By Morgue Anne
There is a lot going around lately about “Big Business” and “Corporations”. It’s been a theme for the past year or so, and as we approach the dreaded Black Friday, where the Holiday shopping season officially opens up, we flock to these same businesses that we’ve spent the past year speaking out against. Looking around, I say it’s time we realized the damage we are doing to ourselves. With Hostess closing down due in large part to it’s unwillingness to work with their own employees and strikes are a breath away from sparking at Wal-Mart, I started thinking about what I could do without screwing my loved ones out of Christmas gifts.
So this year, I’m getting a little creative and going to try to give gifts of love and thoughtfulness, and I invite you to do the same. Everyone I know and love who I am giving gifts to is receiving a book and a handmade item. Being the epic bookslut that I am, I’ve done the ‘everyone gets free books!’ Christmas gifts in the past, and I actually really enjoyed searching local bookstores for the perfect book not for me, but someone I love. Some were easier than others - my teenage brother had just gotten his first girlfriend, so to him I gave a copy of Nick Hornby’s “Slam”, and I think my father really connected with the main character of Joe Hill’s “Heart Shaped Box” - but all were carefully selected with love, and I am actually looking forward to doing this again. The stress is minimal since I’m not running around to a million different stores, the community payback is direct since I’m hitting up local used bookstores. I’m lucky to live in Seattle where we have quite a few great places to visit, but even if you are in the middle of nowhere, you can give a great gift that really will keep on giving.
Let me tell you about my friend Pandora. She is an amazing seamstress, and in the past few years has made enough on her store Delightfully Deviant that she was able to purchase an actual studio/work-space. This woman is amazing. I have seen her work into the early morning hours to make sure everything ships not just on time, but early. I have done product shoots with her in the past, and even an interview right here on Extollere, but in the spirit of giving back to those who create beauty in this world, I encourage you to buy something from her shop, because this isn’t just some mystery woman working in a factory somewhere. Pandora is a person who is working as hard as any CEO, and the money you pay for her products will directly benefit her and her life.
Think about that for a moment. Imagine spending money on something and not only getting a really cool item, but having that money go to help someone. This isn’t a ‘5 cents of every pink handled purchase go to some questionable charity’, this is putting money into someone’s hands and thus allowing them to buy groceries, pay rent, and create more amazing and beautiful things. Not only that, but there is thought and love involved. What have you ever bought at Wal-Mart that helped humanity in the slightest?
Here is what I propose - instead of fighting strangers for commercial crap you don’t need and your family won’t remember, browse through etsy for something unique that they will love. Walk through a used bookstore and pick up a novel that reminds you of someone special. Think about someone you love, think about what they love, and get them something totally unique that reflects that passion. Still Stumped? Here’s some ideas…
1. Got an Avengers fan in your life? Yes, they already have the ultimate Blu-Ray set with hours and hours of commentary, but know what they don’t have? Amazing art prints of Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman, and Captain America. Poster Explosion has some great movie posters for the film buff in your life.
2. Every year, my mom gives my brother and I a hygiene stocking. This is just a simple package of stuffers for us to use so we don’t smell bad. It’s a quick gift, but they’re usually nicer bath products than I would buy for myself. Know how you just grab whatever at the drug store and call it good? Check out the “Soaps” section on etsy (Seriously, there are a lot of awesome things) for such treasures as Guinness Beer soap, Sushi Soap, and the less-novelty, more-spectacularly good-smelling Rosemary Mint with Shea Butter.
3. Indiegogo isn’t really part of the etsy goodness, but I’m kind of slipping it in here because it’s important. For my Father’s birthday, I sent money to the “Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum” campaign, and the light that lit up in his eyes was brighter than anything I’d ever seen before. There are a ton of fantastic projects waiting to come to fruition, and for less than the price of a fancy card you can throw a few bucks towards something and write the beautiful words “A donation has been made in your name to [Charity/Project here].” Then just print out the information page on the Idiegogo, throw it all in an envelope, and you’re done! Bonus points if you actually give them the perk rather than keep it for yourself.
4. Baked goods count as “Homemade”, which means a lot of people in my life are going to be blessed with my Pumpkin Bread and/or a fuckton of cupcakes. Luckily, my friend Pandora makes some fantastic aprons in her shop to protect my clothing. Etsy has all sorts of items to make this easier - from custom carrying boxes to liners to cute little clip arts you can attach with a toothpick for extra fun. Try putting a few pieces of someone’s favorite candy on top, or mixing in a favorite flavor. It doesn’t matter if they’re terrible, it matters that you took time to make them.
5. Get yourself something custom. Admit it, part of Black Friday is that you always buy yourself something cool. Well, get a jacket or cloak or scarf or something amazing that’s made just for you. I love my seamstresses, and there’s something fantastically special about telling someone “Oh, I had it made for me” when they ask where you got that corset/jacket/massive Dr Who scarf. Find someone in your area who does custom work, treat yourself and your community by reaching out to someone with a true gift and having them make you look absolutely spectacular. Who knows, you could end up with something like this custom dress by Idolatre Clothing (Photo Causplay Productions)
Written by Morgue Anne
Monster of My Heart is an independent creator of jewelry and accessories from Spain. Working hard to bring her dark dreams to life, Imelda works tirelessly to create her pieces. Even though English is not her first language, she was kind and patient enough to tell me about her process.
Stephanie StripedSocks Lady, available for purchase on etsy.
Morgue Anne for Extollere: What materials do you use for your jewelry and accessories?
Monster of my Heart: I use specially polymer clay and metal. I have found an special kind of flexible polymer clay, so all my works created with this material are super durable and unbreakable, as super strong rubber. About metals, I have a little jewelry studio here in my country, where my husband and me work specially with sterling silver and also copper and brass. We work using artisan and traditional jewelry methods. We combine all that with other new materials and contemporary techniques.
MA: Which piece is your favorite?
Monster of my Heart: That’s a great question! Maybe I like especially the sterling silver creations made in collaboration with my husband, elaborated with an ancient method (casting in sand). I love to create also sugar skulls and happy mini skulls as brooches or key chains in polymer clay. I have received today a fantastic purchase of more than 12 kilograms of flexible polymer clay.
MA: Where do you get your ideas from?
Monster of my Heart: When I was a little girl, I don’t like princess or pink color: I liked witches and monsters. As now. So I return with my mind many times to my childhood looking for creepy and cute ideas. I also love works as the incredible paintings of Juan de Valdés Leal, a great painter from the Spanish Baroque (you can read more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Vald%C3%A9s_Leal). Of course, I have a great influence of Tim Burton, specially because that’s what my audience demands. Many times, I get ideas from my brother, who taught me to love scary things, like a good big brother.
MA: I love your Corpse Bride necklace! Do you plan to do more large pieces like that?
Monster of my Heart: This sterling silver jewel is another collaboration with my husband, a great specialist in sand casting. The first one was a custom order (petitioned by an Spanish client). We loved the final result, so we decide to show it immediately on The Monster Of My Heart shop. Since then, we have sold some of them, always created by order and always shipped outside Spain. We bought the original doll from the USA to create this pendants. In this moment, we are not thinking in create more pieces of the Corpse Bride, but we can elaborate any work by order with the preferences of the client.
MA: How does living in Spain effect your art? Have you ever traveled to the US?
Monster of my Heart: The global situation in Spain is not too easy now for nobody, but maybe it’s a little bit hard if you are an artist. Something needs to change and many people is beginning to wake up. I’m speaking about the Spanish Revolution, a new pacific social movement of the ordinary people who are tired of living with lots of economic difficulties while Spanish politicians and bankers are billionaires. Many people have lost their jobs, many families have lost their home, but our corrupt politicians are just worried by themselves and their mansions. Ordinary people have not much money now, so this situation is not specially easy for sell artisan creations.
At the same time, many people are “narcotized” by the mass media with hours and hours of Spanish football. So too many persons can’t see farther of the football: they can’t see their real problems and they neither can’t see the value of any artisan work. The football in Spain is like the circus at the Antique Roman Empire (but the players have millions and millions of euros and there aren’t any lion waiting for them… unfortunately).
I have never traveled to USA, but… why not? Most of my Etsy customers are from USA. I have also clients from the rest of Europe, as Germany, France, Italy … Sales inside my own country … about three or four. Usually, my work shown on Etsy travels to USA. As I have said, the situation at my country is not very good. Maybe our future is not here, in Spain. My husband and me think about it many times, specially after watching the TV news. But really we don’t know which side of the world we have to choose…
We also are creating and selling button badges and many other “not creepy” handmade accessories from polymer clay. We are selling our work through Etsy, but here in Spain we are selling our creations at craft fairs by all the country (and also at medieval markets and historic recreations). Our work is very varied, so we can’t live at Halloween all the time: we have many styles!
By other side, I also love vintage times. So I have created a new Etsy shop (Etsy is a little addictive for me…). In this shop, called Pear Age (http://www.etsy.com/shop/pearage), I’m selling Spanish vintage and the answer of the public is really good.
You can find more of Monster of my Heart’s work on Etsy .
All photo credits Monster of my Heart and available for sale.