ALAMEDA -- Buying gifts for family and friends during this year's holiday season can be an Island-only affair, thanks to artisans, galleries and stores based in Alameda.
The Frank Bette Center for the Arts on Paru Street at Lincoln Avenue, for instance, is hosting its eighth annual holiday boutique through Dec. 24. More than 20 artists are selling handcrafted items, and proceeds will benefit the art center.
For instance, Helen Calhoun has made a series of colorful aprons, tote bags, hot pad tea cozies, covered hangars and toaster covers.
"I love sewing and have done it for years," Calhoun said.
"I'm constantly adding ideas to my sewing," said Calhoun, who was taught to sew along with her four sisters by her mother in Detroit.
Painter Tatiana Secu, who takes classes and volunteers at Frank Bette, has made some small reindeer from paper-mache objects. They can go under the tree or on a coffee table, for instance.
"The ornaments we have here are handmade, so I wanted to add something special to our tree and make a contribution to the center," Secu said. "I don't usually do crafts like this, but I'm enjoying it."
Other handmade items for sale at Frank Bette include jewelry, cards, bookmarks, bowls, plates, coasters, clocks, paperweights, quilts, lotion, jewelry boxes, fridge magnets, computer cases and cat toys. Frank Bette is also selling its 2013 calendar, which features images for its Plein Air Paint out, for
"This really helps us fund our operations, said Nan Gray, director of resources. "We are an all-volunteer-run organization." (The center is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.)
Over at the Redux Gallery Studio & Gallery, part of the St. Vincent de Paul shop near Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street, shoppers can find special gift boxes made from old record sleeves, as well as handmade gift tags and wrapping paper.
There's also plenty of jewelry, like pendant necklaces made from dominoes, soy-based candles, wallets crafted from the remnants of vinyl signs and banners, knitted items, stationary and other gifts, such as vintage posters.
"We have original screen prints made by Manuel Valenzuela, and miniature mixed-media collages made by Maureen Shields," said Chris Rummell, creative reuse and recycling manager of the gallery. "And there's a series of origami-inspired vases, pet sweaters made from reclaimed yarn, pillow shams crafted from upholstery samples and lots of other fun gifts."
Redux is having a 25-percent discount sale this weekend and is hosting a workshop for residents who want to learn to make their own gift wrap from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. The event requires preregistration and will be led by Alameda artist Emily Bonnes. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Other merchants and galleries around the Island, of course, like Bead Inspirations on Park Street and the Sewing Room & Style Lounge on Webb Avenue, feature handcrafted gifts, as well. In addition, many offer classes for Alamedans who want to get ready for the next holiday season by learning how to make their own presents.