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Art, Craft, and Hobby


1007 University Avenue, Berkeley.

(510) 649-4800. M-Sat 9:30-6, Th until 8, Sun 11-6. MC, VISA, AE, DIS. Parking: lot.

(Other stores: 1013 University Avenue, Berkeley; 5251 Broadway, Oakland; 5424 Geary Blvd., San Francisco; 1279 Boulevard Way, Walnut Creek.)

Discounts at its four retail stores have always been gratifying, but the new warehouse outlet next door to its Berkeley site is where you'll find Amsterdam's best deals. This is where overstocks, closeouts, and special purchases of paints, brushes, easels, pads, canvas, and more end up at 50% discounts and higher. It's geared towards volume buyers with many products packaged in multiples or sold by the dozen (aka Costco). Savvy art students combine purchases to get the deals, while teachers stretch budgets with the bulk buys. From time to time, special purchases allow for some out-of-the-ordinary buys. Summer 99's creative activity kits for kids at 50% off must have provided vacation entertainment for legions of kids. Any heavy-duty user of art materials should keep a close eye on this outlet. Amsterdam's four other stores (dis-counts of 20-40% off) offer a much broader array of supplies, materials, graphic, architectural, and engineering resources. Amsterdam's fine paper department offers more than 700 types of papers. Fine writing instruments from Montblanc, Parker,
Waterman, Sheaffer, Aurora, Tombow, and Lamy are all sold at 10-20% discounts. Amsterdam has a good selection of prefab frames at solid discount prices; precut mats, discounts on glass, and framing sections for the do-it-yourselfer; and in-house custom frame orders competitively priced with other frame shops.



559 Sixth Street, San Francisco.

(415) 982-0680. M-F 7-5, Sat 8:30-4. Cash/Check. Parking: street/lot.

Fantastico's warehouse has just about everything for craft-oriented people. It stocks an extensive selection of dried and silk flowers (exotic specimens you see beautifully arranged in fancy stores), plus all the makings to put them together: tapes, wires, ribbons, foam, etc. My favorite is florist ribbon in rolls for gift wrapping at one-third the cost of the Hallmark kind. Its aisle of ribbons is unsurpassed. Come here for holiday decorations and ideas. It also has baskets, plastic flowers and fruits, dollhouses, ceramics, garden statuary, and many accessory items. Prices to the general public are usually 10-30% lower than stores closer to home, except for paper party supplies, which are competitive with all the other party discount stores. Nice wedding department, and 10% off on wedding and party invitations from several books.



77 Geary Boulevard, Second Floor, San Francisco. (415) 956-5750. E-mail- T-Sat 11:30-5:30. Cash/Check. Parking: street.

The Art Exchange is a wonderful resource for those who have art that no longer fits their lifestyles. Perhaps they've moved, gone through a divorce, inherited art that doesn't suit their decor or taste, or redecorated. The gallery resells artwork, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and other objets d'art. The only requirement is that it be original: no reproductions like posters or photographs. The emphasis is on contemporary art. There are water-colors, monoprints, woodcuts, sculptures, carvings, etchings, oils, and more, at prices ranging from $300 to $30,000 and including the works of famous artists like Henrietta Berk, Gary Bukovnik, Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miro, and Robert Motherwell alongside those of lesser-known talents. Before you bring your art in, call the owner to discuss what you'd like to place on consignment and its price. When the work is sold, the gallery gets one-third of the selling price. Documentation about the artist or the work is especially desirable.



41 14th Street, San Francisco

(415) 431-7122. M-F 9-4. MC, VISA. Parking: street.

(Other store: Annex, 50 13th Street, San Francisco. Sat only 10-5.)

Arts & Craft Supplies is an outlet for an importer and distributor of many of the categories of merchandise you find in major arts and crafts supply stores: painting supplies, acrylic paints, pens, glues, lace, transfer type, paper goods, beads (lots and lots!), macrame, inks, brushes, basketry, doll parts and accessories, craft patterns and magazines, jewelry findings, jute, oil paints, floral supplies, wedding and shower favors, and more. Organization may not be the outlet's strong suit, but keeping such a convoluted inventory in order would defy all but the pathologically organized. Most folks like the mess—it seems more in keeping with one's expectation of an outlet. Pick up a shopping basket—1 guarantee you'll find goodies you didn't know you wanted as you stroll along the long wall, with its merchandise dangling offpegboards and stashed on shelves. Discontinued or surplus merchandise is usually at least 50% off original retail. (Expect some surprises—the company picks up some very interesting inventory, buying up entire booths at trade shows.) Small craft manufacturers or anyone else interested in volume purchases may have access to additional discounts. Inquire! Shop on Saturdays at the company's annex, located a block away.



1501 Powell Street, Suite A, Emeryville.

(510) 547-8469. W only Noon-5:30 (or by appointment). MC, VISA, DIS. Parking: street.

Make sure it's Wednesday (or call for an appoint-ment) before setting out to replenish your candle stock. This outlet sells two lines of candles: one specifically for Jewish holidays—shendl's candls— the other perfect for any time lovely candles are appropriate. All candles are made of pure bees-wax: in honeycomb, smooth finish, or solid. Most candles are sold in boxes or in pairs and priced 30-50% below retail as seconds or overruns. A 12-inch pair of dinner candles at retail runs about $10; for overruns you'll pay about $6. Pillars, fluted tapers, chime, and birthday candles in gorgeous colors add beauty to entertaining and special holiday occasions. The Shabbat, Chanukah, and Havdalah candles are dripless, virtually smokeless, and emit a fresh honey scent. Make your own candles after buying sheets of honeycomb beeswax and the candlemaking kits that are sold here. Beeswax candles in all shapes and sizes work especially well with rustic accessories and decorations that are popular now-the new natural look sweeping the home accessories industry. An unusual selection ofcandleholders are priced at $2.50 to $150. Add your name to the mailing list for invitations to special sales prior to Chanukah and Christmas. Note: The outlet is located under the Powell Street overpass with its entrance on Landregan, next to the accommo-dating Amtrak parking lot.



60 Galli Drive (Bel Marin Keys business park), Novato. (415) 883-7220. M-F 9-5, Sat 11-5. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Increase your stash of candles by stopping by the Candle Factory, where you'll find your senses overpowered by the combined fragrances used in candlemaking here. Because the candles are made on the premises, you can buy at reduced prices (sometimes just very minimal savings). These dripless and smokeless candles are made of organic domestic ingredients, and it's claimed they outburn imported ones. Occasionally you'll find specials when a wheel runs off color or a tint proves unpopular. Seeking wellness? Then you'll appreciate the line of holistic healing candles.



1223 Donnelly Avenue, Burlingame.

(650) 343-0804. T-Sat 10-7. Sun 11-6. MC, VISA, DIS. Parking: city lots.

At this fragrant and charming outlet tucked inside a vintage cottage behind the big Pottery Barn on Burlingame Avenue, discontinued candles, seconds, and occasional surplus candles are reduced in price at least 50% off original retails. The manufacturer keeps some very high profile company: it supplies gift candles and other candle accessories to trendsetting lifestyle stores, major department stores, and upscale gift stores and provides candles under private labels for famous collections. All the candles are scented with fragrances made exclusively in France (vanilla, cedar, bergamot, ylang-ylang, exotic woods, melon/cucumber,etc.). Aromatherapy candles with 100% essential oils are in the collection. The candles are distinctive—rounds in several sizes have inset designs around the sides of the candles, including flowers, herbs, leaves, starfish, cinnamon sticks, hot red peppers, stars, and even dress-maker buttons (in silver or gold). The patterns are illuminated as the candles burn down through the center (no drips over the sides). Plain candle rounds come in a crayon-box range of colors. Assume anything wrapped in cellophane is first quality; other "bare" candles are usually seconds.

The candle beauties are pricey at retail—a 3-by-3-inch round $12 to $14 at retail is at least half off as discontinued, up to 80% off as a second. Ditto for first-quality 4-by-6-inch rounds at $28 to
$34 at retail. Discontinued and seconds ofthree-to five-wick candles range from $20 to $30; plain (but fragrant) 3-by-9-inch columns hover around $8; and square-shaped aromatherapy candles are $5 or less. Lots of little candle accessories are left over-flat bases (tiles, recycled glass, slate) to protect furniture, plus vases, soaps, and other gift
items recently part of the company's line. Locals stop in frequently to scout for bimonthly special promotions. Expanded hours between Thanks-giving and Christmas.



4249 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco.

(415) 221-4720. M-Sat 10-6, W-Th until 8, Sun Noon-5. MC, VISA, DIS. Parking: street.

(Other stores: 11 East Fourth Avenue, San Mateo; Montecito Plaza, San Rafael; 1666 Locust Street, Walnut Creek.)

If you have travel posters, prints, and family photos languishing in your closets and drawers because the cost of framing far exceeds the price of the picture, Cheap Pete's comes to the rescue with more than 10,000 ready-made frames in sizes ranging from 3-by-5-inch to 30-by-40-inch, including hard-to-find 4-by-6 and 5-by-5. The frames, available in metal, Plexiglas, and wood (styles for all decors), are wonderfully discounted. Also tabletop, collage, and frames for gift giving. You'll achieve maximum savings (20-60% off) if you select a ready-made frame; on custom framing expect savings of 20-40% off pricey frame shops. Labor costs and overhead are kept down by doing custom work on a production-line basis. Also, volume purchasing of frames and using leftover materials result in the discount prices.



2441 San Ramon Valley Boulevard #4, Diablo Plaza, San Ramon.

(925) 829-3428. M-Sat 10-6, Sun Noon-5. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Collector's Corner sells original art—numbered and limited editions—at nicely discounted prices. Its inventory is quite eclectic, ranging from very modest prints to more expensive (investment) pieces priced in the hundreds and even thousands. By far the largest part of the selection is in the middle range of framed pieces selling for
$195 to $350. Markdowns on designated pieces can reach 30-40% off comparable prices at other galleries. Those able to spend big bucks (thou-sands) might be able to order a piece of art that they have seen in another fine art gallery and save 20-40% on the framed piece. The selection will appeal to the sophisticated connoisseur as well as those who simply want an affordable lithograph. Written certification on everything guarantees
authenticity. Artists in the collection include Thomas Pradzynski, Eidenberger, Viktor Shvaiko, Buckles, Thomas Kinkade, Mark King, Barbara Wood, S. Sam Parks, Sabzi, Royo, G. Gordon, Don Hatfield, Kati Roberts, Ming Feng, Jim Buckles, Fairchild, and many others. Framing prices are about 20-30% below typical frame shops.



1604 Fourth Street (corner of F Street), San Rafael.

(415) 456-1211. M-Sat 10-6. MC, VISA, DIS. Parking: lot.

If the textile artist in you needs an avenue for expression, Dharma Trading can provide the essentials for you to paint your wardrobe. It carries dyes and coloring agents for fabric painting, silk-screening, batiking, etc. The company provides excellent information and how-to advice. It also offers a wide range of cotton and silk fabrics ready for dyeing. Even better, each piece in its extensive inventory of ready-made clothing for babies, children, and adults in "naked white" cotton and silk needs only a dip in the dye or a brush stroke before it's transformed into an original creation.
Apparel includes baby sets, basic T-shirts, body-
wear, dresses, jumpers, scarf blanks, rompers, and other styles. The store's yarn brings in many women, who carefully check for special markdowns on this out-of-the-ordinary selection. Dharma satisfies the needs of "cottage industry" apparel manufacturers as well as just plain folks. To get the full picture, write or call for a catalog: P.O. Box 150916, San Rafael, CA 94915, or (800) 542-5227.



1547Jayken Way #B, Chula Vista, CA, 91911.

(800) 854-6606. M-F 7-3:30. MC, VISA.

This mail-order company specializes in preassembled frames and wood sectionals for assembling your own frames at home. Many preassembled frames come complete with linen liners (some with gold or wood lips) in many different finishes: antique white, Renaissance gold, walnut, drift-wood, cherry, oak, pewter, etc. Prices are good: a 12-by-16-inch frame ranges from $12.50 to $29.50. Custom wood sectionals are sold by the pair. The framing finishes available offer lots of design choices—traditional, ornate, contemporary, or natural, in widths ranging from 3/4 to 2 1/2 inches. Order two pairs for a frame and you'll receive four miter clips for easy joining. No special tools are needed, although wood glue is recommended for more secure joining. (Glue and hangers are not included.) To finish the project you may have to go to a local resource for mats and glass. Nielsen metal sectionals, linen liners, Fredrix stretched canvas, and oval stretched canvas are also available. The catalog features color pictures of its frames, but if you're still not certain about a particular framing finish, you can order samples for a small charge (to cover shipping). Call for a catalog and join all the corporations, schools, and galleries that have discovered this money-saving option for framing.



156 Russ Street, San Francisco. (415) 621-4226. M-F 9-5:30, Sat 9-2. MC, VISA. Parking: limited street (two spaces marked Tenant Only).

This business is not paying a high-priced rent in a commercial district, and it passes the savings on to its customers through lower prices. It's a do-it-yourself frame shop only if you buy all the materials and assemble them at home, an option for artists who find that the $6.39 to $13.50 assembly charge adds up when they're framing many pictures for exhibit or sale. Aluminum framing and custom wood frames are available. You can select budget-priced materials to frame an inexpensive picture or print, or go first class with museum-quality materials for conservation mounting of fine art-works. Prices on aluminum frames are often lower than at do-it-yourself frame shops, even when all the work is done for you. Prices on basic conservation matting are also lower, but on the more elaborate fabric and French detail mats, Framers is competitive.



637 Minna Street, San Francisco.

(415) 621-8187. T-Sat 10-5, Th until 7, Sun 1-4. VISA, MC, DIS. Parking: street.

The General Bead store in San Francisco is a serious bead wholesaler and the largest bead retailer in Northern California. Anyone willing to meet wholesale minimums (which vary from item to item) can buy at wholesale. However, those without resale numbers will have to pay appropriate taxes. Those interested in buying in smaller quantities will be charged retail prices. The store's strength is its high-fashion beads for the style-conscious client. Its main focus is on glass beads and on Austrian crystal pieces. The beads, in all varieties (ethnic, glass, bone, shell, pearl, antique, sterling, crystal, ceramic, brass, etc.) from around the world, are not readily available anyplace else. With two floors and 25,000 items in inventory, General Bead also offers artists metal studs, sequins, and rhinestones, plus such "tools and fixin's" as jewelry findings and much more. Be warned: The staff is geared toward working with professionals, and there's no time for counter seminars for novices about the esoterics of making jewelry.



2103 Brentwood Street, High Point, NC 27263.

Catalog requests and orders (800) 221-0262. Daily 24 hours. MC, VISA, DIS.

Graphik Dimensions Ltd. is a mail-order company that publishes a catalog for consumers and volume frame users, including smaller frame shops. Its prices are the result of volume buying of framing materials. Most small frame shops pay a premium price to keep a wide variety of wood molding and aluminum framing on hand. Graphik offers preassembled frames in 5-by-7 to 14-by-18 inches (some to 24-by-30 inches), with prices ranging from $9.95 to $43.95. Several styles have linen liners. Sectional metal/aluminum or lacquer-finished frames are easy to assemble, with the hardware, hangers, and spring clips provided. Custom-made frames are just that—assembled at the factory and shipped to you. Frames larger than 50 inches are shipped in sections with an easy assembly kit. Turn page after page in the catalog and you'll see that almost every style of frame molding is available, whether you want an ornate gold-finished carved frame, a faux stone finish, burled wood, hand-lacquered, contemporary wood, touches of silver or gold, or a frame with a linen liner or antique brass corners. You don't have to buy blind. You can order a free sample of the metal or custom-made wood moldings. Precut acid-free mats, glass, and nonglare plastic in standard sizes are also available. Service is another point of pride for the company. Most orders are shipped within forty-eight hours. Shipping costs in many cases are offset by the fact that no sales tax is charged.



565 Sutter Street, San Francisco.

(415) 434-4264. M-Sat 10-6, Sun Noon-5. MC, VISA, AE, DIS. Parking: pay lots.

If you're ready to upgrade from college era posters to real adult art, but not yet ready to spend the big bucks on fine art displayed by most of the galleries in the heart of San Francisco, there's hope to be found at Hang. Its mission is to provide high-quality art at affordable prices; its motto is "emerging artists for emerging collectors." The 4,000 square feet of Hang features the works of approximately 40 emerging artists at any one time who are working to gain exposure and build a collector base. The majority of work in a wide variety of contemporary styles and media sells for under $2,000. Hang's approach is to make neophytes comfortable (no snooty here), with artist biographies posted by the work so visitors can get some immediate insight into a particular artist's background, motivation, and process. As an alternative to purchasing, Hang offers a rental program that allows customers to either evaluate a piece before purchasing or simply refresh their surroundings by rotating their art



New San Francisco address pending.

(415) 703-0086. Hours pending. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Leesen will be at a new location by January 2000. It must leave its SOMA location so the building can be converted to a high-tech facility. Its Web site is probably the best way to keep in touch if you're looking for a dramatic gold-finished frame for a picture or mirror. Leesen frames are made out of a hardwood from China called "cham," which is used in construction, being especially good for lintels and other load-bearing applications. Most Leesen frames have handcrafted comer ornaments that are made from a chip-resistant resin compound. (This compound is different from the easily chipped plaster that some framers use.) Unlike most machine-made soft wood molding frames with exposed seams, Leesen's corner ornaments are made to discreetly cover the seams of the joints. The detailed designs give the frames an elegant (sometimes ornate) look without being overpowering or overdone, making them suitable accents for many rooms. The frames are hand-finished with gold leaf that will not dull or tarnish over time. Leesen is not a custom frame shop; the frames are fully assembled in popular sizes from 8-by-10 inches to 30-by-40 inches. Those who have shopped around will find that the frame prices are substantially lower than the prices on comparable frames—even on many look-alike frames made from softer woods like pine (often imported from Mexico). Taking the savings even further, the company's prices on plain or beveled mirrors are lower, and there's no charge for mirror assembly. Any way you look at it, these frames and framed mirrors offer a good value/quality/price ratio.



Factory Stores at Vacaville, Vacaville.

(707) 446-6448. Daily. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Beeswax candles are virtually drip-free, burn smoke-free, and last longer than petroleum-based candles. Mitchell's Beeswax Candles are expensive—some would say extravagant—and are sold in gift stores around the globe. A pair of 10-inch silhouette tapers may be priced $20 to $25 at these stores; but at the factory store you'll pay about $17. The store offers a complete range of pillars and tapers in a setting that's hard to resist.



Building A, Fort Mason Center (at Buchanan and Marina), San Francisco.

(415) 441-4777. T-Sat 11:30-5:30; closed August. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

This gallery's goal is to give new artists exposure; you get an excellent chance to take part in the beginning of an artist's career at a very low cost. You can rent a painting, sculpture, or photograph for a two-month period, with the option of renting for another two months. If you decide to buy, half the rental fee applies toward the purchase price. Rental fees vary: an artwork with a purchase price of $300 to $399 rents for $44 for two months, while an $800 to $900 work would rent for $72. Many corporate offices, restaurants, and film companies come here for fine art to display. A suggestion: When selling your home, rent a dramatic piece of art to increase the buyer appeal. Regulars anticipate the gallery's major museum fund-raiser held each June. The fund-raiser consists of a special sale at which artists donate their works to be sold at 50% off regular prices. All proceeds go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.



370 Hayes Street, San Francisco.

(415) 552-7392. T-Sat 11-6, Th until 8. MC, VISA. Parking: street.

This group has been around since women wore long skirts and wide-brimmed hats as they did their plein-air sketching in the fields near San Francisco—in other words, more than 100 years. The gallery is staffed by its members and volunteers (many past members have acquired fame and fortune). Members' exhibits change every month and the expressions are diverse—abstractionists, realists, expressionists, landscapists; painters, etchers, sculptors, etc. There is a rental gallery allowing art lovers to acquire an original piece on a payment plan, to take it home for a trial period before making a permanent buying decision, or just to borrow one for a limited period to brighten up a room for a particular occasion. In the gallery stands, many smaller works of art are available at reasonable prices, a good starting place for beginning collectors.



12147 Alcosta Boulevard, San Ramon.

(925) 833-8764. M-F 11-5:30, Th 10-9, Sat 9:30-5:30, Sun Noon-5. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

If you think a little savings is better than none at all, you'll be satisfied with the 20% discounts reflected on the marked prices on stamps and papers from 300 companies. This modest operation shows just how popular stamping and creating scrapbooks has become. Customers are stamping papers (invitations, giftwrap, stationery, etc.), fabrics, lamp shades, and sundry other items. The costs on the paraphernalia can add up for the enthusiastic stamp/book crafter—stamps, stamp pads, inks, glitter, papers, stickers, and more. The warehouse offers more than 1,000 stamp images displayed along two walls of the outlet. Check the center tables for extra-special closeouts. The faithful look forward to special paper sales in March and October, and clearance sales in August and December. Directions: From Highway 680, take the Bollinger Canyon exit east. Turn right on Alcosta. Located in the Country Faire Shopping Center.



3006 San Pablo Avenue (corner of Ashby), Berkeley. (510) 548-5247. T-F Noon-5:30, Sat 10-5:30. MC, VISA. Parking: street.

If your pleasure comes from knitting or crocheting a fine-quality treasure, you'll want to use a natural fiber commensurate with the time you're going to spend making it. Straw Into Gold's customers approach this store as if making a pilgrimage to a religious shrine. Its attraction? One of the most impressive selections of fibers on the West Coast. This company serves a clientele of weavers, machine knitters, stores, and the public. The bar-gains are in the center aisle's baskets of closeout yams and in the "cone" selection. It's much cheaper to buy off the cone, priced by the pound. You can save about 30% if you buy a whole cone (unused portions can be returned within six months for a refund). You'll also find notions, supplies, wonderful buttons, and more. Inquire about receiving a catalog and price list for mail orders.



3400-D De La Cruz Boulevard, Santa Clara

(408) 727-1995. M-F 9-4:30, Sat by appointment only. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Catering to artists, galleries, and interior designers, Up Against the Wall primarily uses aluminum frames, as well as lovely wood framing materials, at prices about 15% below standard frame shops (higher discounts on quantity orders). If you have works to frame, you have two options: You can have the work done here from start to finish, or you can do it yourself at home, after purchasing the materials. This is a time-saver of special value to artists who may be framing a number of pieces at once for a show or fair. Many rely on this outfit to locate poster art that's not readily available in the mall stores. Call for directions.



1661 Botelho Drive, Suite 110, Walnut Creek.

(925) 935-4311. T-Sat 11-5. MC, VISA. Parking: lot.

Valley Art exhibits, sells, and rents the work of established and emerging artists. Artists submit work to a jury of professionals for inclusion in its sales and rental program. There's a nice selection of original canvases priced $150 to $3,000. More than 200 artists are represented. The gallery also sells fine crafts, jewelry, and sculpture by talented local artisans. Rental periods extend for three months starting at $10/month.



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