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Twas the night before Black Friday, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the cell phones were silenced by the bedside with care, In hopes that they’d alarm when daybreak would near ...

So you’re off for two days, on account of the Thanksgiving holiday; what better way to spend it than waking up at the butt-crack of dawn for day-after-Thanksgiving sales? Is there any other way to shop for Christmas gifts these days? Sure, online shopping is still a good way to beat the insane crowds — but are you, too, like Linus and think the whole gift-giving deal has reached over-commercialization? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

The following is a nifty guide to the alternative this season; the local DIY scenesters that offer a homemade substitute.


Twenty-four-year-old Krista Moreno doesn’t look like she’d carry a pair of knitting needles in her Dickie’s bag. But she’s an avid knitter and the founder of the Alamo City Knitting Society, which she organized nearly a year ago after reading Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch series.

Knitting is relaxing and “a great time-killer if you’re bored,” says Moreno. Being the mother of a 16-month-old means that Moreno doesn’t actually have much time to kill, but is in serious need of a way to beat the stress of her hectic life.

The Alamo City Knitting Society is tagged “not your Grandma’s knitting circle,” although Moreno says the organization has enlisted tattooed 20-somethings and suburban grandmothers. As long as you show an interest in knitting (whether it’s cross-stitch, traditional knitting, or crochet) they couldn’t care less about your age, appearance, or sex.

Not too good with knitting needles? Check out myspace.com/alamocityknitters and come out to Learn to Knit night — in no time you’ll be knitting your holiday gifts.

THE ALAMO city craft union

Imagine five women armed with scissors and needles. It’s not a cat fight waiting to happen, it’s the ladies of the Alamo City Craft Union. Laura Salazar, president of ACCU started the group nearly a year ago, just about the same time they birthed the idea for this October’s DIY Factory event.

Each member either has their own website or Etsy page, and participates in events such as Hecho a Mano or Stitch (Austin’s annual craft bazaar). The group is a co-op, says Salazar, and members “put in what they can.” Missy Ozuna, vice president of ACCU, is not in it for the money she earns from her custom-made jewelry and apparel, but for the satisfaction of knowing she can create a product.

With a strong belief in the value of homemade products, the ACCU truly are the alternative. “I am so sick of this corporate, cookie-
cutter identity being stuffed down my throat,” says member Blanca Rosa Braswell-Tucker. “If I have to make my own clothes to not be wearing the same things that everyone else is wearing then so be it — it feels better anyway.”

When it comes to the crafts scene, Ozuna says that, “So many people go to Austin, but we really have to look in our backyards — there’s a lot of creativity, it just needs to be cultivated.” Salazar added that group members are definitely influenced by the city, specifically its Mexican culture — as featured in Ozuna’s señorita shoulder bag found on her etsy page.

Salazar adds that she hopes in the coming years the ACCU will branch out and sell their products outside the Alamo City.

Is Grandma looking for a pair of vintage record earrings? If so, check out ACCU’s site at myspace.com/alamocitycraftunion for links to each member’s page.

san antonio craft mafia

The San Antonio Craft Mafia consists of six members ranging from crafters to artists working in the following media: assemblage, collage, painting, photography, jewelry, clothing, accessories, and home decor. The SACM is the most unique of all 40 Craft Mafias in the U.S and beyond — each imaginable artistic niche is covered.

Full-time collage-assemblage artist and SACM president Katherine Brown says that she sells about 80 percent of her work online. (Check out her found-object artisan belt buckle; for $55 you, too, can own a Pearl beer-bottlecap buckle.) Brown and the rest of the group are excited about the January opening (if only Christmas came a month later) of their boutique and gallery cleverly titled “Bodega” in The Blue Star Arts Complex, where each member’s work will be featured. SACM member Patti Hinkley will also be opening her own store geared towards children in La Villita. Additionally, the group plans to launch a junior Craft Mafia in the near future for the next generation of crafters.

Featuring found-object inspired jewelry to one-of-a-kind children’s clothing, each member’s site can be found at the SACM’s website, sacraftmafia.com.

agosto cuellar

Local vintage-shop owner Agosto Cuellar of the ever-so-awesome Jive Refried has a passion for fashion and he’s not afraid to show it. As Cuellar states, his style is based on recycled fashion, something he calls Reinvintage (a term local designer Angelina Mata coined in 2001 and now uses for her new ready-to-wear line).

Concerning the local San Antonio fashion scene, Cuellar energetically says, “It’s emerging.” He believes San Antonio is in a “good position.” “We’ve sparked something, we’re building momentum — we’ve created a revolution.”

Cuellar’s newly established DIY fashion group is a support system for budding fashionistas/os and established designers such as Mata. So far there are five members in the group and Cuellar wants it to be inclusive. He intends to recruit fashion students from the University of the Incarnate Word and the International Academy of Design & Technology.

This past weekend Cuellar hosted the fashion show Projections 2008 at Loft 120, where eight aspiring students presented five original garments each in a runway show. Due to the positive response the inaugural show received, Cuellar intends to continue producing annually.

Do you dream of multi-colored shades of polyester? If so, stop by Jive Refried at 919 South Alamo or visit Cuellar’s blog at jiverefried.blogspot.com.


Tremmell Brown (he prefers to be called Red Baklava, thank you very much) carries at least one camera with him at all times. He’s been an avid photographer for the past 18 years. Recently his work’s been featured at Bihl House, One9Zero6 gallery, and Blue Star.

“There’s a lot of different [photographic] styles in the city,” says Red, but his work has a distinct, eclectic edge. With a background in art photography, Red has a firm distaste for photography that is “serious, dry, with no flavor.” He opts for “creative, free, non-restrictive” images that capture a unique take on his surroundings.

The idea behind Red’s brand-spanking-new MySpace group (it’s been around merely a month), the Indie Photog Squad of San Antonio, is to show a “street, edgy, raw” side of the city. The targeted audience, says the site, is “local independent photographers that share a desire to break the mold of conventional photography.” According to Red, the response to the site has been “blazing.”

Red wants the group to meet on a monthly basis and exchange ideas. His goals include traveling shows, presenting work at local galleries, and possibly having a group show during next year’s FotoSeptiembre. On an even larger scale, Red wants to see more groups like Indie Photog Squads pop up all over the world.

Looking to purchase some of Red’s work? Check out his website redbaklava.com. Or if you’re interested in joining the Indie Photog Squad visit myspace.com_indie_photog_squad.

Upcoming open-air
craft market options:

Mercado de Paz/Peacemarket
10am-6pm Sat-Sun,
Nov 23-24
Esperanza Center
922 San Pedro
(210) 228-0201
Local artisans’ creativity is on display at Mercado de Paz — handmade gifts and artesanía with themes of peace, social and environmental justice, and cultural diversity.

Hecho a Mano/Made by Hand
6-9pm Nov 30 (preview)
$15 each/$25 per couple
9am-6pm Dec 1
Noon-5pm Dec 2
$2 suggested donation
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
1300 Guadalupe Street
(210) 271-3151
Hecho a Mano offers a wide range of fine art, including ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, fiber arts, furniture, metalwork, clothing and other handcrafted items.


etsy: Your one-stop shop

If you’re big into the arts-and-crafts scene and still have not heard of etsy.com you should be ashamed of yourself. The site is tagged as “an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade.” Conceived in early 2005, etsy has become an eBay of sorts for the craft community — there are approximately 550,000 registered users with 60,000 individual artists selling more than 800,000 handmade creations.

The easy-to-use site allows visitors to check out the Treasury, a member-curated gallery of short-term lists of hand-picked items, the amazing Geolocator (great for all you supporters of the local crafts scene), which allows you to pinpoint a specific place/seller to buy your goodies from, and 30 categories of items to choose from (we recommed the Geekery category). For fun, click on the “color” button on the website to find products matching whatever color you choose on the dot-color-spectrum.

If you have about six hours to kill, we recommed you visit etsy.com before you succumb to the malls this holiday season.

— Jennifer Herrera

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