Tis the season to shop local

Manzanita wood and bead pendants, hand-crafted by Roy Guist.

The days until Christmas are getting shorter and shorter. The lines at Gilroy Premium Outlets are getting longer and longer. The Wal-Mart parking lot is zoo.

Are you hunting for gifts that are unique and handcrafted? Want to shop locally and put your dollars back in to the community (and be surrounded by art while you peruse?) Head over to Interim Center for the Arts at 7341 Monterey Street downtown, where there’s plenty of parking and a slightly less chaotic atmosphere.

Hosted by the Gilroy Arts Alliance, the GAA will benefit from 10 percent of everything sold during its holiday Artisan’s Gift Shop, which lasts until Dec. 23 and showcases the work of 16 different artisans.

The colorful spread features a speckled gamut of one-of-a-kind goods such as moonstone jewelry, edgy hair clips, hand-painted purses made out of old cigar boxes, honey from Uvas Gold Apiaries, handmade stoneware from clay pigeon pottery, knitted hats spun from felted Peruvian highland wool and a crop of miniature paintings exploding with color by Joanne Perez Robinson, a local artist and winner of the 2011 Gilroy Garlic Festival poster contest.

Roy Guist, 91, a prolific Morgan Hill whittler, is also on hand with his Manzanita Magic.

Since 400-degree blazes engulfed Guist’s home in the 2002 Croy Wildfire, he’s busied himself fashioning hundreds of sylvan necklaces from the gnarled stumps and branches of burned Manzanita trees dotting his rustic property on the south face of Bachelor Hill in Uvas Canyon. Of the proceeds generated by each sale, 100 percent is donated to the nursing program at Gavilan College.

“At first I didn’t think I could do it,” he said, of a new style of necklace where he threads a glass bead onto a thin, wood axle in the middle of a circular pendant. “But the ones with the beads are selling really well. I can’t keep up with it.”

Guist also has an assortment of beautiful earrings and hair sticks.

Directly behind Guist’s table is a beckoning assortment of creations from Morgan Hill resident Don Jensen, a wood carver and landscape architect. Jensen has labeled himself a “wood alchemist,” one who can take a material of middling value and turn it into something extraordinary. He’s known for turning a simple scrap wood into inspired spoons, paddles, salad sets and candleholders with nothing more than a band saw and an eye for design. His items are on sale and would not disappoint come Christmas morning.

For the Giants fan in your family, check out local seamstress Clara Fayette’s sports-themed hot pads.

“They’re selling really well,” she noted. “I just wish the Sharks would put a fabric out, but they wont.”

Fayette also creates cute canine accessories, such as dog jackets and neck collars.

The GAA will be selling an assortment of beverages, snacks and wrapping paper throughout the duration of the gift shop.

Details: The gift shop will be open to the public from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. It ends Dec. 23rd.

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