The opening of the Featherstone Holiday Gift Show has become the Vineyard equivalent of a Black Friday big-box store event. Many Islanders begin their Christmas shopping efforts with a visit to the multi-artist show, and for some, the gift-buying experience both begins and ends with a trip to the gallery. Featherstone director Ann Smith notes that every year people tell her that they manage to make the Holiday Gift Show a one-stop shopping source for everyone on their list.
Not surprising, since the show features dozens of artists and artisans working in just about every media imaginable. This year the show will include a record number of artists. Over 60 individuals are participating, and, with the brand-new huge barn gallery as location, there will be plenty of room for all to display. With so much wall space, Featherstone is adding a large selection of hanging art work — photos, paintings, prints, and more. So you might want to pick up something for yourself when loading up on gifts for others.
Among the media represented in the show are painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry, fiber arts, clothing, glass, woodworking, stone and paper crafts, wreaths, cards, ornaments, and more. This year, a handful of artists have created small decorated Christmas trees, which will be offered through a silent auction during the first few weeks of the sale.
Here’s a sampling of the work of some of the participating artists.
Nancy Antik, who many may know for the handprinted linens she has sold for many years at the Featherstone summer flea market, is offering her ethnic-influenced jewelry for the first time on the Island. Throughout her extensive travels, Ms. Antik has amassed a large collection of interesting beads, coins, and trinkets, which she has incorporated into unique, eye-catching necklaces and earrings. The artist lives in Mexico in the winter, so many of her pieces feature Mexican silver, but she also mixes up items from points on the globe as disparate as Central Asia, Iran, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Cambodia, and her most recent destination, Morocco. “I really love tribal jewelry,” says Ms. Antik. “The Berbers do these really beautiful pieces.” The prices are all reasonable. You can purchase a pair of earrings for as little as $10 or an ornate bead and metalwork necklace for $45 to $125.
Ashley Van Murphy, who is also a first-time Holiday Gift Show participant, sells her jewelry and paper products through her business, AshleyElé. She makes interesting wrap bracelets, earrings, and necklaces incorporating a variety of colorful beads and cool button closures. She also has a line of cards, gift card holders and boxes, and gift tags. She embellishes all of her paper goods with hand-stamped designs, ribbons, and little holiday ornaments so you can make the otherwise uninspired present of a gift card, check, or cash into something fun and individual. Prices for paper goods range from $1 for a card up to $25 for a set of tags. Jewelry sells from $8 to $60. “I like to make it so that everyone can afford an accessory,” says Ms. Van Murphy.
Woodworker Fred Hancock is an artist in the truest sense of the word. He combines his passion for interesting types of wood with the sensibility of a sculptor to create unique vessels — both practical and decorative. Mr. Hancock plunders wood piles, scavenges his own property, and benefits from his friends’ familiarity with his wood obsession to gather the materials for his one-of-a-kind pieces. Among the types of wood included in the selection offered at Featherstone are birch from western Massachusetts, maple from New York State, and even holly bush and plum tree from friends’ cuttings. “I’m always scrounging,” says Mr. Hancock. “I go to people’s houses and look in their woodpiles.”
A number of Mr. Hancock’s new pieces are a hybrid of woodturning and sculptural processes, producing very interesting effects. He is more of a very talented hobbyist than a salesperson, especially since his pieces are quite labor-intensive, so the annual Holiday Gift Show is the only place where one can find his work.
At least two knitters will be offering the fruits of their labors this year — each with her own style.
Caryl Dearing will sell handknit socks, shawls, cowls, and scarves, as well as colorful bracelets and necklaces created by knitting glass beads in with silver metallic thread. Ms. Dearing uses interesting patterns and shapes for her knit goods, and she works solely with fine yarns from small businesses. Many of her items are made from blends of wool, cashmere, and silk. “A lot of the companies I use are small manufacturers,” she says. “I like supporting women who do their own dyeing.”
Joyce Silberling has contributed a variety of handknit hats to the Holiday Gift Show. She is a longtime supporter of Featherstone, and 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of her knit goods will go to the arts center. Ms. Silberling picks up various yarns during her travels, and favors interesting shapes and patterns. “Last year I went to Italy and England. This year I was in Yorkshire,” she says. “I pick up yarn wherever I go. Most of the yarns I use are wool or alpaca blends. None are pure nylon or synthetic.” Last year, all of Ms. Silberling’s hats were snapped up at the preview party, so this past year she was kept busy stocking up for the sale. “I just love to knit all the time,” she says. Ms. Silberling’s one-of-a-kind hats all sell for $39.
When Julie Prazich retired from a 40-year career as a physician, she began spreading her creative wings in a couple of different directions. For the past few years she has been making fused-glass pieces as well as monoprints. Splitting her time between the East and West Coast, she has a glass kiln in her winter home in San Diego, and printing presses both there and in her West Tisbury home.
While in San Diego, she has been experimenting with glassware — creating colorful plates, bowls, serving pieces, soap dishes, coasters, candle shields, pendants, and more, featuring lovely abstract patterns. She sells her whimsical fish platters (which can also be hung on a wall or in a window) at Craftworks in Oak Bluffs. Examples of all of the above will be on offer at the gift show (prices from $4 for a touchstone or $10 for a pendant up to $150 for a large fish), along with examples of her original monoprints, which often incorporate leaves, feathers, shells, and other images from nature. These are priced at around $75. Ms. Prazich only recently started marketing and selling her work on the Vineyard. Last summer she put up a sign welcoming visitors to stop in at her studio on Upper Lambert’s Cove Road. This will be her first time showing her work at a gallery on-Island.