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Giving out gifts straight from the heart
Take time to make or buy handmade treasures
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This is one of local artist Melike Yurttas’ beaded necklaces. - photo by NAT GURLEY

It’s easy to tell a gift comes from the heart when it’s made by hand.

Melike Yurttas, of Oakwood, often makes personalized trinkets and home decor items for her friends and family.

Yurttas, a freelance architect and native of Istanbul, Turkey, has always been creative but didn’t start experimenting with crafts until four years ago. She began by making fabric beads by winding glue-coated scraps of fabric around straws for necklaces. After making several pieces of jewelry with colorful tubular beads, Yurttas decided she wanted to try something a little different.

“I love fabric and textiles and textures but I don’t like to sew,” she said. “I wanted to see what I could do. I always am looking for something new.”

After “a lot of trial and error,” the Oakwood woman found she could create beads of any size or shape by wrapping solid forms, such as blocks, rocks or balls, with crochet thread and glue. The end result was a hollow, transparent structure that could become anything from a time capsule to a painting. She calls the art form fiber-mache and it didn’t take long for Yurttas to realize other crafters would enjoy learning how to make their own creations, too. 

Yurttas said she wanted to encourage other people to be creative so she shared what she’d learned through years of experimentation in an e-book, ‘Fiber-Mache Inc.’ The book is available online at for $9.99.

For area residents not as creatively inclined or blessed with crafting ability, finding a sentimental memento may be the next best bet.

But since you know it’s the thought that counts, you’ve been on the lookout for something really special, right?

Fortunately, you’ve got options. 

The Main Street Gainesville 2013 holiday ornament would make a great gift for someone who has fond memories of the city. Each year, the ornament features a different location in the city. The ornament honors the city’s status as the poultry capital of the world and features Poultry Park, which was established in 1977.

The ornaments are $20 and available at downtown stores including Saul’s, Frames You Nique, Corner Cottage, Carol’s Closet, the Ship Station, Cozy Corner and the Main Street Office.

“These are really a unique gift, especially if you have a friend or family member who maybe lived in Gainesville or moved away,” Main Street Gainesville Manager Regina Mansfield said.

The money raised from the sale of the ornaments goes back into Main Street Gainesville to provide community activities and programs. 

Mansfield said shoppers are likely to find more additional items in many of the downtown stores.