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December 05, 2013
Ditch the big box stores where gifts are all too common to give to a one-of-a-kind recipient.

Those chain stores are good for providing a look alike to what the neighbors are receiving. The Grosse Pointe ART Center stocks one-of-a-kind gifts — and wraps them free, for the thoughtful and community-minded shopper.

Match the names on the gift list with items found in the art center at 17118 Kercheval, City of Grosse Pointe.

Start with Mom. Reworked saris have been created into colorful scarves priced at $25 to $35. For the mother and grandma, who whip up tasty dishes, an ecologically friendly rolling pin or a wooden pepper grinder made by George Ferber would be appreciated. If not that, a wooden or ceramic bowl would find a dozen uses, including holding a fragrant bar of soap, all sold at the art center.

Next on the list is Dad. Whether middle age or a senior, a hand crafted pen, perhaps one with a wooden case, or a nostalgic photo or print of an iconic Detroit landmark such as the Joe Louis fist, the Michigan Central Station or old Tiger Stadium that are stacked in a vintage Vernon's ginger ale box would be just right.

A $25 T-shirt heralding Detroit would make your brother or son stand out in a crowd. And the art center has beer and shot glasses from the Detroit Scroll Company. This local business has acquired the old canvas bus scrolls listing bus stops. For instance the Seven Mile line notes the first stop is Oakman. Some scrolls are framed, while other bus stop lists have been recreated on a variety of items, including glass items.

When girls attain the middle and high school ages, they need a diary to record their most private thoughts and feelings, then a little statement making bling in the form of silver or bead jewelry.

The art center has both with journals for $15 created by Cheryl Alt and jewelry.

Gallery director Amy DeBrunner notes there is a wide array of jewelry.

"We are constantly getting new artists," she said. "We have unusual jewelry in the cases."

And out come rings made from silver spoons, bracelets with colorful beads and semi-precious, highly polished stones used to create necklaces, bracelets and rings.

"Jewelry is always popular," she said.

For $40, a parent or grandparent can pick up a zombie bot, peculiar looking robots made from recycled nuts and bolts, resembling a minion from the animated movie "Despicable Me." Drop a handmade yoyo in the stocking and check that elementary-aged child off the list.

Marisa Prince makes $8 crayon rolls and carryalls to safely transport crayons for the budding family artist.

For the littlest person on the list, the art center carries onesies, in a variety of colors, declaring "I ate all my vegetables" because they were bought at Eastern Market.

And soft, washable fleece animals, just right for little hands to squeeze ,are set on a table near the store's front door.

That leaves an aunt or a neighbor who all need a gift.

Hand-painted wine glasses, a colorful canvas wine bottle carrier, large tote or knit hats and mittens are real possibilities to check them off the list.

Is your best friend always loosing her earrings? The art center stocks small handsome jewelry drawers. One is fashioned into a tree with the leaves being the drawers.

Don't forget your uncle. Jackie Brooks of the 313 Collective fashions recycled rubber into coasters with the Old English D imprint.

"It's labor intensive," DeBrunner said.

Tom Crimboli of Roseville uses recycled everything to create his one-of-a-kind metal sculptures. Whether you choose a bicycle or a bird-like golfer sculpture, your brother-in-law could use it in a backyard setting.

The art center has gifts with price points from $1 to $100, DeBrunner said. There are any number of gifts for less than $50. Not to be overlooked are the numerous paintings and photographs.

Ornaments made of paper or glass can be packed in a small box and given to a teacher or to a special someone as a way to say "I'm thinking of you."

"It's fun to come in and look. It gets you in the holiday spirit," DeBrunner said. "You are supporting the local artist and we are budget friendly."

Not to mention, the shopper has just crossed off everyone on the gift list with items created locally.

Hours are noon through 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For the holidays, the art center is open to 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

Bring a gift into the store that has been purchased in the Village (a receipt must be produced) and get it wrapped free. The City of Grosse Pointe provides the funding for this special service to those who shop local.

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Ed Rinke