Gifts made on Martha's Vineyard
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Given the number of talented artisans who call the Vineyard home, the only dilemma confronting the individual in search of locally crafted gifts is choosing from an abundance of options. In addition to the established Vineyard shops and galleries – Vineyard Glassworks, Chilmark Pottery, Lorraine Parish clothing and housewares – a little digging reveals a number of other outlets for one-of-a kind Vineyard gifts.
Every year a representative group of artists and craftspeople from the Vineyard Artisans Festival rent a spot on Main Street for the month of December. This year the artisans have set up shop, called Artisans Gift Gallery, next to Island Music, on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. There you can find a good variety of crafts, a few paintings and a lot of jewelry in a wide price range.
Elizabeth Edge is showing her Fleece Dreams line – jackets, pullovers, scarves, hats, and booties made from impossibly soft, comfy fleece. Also on display are a number of her fun fake fur jackets and capes.
Felted knitted bags by Whitney add a welcome touch of color to any winter wardrobe. Lisa Strachan's signature delicate white pottery pieces are embellished with dainty raised designs of flowers and other patterns.
Dan Waters offers his hand-printed greeting cards that combine the poet/artists's two talents. His charming block prints are accompanied by the former West Tisbury poet laureate's pithy verses. Mr. Waters has also created a number of small illustrated books of his poems, which make ideal inexpensive gifts for Vineyard-philes.
Ceramicist Washington Ledesma has contributed all types of items decorated with his characteristic fantastical designs. There are bowls, vases, and wall plaques, as well as healing stones - hollow rock-shaped clay rattles.
Jeweler Beth McElhiney specializes in sterling and bronze pieces in antique architectural patterns. Her pieces are both sophisticated and unique. She is now also featuring stunning silver lariat pendants with pearls and chatelaires – long chains ending in little bundles of charms that combine the artist's designs with Victorian pieces. Ms. McElhiney recently began crafting elaborate decorated boxes with hidden compartments and small treasures. Using the same collage style, she also crafts custom tables decorated with old photos from family albums.
Stefanie Wolf's Trilogy collection is crafted from colorful glass tile beads from the Czech Republic. Each small, flat, rectangular bead has hand painted edges, which adds depth to their rich colors. Ms. Wolf makes earrings, many different styles of necklaces, and bracelets from artfully mixed palettes of these unique beads. She also makes other types of sophisticated jewelry from recycled beads and semi-precious stones. Ms. Wolf's studio, open Friday through Monday, is located in the Arts District in Oak Bluffs, and the Trilogy collection can also be found at CB Stark in Vineyard Haven.
Craftworks on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs carries gift items from a handful of Island artists. Pottery by Marcia Halperin is unique with splotchy glaze polka dots on a blue green background, which adds just a touch of whimsy to her signature style. The store also carries colorful glass adorned pens, tea towels with Island photos, soy candles, soaps, and jewelry – all by Vineyard artists.
Vineyard Knit Works opened its doors just two weeks ago next to Educomp at the bottom of Main Street in Vineyard Haven. It was formerly located on State Road in West Tisbury. Owner Alix deSeife-Small makes all of the shop's hand knit items, which are a far cry from your grandma's hats and quilts. Her sophisticated designs include lacy scarves with a touch of sparkle, baby sweaters, hats and dresses, as well as beautiful blankets and in unique patterns. Her long, knitted vests are very up-to-the-moment fashion finds, and she also features a beautifully fashioned knitted handbag in a variety of colors and styles. The shop also carries an interesting selection of high-end yarns, hand made buttons, carved wooden knitting needles, and other knitting supplies.
A purchase from Island Alpaca off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road is about as locally made as it gets. The store's selection of Islander knit products is made from the wool of the farm's herd. The Vineyard Made collection includes sweaters in classic designs, shawls, capes, mittens, hats, and headbands. Alpaca wool is as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool.
At Bananas on State Road in West Tisbury, you will find a collection of wonderful handmade clothing and accessories by artist Heather Hall. Ms. Hall combines silk and hand-felted Merino wool, which is felted right into the silk in stripes to make scarves, wraps, throws, vests, and other articles of clothing that are whispery thin yet warm. Her designs are elegant, yet have hand-crafted appeal.
Clothing designer Minor Knight will hold a trunk show and holiday party, along with Beth McElhiney at the latter's studio on December 11, from 10 am to 7 pm. Ms. Knight is best known for her vintage inspired dresses and retro fabrics, but the designer will also offer her fun furs. Mongolian sheepskin scarves, characterized by long crinkly wool and toscana lamb scarves that fasten with a button – like an old style stole – make for great gifts with a touch of funky glam.
Gabriella Camilleri designs dance-inspired clothes made of various jersey materials: organic cotton and bamboo with spandex. To her collection of very comfortable yet stylish skirts, tees, jackets, and cardigans, she has added her own design – something called a "thingamajog." Sort of like a waitress apron worn backwards, the lightweight jersey piece has multiple inside pockets designed not to interfere with the motion of a runner or hiker. The perfect gift for the gal who has everything – but can't jog with it all. You can visit the designer's studio in West Tisbury by calling 508-693-5969, visit her website gabriellacamilleri.com, or find her designs on etsy.com.