Exotic Global Sidelines
Cynthia Clark -- 10/2/00
Stocking your store with eclectic treasures imported from Denmark, Africa and Brooklyn

Innovative design, global awareness and an often playful sensibility infuse eclectic new sidelines products.

Tiring of impromptu bookmarks fashioned from crumpled receipts, the ingenious folks at Re-marks Inc., in Seattle, Wash., devised some colorful, clip-over-the-page models in the shapes of animals, insects, flowers and even people. While most are made of plastic, a few (acrobat, woman and cat) look strikingly Keith Haring-modern in aluminum. Two new issues for fall include a fabulous cow and pig, in living color. Lighthearted but not cutesy, and made from 100% recycled materials. They do cards, too. Call (206) 548-1008; fax (206) 548-1464; e-mail

Cassiopeia Inc., of Stow, Ohio, combines photo frame and bookmark in one to create the Photomark, a wavy stainless-steel band that can accommodate three 1 x 1-inch photographs along its length. An attractive and distinctive way to mark one's place. Cassiopeia also manufactures a line of pewter Bookhook bookmarks. Call (330) 678-3374; fax (330) 678-3643; e-mail

Multi-tasking as both bookmark and greeting card, In My Book is the new product of the eponymous company based in Brooklyn, N.Y. The 31/8 x 81/2-inch die-cut cards are illustrated on the front with charming pen-and-ink drawings by artist Meredith Hamilton that bear the company's open-book logo at top; these can be detached by means of a perforated fold to serve as a bookmark. Examples include: "In my're rare" (a man browsing in an antiquarian book shop). The inside of each card is blank, intended for a personal note. Printed on heavy ivory stock and packaged individually with a bright red envelope, these sentimental greetings make endearing gift enclosures, especially when the present is a book. Call (718) 802-0422; fax (718) 802-1760; e-mail

Looking to eradicate dog-eared pages, another Seattle firm, Three by Three Inc., has engineered a funky new bookmark line called MODmarks. These 23/4-inch round, high-quality vinyl magnets come in four fabulous colors with retro silk-screened patterns incorporating dogs, cats, rectangles and floating circles. A smaller metal disk serves as the accompanying magnet that completes the bookmark, effectively sandwiching the page with no chance of slipping out of place or ruining pages.

MODmarks, however, are but one of the many magnetic marvels manufactured by the company. Three by Three also turns out decorative magnets imprinted with various images or stamped with icons; magnetic refrigerator photo frames in updated shapes and orientations; magnetic metal and wood desktop frames; magnetic bulletin boards, address books and albums; and packs of color-dot and mighty mini magnets. Moving beyond magnets, Big Dot Book albums sport clear Plexiglass covers silkscreened with a large, brightly colored dot. Bound with elastic cord, the albums can expand as photos and keepsakes are enclosed within. Lots of verve. Call (206) 784-5839; fax (206) 784-8460;

Magnets are big back in Minnesota, too. Greggo Magnets Inc., of Minneapolis makes a marvelous array of one-inch decorative magnets (in sheets of 7 x 9 inches) in a constantly increasing number of inventive mosaic-like patterns and images that encompass tartans, hieroglyphs and Zen symbols, animal tracks, eggs, sea shells, flowers, architecture and more. Equally popular and more immediately droll, Greggo's historical "Dress Up" line of magnetic paper-doll-like figures includes King Tut, Adam and Eve (prepared for most any occasion). Call (612) 782-0860; fax (612) 782-0861;

A keen sense of fun permeates the witty designs of Flensted Mobiles in Brenderup, Denmark. The exquisitely balanced metal-and-wire creations playfully combine images (many from nature or abstract shapes) in surprisingly sophisticated mobiles that both children and adults appreciate: a flock of faux-formal penguins; a pregnant whale with three babies dangling inside; and four mice eyeing one block of Swiss cheese. Available in the U.S. through Nielsen Trading Inc., in Carrollton, Tex. Call (972) 245-8592; fax (972) 245-3579; e-mail

A totally different use of wire serves as the foundation of one of the many varied product lines made in Africa that are available through Africo Importers LLC, of Charleston, S.C. Among the many craft products
Africo offers a fresh take
on wire Christmas ornaments.
featured by Africo are beautiful baskets in a striking number of hues and sizes, woven of reclaimed telephone wire by Zimbabwean men and women. Fabulous wire sculptures of many different animals incorporate beads and trinkets; Christmas ornaments created with the same technique give a fresh look to the season's decorations. Artisans also produce metal picture frames and matchbooks. Paper products include photo albums, journals, message pads, stationery and gift boxes, all from recycled paper. Glass-beaded letter openers from South Africa have beaded handles and silver-plated bases. Attractive potato-print fabric items include shopping/book bags and trinket boxes for bureau or desktop. Adorable textile patterns adorn children's backpacks and floppy hats; festive images of animals make exciting jigsaw puzzles for youngsters. As part of its efforts to bring the indigenous crafts of Africa to the Western hemisphere, Africo Importers fosters the health care, literacy and environmental awareness of its artisans through a number of programs. Call (877) 237-7426; fax (877) 432-1329; e-mail