Monday, November 23, 2009

Arts and Crafts

I've recently come across a couple new shops/boutiques downtown. They may not be "new" - to be honest, I have no idea how long either one has been open - but they are new to me. The offerings in these boutiques are truly unique works by local artists - the kind of stuff that makes me wish I had even the tiniest bit of artistic talent.

Aticc is a combination gallery and boutique tucked away on Green Street (although the address is technically State Street) across from my favorite under-the-radar watering hole, the Dutch Tavern. I noticed the shop one night when Tracy and I were having a post-committee meeting drink at the Dutch. Since Tracy is in the know with everything New London, I asked her for the story. She filled me in on the basics: recently opened, collaboration between a couple local artists, funky clothes and accessories. Tracy highly recommended visiting.

I meant to go in sooner, but didn't get in until food stroll. The first thing I saw was a rack of vintage coats and dresses, which the girl behind the counter informed us belonged to a friend of hers that didn't know what to do with them. She volunteered to sell them in the shop, figuring they were unique and people might be looking for halloween costumes. It speaks to the eclectic nature of the boutique that had she not told us this, I would assume they were part of the regular rotation of merchandise. Here you can find screen-printed t-shirts with likenesses of Woody Allen or throw pillows screened with images of Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, or even Alfred Hitchcock. You can also find checkered skirts, ruffled and apron-style tops, and brands such as Kill City Denim. 

Some of the merchandise is available on the website, but the store has an ever-rotating selection, plus the art displays - if you're a local reader of this blog, try to check it out in person. Check the Aticc Blog - - for updates on featured artists and designers.

My second recent discovery is Arciolinda, the "custom interior design center and drapery workroom" at 52 State Street. Arciolinda came onto my radar the same way Aticc did - through Tracy. We were having a post-meeting drink at Hot Rod's (are you noticing a pattern here?) when we ran into Nichole Arciolinda Bonanno (Nicki), the owner. Tracy introduced us and told me about her work. A few weeks later, I was able to see samples when Nicki donated four chairs to the Flock Theatre fundraiser.

Nicki finds her chairs at places like the New London Antique Center. She then refinishes them, reupholsters them, and basically breathes beautiful new life into them. She showed me one that she had painted a minty, antique-y green and covered the cushion with a vintage fabric that had swirls of the same green as the paint.  Nicki had even gone through with a small brush or toothpick and detailed the swirls in the wood with a darker shade of paint to match her fabric exactly. While I was falling in love with the green chair, Tracy was falling in love with a "tuffet" (think Little Miss Muffet) that had been finished in gold and cushioned in powder blue and gold fabric. Imagine our surprise to find out these two items had been made from an identical set of chairs - Nicki had sawed off the top portion of one chair to form the tuffet's low back before painting it.

The green chair and the tuffet - 
these are made from two identical chairs 
Nicki bought at the New London Antiques Center. 

While I may not have any immediate need for custom drapery or reupholstered furniture, I really admire Nicki's work and hope to someday purchase one of her benches or chairs. 

If you are in the New London area, I highly encourage you to take a look at these two unique businesses. We can't all be incredibly creative and artistically talented - but I think it is somewhat of a responsibility to keep encouraging those who are.

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