Handcrafted Holiday Gifts

by Casey Higgins | Posted on November 29th, 2012

Everyone on your list deserves something special, so why not give them an original creation from one of Virginia’s talented artisans? From art galleries and studios to craft shows and bazaars, beautiful baubles, sculptures, stained glass, paintings, jewelry and photography are available for purchase. Let the hunt for your perfect heartfelt gift begin!

The Artisan Center, Martinsville

The Artisan Center, Martinsville

At Heartwood in Abingdon shoppers will find a wide selection of handmade gifts – all juried to be the best of the best. Soaps, quilts, instruments, pottery, glass and wood works touch the creative side of things while coffee, tea, wine, jams, jellies, apparel and CDs round out the immense gift selection.

Not far from Breaks Interstate Park and the Virginia/Kentucky border is Haysi, where you’ll find Mountain Art Works – a treasure trove of locally made items. Woodwork, paintings, quilts, afghans, candles and even the occasional  guitar, mandolin, fiddle or banjo handcrafted by one of the nearby luthiers are all available for purchase. If you’re seeking authentic Appalachian gifts, this is your place.

The Artisan Center in Martinsville’s Historic Uptown District is the creative hub for the community, offering the works of 66 artists in their retail store as well as workshops for aspiring artisans, all thanks to Patrick Henry Community College. Should your handmade gift search lead you here, you’ll find ceramics, paintings, fabric creations, metal, wood and glass works, jewelry, furniture and quite a bit more.

Just off Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley is Crafty Hands, located inside The Shops at Dayton Farmers Market in Dayton. Here you’ll find the works of famed artist P. Buckley Moss as well as jewelry, burnt wood pieces, wind chimes and baskets.

For the duck hunter or nature lover on your list, check out Buck Island Bay Decoys in Montebello. Richard Christy’s award-winning, authentic waterfowl carvings are known throughout the States and abroad. Each piece is carved from native white cedar and tupelo gum; no two pieces are alike. While you have Mr. Christy’s ear, ask him about his time as President Gerald Ford’s Chef and maybe even ask if his Rock-N-Creek Cabin is available for the night.

See art in progress when you visit Alexandria and shop the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Eighty-two studios for 165 artisans give artsy shoppers a plethora of gift-buying options.

Take a bit of the water home with you when you shop the Aft Gallery at Skipjack Nautical Wares in Portsmouth – a premier marine art gallery of original works by regional, national and international artists. Expect to find nautical jewelry, seascape paintings, carvings, decoys, ships in bottles, naval and military paintings and prints, and nearly anything else marine-art worthy you can think of. Nearly 30 artists are represented at Aft Gallery.

Specializing in acrylic and pastel landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay, Gayle N. Mandell opens her Moran Creek Studio in Weems to you for shopping Wednesday through Saturday. Commission requests are welcome!

Hidden Treasures Craft Gallery in Parksley on Virginia’s Eastern Shore may be the home of Laughing Dog Jewelry, but shoppers will also find homemade soaps, lotions, candles and a bundle more. The artists here are members of the more than 20-strong Eastern Shore Art League. To see more artists’ work , visit the ESAL Art Gallery in Onancock.

Which direction will you head for your perfect handcrafted gift? Find more galleries as well as a list of craft shows at Virginia.org/HandmadeHolidays.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.

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Kim Sutliff says:

Don’t forget Roanoke, Virginia. A great place for art in the downtown area including The Market Gallery – a Regional Cooperative gallery. One block away from The Taubman Museum.