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DIY Holiday Gifts with Local Makers

All Photos by Molly Ressler unless otherwise noted

There’s always someone on your list who’s impossible to shop for. They’re either incredibly picky or the only great gifts you can think of are way out of your price range. This is where the DIY holiday gift comes in. If you’re ready to get crafty this holiday season, there a few Santa Cruz makers who can help you create one-of-a-kind gifts that are bound to impress. (Added bonus: You get to learn a new skill in the process!)

Hot Glass Workshops with Chris Johnson Glass

Chris Johnson Glass offers hands-on hot glass workshops that even kids (age 12 and up) can enjoy. With Chris’s expert guidance, you’ll shape your own art piece through a process of heating and molding colored glass. “You do a lot more than is usually done in other hot glass workshops,” says Chris. “I tend to make it a lot more hands on.”

Even if you let Chris do most of the work, the process is mesmerizing just to watch. Hot, molten glass is rotated on the end of a long, metal rod and rolled in colored glass tubes before being thrust again into the 2,000-degree kiln (Farenheit). It’s then twisted round and round, creating swirls of color like ribbons of taffy. The working studio pulses with the bright orange glow of heat from the kilns and wooden shelves are lined with glass creations from fish and frogs to a herd of colorful bulls and a crop of shimmery pumpkins.

Hot glass workshops are held most Saturdays from 1-3pm. Contact Chris Johnson for details and registration.

Photo Courtesy of Ava Reinhold

Personalize a Glass Piece at Annieglass’ Craftbar

Give yourself a gift and make one in the process by signing up for a workshop at the Annieglass Craftbar. Located in Annie Morhauser’s spacious Watsonville studio, the Craftbar provides an inspiring space to unleash your creativity. Like getting your hands dirty? Create a stunning succulent arrangement in a one-of-a-kind glass piece by Annieglass. Prefer functional art? Use underglaze crayons to add a personal touch to an Annieglass serving plate.

There’s no judgement here, just fun crafts paired with a complimentary glass of wine or beer so you can fully relax into the process. For upcoming workshops, visit the Annieglass website.

Rise to the Task at Companion Bakeshop

Throughout the year Companion Bakeshop offers a variety of classes where they share their recipes and baking expertise with aspiring home bakers. Take part in a pie lab where you’ll learn the secrets to a perfectly flaky crust and swoon-worthy fillings or learn the basics to making tangy, mouth-watering sourdough, starting with how to care for your very own sourdough starter. (Side note: For the home baker, a petri dish of wild yeast, aka sourdough starter, is actually a great gift.)

If you can’t make it to a workshop, don’t fret. There are plenty of gift options ready-made behind the counter. We recommend putting together your own tasty gift basket full of fresh-baked goodies, house made granola, and a bag (or two) of locally roasted Cat & Cloud coffee.

BYOB at Sones Winery

In Europe, it’s common for wineries to offer their wine on tap so patrons can BYOB (bring your own bottle) for refills. Sones Cellars follows this European tradition with their changing Hedgehog blend that’s poured straight from the barrel into their reusable glass bottles.

While you can’t bring any bottle in for a refill due to state alcohol laws, Sones’s special Hedgehog bottle makes a great gift. The real DIY of this gift, however, is reserved for wine club members who have the opportunity to create their own special Hedgehog blend at the coveted blending parties. Visit their tasting room on the Westside to pick up a few refillable bottles and perhaps sign up for the wine club while you’re at it.

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