation to generation.”
Handmade in: Lithuania
Bezisa by Janneke van Bokkem
In January 2019, Janneke van Bokkem took her house back. Her “hobby that got out of hand” had finally turned into a real business, and she was ready to move boxes and boxes of beads into her first studio, a beautiful old school building in Woerden. Van Bokkem is the woman behind Bezisa, a company that designs sustainable, functional nursery items, including wooden rattles, pram strings and dummy clips, all handmade. “Bezisa was born out of love for my children,” she says. “We started small, but got bigger by dreaming big. I want to be an example for my children in how you can make something out of nothing.” All of her designs are inspired by nature – the materials, the colors and figures. She loves clean shapes and perfection in craft. “In a world where everything is for sale and where we are overstimulated every day, I hope to offer something that encourages a step back …” We love her birds and leaves collections.
Designed in 1981 and now rocking with a new generation of children, Povl Kjer’s sheep rockers tell the story of good craftsmanship and design. “My brother and I grew up on a small farm in a lush environment where the degree of self-sufficiency was high,” he says. “The rock sheep were made of recycled wood, the walkers from a cola advertisement and the lambskin from a sheep that had lived its life on the farm with its grandparents.” To this day, Kjer’s designs have not changed. “The production of my works takes place at my own and other small, local workshops, where I personally know the wood turner, sculptor or carpenter who makes individual parts for the rock sheep and stools that I always finish myself,” he says. “You will receive a piece of high quality craftsmanship that is not only for the benefit of your children or grandchildren, but also for their children.” For the tiniest sheep-lovers, Kjer makes a rocking lamb (half the size), and he assures that his rockers are carefully packaged to arrive “in sheep shape condition.”
If you love soft, gauzy muslin as much as we do, you’ll crave Lilymer’s cozy baby essentials. If only they came in mom sizes! The two friends who created Lilymer base their brand on the strength of their friendship. “We grew up together sharing dreams, and one of them was working together. When we became mothers we made it happen,” states their website. They extend the value of friendship to their customers, their staff and their environment, believing in complete transparency, fair trade and fair pay, and eco-friendly materials. “We believe there is too much of everything in the world and we strive to meet the absolute necessity of your nursery checklist, making sure that our products are of very good quality, durable and timeless, bringing joy to many generations.” Handmade with lots of heart in Poland, Lilymer’s baby must-haves include crib and carseat covers, nursing pillows, bloomers, sleeping bags and leggings with matching wrap tops.
Handmade in: Poland
Tititi by Tereza Talichova
Tereza Talichova, the Czech creator behind Tititi, designs original wooden creatures, sculptures and all-around fun objects from her workshop in Prague. These handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces will invoke a sense of nostalgia with their whimsical shapes and retro-inspired colors. Any one of the statuettes from Tititi would liven up a nursery, but we can also imagine collecting them through the years, sparking the imagination of your little one as they grow up playing with these amazingly unique creations. King Kong might just be one of our favorites with his barrel chest and looming but friendly eyes.
Handmade in: the Czech Republic
Big Stuffed by Dana Muskat
Mammoths and manatees and trinos … oh my! BigStuffed is reinventing soft toys. And they’re available for adoption to a loving home. Here’s why you should adopt, according to founder Dana Muskat: “BigStuffed was created in 2014 to celebrate the abandoned albino creatures left to fend for themselves due to their differences. With their unique looks but distinct trademark droopy eyes, the BigStuffed plush toys were made to be different and unique, exuding emotion and companionship.” Muscat’s very first BigStuffed was a big white octopus for her niece, followed by the first Albino Whale for her best friend’s newborn. Soon the labor of love grew to a tradition that saw friends and family clamoring for more. As the brand grew, her husband Patrick joined in her living room workshop to stuff octopus tentacles, and he continued to be instrumental in the growth of the brand. Made in Europe by passionate seamstresses, the stuffed animals are more than just toys, they are made to last. What started as a journey of one has blossomed to a journey of three, a family behind a universe of plushies. Check out the totem collection, representing rare or extinct animals.
Handmade in: France
Pontinhos Meus by Marlene Rodrigues
Visit her beautiful Etsy site and you won’t find much information about artisan, knitter and entrepreneur Marlene Rodrigues, but the photos of her work and the stellar reviews from her customers speak a thousand words. From her home in Portugal, Rodrigues hand knits cotton and merino wool baby bonnets, sweaters, booties, bloomers, rompers and blankets … every possible essential for the newborn’s trousseau. They are simple and perfect, some having a vintage feel by design. And the organic yarns are not only super soft, but her palette transcends traditional baby pastels to include taupes and teals and lavenders and purples plus woodland colors like cedar and sage. Cuteness overload!
Handmade in: Portugal
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