There's nothing like perusing handmade and locally sourced items in a charming little brick-and-mortar shop. But, the mouse-click call of online shopping sirens keeps many of us couch-based, and possibly a little unsociable, even for quirky specialty items, handmade with care. Happy Mother's Day, ma. I got this amethyst dragon collectible while shopping to Game of Thrones.
We're not knocking online shopping. Through sites like Etsy, entrepreneurs across the country have been able to set up shop without the overheard associated with traditional business ownership. But, meeting the mysterious merchants behind some of our favorite designs is one reason why Saturday's Etsy Dallas Spring Bash was so much fun.
Etsy Dallas, a cooperative craft collective of artists and designers, puts on two indie art expos per year and, judging by the expansive line snaking around the ballroom prior to doors opening, the biannual bashes' popularity has not waned since their in inception in 2007. Saturday, 71 regionally-based sellers opened shop at South Side on Lamar to flaunt their wares in person and make face-to-face connections with local buyers.
There was so much to see, and crazy crowds to boot, so here's a mere sample of our favorites, categorized roughly by trend. Bookmark them, and browse all the great artists, before your next online buy.
Drought resistant and unconventional, in an understated way, succulents gardens are the potted plants of the future in North Texas. Hardy and self-sufficient, their fleshy leaves retain water, making them more environmentally-sustainable in areas with increasingly scant water. That might not sound sexy, but some artisans have found ways to make desert plants hot.
Oak Cliff based Flower Child Plants goes above-and-beyond by upcycling refuse into chic planters -- think a vintage oil can or, fittingly, even a Local Buzz can from nearby Four Corners Brewing Co. -- furthering the shop's commitment to the environment, showcasing its beauty through "botanical oddities."
Rocks are it, y'all. MesaBlue mixes delicate, hand-gilded chains with harder-edged crystals, turquoise, and druzy quartz to a lovely effect. We'd like to tell you more, but consistent lines kept us pushed back from their booth. Luckily, the shop's elegant and reasonably-priced offerings are always updated online.
Unboxed Studio unveiled new wire-wrapped gemstone pieces to go along with its "original fan jewelry for the discerning nerd," like Scrabble piece pendants and bosquez keeps it natural with crystal arrowhead pendants and warrior rosaries.
Love southwest style without the stones? The Design District's beloved f. is for frank brought cool and creepy (in the best way imaginable) cast pewter designs with haunting haute-ness.
We're guessing you didn't know you needed crochet taxidermy. But, oh, have you seen the delightful mounted narwhal from Nothing But a Pigeon? Austin-based Taylor Hart's shop is closed for summer while she works on a pattern book, but she took the time to trek north and show off some of the day's cutest items.
Similarly bemusing, Hammer It Out's Megan Russel says she found metalworking by accident: She answered an ad for an artist's assistant and realized she really likes hitting stuff. Her handmade items look clean and sharp with a sophisticated edge, and they're definitely conversation starters. Need stainless steel bookends or a shiny smartphone stand? This girl's got 'em at a good price.
Also a hit: Wall designs, tablet/ereader covers, and journals from your favorite vinyl records, upcycled and re-designed into cool accessories by Three R Designs.
Portlandia famously joked that anything's better when you put a bird on it. Truth is, people love custom creations, so why stop there?
Dances With Monsters lets you build your own set of sandblast etched drinkware with eccentric designs. Its owner and artisan, Amy, says her new addition -- beer can shaped glassware -- proved an instant hit, and Texas-themes (specifically armadillos) always popular. But, one of her favorite requests was for a T-Rex wearing a bridal veil. Make life your own, folks.
Also great: Customize-able laser-cut paper items with geeky, funny chic covers like this "99 Problems" knitting journal by Austin-based Pigsey Art, whose owner, Brandy Davis, founded after picking up a "musty old 1970s book about paper crafts for kids."