Don't Fret A Freight Logjam — Here Are 10 Cool and Funky Holiday Gifts You Can Buy In South Florida
YOU BETTER NOT pout, you better not cry. You better not worry about that international logjam of freight threatening to ruin holiday gift giving. I’ll tell you why.
Sure, there’s a good chance many popular holiday gifts will still be stuck on ships waiting outside ports and in rail yards on Christmas morning instead of under your tree. But there are many excellent and cool presents to be snapped up from your neighbors and merchants in and around Palm Beach County.
Here are 10 creative gift ideas ranging in price from $10 to $2,200, including some — full disclosure — from a few of my talented friends whose creations make perfect Christmas and Hanukkah presents.
Tell 'em I sent you!
1. Mary Woerner Fine Arts
Walking into Mary Woerner Fine Arts, a gem of a little gallery in the heart of West Palm Beach’s Antique Row, is like walking into a miniature art museum.
Original paintings by Aida Fry and Trish Bechkam. Stoneware by Sara Lerner. Sculptures by Maxine Spector. Vintage ruler bracelets and earrings made from screw heads by Connie Verrusio. There’s not a dud on the walls or shelves.
It’s not cheap. But some of the gallery’s contemporary pieces are less expensive than LED flat-screen TVs, computers and video game systems stuck in the logjam of stranded cargo — gadgets that will inevitably break down over time while the art purchased from Woerner's gallery appreciates in value.
Check out what’s available at Mary Woerner Fine Arts.
2. The J.P. Cigar Box Guitar
There is no debate: J.P. Soars of Boca Raton is one of South Florida’s most exciting blues guitarists.
He and his band, the Red Hots, have played blues festivals from Belgium to Brazil, sharing stages with the likes of Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa and Brian Setzer. Lucky for South Florida, they’re also regulars at music haunts like the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton and Rudy’s Pub in Lake Worth Beach.
Among his arsenal of guitars is an unconventional two-string made from, of all things, a cigar box.
“Cigar-box guitars are a heck of a lot of fun,” said Soars, who comes from a family of carpenters and started making cigar box guitars years ago after meeting a Memphis guitarist who built one.
The necks are oak, mahogany and pine. The low string is an E, the high strong a G. The sound is, well, smoking.
The J.P. Cigar Box Guitar is so popular at his shows that he started offering them to music fans. The guitar is $500, shipping included. An accompanying amplifier is $175.
They can be purchased at his website in time for the holidays.
3. David Lane Fine Art Photography
Like his website says, David Lane is a fine photographer with the eye of an artist.
I’ll amend that title to say he’s an incredible photographer and true artist, a fact I can attest to since I had the privilege of working with him at The Stuart News and Palm Beach Post starting in the late 1980s.
A talented photojournalist with an eye for capturing news, he was named “Photographer of the Year” three times. His images have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world, including LIFE magazine’s “Pictures of the Year” edition.
His lens continues to capture breathtaking images of natural wonders around South Florida and national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
“Ansel Lane” was how former Palm Beach Post photo director Pete Cross reacted to the Port St. Lucie-based photographer’s collection of images from a recent trip out west — a huge compliment invoking the legendary Ansel Adams.
Best of all, they’re affordable! Frame prints can be had for no more than $110 while unframed prints on reduced-glare luster photo paper go for around $32.
Orders taken online at David Lane Fine Art Photography.
4. The Quiet Parrot Project
Lifelong friends Liz Barrows Icangelo of Lake Worth Beach and Joy Kerschner of West Palm Beach might just have the most appropriate name for their handmade ceramics and jewelry collaboration.
The Quiet Parrot Project is one of the best-kept secrets in Palm Beach County.
But that is changing as their work grows in popularity through sales online, at galleries and at art shows and farmers markets from Lake Worth Beach to Singer Island.
Using pottery wheels and kilns in a residential shop that resembles Santa’s workshop, Joy makes ceramic pieces that Liz turns into wearable and functional art. From a dragonfly soap dish and seahorse bracelets to octopus-etched dinner plates and flamingo mugs, much of their work carries South Florida nature themes.
Just about all their pieces can be had for under $100 each, with many under $50.
5. Frank Cerabino’s New Pickleball Book
Just in time for the holidays, Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino self-published a new book that can be had for the bargain price of $9.99 on Kindle and paperback.
If you've enjoyed the humorous columns he has written for the past 30 years, it goes without saying that you'll love this book, which includes cover and chapter illustrations by our artist friend Pat Crowley.
I'll let Frank take it from here.
“Those who've been around me for the past year-and-a-half know I've become an insufferable pickleball fanatic. Not only have I been playing just about every day, but when I'm not playing I've been writing about pickleball,’’ he says.
“The fruits of this obsession is a (humorous?) collection of essays and ruminations about pickleball that I've self-published in both paperback through Amazon and in e-book form on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, etc.
“And my oldest son, Nick, gets the nod for helping me come up with the title: ‘I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction.’"
“If you or anyone you know is pickleball-curious, or even pickleball-curious-adjacent, this might make a thoughtful holiday gift along with a set of paddles and a good recommendation for an orthopedic surgeon.
“Here's the Amazon link. You could do worse.’’
6. Ellen Negley Watercolors
Gazing at an Ellen Negley watercolor is like escaping into a tropical wonderland bursting with color and calm.
Be it an original watercolor or fine art print, her pieces are therapy for the eye and soul, inspired by Key West and her hometown of Lake Worth Beach, where she works in a colorful 1940 cottage that looks like it came from one of her paintings.
“Like Monet and his stacks of wheat, I feel like you can paint the same scene dozens of times in different lights and it’s bound to look unique each time,’’ the Parrot Cove resident says on her website.
“This is one reason I favor watercolor art over other media — for me, watercolor is the perfect medium to create tropical art.”
Original watercolors of scenes from places like Palm Beach, Jupiter, Key West and Europe range in price from $250 to $1,400 while prints can be had for as little as $18.
Purchase options are available at her ETSY shop.
7. The LionHuntress
Christine Raininger of Jupiter is an undersea lion hunter.
Armed with a spear, she’s been diving the waters off Southeast Florida since 2014 for lionfish, a non-native species causing harm to Florida’s reef ecosystem.
While ridding local waters of lionfish is a priority for Raininger and other conservationists, she also recognizes the beauty in the unique markings and bright patterns of dorsal fin rays, anal fins and caudal fins.
After stripping the venomous spines from each catch, she cures the fins and turns them into earrings, necklaces and other jewelry. Each sale — most pieces can be had for under $30 — comes with a pamphlet detailing conservation efforts and the dangers of the invasive species.
Not included: the fish itself, “a white and flaky delicacy!” she says on her online LionHuntress Etsy shop.
8. Album Cover Wall Clocks
At a time when digital music rules our personal airwaves, Bob Ross of Jupiter is on a mission to save hundreds of thousands of old vinyl albums from being thrown away.
He’s been at it since 1996 when he launched Tunes Company and devised a way to cleanly cut the labels from the center of albums and convert them into beverage coasters.
Record labels have “a powerful personality,” listing the tracks of classic albums along with the record company’s label, he said. Thousands of customers around the world agree, including a musician from Liverpool named Paul McCartney who owns a set of Apple record coasters made by Tunes Company.
But creating all of those coasters left Ross a new dilemma: What to do with all of those vinyl “donuts” and album covers. His solution? Album Cover Wall Clocks, cut into 12-inch round circles with backs made from stacks of LP vinyl.
He installed a clock with a silent motor with an accurate quartz movement. Hundreds of ready-to-hang clocks from all genres of music cost around $60 to $90 each (AA battery not included).
Now, the clocks have turned into his most popular sellers. Among his happy customers is graphic artist/cartoonist R. Crumb, who created album covers for Janis Joplin.
Orders generally go out within 3 to 5 days after they’re placed online at Tunes Company.
9. Serenity Garden Tea House
Before arriving in South Florida, Audrey Farrelly worked at a restaurant in her hometown of Dublin, Ireland, serving customers like Bono and Adam Clayton of the band U2, Sting and Van Morrisson.
In 2013, she opened Serenity Gardens Tea House in West Palm Beach and built it into a popular destination for locals, Palm Beachers and visitors from around the world.
Set in a beautifully decorated 1919 historic cottage, the Serenity Garden Tea House features wood floors and a fireplace that perfectly complement tables set with teacups of fine china, linen napkins, fresh flowers and teapots snuggled in their tea cozies, as one review raved.
Farrelly offers a “Christmas Royal Tea” for the holidays. For $32, you get a glass of champagne, a pot of tea, a cup of sweet potato and pear bisque, tiered high tea service with warm cranberry/orange scones, finger sandwiches and pastries and desserts. Reservations are required.
Gift certificates are available for year-round afternoon high teas, royal teas and menu items. The house’s “tea shop’’ also offers take-home gifts perfect for the holidays -- from an array of tea leaves waiting to be brewed at home to tea ball infusers, tea towels and decorative tea towels.
Stop by the tea house at 316 Vallette Way or check out the Serenity Garden Tea House website.
10. Kicking Glass By Sheree
Sheree Blum of Vero Beach was a science teacher for 20 years before she started kicking (butt) as an artist specializing in glass.
After she left teaching, the former Wellington resident stumbled into what she thought would be a post-retirement in 2012 when she met glass artists in Mount Dora. Blum was transfixed by the craft and she followed the snowbird artists to Maine where she studied under their guidance, learning techniques first used by early Egyptian Artisans.
Soon, Blum was selling her bowls and dinner plates at craft markets in Wellington. She struck a deal with retailer Anthropologie and before long she was kicking glass.
Working from a studio in Vero Beach on Blue Cypress Lake, she uses antique doilies, found materials, and hand-cut stencils to create unique patterns for the bowls, plates, windows, and wall hangings. She custom makes dinner sets for weddings and the holidays.
Her weekends during the season are spent in Boynton Beach with her grandchildren, and she makes time to sell her dishes at the Lake Worth Green Market.
For more information, go to her website.
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