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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

Gifts of aloha

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Etched martini glass ($44), Island Treasures Gallery.

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Kula Cushion lavender pillow ($23).

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Glass gecko ($48), Nohea Gallery

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Owl ($40), Nohea Gallery

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Feathered pueo pin ($12), Na Mea Hawai'i

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Fairy by artist Gail Lindstrom

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Linen mat, napkin and chopsticks ($12) at Nui Mono in Mo'ili'ili.

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Akiko Oka bears ($5 each), Nui Mono.

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Cropped tank ($39), Mango Season

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On your mark, get set, shop! That's the mantra as Island families head out to get their holiday gifts. Before you grab your wallet, however, we ask that you pause for a moment to reflect on the importance of supporting local artists, craftspeople and retailers and look for gifts that are truly made in Hawai'i. No, we don't mean those clever look-alikes they're cranking out in China and the Philippines. We're talking the real thing; items made right here at home.

We did a little advance shopping scout work for you and here's what we found. All items are made in Hawai'i and cost less than $50.

BRING A SMILE

Bring a smile to a friend's face on a less than perfect work day with a whimsical fairy by stained glass artist Gail Lindstrom ($36). She can perch on a computer or anywhere else to give a friend a lift. We found one at Island Treasures Gallery in Kailua. Gail also will be at the Pacific Handcrafters Guild Fair in Thomas Square on Dec. 16 and 17. It's one of our favorite shopping opportunities for last-minute gifts.

For the dog lover on your list, Donna Miyashiro of 'Aiea has created a Doggy Bag tote with little ears and a tail in contrasting fabrics. She even embroidered a pair of paw prints. They are $25 at Wabi-Sabi in Kaimuki.

Mermaids make us smile, especially when they're made of bright aloha print fabrics with wacky hairdos and hand embroidered posies on the nose. Sheila Butler sews up her Molokai Mermaids in her Hilo home and sells them at Na Mea Hawai'i in Ward Warehouse ($30).

At the Gallery at Ward Centre, Charlene Tashima of Kapakahi Beads dreams up little figures called Tomodachi, which means "friend" in Japanese ($35). Their heads are clay and their bodies are fashioned from Japanese fabrics. They can be worn as either pins or pendants.

For friends who love little critters in their lives, Hau'ula glass artist Josh Frager offers an adorable pueo (owl) ($40) and gecko ($48) of striped glass that will charm the recipient every day. They're sold at Nohea Gallery in Ward Centre.

We found a feathered pueo pin at Na Mea Hawai'i, made by Weslyn of Lihu'e, Kaua'i; it's a fun little creature with googly eyes ($12).

FOR THE HOST

New items make party tables prettier. The mother-daughter team of Lou Costello and Elaine Zimmerman at Nui Mono in Mo'ili'ili package an earth-toned linen mat, napkin and chopsticks for a great-looking gift that's priced right at $12.

Martinis are the drink of choice for Islanders now, so an etched martini glass is an ideal hostess gift. We found beautiful ones by Kelly Ciconi of Hawai'i Kai at Island Treasures Gallery in Kailua ($44). She also etches margarita glasses, wine glasses, champagne flutes and votives ($33) in motifs such as monstera, honu and plumeria.

For the hostess who sews, an unusual pin cushion makes a great gift. Wendy Suguira of Pearl City makes a pin cushion in a Japanese blue-and-white tea cup at Nui Mono. At Wabi-Sabi in Kaimuki, Daphne Park of Kailua shapes felted wool into a musubi, sushi or block-shaped pin cushion ($14-$24). Linda Hoshide transforms and recycles to create pin cushions made from wood sake cups, also at Wabi-Sabi ($12).

Offer them a gift of relaxation with a Kula Cushion from Maui's Andrea Akeo. It's a soothing spa-style eye pillow infused with Maui lavender in bright brocades. What better way to de-stress during the holidays than with aromatherapy? We found the pretty pillows for $23 at Off the Mat in Kaimuki.

FOR THE KEIKI

Artist Grant Kagimoto has a sense of local humor that simply won't quit. His latest T-shirt for keiki is Obake Neko, a little black number with a white cat and tiny mouse ($12) at Mango Season.

Akiko Oka of Manoa sews adorable little bears with Japanese fabrics that can be tucked into a backpack to go anywhere. At just $5 each at Nui Mono, you can stuff several into a keiki's stocking.

An elegant koa wood creche puzzle by Victor Koon of Kane'ohe ($44) caught our eye at Island Treasures Gallery in Kailua.

Don't forget to support local artists when buying Christmas cards. It's a treat for the recipients to receive a little Island remembrance in the mail. Our favorites this year are Doug Young's mango cards, reproduced from paintings he premiered in a recent show (five for $11). We found them at Mango Season and the Gallery at Ward Centre. And, hey, they just happen to be red and green.

HOME AND AWAY

Fan pulls seem to be a new category in gift giving this year. We found a nostalgic take at Under a Hula Moon in Kailua ($29): Shelly Yuen, who lives in Kailua, makes fan pulls embellished with shells, beach glass and beads. At Island Keepsakes on Nu'uanu Avenue in Chinatown, Carlton and Suzie Hussey, the husband-and-wife team from Kane'ohe that call their company Something Hawaiian, created carved wooden fan pulls in Island themes such as ipu, honu, canoe paddles and slippahs ($17).

Debbie Evans of Honolulu pieces, patches and appliques pillow covers to make elegant accents for the home at Nohea Gallery at Ward Warehouse ($30).

Irene Kawaguchi, owner of Wabi-Sabi, is always creating things to make life easier for those on the go. This year she sewed up luggage wraps in Hawaiian-print fabrics ($7.50) that make it easy to spot your bag in baggage claim.

GIRLY GIFTS

Colleen Kimura, whose label is Tutuvi, creates stunning, sophisticated silk-screen prints on clothing with flattering silhouettes. Her latest style, a cropped, embellished tank ($39), comes in unusual color combinations with motifs of heliconia, kapa, shells and orchids, at Mango Season in Mo'ili'ili. This style looks great with narrow black pants or skinny jeans.

A girl can never get enough accessories, and Island artists are always creating original pieces. Glass artist Joel Park makes gorgeous Christmas tree earrings ($35) that will get her into the spirit.

At Nui Mono we found a fabric necklace embellished with little decoupaged egg shells ($45) by Sherrie Rupert of Kaimuki in the hottest color of the moment, citrus green.

Also at Nui Mono, Kim Kono painstakingly folds Japanese fabrics into cylindrical beads to make bracelets ($35) with an earthy, ethnic feel.

For the boomer, Shaune Bazner has embellished her Mei Fa magnifier with beads to make a pretty pendant out of the practical. It's $48 at Nohea Gallery at Ward Centre.

John Flynn, an innovative metal smith from Kohala, crafts jewelry from Niobium, which he anodizes to a wide range of brilliant colors. We found his pieces at Nohea Gallery at Ward Warehouse and were especially taken with the anthurium earrings ($42).

Reach Paula Rath at paularath@aol.com.