When you enter Many Hands Gallery wind chimes move tunefully overhead, recalling the bay lapping at the bottom of the street, just steps away. A nautical theme fills much of the Old Town space. Maritime merchandise ranges from spyglasses, compasses and sundials to baskets piled high with abalone, starfish and sand dollars. The luminous glass spheres netted in rough twine recall Japanese fishing floats. Jewelry by Trinidad designer Greta Daniels — especially the fish-eye chandelier earrings — double as conversation pieces.

Phil and Lunel Haysmer first opened the boutique in 1990. Astra Burke, the longtime store manager and art buyer, purchased it from the Haysmers in 2012 and has sought to continue their tradition since. "Many Hands Gallery's mission is to provide gifts with meaning and history," Burke said. "I love to give gifts and I especially love being able to find the exact right gift for each person."

click to enlarge A collection from Many Hands’ cabinet of curiosities. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • A collection from Many Hands’ cabinet of curiosities.

To help you in your own pursuit of the perfect gift, Many Hands Gallery offers items from fair trade organizations and importers around the globe. Focus on the community informs the selection process — you can find handcrafted art and decorative objects by over 40 local artisans represented here, among them Humboldt Candles, made locally by people with autism in fragrances like pina colada, cinna buns, Christmas tree and clove.

click to enlarge Maritime treasures and fisheye jewelery. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • Maritime treasures and fisheye jewelery.

You'll find handcrafted leather journals and wallets, tarot cards and brocade scarves. There are cribbage, chess and domino sets in inlaid woods and bowls turned from redwood burl by woodworker Allen Pease. Don't miss the oddities tucked away in a large, black lacquered China cabinet. Behind glass you'll find animal skulls dipped in pigment and encrusted with crystals and insects enveloped in clear resin, forever preserving their beauty. For the musically inclined, there are bamboo flutes, maracas and bronze cowbells. The burnished African thumb pianos are handcrafted from gourds by Rick Faist, who also cuts the keys from sheet metal, makes the hardwood tops and tunes the instruments by hand.

If the multiplicity of unique items on their shelves don't draw you in, know that they also gift wrap.

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
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About The Author

Gabrielle Gopinath

Gabrielle Gopinath

Gabrielle Gopinath is a critic who writes about art, place and culture in Northern California. She lives in Arcata. Follow her on Instagram @gabriellegopinath.

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