Martha’s Vineyard has always been known as a place to create — jewelry, hand-sewn clothing, beautiful art, and much more. Each year around the holiday season, a number of events showcase the immense creative talent that exists here year-round. Occasions like the Featherstone Holiday Gift Show and the Vineyard Artisans Festivals, along with companies like Martha’s Vineyard Made, allow Island folks to peruse and purchase all the products that locals make.
For more than two decades, Featherstone Center for the Arts has offered Islanders a wide array of holiday gift options at their annual Holiday Gift Show. The show began on Nov. 14 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 18, from noon to 4 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving Day). Get a head start on holiday shopping before the Thanksgiving gift rush, and support local artists and artisans by stopping at Featherstone to witness the variety of more than 100 makers displaying their work. Handmade creations include paintings, photography, crafts, jewelry, clothing, bags, soaps, ornaments, cards, calendars, and more.
Perhaps the most extensive representation of local makers is at the Vineyard Artisans Festival, which holds both a Thanksgiving show and a show closer to the holidays. Andrea Rogers, founder of the Vineyard Artisans Festival, told The Times she is excited to debut the local creations.
For last minute shoppers, Vineyard Artisans hosts their annual Holiday Show indoors at the Grange Hall on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 am to 4 pm — a one-day event where people can pick up last minute gifts for friends and loved ones. “We have almost the same vendors at both shows, but the Holiday Show is a lot more festive and holiday oriented, of course,” Rogers said. “It’s a great little enclave of the best the Island has to offer.”
At both festivals there will be about 60 artists represented, and each display booth you visit is owned and operated by local artists and artisans. “The festivals are debuting only gifts made by people who live here and work here, and create their work by hand,” Rogers said. “It’s a wonderful collection of things from every possible category.”
Farmers like Emily Fischer from Flat Point Farm will be selling handmade soaps crafted from goat milk and other mediums. Marie Meyer-Barton of Leather Treasures brings all her intricate and beautiful leather pieces to the show, such as deerskin moccasins, pocketbooks, and jewelry. Rachel Baumrin, founder of Martha’s Vineyard Made and creator of Austin Designs, will sell her ladies’ clothing, scarves, handbags, and herbal pillow products.
Frank Creney, who heads up the ceramics department at Featherstone, will bring his colorful mugs, bowls, vases, sculptures, and figurines (almost all one-of-a-kind). “He is an absolute master,” Rogers said. Another big name at the festival is Sylvie Farrington, of SylvieBags. Farrington takes material from the 1940s and 50s and turns it into vintage handmade bags. There will also be plenty of photographs and paintings available from folks like Debbie Gaines, Joan Walsh, Neva Goldstein, and Taylor Stone.
Craftspeople like Eric Lakso of Vineyard Details (a skilled woodworker) and Zach Pinerio of Chappaquiddick Wood Company will sell carved wooden pens, bowls, and other pieces. Rocco Vitelle will sell his wild and complex puzzles that he creates and cuts himself, and Cynthia Pareja of Hypatia Book Arts makes handmade journals and books.
This year, Island author and poet Cynthia Riggs has organized her own book corner, and invites Island authors to sell their books and speak with shoppers about their stories. “Every artisan has their own booth, they sell their own work. Each person will share with you their history, how they made their products, and you are guaranteed to find some real Island treasures that make wonderful gifts,” Rogers said.
If you are looking to get locally made goods from an online platform without having to go in-person to an event, Martha’s Vineyard Made is the first place to look. They work closely with local makers to bring their products from farms, studios, and personal portfolios out into the open for all to see and buy. MV Made offers a simple online retail platform and a local Vineyard Haven storefront where each maker keeps the majority of sales profits. At the same time, shoppers know they will get authentic, locally made products that support their friends, family, and neighbors on the Vineyard. “Think shopping at our local farmers markets, festivals, and more — online,” the MV Made website reads.
There are many options this holiday season to get great gifts made right here on Martha’s Vineyard, with the knowledge that every purchase is supporting local artists, artisans, and craftspeople.