The Best Holiday Gift Guide
Wood, clay, metal, and glass. These gorgeous, handmade gifts created in the workshops of East Bay artisans will be keepsakes your loved ones can cherish for generations.
Michael Spiegelhalter has used recycled glass bottles, old windowpanes, and even traffic light lenses to create his pieces. “I make it up as I go along,” he says. “There are moments of utter frustration that I have to work through. But I really love that: To create something and have some kind of end result, without pushing the piece too hard—it’s all controlled chaos.” These pieces from his Water Series collection are inspired by shadows found on the bottom of the pool. noma.glass.
Lindsay Art Glass, Benicia
Straight out of high school, David Lindsay wandered into a hot shop and never looked back. “I really just fell into glassblowing. I went into a shop with a bunch of hippies blowing glass, and that was it.” Now, 40 years later, he owns Lindsay Art Glass studios, where he will also help you blow your own glass ornament. lindsayartglass.com.
Melanie Abrantes Designs, Oakland
After a brief career in graphic design, Melanie Abrantes turned her wood turning passion into a business. “I enjoyed working with my hands way more. And it’s really nice that there is a lot of support for handmade right now.” Her modern and sleek designs set her apart, as does her use of cork. “I’m half Portuguese, and after visiting family in Portugal and seeing cork everywhere, I knew I wanted to turn with it, and introduce it into the American marketplace in an elevated way.” melanieabrantes.com.
Jacques Blumer, Moraga
Jacques Blumer turned his first bowl in high school wood shop. “Forty years later, I turned my second bowl, and it drew me back in.” After a career as a health care executive, he wanted to do something artistic. “For people with less tangible careers, doing something like [wood turning] is very meaningful.” Blumer also teaches at high schools in the area and at the Mt. Diablo Adult Program. “When I look at trees, I can tell what part will work. I can see what will look beautiful,” he says. turnedwoodgallery.com.
David M Bowman Studio, Berkeley
David Bowman studied aerospace engineering in college but was inspired to create pieces of art rather than work on airplanes after visiting museums in Europe. “I like that I can build something right away and have a product to hold,” says the self-taught metalworker, who heats metal with a torch and applies chemicals that turn the metal different colors.
Crown Nine, Oakland
Kate Ellen wants her pieces to feel handmade and to look as if each is part of an archaeological find that’s been unearthed. Her jewelry embraces irregularities and is rich in texture. “I like to just play and experiment with a process, technique, and material,” she says. “There’s this mental state I experience, and there’s this incredible flow, without time or space. It’s not happiness but more like contentment.” crown-nine.com.
Cheryl Wolff Ceramics, Walnut Creek
“I’ve always been interested in clay, but I didn’t expect to love it,” says Cheryl Wolff, who started working with clay to make her own pottery. “If you have a passion and keep making, you will only get better, and then you have to put it out into the world,” she says. “I like making something that adds beauty to an environment, and adding something to the world and in the homes of people who like what I do.” cherylwolffgarden.etsy.com.
Josie Jurczenia Clay, Berkeley
Josie Jurczenia is inspired by vibrant Moroccan and Islamic textiles, and nature. “I think I have a short attention span and am constantly taking classes and changing styles, but my birch pieces are constant. I’ve done my birch pieces over and over and over again.” After retiring from a career in textile design and her children’s clothing company, Sweet Potatoes, Jurczenia decided to give clay a try. “I took a class at the Richmond Art Center and instantly loved it. I love the freedom of it, but have adopted many textile techniques and put them to use in clay,” she says. josiejurczenia.com.