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Put a homemade twist on your holiday list

There’s always someone in the family who seems to have everything, so getting them a gift for the holidays on a college student’s budget can seem hopeless. Well, there is a solution: handmade, one-of-a-kind crafts at low cost made by local artists.

There are many artists in the Tampa area, and they all offer a wide range of gifts.

“I make handbags out of men’s neckties. All my bags are one of a kind. … I don’t make the same bag twice,” USF alumna Orel Edry said. “I do all sorts of different shapes, styles, colors … every bag is unique.”

While most one-of-a-kind gifts can range in the hundreds of dollars, these unique crafts are surprisingly cheap. Edry’s purses cost between $40-$80, depending on the materials used. Likewise, the jewelry of Emily Montes de Oca, owner of Pink Pug Designs and a former USF student, costs $12-$15.

“I make beaded jewelry made from vintage jewelry that I get from antique stores and thrift stores, and I cut it up and remake it using newer beads, so it’s a little bit of a mixture of old and new,” Oca said. “It’s the uniqueness that I put into the jewelry that people like.”

It seems as if all that is needed for these artists to make these gifts is creativity – taking ordinary objects and turning them into special gifts.

“I usually find neckties at thrift shops. … (I look for) really good quality ties – a lot of ties from the ’70s, anything with a good print on it, durable ties,” Edry said. “I’ve always been creative. … I was making a gift for one of my friends. I was making her a purse, and it stemmed from there. More people were inquiring about the bags, and I started taking orders.”

USF art student Claire Webb offers a slightly different take on the average jewelry. Some of her designs include silverware, a big pink dog or ceramic buttons.

“(My jewelry) attracts anyone that can think outside of the box,” Webb said, adding that she tries to keep her prices below $20.

So while everyone else rushes to Bath and Body Works for the generic body wash, try taking a look around at the local artists for ideas. Many of these artists can be found at craft fairs such as the one being held Dec. 16 at Sacred Grounds coffeehouse on E. Busch Boulevard.

For more information on the artists mentioned in this article, Edry can be contacted through, Webb can be contacted through, and Oca can be contacted by e-mail at