Perfect presents

Island Made Holiday Shop at Gayle Gardens is filled with every gift idea imaginable.


Running 10 am to 5 pm daily through Christmas Eve, Gayle Gardens in West Tisbury, formerly the site of Heather Gardens, is hosting an Island Made Holiday Shop. More than 20 Island makers are participating, and a variety of items will be available to purchase, including wreaths and plants by Gayle Gardens, and Island-inspired photography by Deborah Gaines Fine Arts and Photography.

“One of the things I love about this sale is that I’m able to offer pieces at a lower price point,” Gaines said. Some of these items include prints of the Island on ornaments and coffee cups. “I’m able to sell to those who may not be able to afford larger pieces. I’ve been told that some of the pieces I sell here are bought as gifts for Island kids heading off to college. It’s like a little bit of the Island going with them. It makes me feel good to give back to the community in this way.”

Linda Alley is one of the founders of the holiday shop. “We started 29 years ago,” Alley said. “Myself and a handful of people began selling where the North Tisbury Farmstand is now. The original concept for the sale was to make a little bit of extra money for Christmas, and it just kept growing. We’ve been at Gayle Gardens for the past four years now.”

Not only is Alley a founder of the sale, but she’s also founder of New Lane Sundries and producer of the Island-renowned jams, which are also available to purchase. When I spoke with Alley over the phone, she was at home making jam, busily bustling around the kitchen. “Sorry, I’m cooking jam, and trying to do a million things at once,” she said. “We’ve got over 20 artists, and more joining.”

Along with Alley’s jams, other artists at the sale include Chris MacLeod, who is a local woodworker. MacLeod is selling everything from cutting boards to wooden Christmas trees, to bowls. MacLeod’s wife, Hope, is also part of the sale, selling fun fabric and knitted critters and owls. Gwen Nichols, of Oceans Own Designs, is selling fine sea glass and vibrant quahog jewelry and glass mosaics, while Starling Studios has soft handwoven napkins and towels for sale.

Photographer Ellen Reynolds has a booth filled with photos printed on several surfaces. “I take photos and put them on anything that will stand still,” Reynolds laughed. “Towels, blankets, pillows — you name it.” Reynolds retired from the Island Council on Aging, where she worked for 23 years as an outreach worker. “I consider myself an amateur photographer, but I’ve always loved doing it. My dad was a professional photographer, so I grew up around it. The artists in this sale take turns working it, and I love that because I get to meet new people. I’ve been doing this for four years, and feel honored to be a part of it.”

Reynolds’ daughter, Tara Reynolds, is also joining in this year. “This is her first year doing the sale. She is a very talented artist,” Reynolds said. “Her book ‘Alphabet Soup’ is sold out, but she has her Martha’s Vineyard Coloring Book for sale.” Along with Tara’s fun coloring book are stickers, brightly colored, stylized paper art flowers, and more.

Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt is also in the house, offering a variety of flavors and sizes. Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt is produced by the husband and wife team of Heidi Feldman and Curtis Friedman. Feldman left tech and co-founded Down Island Farm to produce crops and Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt. Her husband, Curtis Friedman, is a tech consultant-turned-entrepreneur farmer and master carpenter.

Juli Vanderhoop’s Orange Peel Bakery, based on Wampanoag tribal land in Aquinnah, has pottery cups and Black Brook Provisions honey available for purchase. (I admit that I’m slightly addicted to their honey.) And S.R.S. Grunden Pottery and Scott Campbell’s whimsical and functional pottery can be found at the holiday shop as well.

If you’re a fan of mystery books by Cynthia Riggs, you’re in luck. There is a table with stacks of her books waiting to be read. Sharing the table with Riggs is photographer Lynn Christoffers, who created the book, “Cats of Martha’s Vineyard.”

“I have a master’s in photography from NYU, but I’m not sure if I consider myself a professional photographer,” Christoffers said.

“You most certainly are!” quipped Reynolds from across the room.

Christoffers has worked as a freelance photographer at The MV Times as well as other publications, and partnered with Riggs on a few books as well. “I also make cat ornaments,” Christoffers said, holding up a card with a print of a cat wearing a feather and button headband. “What I do is take cats’ outtakes from the ‘Cats of Martha’s Vineyard’ book and make them into ornaments.” One ornament is a cat named Twig of West Tisbury, and another is Katie of Oak Bluffs. They’re adorable and delightfully humorous.

Barkcloth pillows and accessories by Minor Knight will be for sale. “I love her stuff,” Alley said as she stirred her jam. “It’s so unique.” Cindy Krauss of Cottage City Craft is selling beeswax candles, some tapered and some in the shape of Christmas trees. Adorable felting items by Stephanie Tilton Rossi greet you when you walk inside, and include felted bunnies, Santa Clauses, mermaids, and more. Not far down from Tilton Rossi, you’ll find a variety of lotions, muscle aids, insect repellant, lip balms, and more by Simple Joy Herbals, while Pat Z’s Designs One of a Kind knitted hats, earcovers, and mittens, and Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce booths follow them.

Cathy Peters, owner of Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce, grows everything she uses in her sauces and salsas. On the back of her business card, she explains how her business came to be. Her Grandma Margie liked her afternoon “tea,” so Hittin’ the Sauce is in remembrance of her. Sauces, salsas, and jams aren’t the only things Peters makes, however. She also creates lights from bay scallop shells. “My husband gets the scallops, I clean them out — along with the birds — wash them really well, and create nightlights and string lights from them,” Peters said.

I’ve checked out the holiday shop twice now, and I keep finding new surprises, so I’m confident you’ll find something special and reasonably priced for your loved ones (and for yourself). Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to better acquaint yourself with the Island artists and makers who so lovingly and happily create their wares. You just might check off your gift-buying list in one swoop.

Gayle Gardens is at 377 State Road, West Tisbury.