Shop Local, Shop Small Businesses, Support Local Artists, and Give to Do More Good!

Every year, I look for alternatives for buying holiday gifts that have personal meaning, help support local artists and small businesses, and do more good for my local community and the world. Making gifts is always a wonderful option, as well as buying hand-made gifts from artists and craftspeople. Here are a few favorite sources of gifts and related holiday events that take place in my two “home” communities — in Berkeley, California, and on the incredibly beautiful Mendocino Coast, which is about a three-hour drive north from Berkeley and San Francisco:

Berkeley Artists Invite You into Their Studios!

Over one hundred professional artists, craftspeople and galleries at studio buildings in Berkeley, California will open their doors to the public during the 24th annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios, on Saturdays and Sundays, November 28–29, December 5–6, 12–13, and 19–20,from 11:00-6:00 p.m. PST. Some studios will be open on additional days, December 21–24. Call individual studios for dates and hours.

NEW: Many studios will also be open on First Saturdays every month, January-November, 2016, from noon-5:00 p.m. (Please call individual studios first to confirm hours.)

For more information, visit: Berkeley Artisans.

All media of fine arts and crafts will be shown, including blown glass, functional and decorative ceramics, ornaments, Menorahs, lamps and unusual lighting fixtures, painted and custom furniture, garden art, floor cloths, one-of-a-kind clothing, textiles, dolls, leather bags, many styles of jewelry, sculpture, photography, paintings in different media, original prints and works on paper, mosaics, and work from recycled materials. All work is handcrafted, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind.

This self-guided tour presents a unique opportunity to meet the artists, to buy original and creative gifts, and to see working craft studios. The art walk gives participants a glimpse into the creative process, and the opportunity to sign up for classes and workshops. Many studios are in the same building, or are clustered within walking distance. Delightful, free foods and beverages are available at many of the studios.

This much anticipated, popular event is known for the high quality of the work shown. A free Map and Directory in list form are available, showing the locations of all participants. This event is FREE.

You can find Berkeley Artisans on Facebook.

Places to get a Map and Directory of Studios:

Go to the Berkeley Artisans web site and print out the Map and Directory.

All participating artists will have the printed Map & Directory at their studios.

Pick up a printed Map and Directory at Berkeley Artisans, 2547 Eighth St. #24 A, Berkeley, CA 94710.

All participants will have the directory at their studios.

Maps will be printed weekly in the East Bay Express during the event.
The maps will be at many bookstores, cafés and art supply stores.
For other directory distribution points, call (510) 845-2612 or email Berkeley Artisans.

If you’re from out-of-town, you may want to spend a weekend exploring Open Studios. For hotel accommodations, see Visit Berkeley.

Berkeley Artisans gratefully gratefully acknowledges sponsorship by the East Bay Express, Oakland Magazine, Alameda Magazine, and Parents’ Press.

Wherever you live, support your local artists. Bring more art into your life!

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can come visit my studio building…

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 023

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 022

Our Creative Sage™ studio/office building, the Kawneer Building (also known as the Sawtooth Building, due to the jagged sawtooth shape of its roof), located in West Berkeley, is a central point in the Open Studios events. There are a number of prominent artists of all genres working there, including visual/fine artists, writers, musicians, composers, filmmakers, sound designers, photographers, web designers, graphic artists, illustrators, theatre artists, dancers, ceramicists, woodworkers, jewelers, and more. There are also a number of interesting, arts-related small businesses and nonprofits headquartered in our historic Berkeley, California landmark.

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 047

In fact, the entire neighborhood of West Berkeley, bordering on Emeryville, is an intriguing one, full of artist studios, cafes, unusual shops, tech and biotech companies, creative businesses, and the historic Fantasy Studios, part of what was formerly known as the Saul Zaentz Film Center, now Zaentz Media Center (photo above). It’s also a short drive from West Berkeley to Pixar and other Emeryville landmarks.

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 072

You can see the entire set on Flickr.

If you plan to tour the Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios and want to stop by and meet me (Cathryn Hrudicka) in person, please contact our office first to arrange a date and time, as we’re not usually there during the entire Open Studio hours. You can email us, preferably at least 24 hours in advance, or call and leave a message, at: 1-510-845-5510 (PDT), and we’ll get back to you to arrange a visit! You can also make prior arrangements to visit our building at a time other than the Open Studios events by contacting us at least 7-14 days in advance.

You’ll want to visit the studios of the outstanding artists and craftspeople in my building. In my section (the Dwight Way and 8th Street wing), talented artists work in all media of the fine arts; and in the past few years, we’ve had some especially outstanding women artists move into the nearby studios. I think you’ll find it a fascinating and festive place for a holiday season outing, and it’s perfect for the whole family — children are encouraged to visit with their parents.

We hope you’ll enjoy touring our historic Berkeley building, and the Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios. Happy Holidays to all of you in our community, and thank you for your year-round support!

In my lovely second home community on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California, there will be a #ShopSmall event in the City of Fort Bragg, developed by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Fort Bragg Promotion Committee, to help support local businesses and organizations:

From a post by Sharon Davis, CEO, Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce:


This year, we’re bringing the power of social media to our neighborhood with a #ShopSmall Selfie event, and we want YOU to be a part of it.


As a consumer, you are a key part in helping small businesses thrive. By shopping or dining at small businesses throughout the year, you’re showing your support for the small businesses in your neighborhood in the community you call home.

#SmallBizSat is Nov 28, and the businesses in Fort Bragg are going to celebrate with a #ShopSmall Selfie event. Show your support by taking selfies at your favorite local businesses. Tag the businesses in each photo and share them with #ShopSmall.


Think of a unique selfie for people to take at your business on Small Business Saturday. Have some fun with your ideas — try anything from getting your entire staff in a picture to showcasing an item your business is known for. You can also write the name of your business on the “I #ShopSmall at…” sign you receive and ask people to include it in their photos.

Fill in the poster you receive with your social media information (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Hang the poster to remind people to tag your business in their selfies on Small Business Saturday. We’ll also provide you with a table tent card. Place it next to your register as another way to remind shoppers about the event.


Stop by local businesses on Saturday, November 28th and take photos of yourselves with owners, staff, or signage. Post your selfies on social media and tag the business to show support. We will recognize the person with the best photo.

This year, show your love for local businesses by participating in our #ShopSmall Selfie event!

Even though Saturday, November 28th is the official #ShopSmall event in Fort Bragg, we hope you’ll continue to support local businesses, organizations, and artists wherever you live, on an ongoing basis. (By the way, you can see some of my past photos and selfies from Fort Bragg, California businesses on Instagram). — C.H.

Another Holiday Event: Festival of Lights, at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens — from a post by Sharon Davis, CEO, Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce:

Celebrate the season of lights. . .

The Festival of Lights is better than ever this year, with new displays, dinner options, wine, beer, hot cocoa and spiced cider, home-baked goodies in our Holiday Treats Café, a heated tent to sit in and listen to one of our many musical guests, and so much more! The event will take place, rain or shine.

The lights make their triumphant return the weekend after Thanksgiving beginning Friday through Sunday, November 27, 28, and 29. This community event continues each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5:00pm to 7:30pm through December 20. Adult tickets are $10 and children age 16 and under are free thanks to the funds raised by our spectacular annual benefit, the Festival of Lights Gala.

Join us at the Gardens for live music, food, drinks, and fun in the big tent each evening of the Festival. Have an affinity for calories? Our Holiday Sweets Café is filled with all kinds of goodies baked by Friends of the Gardens members. You can also warm up with hot cocoa or cider. This year we have added a special surprise… Santa Claus is coming to town! He will be taking wish-lists on November 27, December 12, and 18. Candy canes are free as usual.

Outside the tent, an unbelievable show of glittering color draws you into the Gardens. Stroll the twinkling pathways through underwater ocean fantasies, shooting stars, and a fire-breathing dragon. This year’s new additions are sure to turn heads! Children of all ages can warm up by the campfire and roast a marshmallow or two.

LIVE MUSIC NIGHTLY at Festival of Lights

11/27 Calvary Chapel Choir – Holiday Carols and Choral Music
11/28 Nancy Joy and the Whole Hearted – American
11/29 Sergei Bassehes – Classical Guitar

12/4 The Smokey Jalapeños – Blues, Reggae, Americana, Celtic
12/5 The Dorian May Trio – Jazz
12/6 Fort Bragg High School Choir – Holiday Carols and Choral Music

12/11 The Groovinators – Blues, Jazz, Swing
12/12 The Groovinators – Blues, Jazz, Swing
12/13 Gabriel Yañez Trio – Jazz

12/18 Shug-A-Pea – Eclectic Contemporary
12/19 Pura Vida – Afro-Caribbean Salsa
12/20 Nancy Joy and the Whole Hearted – American

Santa Claus will be visiting Nov 27, Dec 12, and Dec 18!

Tickets are now available at The Gardens Store: $10.00 for adults, children age 16 and under are FREE. Visit the website for information about musical acts, sponsorships, and more.

Helpful web sites for information about visiting Fort Bragg and the Mendocino Coast:

Fort Bragg Promotion Committee web site and blog

Fort Bragg Promotion Committee’s Facebook page

Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce web site

Visit Mendocino County web site (covers the entire Mendocino County).

Finally, my favorite kinds of gifts are those that give people wonderful, memorable experiences; and gifts that do more good in the world. Several members of my family and I have a tradition where we give donations to our priority causes in each others’ names, as well as memorial contributions in memory of deceased loved ones.

If you aren’t sure where to start, as far as choosing organizations for contributions, you may want to join #GivingTuesday, which takes place on Tuesday, December 1st. This event raises money for many local, national and international nonprofit and arts organizations. For more information, visit the Giving Tuesday web site. I hope to catch up with you at one of these in-person or online events, and Happy Holidays to all of my readers!

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