SPRING HILL — Sellers and shoppers alike are poised for a new opportunity to keep things local during the holiday season when a new boutique offering higher-end arts and crafts has its grand opening Friday and Saturday.
From origins such as carpenters' workbenches, home sewing machines and potters' mud pits, 30 artists and craft makers have passed selective muster to display their goods in what originator Kathie Watson has dubbed the Holiday Gift Shoppe.
Watson, herself a crafter, primarily of jewelry, and owner for six years of the Creative Hands shop at 3477 Deltona Blvd., said of the seasonal endeavor next door: "We have so many area artists and crafts people; I want to give them an outlet."
She knows whereof she speaks.
Watson, 60, has been teaching crafts since age 18. And local hobbyists have flocked to Creative Hands, where Watson teaches or oversees classes in painting, jewelry making, card designing and other skills.
When she put out an invitation in September to creative minds to put forth their wares in a classy setting, Watson made her guidelines clear.
"I don't want grandmother's egg cartons," she said. "I want them to be lovely things."
Among the handmade items she has selected are photographs, tole painting, woodworking, stained glass, jewelry, mosaics, greeting cards, garden art, watercolor and acrylic paintings, candles and fabric creations.
As Watson surveyed incoming items last week, she noted: "I think the place will be filled, about 800 square feet. It's going to look like a gift shop, not a crafts fair, but a mixture, things intermingled."
Saying she hopes to "wow" shoppers, the artisan-entrepreneur has set the stage. She has installed a centerpiece gazebo and arranged a vintage corner with an antique ironing board and wooden washtubs to showcase needlework and textiles.
"I like vintage things," Watson said, "so the shop has a vintage flair."
Vendors have established their own prices and are paying a commission on sales for the opportunity to have their wares showcased for six weeks in an artfully designed space and with a clerk on hand, rather than having to mind the store themselves.
On pricing, Watson said, "We want it to be affordable Christmas shopping for local people, one-of-a-kind gifts for reasonable prices. We'll even have $2 items. Acrylic and watercolor paintings will be higher prices, topping out at maybe $200."
For the grand opening on Friday and Saturday, light refreshments will be offered, seasonal music will be playing, and fragrances will fill the air, Watson said.
As her advertising flier states: "We have a wide variety of talent. Stop by and be amazed."
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.