November-December 2010 | SANTA, BABY




Dee Gilbert of Nest Boutique & Gallery uses old materials to breathe new life into Kris Kringle

For a stocking-stuffer extraordinaire, pay a visit to Nest Boutique & Gallery, where Dee and Hannah Gilbert have a treat in store for you that is sure to get your friends and neighbors talking.

Turns out Dee is more than just the proprietor of Berlin’s hottest new boutique for one-of-a-kind finds; she is something of an artisan, too.

“My mom hand-makes the most beautiful Santa dolls you’ve even seen,” praised Dee’s daughter, Hannah, who is also Dee’s business partner at Nest. “They’re so exquisite. You really have to see them to believe them.”

After Dee lovingly sculpts Santa’s little head out of clay, she allows it to air-dry. Then, using acrylic paint, she painstakingly paints the face and applies the wool beard. But Dee reports the really fun challenge comes in finding the outfit material for herrag-doll-based creations.

“I look for something with a vintage feel when it comes time to make the costume,” said Dee, who launched her store on 116 Broad St. in mid-September of 2010. “I’ve used old fur, velvet, feedbags, toile, wool… basically any workable fabric that has some history and life to it. You can make incredible costumes, in fact, out of things like old winter coats — and old curtains are great, too!”

There’s actually lots of great things to view at Nest, which also functions as an art gallery. Currently, you can see the works of talented local artists such as Beverly Lynch, John Sauers and Caryn Strauser. Merchandise includes Chinese willow trunks, etched glassware, scarves, jewelry and other accessories, natural-wood products, including some furnishings, candles, soaps – even a mounted-antlers collection – or any other buried treasures that Dee’s and Hannah’s probing eyes were able to unearth.

Dee’s handmade Santa’s – which stand anywhere from 8” to 20” high — are a lot of work, and each one takes awhile to make. They usually run about $300, but we suspect that if you ask Dee or Hannah really nicely, they may just give you a “Ho, ho, ho… Merry Christmas!” discount.

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