We hope you’re surviving — and even thriving in the craziness that is the holiday season. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that a time of year that is supposed to invoke peace and joy has evolved into a season of disruption and anxiety? We won’t get all philosophical on you, don’t worry. We’re just here to say — we see you, and we get it. We understand the frustration that surrounds the act of giving and receiving gifts. And we want to help.
If you’re going to buy something for your loved ones — and you are, we know you are — you might as well buy something hand-crafted, beautiful, and locally made. Keeping money in our community is great, and supporting artists supports our whole city.
City Paper‘s annual crafts festival, Crafty Bastards, will feature over 70 local and regional vendors, selling everything from fine jewelry to cute ornaments.
You don’t need to buy everything. Hell, you don’t need to buy anything (the self-sustaining artists would love it if you did, though). Just come hang out, browse the goods, and appreciate all the time, effort, and patience involved in their creation.
This week, we talked to some of the patient, talented, and crafty makers headed to Crafty Bastards this weekend. Here’s what they had to say.
One new Crafty Bastards vendor this year hopes to create a fashion trend among Charlestonians. Jackie Raispis creates a type of hairwear called “fascinators” which she sells though her business, Essentially Ethel, both locally and on Etsy.
The fascinators are essentially felt, button, and feather hair clip accessories inspired by proper English hats. Raispis was motivated to create the fascinators after finding a lack of options to accessorize her short hair. “I’ve always had short hair, that’s just how it has been,” she explains. “I looked all over the world [for something] and figured I’d make fascinators myself.”
Originally from Ireland, Raispis is a true global citizen, having livedin places such as Australia, Mexico, and Dubai before coming to Charleston. “I wanted to bring this style to the states,” Raispis says. Since she started making personal fascinators five years ago Raispis says that she has gotten constant compliments on her pieces. Last year she decided to start making them to sell and share with others.
Raispis describes her product as an “everyday fascinator” made for any occasion. After experimenting with eight different designs Raispis finally settled on her current style: two pieces of leaf-shaped felt and decorative feathers graced around a unique button.
“For the pieces, I was inspired by vintage style like what you see in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Raispis explains. Her grandmother Ethel also served as a source of inspiration and the company’s namesake. “She always wore hats and dressed to the nines,” Raispis recalls. “There’s definitely a market for [vintage style] that has come back into play again.”
Each and every fascinator that Raispis creates has a vintage origin and is completely unique. Raispis buys her buttons from sources that send her bulk bags full of vintage material. “I rarely ever see two buttons alike,” she says.
In addition to her fascinators, Raispis has started to create a line of pocket squares featuring detailed feathers. Her pocket squares will make their retail debut at Crafty Bastards where Raispis will be selling them alongside her fascinators.
“I wasn’t sure that I would get into the show because I’m so new to this, but I did and I’m so excited,” she says. “I’m working ’round the clock to make sure that everything is perfected. There will be a lot of feathers flying around this time next month.” —Gabriela Capestany
Fred Prudhomme Pottery
Perhaps the best phrase that could be applied to Frederick Prudhomme’s pottery is “Art, interrupted.”
Prudhomme first studied ceramics at the University of Idaho, eventually leading to a residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Mont. The foundation was the perfect place for a young man interested in making pottery; it’s a non-profit educational institution founded in 1951 by Bray, a brickmaker and philanthropist who intended it to be, in his own words, “a place to make available for all who are seriously and sincerely interested in any of the branches of the ceramic arts; a fine place to work.”
But Prudhomme switched directions early in his career as many budding artists are forced to, pursuing a career in the business world instead. It’s only within the last few years that he’s been able to return to ceramics full time.
Luckily, Prudhomme’s skills remained intact, and he began making simple-yet-striking pieces that belied an equal interest in aesthetic beauty and practicality.
A typical Prudhomme work, like a mug or bowl or jar, is subtly attractive, using muted colors and impressionistic patterns to say a lot with a little. One can almost see a desert plain or an empty beach in some of his pieces, but his approach is never overt. There’s an almost dreamlike quality to his work that allows it to both attract attention or serve a larger design scheme simultaneously.
“I favor warm, softer colors, strong lines, and vessels which feel good in your hands,” he says.
And as Prudhomme alludes to in that statement, what’s even better is that this is art you can actually use, something that he takes a great deal of pride in.
“Form and function are two separate and distinct elements in my pots,” he says. “While function often dictates elements of the form, there is wide latitude to be explored.” —Vincent Harris
Holly Oddly and The Hidden Hand Society
Choose your own fate.
Those are the first words you’ll see on the website for Holly Oddly and The Hidden Hand Society, the dual-part business by Savannah craft maven Holly L’Oiseau. Hearkening back to the early ’90s choose-your-own-adventure novels, your choice on the homepage will either take you to the bright pastel world of Holly Oddy or the dark and mystic realm of The Hidden Hand Society.
“I never thought about it this way until recently, but Holly Oddly is very much my manic side and The Hidden Hand Society is very much my depressive side,” says L’Oiseau, who has been diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder. “There are people who are drawn to both, so I love being able to do what I love even though it’s not necessarily one cohesive thing.”
Inspired by shows like The Office and Game of Thrones, and things proper Southerners wish they could say, like “I wasn’t born with enough middle fingers,” Holly Oddly is a collection of cards, pins and prints that are as cheeky as they are bright. The Hidden Hand Society is something else altogether: pins of hands, eyes, and black cats with made up (or not) societies like the No Eye Contact Club.
“I get some side-eye from having items with curse words,” admits L’Oiseau, “So when there’s a craft fair called Crafty Bastards, I’m like, ‘These are going to be my people.'” —Enid Brenize
Haus of Hygiene
What do pastries and handmade vegan soaps have in common? Curtis Hayden, for one. The pastry maker turned soap artisan says he uses pretty much the same techniques when making both. Hayden works soap materials into a consistency that can be piped, like icing from a pastry bag, into intricate and colorful soap designs.
He makes “soap dough” that’s soft enough to mold by hand so he can make sand dollar shapes for his best selling “Bahama Mama” scent.
“I literally use a stick blender which you use for things like sous vides and soups. I use a kitchen blender for my bath bombs and bubble bars. I work out of my kitchen,” says Hayden. “I always loved the intricacy and design of pastry work. This is basically the same.”
Some of his soaps resemble colorful coral seascapes. Others contain a healing quartz crystal tucked into a floral-scented soap bouquet. For Crafty Bastards, he’ll introduce several new products including two moon soaps that he’s never released, hockey puck shaped molds with snowmen piped onto them, gingerbread houses, and Christmas tree bubble bars.
Nearly all of his products, from bath bombs to soap to facial cleansers, are vegan and carefully crafted for sensitive skin. His Rosy Cheeks Vegan Face Wash, his best selling product overall, has rave reviews on his Etsy page for its healing benefits.
“It’s a really great face wash for almost every skin type,” says Hayden. “I’ve had this one forever and it’s tried and true.” Almond meal gently exfoliates while calamine powder and rose clay tone down redness. The cleanser also contains four essential oils for targeting various facial imperfections — lavender oil balances; bergamot helps with scar repair and dark spot healing; lemon oil brightens; and frankincense helps to tone the skin. “Oily, dry, and combination skins love it,” says Hayden. “All of these ingredients are about bringing balance back to the skin. I try to achieve this with all of my products.” —Melissa Hayes
Colombian-born Ovidio “OviArt” Acevedo is an artist whose passion for art and music drives his paintings; he creates unique, street art-inspired works. Currently based out of Greenville, Acevedo spends his free time away from work in his studio with his acrylics, painting vibrant, abstract portraits.
“I would love to turn my art into something more permanent,” he says. “I want to create my own brand and paint murals. It would be a dream to do it on an everyday basis.”
Since he was nine, Acevedo learned his true passion can be found in art, and he has been drawing and painting ever since.
He primarily uses acrylic paint on canvas, but on occasion, combines it with spray paint and paint markers. Acevedo has also experimented with linoleum prints and screen printing to put his art on T-shirts.
As a more recent development, Acevedo also creates his work digitally, using the ProCreate app on his iPad Pro.
When painting or creating a piece in general, Acevedo says he can’t do anything without music in the background. It’s what keeps him motivated and focused.
“I have a set playlist on Spotify, so every time I’m in the zone, that’s what I listen to,” Acevedo says. “There’s various genres on it — punk rock, jazz, reggae, and everything in between. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of underground hip-hop and hip-hop in Spanish. Damian Marley and Skip Marley, though, are two of the most frequent artists I listen to.”
He enjoys participating in shows like Crafty Bastards because he gets to showcase his art and meet others like him. For him, it’s a fun experience to get to meet a lot of new people and share his love for art, as well as learn some new things along the way.
“My daily inspiration is my wife, Michelle,” he says. “Without her support and her being my number one fan, none of these shows would happen.”
“She keeps pushing me to do better everyday and try different methods, and I owe it all to her.” —Michael Pham