THIS IS the year of the Handmade Holiday. From the simple popcorn and cranberry chains of children, to one-of-a-kind art objects, the mid-winter holidays are fast becoming craft/artists T celebrations. Handpainted wooden soldiers, ceramic snowflakes, pewter angels and even a female wooden nutcracker are among the mostly reasonably-priced ornaments available at area galleries. Holiday time is a good opportunity to pick up a minor work by a major artist that you couldn't afford any other time.

The Renwick Gallery Museum Shop, 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, is showing American-made ornaments in its "Holiday Cornucopia" exhibit and sale. Red, black and creme-colored wooden jigsaw archangels, calling birds and French hens are made by Robert Strobridge of Inside Stories in Milwaukee. They cost between $10 and $14. Handpainted dough ornaments by Katherine Conley go for $10-$12. Colorful blown glass balls and icicles by Don Jacobson, Gilmore Glass and Vitrix Hot Glass (a division of Corning Glass) are selling fast at $11 and up. Local soft sculptor Timothy Evans' white linen-and-lace music-box dolls have all been sold.

The Museum of American History Shop is carrying handmade traditional German nutcrackers ($35-$125); Scandinavian-made natural straw horses and yule logs ($5); Hungarian embroidered red felt hearts, angels, etc. ($4-$10). The Arts and Industries Shop is selling soft sculp- See ORNAMENTS, Page 2, Col. 1 ORNAMENTS, From Page 1 ture doves ($4) and rocking horses ($8) made of natural muslin.

The Textile Museum Shop, 2320 S St. NW, is showing colorful imaginary wood block birds made in Japan, $5. The shop also has narrow handwoven cotton patterned belts from Guatemala and Mexico, $5-$12.50, as well as pin cushions made from rug fragments, $15.

Corcoran Gallery Shop, 17th Street and New York Avenue NW, is selling handpainted wood horses, chimney sweeps, birds, Santas and soldiers, starting at $1.80. They also have antique quilted animals ($8.95) and patchwork quilt stockings ($28) by Nancy Wertheimer. Padded figures elves and Santas, called "Stuff Me's," have pouches and hang like stockings from the mantel, $17 by the Cheshire Company.

Jackie Chalkley Gallery, 3301 New Mexico Ave. NW, is carrying "frog angels" by Kimberly Johnson -- "just picture a thin, handpainted porcelain frog with wings," says assistant director Ford Singletary, $8.50; hand-crocheted 3/4-inch boys and girls as well as a Santa by Rockville artist Joyce Murrell, $12.50; handbuilt porcelain animals by Nancy Lindgren including a nesting bird for $14 and a pegasus for $18.50; handblown glass balls by Tom Buechner of Vitrix, $12.50; handblown glass globes with rainbows inlaid in glass rods or stars imbedded in clear glass, by Doug Sweet, $18.50-$22; porcelain cat angels by Alexandria artist Solvig Cox, $8; hand knitted Christmas stockings by Tungey Wood Designs of Vermont, $18.50; and Timothy Evans' music box dolls.

Seraph Gallery, 1132 29th St. NW, is selling tiny painted wooden angels, bells, soldiers, moons and stars by Yesteryear Toy Co. of Chestertown, West Va., $5-$12. Ivan Barnett's painted metal cutouts will also be sold, $10-$24. His ornaments are on the White House tree.

The Glass Gallery, 4931 Elm St. in Bethesda (co-owned by Seraph partners Ann Smith and Sarah Hansen), will carry Leonard DiNardo and Russel Stankus' colored handblown glass balls, $15-$20.

Tiffany Tree, 1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is selling blown glass ornaments by Hotmire Studio of California, Leonard DiNardo and Paul Bendzunas. According to director Susan Brooks, all the balls have fuming -- the hot glass has been sprayed with nitrates resulting in iridescent colors. "Bendzunas' pieces are what we call double bubbles -- they have an interior bubble encased in a larger one," says Brooks. Prices start at $15 and almost all are signed and dated.

The Great Chase, the gift shop division of Tiffany Tree and Branch Gallery, at the same address, is carrying local artist Susan Young's handmade stockings of old fabrics and furs, $25 and $35. There are 40 different types of handmade German nutcrackers; most range from $20-$50 but some of the fancier ones go as high as $90. Manager Maggie Limehouse points out proudly, "We even have a woman nutcracker made by the Steinbach company, which makes the only woman nutcracker we know of; wooden pyramids or arches with figures and candles run between $40-$300; handpainted pewter angels, trumpets and drummers, $8-$10; handcarved wooden figures, $4.25-$6.25; and handcrafted angels in muslin with lace trim made by Teri Mulholland Bergin, $12.75.

United Nations Assocation Gift Shop, 3143 N St. NW, is selling "Angels of All Nations" made by Raymond Bolton of California. The four-inch high angels are made of paper cones with gold wings, each one is dressed in native costumes, $2.50; Chinese-made wheat stalk animals and butterflies, $3.50; hand embroidered Hungarian felt trees and candles, $2; bread dough figures from Ecuador, $1.50; straw, brass and red satin star mobiles from Sweden, $3.

Cherishables, 1816 Jefferson Pl. NW, has a tree decorated in American folk art including handpainted Victorian sailors with movable arms and legs, $20; stuffed white cotton unicorns, $12; hand carved wooden swans, $14; miniature red-and-white wooden rocking horses, $24; quilted rocking horses with wood rockers, $10; red and white paper fans mounted on gold paper, $5.50 and $6.50; blue and white homespun hearts, $4.50; wreaths, $22; lace hearts with potpourri, $5.50; cutout tin red hearts by Ivan Barnett, $4.50; and bunches of cinnamon 20-inch sticks tied up in ribbon, $7.50.

The Gad fly, 215 S. Union St., Alexandria, has handblown glass marbled ornaments by Steven Maslach, $5-$36; as well as glass balls by Gilmore Glassworks and Don Jacobson, $8-$50; a limited number of pewter ornaments by Sally Richardson; and handpainted gourds by Ridge Kunzel.

Gallery Four, 115 S. Columbus St., Alexandria, is carrying Nancy Thomas' handpainted wooden birds, angels, candles, horses, etc., for $4. Ivan Barnett's metal cutouts of animals, hearts, fruits and flowers will also be sold, $5-$10. Both Thomas and Barnett are represented among the White House decorations.

Made in America, 1919 K St. NW, has hand-quilted miniature wreaths, stockings and candy canes for $4 as well as larger 16-inch quilted and braided red and green wreaths for $29, all by the Cabin Creek. They also have Leonard DiNardo's blown glass balls, $16 and less; the globular, vertically striped Vitrix ornaments, $12; colorful dough animals and Santas, $5.75; Josie Hopper's cotton gingerbread man and cotton, lace and beaded angels, $6 each; plaited wheat ornaments called "Corn Dollies" ($7.50) by Legacy, who also makes origami marbleized paper stars ($3.50); Deborah Marshall's crocheted snowflakes, candy canes and stockings which are dipped in a sugar solution to make them rigid, $3-$6.50; and Victorian de'coupage ornaments, $9-$10; and shimmering clear glass icicles by glassblowers Woodward and Bruce of Lynchburg, $3-$6.

Organization of American States Gift Shop, 1889 F St. NW, carries bread dough ornaments in Christmas and native Latin American motifs, $2; straw Santas, rag dolls and snowmen from Ecuador, $2-$16; miniature Guatemalan stick dolls, $1.70, as well as embroidered Christmas scenes from Chile, which are too large for the tree but make nice festive wallhangings.

Martson Luce, 1314 21st St. NW, also has a tree decorated in American folk art including: Ivan Barnett's painted tin cut-outs, $4.50 and $5.50; wooden rocking horses, $28; handpainted birds in Pennsylvania Dutch designs, $15; glazed redware animals, $3-5; quilted birds ($3) and angels ($30); and antique toy blocks, $5-15.

The Art Barn, 2401 Tilden St. NW, is holding its "Art Barn Holiday Special" now through Dec. 20. Ceramic and glass decorations as well as knotted fiber wreaths will be sold. Prices range from $5-$50.