Ask An Expert: DIY Gift Ideas

December 16, 2014 4:00 AM

68cd539af96b745a sarah Ask An Expert: DIY Gift IdeasSarah Shaw at Fetish in Tiburon (credit: Sarah Shaw)

With an emphasis on easy and fun, jewelry-maker and shop owner Sarah Shaw shares five tips for DIY enthusiasts thinking about handmade holiday gift ideas. If you can tie a knot, you can make some wildly successful, very affordable lasting creations that will be cherished by the recipient.

Fetish by Sarah Shaw
34 Main St.
Tiburon, CA 94920
(415) 937-5934

Fetish is the Main Street store in charming Tiburon that’s the latest showcase for the handmade collection of semi-precious jewelry designed and crafted by Sarah Shaw, a native and veteran of San Francisco Bay Area’s independent fashion retail scene. A unique sense of color, presentation and flair that has gained her a cadre of loyal fans and admirers for her one-of-a-kind statement pieces is evident the moment you step across Sarah Shaw’s threshold. She shares some DIY tips for simple jewelry-making that works for boys and girls as well as their parents and grandparents.

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Hand make a SF Giants piece at Beads of Marin (credit: Beads of Marin)

Tip 1: Baubles and beads

Visit your local bead store. Mill Valley is home to Beads of Marin, with a wonderful assorted collection. Quality semi-precious gemstones are a specialty, from diamonds right down the spectrum. Glass, stones, seashells, fresh water pearls, amulets and tribal beads are among the other choices. Gold-filled or sterling silver chains can be cut to the desired length before picking out your fasteners. Plan ahead for your list of gifts to avoid being overwhelmed by the vast array. “It’s hard to leave,” says Sarah Shaw. “Even if it’s your first time, you’ll be amazed at what you can make for $10 to $20.”

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Colorful semi-precious Sarah Shaw Jewelry (credit: Sarah Shaw)

Tip 2: “Charmed, I’m sure”

Collect charms to dangle prettily in a conversation starter for a necklace that matches the personal interests of the recipient. Go for groups of three charms per necklace for an intriguing, yet balanced look. Are you designing a gift for a cat lover, a beachcomber, a San Francisco Giants fan, a musician or a June bride? You’ll be able to find charms to reflect someone’s personality in a handmade piece that’s a gift from the heart like none other.

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A floating ring by Sarah Shaw Jewelry at Fetish (credit: Sarah Shaw)

Tip 3: Color me beautiful

Theme a birthstone piece around the colored gems that match the recipient’s birthday month. Owner Batel Libes at Beads of Marin says, “Don’t worry if your friend’s birthday falls on the first of the month. We put both this month’s and next month’s birthstones on sale so customers can plan ahead for gift making.” Sarah Shaw suggests dyed crystals in a rainbow of colors and cubic zirconia to set them off nicely. It’s another way to display that special touch that means so much, and you can create something unique with a budget in mind.

Tip 4: Remember the boys

At Fetish, Sarah Shaw advises men buying her handmade jewelry as gifts for women on a regular basis. At Beads of Marin, owner Batel Libes confirms that about 20 percent of the active jewelry makers are boys and men. Shark’s teeth on a leather cord, porcupine quills and tribal beads on colored wax cord get strung up by schoolboys, surfers and Silicon startup guys alike.

Tip 5: Presentation matters

As an independent artist and retailer trained as a ballet dancer, Sarah Shaw has that natural attention to detail that can be spotted even from a balcony seat. “Remember the wrapping; presentation counts, so don’t overlook the packaging,” she reminds us. Beads of Marin has gift boxes and organza bags that draw tight with a ribbon. Free gift wrapping as long as it lasts is available at holiday time.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on