Gift Guide: 7 Cordova-only gifts for your “nice” list

A few ideas to shop local this holiday season and give something special to those on your “nice” – and maybe even your “naughty” – list

At Current Rhythms, dance classes are a blend of various art forms and dance styles. The dancers learn to choreograph their own original pieces and often inspire others to dance, including these two dancers who taught themselves break dance moves in the studio. Photo courtesy Current Rhythms Dance Studio
At Current Rhythms, dance classes are a blend of various art forms and dance styles. The dancers learn to choreograph their own original pieces and often inspire others to dance, including these two dancers who taught themselves break dance moves in the studio. Photo courtesy Current Rhythms Dance Studio

1. Yoga Gift Cards or Gift Certificates for Dance Classes from Current Rhythms Dance Studio

If you’re already an experienced yogi, know a yogi, or know someone who needs to be more flexible and could benefit from attending yoga classes, 30-day gift cards are the perfect idea for that hard to shop for person on your holiday list.

Yoga classes are geared for all ages and levels of experience. Sisters Alyssa and Marita Kleissler also offer special workshops with visiting and guest artists throughout the year.

Also available for purchase are dance classes for children, or others in the family.

“The gift of dance and yoga keep on giving. Both dance and yoga make us feel good from the inside out, which in turn ripples out and touches all those around us. Yoga can radically change one’s life. Dance and yoga are two ways to enjoy live human interaction and communication. And, our classes are taught in a safe, positive environment,” said Alyssa Kleissler, who co-owns Current Rhythms with her sister Marita. They’ve been in business for 21 years.

The sisters offer classes for all ages, and dance styles to suit most any individual, including ballet, tap, Hip Hop, Baby & Me, Parent & Toddler, creative, contemporary, lyrical and drama classes.

“Dance and yoga classes not only build strength and flexibility in a body, but can shift one’s mood, build self-esteem, and provide a space to develop connections with other community members,” Alyssa said.

Students enjoy the calming benefits of balasana, also known as the child’s pose. Photo courtesy Current Rhythms Dance Studio
Students enjoy the calming benefits of balasana, also known as the child’s pose.
Photo courtesy Current Rhythms Dance Studio

Current Rhythms Dance Studio

  • Owners: Alyssa Kleissler and Marita Kleissler
  • Website: www.currentrhythms.com
  • Address: 301 Railroad Row, Cordova
  • Email: dancinak@ctcak.net
  • Phone: 907-424-3632
  • Deadline for ordering gift certificates: Dec. 22
  • Shipping/mailing services: Local pickup only
  • Unlimited Monthly Yoga Card: $45. Good for one month in 2018. Limited to 1 per person.
The Kocan Family enjoying a sunny day on the shores of Eyak Lake. Acupuncture services are offered in a professional and private setting by licensed acupuncturist Shelly Kocan, L.Ac. Photo courtesy Acupuncture and Wellness of Cordova/For The Cordova Times
The Kocan Family enjoying a sunny day on the shores of Eyak Lake. Acupuncture services are offered in a professional and private setting by licensed acupuncturist Shelly Kocan, L.Ac.
Photo courtesy Acupuncture and Wellness of Cordova/For The Cordova Times

2. Gift certificates for Acupuncture from Acupuncture & Wellness of Cordova 

Sometimes people have a fear of acupuncture treatments if they haven’t done it before.

Shelly Kocan, of Cordova Acupuncture and Wellness, assures folks that acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles people are used to when they go for shots at the doctor’s office.

“They are tiny in comparison, and can be used even on infants and children without causing pain. When people come to see me, they’re in control of how much or how little we do – we can begin with just a few points until people build up their familiarity and comfort level. Most patients are able to relax so deeply on the table that they doze off, and catch up on some much-needed sleep,” Kocan said.

Purchasing a holiday gift certificate toward acupuncture visits can help inspire loved ones to make an appointment, and take the time to improve their own health, Kocan said.

Gift certificates can be used in conjunction with a person’s insurance, to cover copays or meet deductibles. Or it can be used to cover the full cost of an appointment. All in all, acupuncture is a unique gift idea with long-term results for the most discerning individual on your list.

Kocan provides acupuncture services to patients of any age, from infants to the elderly.

“People come in for a wide range of concerns including pain relief, injury recovery, women’s health, anxiety, depression, general well-being and wellness support. I’m happy to provide a ‘wholistic’ treatment modality to members of the community. I know what a challenge it is to travel to Anchorage for medical care, and I’m happy to be able to offer these services locally, where patients can easily make a treatment a part of their day,” she said.

Acupuncture & Wellness of Cordova

  • Owner:  Shelly Kocan, L.Ac.
  • Website: www.acucdv.com
  • Address: 520 2nd Street, Cordova
  • Email: shellykocan@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-429-7797
  • Deadline for ordering gift certificates: Dec. 21
  • Shipping/mailing services: U.S. shipping
  • Prices: Vary depending upon services
Elora Riedel, daughter of Diana Riedel, wore a sea otter fur headband and scarf, which protected her from the cold and wind while exploring ice caves outside Cordova with her family. Photo courtesy Dineega Furs/For The Cordova Times
Elora Riedel, daughter of Diana Riedel, wore a sea otter fur headband and scarf, which protected her from the cold and wind while exploring ice caves outside Cordova with her family.
Photo courtesy Dineega Furs/For The Cordova Times

3. Handmade Sea Otter, Seal, and Sea Lion Fur Trapper Hats, Fur Mittens, Fur Baby Booties and More from Dineega Furs

For a truly Cordovan gift, Diana Riedel’s handmade fur gifts are ideal.

Riedel specializes in sea otter, seal, and sea lion fur goods, including pillows and blankets, hats, mittens, slippers, baby booties, wallets, purses, necklaces, teddy bears, headbands, and gloves trimmed in fur. She’ll also do custom work with a client’s own furs.

“In Cordova, my most popular items are baby booties, seal fur necklaces, and wallets. But overall, my most popular product for my business are the seal and sea otter trapper hats. They hold up exceptionally well, and keep you very warm,” Riedel said.

“Baby booties are great gifts, and they last for many children to use them. I have also been having a lot of fun making the seal fur necklaces and wallets. The headbands are a versatile product as well, because they can be worn around your head and keep your ears warm, but also around your neck as a scarf. They come in small, medium, and large, but also have Velcro closure to be able to adjust to your head and hairstyle. They also pair well the with the leather gloves trimmed in sea otter fur,” she said.
Riedel learned her skin and fur sewing skills at her mother’s knee.

“My mom, Monica, started this business here in Cordova when I was a baby. As soon as I was old enough to learn how to cut fur and sew, around 7 years old, I started making gifts. By the time I was 14, I was apprenticing under her, and then started my own business at 17. My parents gave me a fur sewing machine as my graduation present, and it helped pay my way through college. While attending the University of Alaska, in Fairbanks, I took four years of Alaska Native Art under Alvin Amason. I expanded from skin sewing and beading to include carving, jewelry making, and basket weaving. I moved back to Cordova after college, and have been sewing here since. I am now teaching my daughters and my cousins this tradition,” she said.
Shoppers can also find the Dineega Furs table at the annual Holiday Bazaar at Mt. Eccles Elementary School Dec. 1 through Dec. 2.

Diana Riedel, owner of Dineega Furs, offers an assortment of gifts including seal and sea otter trapper hats, all sea otter fur trapper hats, fur mittens, headbands, gloves trimmed with sea otter fur, fur pillows and fur necklaces, shown here. Photo courtesy Dineega Furs/For The Cordova Times
Diana Riedel, owner of Dineega Furs, offers an assortment of gifts including seal and sea otter trapper hats, all sea otter fur trapper hats, fur mittens, headbands, gloves trimmed with sea otter fur, fur pillows and fur necklaces, shown here.
Photo courtesy Dineega Furs/For The Cordova Times

Dineega Furs

  • Owner: Diana Riedel
  • Website: www.dineegafurs.com
  • Address: P.O. Box 6, Cordova
  • Email: dianariedel@hotmail.com
  • Phone: 907-253-5364
  • Deadline for ordering gifts: In Cordova – Dec. 15; Dec. 3 for orders needing to be shipped out of town
  • Shipping/mailing services: U.S. shipping
  • Prices vary depending upon item
Amber Wasson, owner of Rainbow Forest, sits amid an array of her handmade, naturally dyed gift items. Wasson is wearing a hand-dyed silk undershirt dyed with cochineal bugs, and a hand knit beanie designed and made by Wasson. The yarn used to make the beanie was dyed using pincushion flowers. Photo courtesy Rainbow Forest/For The Cordova Times
Amber Wasson, owner of Rainbow Forest, sits amid an array of her handmade, naturally dyed gift items. Wasson is wearing a hand-dyed silk undershirt dyed with cochineal bugs, and a hand knit beanie designed and made by Wasson. The yarn used to make the beanie was dyed using pincushion flowers.
Photo courtesy Rainbow Forest/For The Cordova Times

 

4. Naturally-dyed, Hand-Knitted Beanies, Clothing & Waldorf Dolls from Rainbow Forest

Check out artist Amber Wasson’s naturally dyed, handmade items at the annual Holiday Bazaar Dec. 1-2 at Mt. Eccles Elementary School.

Wasson specializes in natural dyes for silk and wool fabric, using mushroom, Lichen, tree roots, flowers and bugs, most of which she has foraged herself from the surrounding Cordova area.

“Most colors are sourced locally, but some I’ve traded with other foragers in Sweden and Canada. I love the connection to the natural world and to my ancestors that natural dyeing has brought me. I enjoy hiking with my family collecting dye materials. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” she said.

Wasson’s mom taught her how to knit at a young age, and knitting is something she and her mother still do together.

Her business is growing and progressing, and she hopes to soon add sweater upcycling to her list of handmade items.

“Look for wool baby pants and women’s pixie coats in the future,” she said.

In the meantime, check out Wasson’s wares – gift items that are found only in Cordova. Wasson will have a table at the annual Holiday Bazaar Dec. 1-2, at Mt. Eccles Elementary School.

Astrid Wasson with a handful of natural dyed yarn Waldorf dolls, handmade by Astrid’s mother, Amber Wasson. Photo courtesy Rainbow Forest/For The Cordova Times
Astrid Wasson with a handful of natural dyed yarn Waldorf dolls, handmade by Astrid’s mother, Amber Wasson.
Photo courtesy Rainbow Forest/For The Cordova Times

Rainbow Forest

  • Owner: Amber Wasson
  • Website: Follow her on Instagram at rainbow.forest
  • Address: P.O. Box 356, Cordova
  • Email: branshawamber@hotmail.com
  • Phone: 907-440-7347
  • Deadline for ordering gifts: Not presently taking custom orders; see Wasson’s gifts at the Holiday Bazaar Dec. 1-2, at Mt. Eccles Elementary School.
  • Shipping/mailing services: Ships to USA and worldwide
  • Prices vary depending upon gift
Erin Ranney, Steve and Wendy Ranney’s niece, explores waterfalls in Prince William Sound in a sea kayak from Orca Adventure Lodge. Gift certificates for sea kayak rentals are available; the cost is $65 per boat/per day. Photo by Scott Ranney/For The Cordova Times
Erin Ranney, Steve and Wendy Ranney’s niece, explores waterfalls in Prince William Sound in a sea kayak from Orca Adventure Lodge. Gift certificates for sea kayak rentals are available; the cost is $65 per boat/per day.
Photo by Scott Ranney/For The Cordova Times

5. Gift certificates for Sea Kayak Rentals or Sheridan Glacier Guided Kayak Adventure Tours from Orca Adventure Lodge

For the adventurous folks on your list, consider a gift certificate from Orca Adventure Lodge for a sea kayak rental or a kayaking experience and tour at Sheridan Glacier.

A sea kayak rental is ideal for both beginners and the experienced kayaker, and provides outstanding scenic views of sea life and nature along the protected waters of Orca Inlet. The rental price includes kayaking equipment, basic introduction to kayaking for beginners, and a safety float plan.

“Prince William Sound has the best Alaska kayaking and the greatest diversity of wildlife habitat along the entire Northern Pacific Coast; and it is right outside our door. Waterfalls, snowcapped mountains, eagles, sea otters, and seals are just some of the highlights of kayaking in the area,” Wendy Ranney said.

The Sheridan Glacier Experience Tour includes hiking out onto the moraine at the end of the cobble path from the parking area; then a guide will outfit the group with either single or double kayaks to explore the southern and eastern portions of Sheridan Lake.

“The intimate vantage point of a kayak really creates a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be missed. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, we’ll stop for a picnic lunch on small island exposed by glacial retreat, or find a remote area of the glacier to take a break on and enjoy the landscape,” she said.

The Sheridan Glacier Experience Tour, offered by Orca Adventure Lodge of Cordova, is rated easy to moderate, and is suitable for all ages. Gift certificates for the adventure are available. The cost is $175.00 per person. Photo by Rado Godocik/For The Cordova Times
The Sheridan Glacier Experience Tour, offered by Orca Adventure Lodge of Cordova, is rated easy to moderate, and is suitable for all ages. Gift certificates for the adventure are available. The cost is $175.00 per person.
Photo by Rado Godocik/For The Cordova Times

Orca Adventure Lodge

  • Owner: Steve & Wendy Ranney
  • Website: orcaadventurelodge.com
  • Address: P.O. Box 2105, Cordova
  • Email: orcaadventurelodge@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-424-7249
  • Deadline for ordering gift certificates: Order anytime; Gift certificates for tours/rentals can be used seasonally, May through September.
  • Shipping/mailing services: Gift certificates can be mailed within the U.S., or picked up locally
  • Sheridan Glacier Experience Tour – $175.00 per person; Sea Kayak Rentals – $65 per boat/per day
Check out the CRWP’s gift section full of a variety of gift for every age: Copper River Seafoods smoked Sockeye and Coho salmon in jars, spice rubs, Copper River Watershed clothing line, Copper River Salmon Jam clothing line, stickers, cards featuring local Cordova and Copper Basin artists, handmade jewelry by local artist Suzette Scialfa, Alaska cookbooks, history books and children’s books, Alaska Glacial Mud Company products, and Copper River Watershed Project gift memberships. Photo courtesy Copper River Watershed Project/For The Cordova Times
Check out the CRWP’s gift section full of a variety of gift for every age: Copper River Seafoods smoked Sockeye and Coho salmon in jars, spice rubs, Copper River Watershed clothing line, Copper River Salmon Jam clothing line, stickers, cards featuring local Cordova and Copper Basin artists, handmade jewelry by local artist Suzette Scialfa, Alaska cookbooks, history books and children’s books, Alaska Glacial Mud Company products, and Copper River Watershed Project gift memberships.
Photo courtesy Copper River Watershed Project/For The Cordova Times

6. Smoked Salmon, Local Handmade Jewelry, Cordova T-shirts & More from the Copper River Watershed Project

Folks looking for special holiday gifts and also to help sustain the local area’s watershed, will enjoy shopping at the Copper River Watershed Project’s offices on Main Street in Cordova.

CRWP promotes a salmon-rich, intact watershed and culturally diverse communities by forming partnerships for watershed-scale planning and projects.

Check out the CRWP’s gift section full of a variety of gift items for every age: Copper River Seafoods smoked Sockeye and Coho salmon in jars, spice rubs, CRWP clothing, Copper River Salmon Jam clothing, stickers, cards featuring local Cordova and Copper Basin artists, handmade jewelry by artist Suzette Scialfa, Alaska cookbooks, history books and children’s books, Alaska Glacial Mud Company products, and CRW gift memberships.

The Copper River Watershed Project carries Copper River Seafoods’ smoked and jarred Sockeye and Coho salmon for gift needs. Smoked Coho is $10/jar; smoked Sockeye is $12.50/jar, some of the best prices in town! Photo courtesy Copper River Watershed Project/For The Cordova Times
The Copper River Watershed Project carries Copper River Seafoods’ smoked and jarred Sockeye and Coho salmon for gift needs. Smoked Coho is $10/jar; smoked Sockeye is $12.50/jar, some of the best prices in town!
Photo courtesy Copper River Watershed Project/For The Cordova Times

The Copper River Watershed Project

  • Website: copperriver.org
  • Address: Main Street, Cordova
  • Email: info@copperriver.org
  • Phone: 907-424-3334
  • Deadline for ordering gifts: Dec. 22
  • Shipping/mailing services: Local pickup only
  • Prices vary
DucBoy Decoys are hand carved, then sanded and painted by hand by Ryan Torbett, using only brushes. Each bird is painted to match the attitude and personality of the real bird, he said. Photo courtesy DucBoy Decoys/For The Cordova Times
DucBoy Decoys are hand carved, then sanded and painted by hand by Ryan Torbett, using only brushes. Each bird is painted to match the attitude and personality of the real bird, he said.
Photo courtesy DucBoy Decoys/For The Cordova Times

7. Hand crafted, One-Of-A-Kind Wooden Bird Decoys from DucBoy Decoys

Ryan “DucBoy” Torbett hand carves all his bird decoys from Alaskan Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Sitka Spruce, and he does it the old-fashioned way, he said, using a hatchet, then a draw knife, and adds detail with a long-blade knife.

“Every decoy is then hand sanded and painted by hand using only brushes. Each bird is painted to match the attitude and personality of the real bird. Some decoys are for the wall, and others can be thrown in the water and hunted over,” Torbett said.

“I carve decoys because it’s a dying art, especially decoys that are made using only hand carving and painting. I learned on Chincoteague Island, and fell in love with making decoys to hunt over. I was taught by master carver Roe “Duc-man” Terry. He taught me all I needed to start, but I always fall back to him with questions,” he said.

Shortly after learning from Terry, Torbett said he became quite busy making birds for others. Soon, the hobby transformed into a business.

“I use my decoys daily during the winter out hunting. I’ve been carving for six years now.

“I’ve made larger birds such as Great Blue herons, Sandhill cranes, and full-size geese, with higher price tags for the larger birds. The price goes up quite a bit with supplies of larger diameter wood being harder to find, and the time spent carving,” he said.

Torbett is stationed in Cordova with the U.S. Coast Guard, and this will be his last year here.

This will also be his last year at the annual Holiday Bazaar, Dec. 1-2 at Mt. Eccles Elementary School. Torbett said he has approximately 40 decoys completed and ready to sell at the venue.

Ryan “DucBoy” Torbett hand carves all his bird decoys from Alaska Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Sitka Spruce, and he does it the old-fashioned way, he said, using a hatchet, then a draw knife, and adds detail with a long blade knife. Photo courtesy DucBoy Decoys/For The Cordova Times
Ryan “DucBoy” Torbett hand carves all his bird decoys from Alaska Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Sitka Spruce, and he does it the old-fashioned way, he said, using a hatchet, then a draw knife, and adds detail with a long blade knife.
Photo courtesy DucBoy Decoys/For The Cordova Times

DucBoy Decoys

  • Owner:  Ryan “DucBoy” Torbett
  • Website: ducboy.wixsite.com/ducboydecoys
  • Address: 5-Mile Loop Road, Cordova
  • Email: ducboydecoys@gmail.com
  • Phone: 907-253-9762
  • Deadline for ordering gifts: 2-3 weeks before delivery date; two weeks required to complete a custom order
  • Shipping/mailing services: Ships to USA
  • Prices vary between $75-$200, and up for larger birds

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She’s been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She’s lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.