CEDAR FALLS - Mallory Riggs has a goal this Christmas. As much as possible, she wants every gift she gives to be handmade. And in many instances, it will be her hands doing the making.
This past year, Riggs took time off from her elementary teaching career to stay at home with her son, Asher. More time at home gave her space to spruce up her handmade jewelry line, Vintage, just in time for the holidays. Riggs will be one of several local artisans selling their creations during the Distinctive Designs Christmas Open House on Dec. 4.
Distinctive Designs is a unique holiday shopping experience that was started by a group of artistic neighbors. The open house takes place on an acreage west of Cedar Falls on Viking Road. Guests can enjoy homemade cookies and cider while shopping around a cozy home for one-of-a-kind gifts.
"I have always loved jewelry and antiques," Riggs said. "A few years ago while in Galena, Ill., I was amazed by a line of jewelry called Vintaj. It has a rich, brass color that looks antique. I admired the style but couldn't afford it. I thought, ‘I could make that.'Thus, my adventure began."
Searching for brass chain, wire and charm became her passion. Riggs began mixing these items with vintage buttons, keys, photos, coins, pearls and beads found in antique stores.
"My favorite thing to do with my findings is to make necklaces with unique items dangling from them, such as a coin with pearls and charms hanging from it," she said. "Some unique features of my jewelry include front fastening clasps, asymmetrical necklaces and earrings, and mixing found objects to make a collage of items. I try to make my necklaces as unique as possible."
Alice Bullers will have handwoven items for sale during the open house, and admits the event is an old-fashioned idea, but that's what makes it special.
"When you walk in the front door you are welcomed like old friends," Bullers said. "You can sit down in front of the fire or you can browse. Each artist is near their table so you can talk with them about their work. The coffee is hot, the punch is cold and the treats are yummy and unique."
The event draws more crafters and shoppers every year and loyal customers keep coming back.
"I've attended all of their open house events since they began and look forward to them each year," said Sue Huber. "I love the warm and inviting country atmosphere. Everything is made with exceptional quality and perfection. They are a very talented group of neighbors and friends that take so much care and pride in the things they create. I can't wait to see what they have new this year. It has become a holiday tradition."
Distinctive Designs Open House
Featuring handmade gifts by neighborhood artisans.
Noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 4
6616 Viking Road, Cedar Falls