For those of us who aren't sure whether the term "hipster" or the stereotype itself is more obnoxious, the daunting task of covering an event dubbed a "Hipster Mecca" has the potential to dampen a whole weekend. Instead, Unique LA's Third Annual Spring Show at the California Market Center surprised us with more than a handful of, well, unique and crafty folks. Here we were, ready to declare 2011 the Year of the Feather Accessory or clarion the Death of the Screenprinted Totebag, but instead we found the Green, the Quaintly Crass and the Uniquely Crafty.
Kim Karlsrud and Daniel Phillips, co-directors of Commonstudio, presented their seedbombs to aspiring guerrilla gardeners. For the uninitiated, a seedbomb is a throwable greenspace in a tiny handmade grenade. LA-based Commonstudio partners with Chrysalis Enterprises to put formerly homeless folks to work rolling the packets. With nearly eighty vending machines nationwide and two new workers earning a living-wage in their shop, we'd say these two are on to something awesome.
Green-thumbed artist Bianca D'Amico had an assortment of her terrariums and plantings in her Terri Planty booth. A tiny man in a giant fishbowl begs, "Make Love Plant a Garden!"
"Hey Slutbag: Congrats on Getting Knocked-Up," wishes one of Jeannette Champion-Fanning's Sweet Perversion greeting cards. "If my husband makes a face, then I know I've got a winner," she explained. Claiming she's the perverted half of the Sweet Perversion dichotomy, Champion-Fanning makes a variety of cards and (anti)social correspondence. Some are for those awkward apologies and some for those two-fisted "I Fucking Love You" declarations. Thanks, Jeanette, for showing us something quaintly crass.
Magnetic Grain, a Ventura studio, takes magnets and wood in a genuinely crafty direction. From the decorative squares that offer an endless array of modular wall-art to the collapsible Pallet Chair, the two-person company reclaims and re-appropriates industrial pallets and sustainable particle-board.
Friendly and crafty couple Tyson Smith and Klara Nizki were selling Tyson's Maiden Voyage Clothing. Tyson's T-shirts are all his own designs and mostly nautical in theme. The craftiest parts of his line are the front-pocket wallets inspired by WW I pistol holsters.
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The most buzzworthy but apparently least salesworthy items on display this weekend were Lisa Swerling's Glass Cathedrals, a kind of minimalist, grown-up shoebox diorama with a philosophical bent. Lisa's partner, Ralph Lazar was on hand to explain her artboxes and run out of her business cards. Ralph touted the hands-down crowd favorite he called "Water Wings." Profoundly crafty. (Update: While the Glass Cathedrals weren't moving like hotcakes on Saturday, we're happy to report that Saturday's buzz paid-off. Lisa emailed to inform us that her Sunday sales picked-up and that she was fielding a record number of inquiries from the show.)
All told, Unique LA offered enough green, quaint and crafty distractions to mask any concerns about jean-skinniness, glasses-size or whatever other trappings of youth and art-sensibility that may have offended the hipster-averse. We're already looking forward to the holiday event in October. No, we really are this time, we promise.