People value a memento as much as they do a trip to the museum, staff at the Ohio Craft Museum found.

People value a memento as much as they do a trip to the museum, staff at the Ohio Craft Museum found.

"We started the gift shops because people wanted to walk out with something," artistic director Betty Talbott explained. "It's part of the experience at most museums - I usually head to the gift shop before I go to the actual [exhibits]."

The craft museum puts on five or six exhibitions annually featuring the work of artisan designers from across the state.

Its gift shop has gotten attention from museum-goers but could stand to raise its profile as a quick stop for those looking for handmade gifts, Talbott said.

The gift shop is really three separate rooms that can be accessed from the museum's main entrance. Admission to the museum - and gift shop - is free, and traffic flows between the two easily.

Most of the pieces are made by Ohioans, and most are made by members of Ohio Designer Craftsmen, a membership group that founded the Ohio Craft Museum.

In fact, at least a bit of the current exhibition usually is reflected in the gift shop selection. A woodturning exhibit just opened, and smooth, wood-topped wine bottle stoppers are for sale in the shop, Talbott pointed out.

"If someone has a $10,000 piece out there, but they say, 'I have a line of $100 pieces,' we put them in here," she said. "The price range is here to buy."

Passion Flowers, the colorful recycled-aluminum flower sculptures whose sale benefits Passion Works in Athens, are a staple in the gift shop, as is the work of Columbus photographer Kojo Kamau.

Pottery, jewelry and wall art are popular, too. The current selection ranges from cat-themed drawings from Susan Sturgill to oversized fish sculptures made from recycled license plates and beer-bottle caps.

And Talbott has a tip for those who don't see what they want: Ask. Not only is the museum in constant contact with the artists, from whom additional quantities or colors can be ordered, but Talbott also has backstock on premise.

"If someone says, 'Oh I love that,' I'll say, 'Oh, in here,' " Talbott said, gesturing toward a supply room. "I can go in there with them and say, 'Here's more mugs of that color.' "