The Spellout

Art, Culture & Unavoidable Spite

Category: Just Buy It Already (page 1 of 3)

Holiday Shopping on Indie Street

Krysztof Nemeth's Big Adventure
Krysztof Nemeth at the late, lamented Lusty Lady, 2006. Photo by the author.

Listen, I hid out on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Moody Blues Tuesday. The truth is that even if I’d wanted to truck out to Wal-Mart for BARGAINS! (and if I’d had ample cash, fortitude and peppered-spray), I wouldn’t have, because I believe in all that “shop local” crapola we repost on Facebook. I don’t think we gain anything, as a nation or as a species, through the buying or the giving of cheap plastic crap that’s made in China under suicidal conditions. It’s the exact opposite of peachy.

This leads us to the bit where I tell you to buy gifts made by friends of mine, but listen: I’m not doing this because I want my friends to get paid. Not exclusively because of that, anyway. I’m doing this because gifts of independently made and sold art, crafts, and goods have a humanizing effect on all that Black Friday-purchased overstock. If you’re getting someone an end table, it should have some of Big Dipper Wax Works’ delightful beeswax candles sitting on it. And if you’re giving away your body for Christmas (as are many of us), it oughta be on Sin in Linen’s sexy-assed sheets.

Artisan gifts raise the stock of non-artisan gifts. Straight-up department-store purchased holidays are soulless and boring. Christmas was always meant to have fingerprints on it — otherwise, what’s the fucking point? I could buy myself a Kindle, but I wouldn’t have known about Krysztof Nemeth’s pinup art and Kate Black’s Bad Buttons if people hadn’t given them to me, and in so doing, made the both of us that much cooler.

Dig into these links, give some custom gifts, and make the world a better place. I’m not exaggerating. That’s precisely what will happen.

Bad Buttons. Kate Black’s lapel buttons kill fascists. Well, perhaps not, unless you dip them in poison and poke somebody with them (but you didn’t get the idea here, feel me?). What I mean is that the the Brooklyn-based artist makes buttons for the culture war that’s been happening for years, and each one of them is a tonic for unspoken rage. “Bike jocks are still jocks,” reads one. “Sodomy Prevents Abortion,” says another. And even your leftiest lefty friends may bristle at “Babies creep me out.”  She also makes lovely and clever art pins, including a set devoted to people named Oates (John, Joyce Carol and Quaker). Stick a few of these up the stocking of your favorite brickthrower, and keep the home fires burning.

Big Dipper Wax Works. This Seattle shop makes the sweetest-smelling beeswax candles in all creation. This is a natural sweetness we’re talking about, like late spring or first love; it is a subtle, clean and intoxicating scent that can redeem even the bitterest man cave. (Ugh, mental picture.) Big Dipper’s candles make for great stocking gifts and additions to home improvement-themed gifts, and you ought to give a bunch of them. Maybe keep a few.

Charm School Art & Design. I’ve written much about the pin-up girls of Kansas City. MO. artist, musician, and elegant gentleman Krysztof Nemeth because I never run out of nice things to say about him and his work. Though his work is based in an artistic tradition that runs from Alberto Vargas to Coop, Krysztof has a line that is wholly his own, and his drawings are timeless. He does commission work, but if you want some Krysztof Nemeth art right now, take a look at his online store. He has well-made t-shirts and shot glasses and even a CD of his film noir band, The Latenight Callers. That said, you’re not a Krysztof fan until you’ve requested one of his Kustom Drawings. This writer owns two of them, and several other non-custom pin-ups. If I buy any more, I’ll have to move somewhere with more wall space.

Schadenfreude Photography. These are my girlfriend’s photographs, okay?* Yes, the same Lorien Gruchalla who graciously shares a bed with me and two clinically psychotic cats.  Now that we’ve that bit of business out of the way, I can tell you what I love about her work, which is most everything. Lorien shoots from the ghost world; her photos are luminous, haunted and different. I know it’s cheesy to say that they’re like windows to another place, but they truly are. You feel like you can reach into them, grab onto the subject and pull yourself into a place where the air is a cocktail and favorite songs are felt as electrical trembling in the nerves. She shoots with a variety of small cameras, including an infrared camera and an Android phone, and she achieves effects that utterly transcend the equipment. You need a few of her schadenfotos hanging on your walls, beckoning you to places of wonder and solace.

Shari Elf. This Joshua Tree, CA.-based artist creates her playful pieces out of “95% trash (or stuff people throw away).” To say her art is endearing is perhaps underselling it; not many other artists have taken the “outsider” aesthetic, with its wobbly lines wide-eyed innocence, and turned it sideways as successfully as Elf has done. As of this writing, every piece she’s put up for sale has sold — perhaps in part because the price is right (I couldn’t find a piece priced more than $120; most are much less). But I suspect the real reason Shari Elf’s work sells so quick is because people want to bask in Shari Elf’s desert sunshine. You should buy a piece of her art for yourself and one for a friend. Don’t worry; she makes plenty.

Sin In Linen. Sandy Glaze doesn’t illustrate her linen sets as much as she tattoos them. Sin in Linen’s sheets are bedecked with pretty girls, sugar skulls and damask blossoms, and when you put them on your bed they’ll likely incite the rest of the stuff in your bedroom — the end tables, the family photos, the IKEA — to booze up and get inked. Sin in Linen’s reach extends beyond the boudoir; there are lovely tiki and voodoo bones drapes, hand towels with pinups on them, and even sequined throw pillows. But it’s the bedoom stuff that keeps giving, night after night, year after year, even after your looks have gone out as thoroughly as mine have. Don’t waste any more time reading this; just go look at Sin in Linen’s stuff, and get something nice for your favorite hoodlum.

* I was not asked to include her in this roundup, and oh boy, am I gettin’ laid tonight.

Save big at the Ballard Sidewalk Sale

Knitta By Northwest 01

According to NWsource.com (hi, guys!), the Ballard Sidewalk Sale is Seattle’s oldest and largest. I can’t speak to its historical significance, but I can tell you that NWsource is bang-on about the ambitions and size of the thing; it is ginormous indeed, and loaded silly with great deals. From Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25, you’ll find all manner of great deals splayed across Market St. and Ballard Ave. — swell girlie stuff from Velouria; striking framed art from Annie’s; cheap CDs and vinyl from Sonic Boom; foofoo gifts from Romanza and much, much more. This sale is just one of the thousand reasons I have sworn a blood oath to Ballard, and I’ll see you out there, pushing and shoving others aside to get to the good stuff.

Liquid assets: WineGirl makes a killer deal

WineGirl Wines

For the first time in months I’m busting this bl-g’s $25 upper limit, but let’s be clear about this: Premier Cellar’s offer of three WineGirl Wines for $75 is both deal and a steal. (And it averages out to $25 a bottle, so my streak remains unbroken.) I’ve been buying up WineGirl’s liquid sky for the past three years, and this offer couldn’t have come at a better time — when I’ve only one bottle of the local winemaker’s delicious Firá Chardonnay remaining. (My girlfriend has a few bottles of the My Derby Wife Merlot in stock, but they’re guarded by howitzers and land mines and razor wire, and I think a lemur with a shiv.) I could drink these wines every day of my natural life. Here’s what the website has to say about them:

The 2008 Firá Chardonnay is a luscious yet friendly wine, with crisp, clean, citrus and honey suckle notes that exemplify the stunning power of the Chardonnay grape as intended by nature. Also included is one bottle of the 2007 My Derby Wife Merlot … This medium-bodied Merlot from the Wahluke Slope possesses full tannin structure and a cherry blossom bouquet that perfectly defines the rough and tumble, yet “punk princess” imagery found among the awesome women who define roller derby today. Finally, enjoy one bottle of the 2007 Kamari Black Label Reserve, a truly stunning masterpiece of what Walla Walla Valley has to offer. This blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 17% Malbec, and 15% Cabernet Franc delivers flavors of dark cacao, black cherry, cassis and vanilla bean.

Seriously, this is some capitol wine. I should probably order some, instead of trying to bribe the lemur.

We shop econo

Eight Arms to Hold You

Stuck at work and unable to shop? Stuck without work and unable to shop? Stuck in underpaying work and able to shop, albeit grudgingly? Any way you slice it, this list of under-$25 gifts, compiled by our own Lorien G. and the author, is for you:

Criterion Collection DVDs — ooh, fancy film! — 50% off

Threadless: individually-designed t-shirts for annoying hipsters like us, only $9 today

Haute Macabre: Pretty clothes for gothy ladies, $25 and under

IndieShopping.com: Artisan-made yaddayadda under $25

MSN Lifestyle: 25 Gifts Under $30. Warning: May include choco-bacon pancakes

The L Magazine: $25-or-less gifts for boozehounds

Crate and Barrel: Believe it or not, they've got stuff under $25

The New York Public Library Shop: Insanely sexy gifts under $25

Tesoros Trading Company: Folk art gifts searchable by price

Amazon.com: Black Friday lightning deals on various stuffs

Archie McPhee: Suggested nifty things, from Yodeling Pickles to Handerpants

Now go forth, my friends, and drive our economy out of the shithouse.

Mischief. Mayhem. Bliss Soap.

Sea Goddess Bar from Bliss Soaps

Forgive the large cut-and-paste — and my breaking of this publication's $25 limit — but Seattle's Bliss Soaps is in a bit of a pickle. Others might have pulled the plug after being scammed like this, but the Bliss folks are cranking up the faucet and pouring on some pretty respectable savings:

BLISS Soaps has unfortunately fallen victim to a
fraudulent business deal. Many local customers may recall a large soap,
lotion, facemask and eye cream order that we were working on as they
came to visit the store. The order was made, delivered and distributed
to the Cruise-line executives ahead of schedule. Emperors Essentials,
the company that commissioned BLISS Soaps to fulfill this contract
fraudulently reversed ALL of the payments that were made to us. After
researching the company, we discovered that the couple who own Emperors
Essentials; Robert Friend, Jr., and Shao Mei Wang, operate 4 charities
in Gig Harbor, Washington. 1) National Association of Disabled Police
Officers. 2) American Veterans Coalition. 3) (Childrens) Cancer
Assistance Network. 4) Disabled Firefighters Foundation. All 4
charities are fictitious and an estimated $5,000,000.00 was raised for
the charities and around 2 cents per dollar was used as assistance. If
you hear of these in the future, DO NOT DONATE.

The devastation to BLISS Soaps came at such a time that we may not recover the funds in time to maintain operations.

In an effort to make this a win-win situation for both of us, we are
offering this 4 day only Internet, call-in, and walk-in special in an
attempt to earn pre holiday revenue.

All orders over $50.00 will be doubled and the next 5 future orders over $50.00 will be given a $15.00 credit.

All orders received in the next 4 days will be filed and a VERY
special future offer will be offered to you in our December E-mail.

ALL orders place in the next 4 days (EVEN orders under $50.00) will be given the Special December offer.

To call in your orders, please call 1-206-322-SOAP, 7 days 4-10
Pacific Time.  Internet orders, please only order ½ of what you would
like as we will simply double the order received.

Thank, you for your past and continued patronage and hope to hear from you soon.

Phil & Chuck
BLISS Soaps

Buy yourself some soap, Space Monkey! Don't let the bastards get the better of this local company. Do I need to tell ya that "half-off" is the very best type of "-off"?

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