Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide : 11.24.10


Eugene Weekly’s Gift Guide 2010:

Reduce, Reconnect,  Rejoice! More ideas than just “coupon good for one massage” 

Organic on Your Skin Soaps made with love and garden herbs 

Caffeine Up Get through the holidays with the rituals of tea and coffee

Birds of a Feather Art and fashion in Poppy & Moe

Between Children and Young Adults Gifts for tweens straddle the line

Wood from the Heart Bad economy leads to lovely toys

Life, Death and Water Soothing fountains arise from crises

Drool-Worthy and Local Start a new, natural tradition

Kiss the Cook Better yet, get the cook one of these great holiday gifts

Genius Gift: Make your own Fizzy Water


Reduce, Reconnect,  Rejoice!
More ideas than just  “coupon good for one massage” 
by Zanne Miller

works from BRING Recycling’s “Vision/Revision” show

Not to put a damper on things, but according to Consumer Reports, 13.9 million Americans are still paying off last year’s holiday spending sprees. And then there’s the oft-cited statistic about holiday waste from Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we generate 25 percent more waste per week than during the rest of the year — an additional six million tons overall. 

If those aren’t good enough reasons for you to get into a less consumptive spirit this season, consider this: One-of-a-kind, handmade gifts from recycled items not only reduce the impact on the planet (and in certain cases, your wallet), but they are gifts your friends and loved ones will cherish because they are made (or found) by you.

Seriously, there’s a good chance your mom still has that yarn you glued on cardboard to make her an ornament in preschool, but can she remember all of the sweaters and scarves? Probably not.

Let’s assume we believe you when you say you’re not creative or don’t have time. In that case, consider a recycled item or a handmade gift (or even just some wrapping paper) made by someone else.

Less Is Best

At the Materials Exchange Center for the Community Arts (MECCA)’s Less is Best Fair on Dec. 3 and 4, you can view and purchase work from local artists who reuse materials to make everything from shadowboxes and mixed-media mirrors to painting and sculpture. You can also create some of your own art, decorations or gift wrap. According to Mija Andrade, MECCA’s executive director, 10 to 15 local artists will gather for the fair. Past years’ demonstrations have included tin can luminaries, juice-can lid ornaments and origami gift boxes, to name a few. The event is also a great opportunity for children to make a few gifts (definitely a cut above the yarn-on-cardboard variety), including rag dolls or potholders from T-shirt scraps. Craft kits for purchase ($2 to $5) include magnetic poetry kits, no-sew fleece hats and a tambourine made from bottle caps (you may choose to make the gift from the kit or just give the kit as a gift).

MECCA’s studio is always open to the public by donation (10 am-3 pm Tues., Wed. and Thurs.; 6 pm-9 pm
Thurs.; 11 am-3 pm Sat.) and, according to Andrade, there’s usually someone available to help you assemble and work on your project as well as a library of art books and a collection of reuse ideas. Some of the many suggestions from Andrade include tote bags and purses or placemats and napkins from upholstery fabric (MECCA has sewing machines for you to use) and scarves and hats from an ample supply of yarn. MECCA even has a professional grade etching press, so you can make your own art and frame it with materials found there. 

BRING Recycling’s “Vision/Revision” show, which runs through Dec. 30, brings together nine Oregon artists who use recycled/reused items in their work. The exhibit and sale, with prices ranging from $200 into the thousands, includes mixed media assemblage, scrap-wood and metal sculptures and cigar-box guitars. You can also buy unique (and some high-end) reuse gifts for the home there — think vintage mirrors or doorknobs ($85). 

“There’s lots of options for reused gift giving at BRING,” Executive Director Julie Daniel says. “Handy types can buy inexpensive windows and build simple cold frames or cloches for their gardening friends. We have a wide variety of materials to make cool plant trellises or containers. Crafters will find all kinds of very low cost materials — glass light shades, switchplates and tile to make creative gifts from. There’s really no limit to what you can make with the materials we offer.”

Tim Armstrong, director of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, can get pretty excited when talking about what you can make (often for next to nothing) from materials available at the ReStore. ReStore volunteers have even put together a few projects that you might find in the Pottery Barn catalog for about five times the price. 

Here’s one: Using old cabinet doors, paper (with Mod Podge) or paint and chalkboard paint, create a lovely chalkboard for someone’s kitchen or office. Substitute those old wine corks you’ve collected for the chalkboard paint, and you’ve got a bulletin board full of memories. A few of these are already made and at the ReStore for sale for $8 and $20, respectively; cabinet doors to make your own are abundant. Armstrong also suggests using old lighting fixtures to make new votive candle holders. The ReStore is also currently showcasing painted tiles made by volunteers from Key Bank. You can buy tiles for a dollar, or make your own — combine a plain tile, some paint and a little imagination and you’ve got a unique handmade trivet for next to nothing. 

ReStore volunteers are available to help you put together the pieces, Armstrong says.

The Gift of Yourself

That said, Julie Daniel points out another low-impact, highly meaningful suggestion: gifts of time or experience. 

 “When you think about it, experiences last longer than things. What’s changed your life, what’s brought you great joy — it’s rarely a thing.” 

Theater tickets, club memberships or music or horseback lessons are fairly easy to research and purchase for local or out of town friends and family. 

And there truly is something for every budget: A gift of experience can cost you nothing but your time — for example, arranging a monthly walk with a friend or older relative for a year. “Imagine if you spent an hour a month walking with someone,” Daniel says. Such a gift can also be on the grander side (e.g., a trip to Italy or a weekend in Seattle). 

“We live in a world where we’re going 100 miles an hour, leading fractured lives. Consciously choosing to spend time with a loved one comes from your heart and soul,” Daniel says.

And, she says, never discount the mundane — chores like cleaning the gutters or cleaning up someone’s yard can mean a lot — “especially when offered with humor and some fun.” 

MECCA, 449 Willamette St. 302-1810.

BRING Planet Improvement Center, 4446 Franklin Blvd. 746-3023.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 1210 Oak Patch Rd. 344-4809.





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