What’s New: Spelling Bee

“Uppercase/Lowercase ABC Blocks” from Uncle Goose (888-774-2046), $10 for 14.

A letter by itself can be classic: picture Mary Tyler Moore’s iconic “M.” Grouped together to form an individual’s initials or to spell out a word, pieces featuring letters can be exceedingly customer enticing. We’ve gathered a showcase of some items from different mediums that play off the alphabet theme.

Sculptor Ed Merritt designed his “Love Letters” in 2002, handpainting hand-cast glass blocks with 18kt gold and platinum typography. But it wasn’t until last year that he officially launched EdHeads Glass. The Lenox, Mass., based company is already off to a rolling start. Pieces in his line include blocks decorated with symbols, numbers and, of course, the Love Letters. Singly, the 2-inch-square blocks make delightful paperweights. Grouped together, the collectible letters can spell out reminders, mottos and sweet sentiments.

Founded in 1988, Just Bubbly of Rockaway Beach, N.Y., offers a full range of handcrafted soaps and body products. Parents will be delighted with its Alphabet Soaps, vegan-friendly, fruit-scented soaps hand poured into letter shapes. “As a single mother, I appreciate the need for children to learn the basic reading skills from an early age,” says Mariann Smith, Just Bubbly’s founder and “chief bubble maker.” “Learning is always accomplished better when it’s fun—thus came the idea for soaps that are not only functional but educational!”

Lisa Ochwat of NatureScripts Alphabet Photography in Franklin Center, Pa., has been taking pictures of things found in nature that take the form of letters for years, but she didn’t officially start her business until 2008. Her commitment to local and sustainable artwork led her to team up with an Amish woodworker, who handcrafts the frames that encase her art. Her alphabet photography began as a wedding gift for a cousin, but it now takes her around world, photographing alphabets found in unusual places. They’re easily customizable to spell out words and names.

With cheerful pop colors and an updated font, Uncle Goose takes a mod spin on an old classic. The Grand Rapids, Mich., company has been handcrafting wooden alphabet blocks for nearly 30 years. Its product range includes blocks with Chinese, Arabic and Greek characters, as well as Egyptian hieroglyphics and sets designed for spelling words in Dutch, Danish and German. But it’s this alphabet set from Uncle Goose that caught our attention; it would be as much fun to decorate with as it is an educational, well-made toy.

Clean, intriguing design is the name of the game for Anna Bondoc. The Los Angeles artist works with paper, layering handcut pieces for studies in texture, shape and color. Her designs are definitely modern, yet they maintain the classic elegance of the early 20th century Arts & Crafts movement. Often the paper layers give the illusion of stained glass, as exemplified in her “Alphabet Art” series, each of which features a single letter and a stylized design—cars, spaceships, hearts, flowers or an elegant butterfly.

Handcrafted in Watsonville, Calif., Annieglass has been delighting customers since 1983. With lines of luxury glass functional pieces, the company, founded by glassblower Ann Morhauser, also offers decorative pieces, such as the “Text “collection, a series of 5- to 9-inch-high letters, numbers and symbols. “I knew I wanted to make big glass block letters,” says Morhauser, “to put together big letters to send a message, or make a sign or state my initials boldly yet subtly and very, very simply, using the medium of glass with its discreet yet seductive mass.”

The handpainted porcelain tile magnets from eachanoriginal of Kelowna, British Columbia, was founded in 2000 by Christine Pinette, who wanted to “create fridge magnets worthy of stand-alone display, and to replace all the boring and tacky magnets out there.” Uplifting mottos and sweet symbols adorn some of her magnet sets, but the “Alphabitz” collection comprises whimsical alphabets in three color groupings: Brights, Zen and Black & White. They’re available individually for making a bold personal statement, or in sets for posting a fridge-side memo.

The stoneware designed and thrown by Page Pottery is rustic and unique, yet dishwasher and microwave safe. Husband-and-wife team J.R. and Kristen Page handcraft every piece in their studio, which is located on their farm in Burnsville, N.C. “Pottery for us is a way of life, one we cherish greatly,” they say, “We give our all to our craft, and part of us goes into each work as well.” Their distinctively turquoise Monogram Monster mugs stand at 8 inches high, and can hold more than 28 ounces of liquid.

To see pictures of these delightful alphabet items, check out the Spring 2012 issue of NICHE.

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