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Sid Enck Jr. at Little Lost Indian

Dolls That Don't Suck

Though Choctaw by blood, Sid Enck Jr. draws inspiration from Apache and Hopi traditions. But his work is hardly traditional. Under the moniker Little Lost Indian, Enck creates mixed-media art that's original and personal—paying homage to the past without attempting to re-create it. His paintings, screen-prints, quilts, sculptures, planters, buttons and sundry creations are bright, mesmerizing and finely crafted in his Mountain View garage-studio. Many are made of scraps—bits of animal bone, shed rattlesnake skin, grip tape and a Redman tobacco pouch (that last one was woven into a quilt). Any one of his pieces make for a unique gift, but his hand-sewn plush Native American dolls (about $28 for a small one, $35 for a slightly larger version, or $75 for a set of three) are an affordable introduction to Enck's art. The hand-drawn characters—stoic faces, earthen hues—are screen-printed on canvas, stitched and stuffed. Little Lost Indian. Select items at Petite Galleria, 205B Jackson St., San Jose; and Littlelostindian.bigcartel.com. (JW)


On the lower part of an office door at Hicklebee's bookshop is a drawing of the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter. The Sharpie-drawn sketch is accompanied by a name few had heard of when its signer stopped by the Willow Glen store 17 years ago: J.K. Rowling. It's one of hundreds of autographs and illustrations left by authors over the years on the walls and doors of the small bookshop. "We want writers to leave their mark here," says Ann Seaton, Hicklebee's manager. Seaton makes sure they leave their mark for patrons, too. Authors frequently visit to sign stacks of books for readings. The autographed copies of young adult novels are kept in a designated corner of the store and sold at no extra cost. There are dozens of titles available. Seaton suggests a pair of books recently released by San Luis Obispo-based husband-and-wife authors Wendelin Van Draanen (Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye, $14) and Mark Huntley Parsons (Road Rash, $14). Also recommended: a wordless, beautifully illustrated children's book by Marla Frazee, The Farmer and the Clown, and New York Times-bestselling young adult novel Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Hicklebee's, 1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. 408.292.8880. hicklebees.com. (JW)

Great Pot(s)

Hsin-Chuen Lin first worked with clay as a child in southern Taiwan, making kilns to cook sweet potatoes on the family farm. It wasn't until years later as a mechanical engineering student that he connected with the art of it, signing up for a ceramics course as an elective. The experience brought him back to his childhood and inspired him to become a potter. Today, the Fremont resident is world-renowned—his award-winning work favors the traditional forms of eastern ceramics and has been featured in museums, private collections, books, magazines and art shows. The soft-spoken artist has also become a global Internet sensation. His YouTube tutorials, first posted in 2010, have garnered well over a million views. The self-produced videos are mostly silent except for the whirring of the pottery wheel. They show Lin, who shoots the tutorials at his home studio, shaping the clay, sharing with anyone the techniques he's mastered through decades of craftsmanship. His online presence has elevated him to celebrity in the pottery world and spurred an outpouring of gratitude—fans flood his inbox and social media accounts with thanks for helping them improve their craft. Lin sells his work on Etsy and off his website. Prices range from $50 for mugs to $240-plus for teapots and vases. Hsin-Chuen Lin ceramics, mypots.net. Or at Petite Galleria, 205B Jackson St., San Jose. (JW)

Ukulele SourceUkulele Jams

Ukulele + Lessons

When organizing concerts for ukulele legends Herb Ohta Jr., Nathan Aweau and others, Hawaiian music promoters Smiley and Janet Kai would often hear questions from the audience about where they could buy a ukulele of their own. In the Bay Area at the time, the answer was nowhere. So, in 2008, they opened up their own boutique, Ukulele Source, in San Jose's Japantown. The price of the quaint little instruments range from $60 starters to a $2,900 rosewood ukulele handcrafted by renowned guitar and ukulele artisan Pepe Romero Jr. For the beginner, Janet suggests practicing on a piece in the double-digit range. Even better, gifts can be paired with lessons across the street at Ukulele Jams, where $90 a month gets weekly 45-minute lessons. Ukulele Source, 599 N. Fifth St., San Jose. 408.998.2640. ukulelesource.com. For lessons: Ukulele Jams, 208 Jackson St., San Jose. 408.217.8241. ukulelejams.com. (JW)

The New Great American Novel

Failing Sky—an online graphic novel by genderqueer Santa Clara painter, puppeteer and, now, novelist Dax Tran-Caffee—is the story of a sinking yacht as told by the inanimate objects that go down with it. The webcomic, through a series of gorgeous illustrations, regales the viewer with tales of a stolen sailboat, a teen detective, a heartbroken ghost and rampaging giant robots. Tran-Cafee's novel, whose four storylines and 30 chapters will be uploaded as they're drawn through 2015, features male characters who get rewarded for their vulnerability, female protagonists who succeed through leadership instead of a good ass-kicking, sex scenes that don't reinforce rape culture, and transgender characters with uplifting narratives instead of sob stories. The work-in-progress has already earned national attention and a Will Eisner comic industry award. The author also sells prints, including an off-black linocut with the novel's title printed on cream cotton paper ($20 or more, depending on whether it's signed). A 20-page first print proof edition of the novel ($8) will also be available through Jan. 1. Available online at failingsky.com. Or at Petite Galleria, 205B Jackson St., San Jose. (JW)

Silver Screen

For more than 25 years, the Stanford Theatre has been the best place on the Peninsula to catch classic films. A real-live person plays the theater's Wurlitzer organ before and after 7:30pm showings of silver screen gems from the Golden Age of Hollywood. This holiday season, the theater is showing 1933's Little Women, 1947's Miracle on 34th Street and 1946's It's a Wonderful Life. For $24, you can get a four-ticket gift certificate for the movie buff in your life. Stanford Theatre, 221 University Ave, Palo Alto. 650.324.3700 (NV)

Frank InteriorsFrank Interiors

For Starters

Frank's current exterior display consists of a giant human hand adorned with creepy rubber animal masks, plus a parti-colored sheet metal rooster and several large steel letters. What the hell is going on here? Answer: That. Kristy Kent collects and scavenges whatever tickles her fancy to stock her shop, so those who have a specific gift already in mind need not apply. Instead, browse among shiny gold child statues, dangling glass fern holders sans-fern, hipster tote-bags—whatever, the gift will find you. Prices vary. Frank Interiors, 9 Montebello Way, Los Gatos. 408.316.3329. (SL)

Vintage toys

Marji, owner of Radio Daze, welcomes any and all antique hunters who pop in, no matter how long they spend picking through the myriad nostalgia-inducers: retro toys, records, posters, magazines, you name it. It's a grab bag, but in the best way. Instead of buying a gift here, it might be even better to take the giftee along for a day of collecting. Radio Daze & Collectibles, 313 E Campbell Ave, Campbell. 408.379.4613. (SL)

Leather Bound Books

Whether your apartment smells of rich mahogany or not, the vintage (and modern) books at Bell's Books in Palo Alto are the perfect way to ensure that the avid reader on your list stays classy. From a first edition print of Tom Sawyer Abroad to newer paperback titles, Bell's has a wide selection. And with two-story, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and an assortment of antique bookends and other vintage knick-knacks, the store offers a shopping experience unlike any other. Bell's Books, 536 Emerson St, Palo Alto. 650.323.7822 (NV)

Used Tomes

Take a moment to appreciate the locally owned bookstores who have survived The Bookening (a.k.a. Borders, then B&N and now Amazon) and emerged as community mainstays. An employee at Recycle Book Store in Campbell—there's also a location in San Jose—said sales have been strong. It seems the focus on re-selling used books rather than pushing the latest hardbacks has become a viable business model. Real book lovers know there's nothing better than that old book smell. Recycle Book Store, 275 E Campbell Ave, Campbell. 408.370-3514; and 1066 The Alameda, San Jose. 408.286.6275. (SL)

Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy WorldPalo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World

Real Toys

Bouncy balls for the playground or dodge ball, wooden train-track sets, Legos, plain old building blocks—and no video games. Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World is a great place to find hands-on, brain-engaging toys for kids from toddlers to early teens. Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World, 526 Waverley St, Palo Alto. 650.328.8555 (NV)

Bike Partay

Established in 1930 and headquartered downtown since '73, Palo Alto Bicycles has long been a go-to for all your Silicon Valley cycling needs. Whether you're looking for a trail or road bike, gear, customization or repairs, their store, shop and knowledgeable staff are ready to help. Ask to see their list of holiday special items ranging from $25-$200. Palo Alto Bicycles, 171 University Ave, Palo Alto. 650.328.7411 (NV)

Get Your Fix

If you prefer tight-fitting jeans to spandex on your bike rides, you might be on the hunt for a fixed gear bike. In that case you should pay a visit to iMiNUSD—your one-stop shop for all your fixie needs. iMiNUSD Fixed Gear Boutique, 112 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose. 855.256.0616 (NV)

Adult Toys | Top to Bottoms | Stomach Stuffers