Folks who are reeling through the toy/gadget/cheesy...


Folks who are reeling through the toy/gadget/cheesy gift basket shopping circuit may need a break. A few stolen hours at one of the city's museums could be a welcome escape and a source for creative presents. Museum shops have the added cachet of stocking interesting wares, so doubtful shoppers can feel tastefully secure in their selections. Here are some whimsical and glamorous possibilities.

Old bits and brooches

There's a renewed interest in vintage costume jewelry, with experts giving serious attention to Grandma's old bits and brooches. The Baltimore Museum of Art shop has an extensive inventory of old pieces, including signature designs by Miriam Haskell, Kenneth Jay Lane and Chanel, along with handsome, unsigned period examples. Prices range from fun faux to serious collector level. Shown here, a 1940s abstract floral brooch in rose gold over sterling, $300. The gold-plated dagger with pave stones, $180, dates from the 1950s.

In conjunction with Russian Enamels, the new exhibition now at the Walters Art Gallery, the museum store has brought in pieces reminiscent of this remarkable jewelers' art, which flourished from the 12th to the 20th centuries. There are richly colored miniature icons, crosses and pendants and brooches decorated with floral and folkloric motifs. Here, an enamel on metal pin, $100. Equally charming is a modest spray of flowers on black lacquer, $14.

There's a small boutique at the Maryland Historical Society that should appeal to big and little girls who lavish love on their dolls. Local designer and tailor Jeanne Seeto is producing a line of one-of-a-kind clothing for American Girl Dolls. Beautifully finished coat-and-hat sets, $40, are endearing. There are nighties with vintage trimmings and Lilliputian cable-knit sweaters. To hold expanding wardrobes there are also doll-sized armoires and travel trunks.

The shop at the American Visionary Art Museum is true to the institutional gestalt. Jewelry displayed in the cases is a fortuitous amalgam of found objects, quirky images and fantasy wearables. Randallstown artist Rebecca Hanna's inspiration is baby pictures, which she makes up in costume pins at $29. For the thinking woman, there are miniature journal pendants where she can jot down those cosmic ideas. They're made by Three by Three at $18.

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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