Island artisans fill Holiday Gift Shop
A group of Vineyard artisans have banded together for the holiday season to display their talents, crafts, art, food and handiwork in the Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. For the past 15 years, enterprising Islanders have collaborated to present their wares to holiday shoppers at various locations during the holiday season. All sales receipts go directly to the individual vendor, which has helped keep the prices down. This year, close to 30 artisans agree that the Main Street location has given them the visibility they needed.
The shop, the space formerly occupied by Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, is chock full of seasonal decorations and gift selections - a soup-to-nuts variety of Island made, unique and professional quality items. Thought has been given to the presentations and displays, making everything in the cozy shop look tempting.
An added attraction is the chance to win the raffle for a gift basket of art put together by the all the artists, and while participating, to make a contribution to Island Food Pantry. Tickets sell for $1 each ticket or six tickets for $5 with all the proceeds going to the Island Food Pantry.
The variety of selections is impressive. Just inside the door there is a colorful array of knitted neck warmers in textured yarns. There are some small, hearty jade plants, aloes and Christmas cacti, and nearby, samples of some of Linda Alley's jams in tasty combinations, such as mango-apricot, rosemary and red pepper ginger. There is everything from inexpensive whimsical Christmas earrings to silver Island-shaped pet tags.
Many of the Island's most popular craftsmen are represented in the collection. Washington Ledesma is offering some reasonably priced ceramic wall hangings and plates. Elizabeth Edge has many of her sumptuous fleece and wool garments on display. Beldan Radcliffe has turned some of her distinctive rice paper and wildlife collage designs into tiles and lampshades. Geri Dantzig has an eye-catching display of her colorful punchy glass dishes and jewelry. She's added a fun polka dot butter dish with matching knife to her collection that makes a wonderful gift.
There's also an array of well-priced jewelry. Some standout pieces include those made by Kathleen Tackabury, featuring an interesting stylized sterling silver fish and a sterling aquatic egg case. There is an assortment of interesting ornaments by different craftspeople, including small, soft animals made from Island wool. Brooms made from Island grown sorghum can serve both a practical or a decorative function.
The list is long: floor cloths, knitwear, hand carved toys, soaps and lotions, handmade cards, quilted designs and leatherwork. The prices are very reasonable across the board.
The artisans, who split the rent for the shop, take turns behind the counter seven days a week, from 10 am to 6 pm. With one or more of the artists present, there is usually a conversation going on about the art, the Island, or the season with customers. Even browsers who just want to poke around will find the experience pleasant and probably pick up some creative ideas.
Gwyn McAllister is a regular contributor to The Times.