DIY Gifts in Honolulu

At these do-it-yourself boutiques, you can whip up gifts for others— or keep the goods for yourself.

Photo: David Croxford

The Clay Café

The Clay Café has become a destination for budding romances. “I see a lot of couples that come in on dates,” says owner Donna Kaneshiro. “It’s more interactive than a movie.” Painters of all ages and experience levels can head into this paint-your-own ceramic boutique, pick a piece and let their creative juices flow. Kaneshiro and her staff then fire the pieces in a kiln; customers pick them up a few days later. Kids are drawn to the animal figurines, while adults enjoy painting mugs, bowls and plates. Kaneshiro says she’s also planning on expanding into DIY mosaics and T-shirt designs. Ward Warehouse, 589-1808,


Photo: David Croxford

The Bead Gallery

Don’t know what to get your sister for Christmas? Or your friend for Chanukah? Make them one-of-kind beaded necklaces or sterling silver earrings at The Bead Gallery. This 13-year-old bead shop offers custom classes; you choose what you want to make, when you want to make it. “They’re one-on-one and focus on a technique,” says owner Jamie Yoshida. “You spend time designing something you want to make.” The custom classes are $60 for an hour and a half. You’ll work with a wide array of beads—such as Swarovski crystals, handcrafted lampwork beads, pearls, pendants, buttons and more—with the tools, too. 250 Ward Ave., Suite 200, 589-2600,


Photo: David Croxford

Island Glassworks

For the first of half of December, Island Glassworks owner Geoff Lee will hold  ornament-making classes in his Kailua studio. For $25, students can learn to design and color their own ornaments and “breath life” into them during the glass blowing process, says Lee. “It’s a great experience and I can expose people to how glass is made,” he says. Lee also teaches glass paperweight classes, and six-hour intensive classes as well as weekly sessions that meet for a month. “The most popular is the [six-hour] class; you make three or four paperweights in the morning and blow glass in the afternoon.” 171-A Hamakua Drive, 263-4527,

Photo: David Croxford

The Soap Box

Steve Cromwell has been making soap for more than 14 years. Cromwell and his wife, JoAnn Takushi, ran their own soap making company, and after closing this year, decided to spread their knowledge of the fragrant, cleansing bars. They partnered with the The Academy Art Center at Linekona, where Cromwell teaches beginner and advanced soap-making classes (this month’s is on Dec. 5). “We have a lot of fun,” says Cromwell. “I like the art of it; the colors and shapes—you can’t beat a handmade bar of soap.” He gives a brief overview of soap’s history and then explains the technical aspects and safety tips before the class makes its own soap. Students go home with a three-pound block of soap, which, after curing for three to four weeks, can be cut into bars. 284-6170, Call the Academy at 532-8741 to register for classes.

Photo: David Croxford


Wine the Experience

“People say it feels like they’re being transported to a small winery when they step into Wine the Experience,” says owner Shannon Ball. The DIY wine shop is, in fact, part winery, and part shop. Ball and his staff hold wine tastings at which customers choose the types of grapes they want to bottle—the shop features 60 varieties—and then the grapes are fermented in barrels on site. After two to three months, the wine is ready. “We host bottling parties where you bottle it, cork it and label it. We take care of everything, but no grape stomping,” he laughs. The process yields 30 bottles, and is perfect for gifts and parties, says Ball. 1016 Kapahulu Ave., Suite 1, 738-0738,



Photo: David Croxford



Did You Know

Island Glassworks is the only glass studio open to the public and is a hot- and cold-glass facility. Owner Geoff Lee uses the space for his own work, but rents it out to burgeoning blowers, too. The studio also houses a gallery, where Lee sells his finished pieces.