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Small, Handmade and Exclusively Los Gatos

May 28, 2012

As far as I’m concerned, my job here is to entertain, inform and tease.  However, life is more than a bowl of rock and roll cherries and tales about drunken artists, though that is a pretty big world, I have had to deal with some pretty negative stuff as well.  But, in the interest of keeping the attitude here one of a mildly rollicking historical ramble, I have set up a completely separate blog to expose the “dark side” as Darth Vader would say.  I call this new blog “Blackside” and if you dare want to explore, click blackside04.wordpress.com.  Enough said here.

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Does anyone know why they cut down the old Oak in front of the Old Town building that recently was Border’s Books??  What they cut looked pretty healthy to me.  It made a lot of great shade, as well as a nice little environment. 

The old school’s auditorium way before it was Borders Books, The Old Town Theater

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Considering that they just revived the Town Plaza lawn, is anyone still going to talk about artificial grass?

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And since we are bringing up minor little concerns in the downtown area, has anyone checked out Valerie Preston’s little jewelry shop at the end of the “strip center” where Mr. Pickles sandwich shop is?  Valerie’s work is in the same tradition as the guys who first populated the Old Town shops in the mid-1960s.  This isn’t an advertisement but it is in support of lone artist who has the gumption to put it out there and give it a try.  Valerie is young enough to be the granddaughter of any of us she but she is spunky enough to put,  into this cold, cruel world, this unique jewelry she makes using techniques that she developed on her own.  I’m no sort of jewelry expert but I really appreciate the handmade simplicity that can be so fine and delicate and downright gorgeous.  And besides all this, she has the greatest eyes, always twinkling.

Check out her eyes and her work at  her shop at 151 Santa Cruz Avenue, Unit C or click on  http://www.prestonjewelry.com.  But, really guys, go to her shop and shower her with accolades, I’m sure you will make her blush.

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Well, maybe not???  Seems like she handles herself pretty well.

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And if you mosey down Santa Cruz Avenue just one more block, you will come onto the small shop of Trent Pottery who actually predates Old Town itself.  Trent was teaching pottery at Villa Montalvo Art Center to some of our now renown artists when they were just young punks.  Trent is still very busy and keeping his kiln fired.  His shop is just the tip of the iceberg.  His cute and charming wife, Gracie mans the shop which displays the more expected cups, serving platters, bowls, mugs and such, but barely hints at the huge variety of tiles and specialty ceramic devices Trent has developed over the years.

At the foot of the Mountain Charely’s stairway leading up to the Saloon is a ceramic sign done by Trent at your feet, made up of entry tiles that have worn surprisingly well since the Saloon opened 40 years ago, in 1972.

Several years later, Trent made a set of sinks for the rest rooms of the fabulous, new “fern bar,” Number One Broadway.   Modifications necessary to meet disability requirements were the demise of these custom sinks.  Much more to come about Trent Thompson and his work.

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One other fairly unknown downtown heirloom business is Gina’s, a store of which I actually know very little.  It is located at Main Street and Park, between LG Coffee Roasting and the Main Street bridge.  It sells hand made imports from Africa, the South Seas and other places.  The store was started by the current proprietress’ mother.  I’ve never seen a lot of activity there but she has some very cool stuff.  Several times over lunch, my buddies and I have tried to determine the oldest, continuously operating business in the downtown area of Los Gatos.  No one has bothered to look at the records, but, according to the collective memory it seems to be a tie between Gina’s and the Black Watch.

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The Black Watch is no mystery, Gina’s is.  Let’s check that one out too.

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