Gifts of inspiration

Art and nature make these 15 imaginative holiday offerings ...

These hand-carved soapstones from Africa are inspired by the museum's African Collection, which includes works of Sub-Saharan African art covering a broad range of regions and historical periods.

Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.

Looking for an original, not-to-be duplicated holiday gift? Area museum, garden and gallery gift shops offer a diverse selection of products, many of which are inspired by current exhibits, creating a timeless gift that's sure to be treasured for years.

Harn Museum of Art

3259 Hull Road, Gainesville, 392-9826

1. Matters of the heart

These hand-carved soapstones from Africa are inspired by the museum's African Collection, which includes works of Sub-Saharan African art covering a broad range of regions and historical periods. The museum's African collection includes works from West, Central, South and East Africa but has a particular focus on West African Art.

Hand-carved heart soapstones ($10.95)

2. Tea, anyone?

This elegant tea set, including tea pot and four cups, is inspired by the Harn's Asian collection, which includes works from the Neolithic period through the contemporary era. Many media are represented, such as jades, ceramics, metal sculptures and paintings from all over Asia.

Teapot and cup set ($78.95)

3. A tree to remember

This ornament is a replica of Namikawa Sosuke's enamel “Tray with Birds and Cherry Blossoms” of the Meiji Period, from the museum's Asia collection. Choose ornaments from a variety of styles, many representing different works on display throughout the museum.

Holiday ornaments ($18)

4. Allligators all around

University of Florida professor Leland Shaw's ceramic works are expressive of the culture of Florida and its natural habitat. He is represented by several galleries throughout Florida, and a large collection of his works are available for purchase at the Harn.

Pottery by Leland Shaw (Price varies)

Florida Museum of Natural History

3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, 846-2000

5. Creatures of the deep

To the ancient Hawaiians, the sea turtle symbolized wisdom and longevity. Artist Benjamin Diller has created a series of limited- edition ceramic treasure boxes in the shape of a sea turtle to keep valuables tucked safely away. Each box is individually numbered. Green sea turtle keepsake box ($13.95)

6. Secret Jar of Dreams

The sea turtle was believed to be a protector and wish fulfiller in the ancient Hawaiian culture. These Aumakua Jars are specially designed for their owners to write down their wishes and dreams and place them in the jar to help make them a reality. Each piece is hand- formed in clay by Jeremy Diller and fired in a pit of banana leaves and wood shavings, creating a unique design on each individual jar.

Aumakua jar ($34.95)

7. A piece of the past

Native Americans throughout the Southeast created exceptional works of art from stone, clay, fibers, shells and other natural materials during the late Woodland and Mississippian cultural periods, reflecting their love of the land and nature. Ancient Hands Co. offers this tall vase and a variety of other quality reproductions of pre-Columbian art.

Native American replica vase ($95)

8. Explore Florida

This DVD, produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History, contains three half-hour films from the acclaimed “Expedition Florida” series, including “The Wild Heart of Florida,” From Exploration to Exhibition” and “Wild Alachua,” which explores Alachua County's natural beauty and treasures.

Expedition Florida DVD ($24.95)

9. Natural beauties

Real butterfly wings are first covered in clear acrylic, then handcrafted with a sterling silver border to create colorful earrings and pendants that pay tribute to the beauty of nature.

Eriposa Designs — real butterfly-wing jewelry ($50)

10. Wildlife on your walls

Choose from a variety of displays with butterflies encased in clear acrylic frames, each with an interesting color palette and design. The clear acrylic frames allow the viewer to appreciate the three-dimensional beauty of these insects.

Butterflies in acrylic frames ($76.95 - $112)

11. Fly away home

This iridescent orange-and-gold metal butterfly sculpture is sure to add some eye-catching flare to any room in the home. These beautiful butterfly-themed wall decorations of all shapes and sizes offer something for everyone on any budget.

Butterfly wall decor ($22)

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

4700 SW 58th Drive, Gainesville, 372-4981

12. Clean slate

Ancient Graffiti's distinctive collection of nature-inspired 4-by-4-inch coasters are made from natural slate and are ideal for saving furniture from water marks and stains. Each piece is hand-crafted by members of this family-owned company, which has been dedicated to creating artisan products for generations.

Slate coasters ($17)

13. Sweet stuff of life

Kanapaha Gardens' signature wildflower honey is collected from naturally managed bee colonies and enriched by the pollen-producing flowers throughout the gardens.

Kanapaha honey ($16)

14. Delicate jewels

These fashionable earrings are handmade from Washi, or traditional Japanese papers, which are fastened together with sterling silver hooks and then coated with a protective lacquer finish.

Handmade Washi jewelry ($13)

15. Bag full of hope

These hand-crafted fair-trade tote bags are made from recycled materials to help support our environment. The purchase of these bags also contributes to reductions in human trafficking: A portion of the proceeds from each bag sold is used to help men, women and children who have been trafficked, impoverished or abandoned to be reintegrated back into society.

StopStart recycled fair-

trade bags ($24)

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