If you are anything like me at this time, your mantra is something like, “Sweet Baby Jesus, I still don't have presents for everyone. Why do we have to celebrate your birthday every year?”
You can switch out terminology for whatever religious celebration around the time of winter solstice you want, but the sentiment is still the same. So for those of you who haven't bought all your presents in July (for those who have, there are no words for how much I loathe you), I've shopped around for you from the best of the best. You can trust Crafters here to avoid the pitfalls of Etsy and to be talented, because my qualifications for being in this guide are thus:
- That I have seen in real life (or own) pieces from the artist, and have inspected the quality of it myself. It's a fun fact, but once you get into making jewelry and other crafting, you start inspecting everyone else's craftsmanship. Shopping is kind of forever ruined.
- I have met or had dealings with the maker, and that I regard them as upright and honorable, who care about customers.
- Ideally the above will be combined in one super great seller.
- If I haven't had dealings with the maker or haven't handled the merchandise myself (because I'm too poor to afford it darlings), then I go by popular reputation from the community.
- Not too cheesy or touristy. I’ll let new age-y slip by because if I didn’t, uh, there wouldn’t be much of a gift guide.
Crafters, if next year (If there is a next year, insert tired Mayan joke here) you want in on this cool thing, feel free to send me samples of your stuff for me to try out. I'll let Katniss explain for me: Anyway, without further explanations or ado, let's get on with it.
The 2012 Gift Guide
This person is amazing overall. I put the bracelet here because, well you know, most people know what to do with a bracelet. And, isn't it amazing what she does with the wire? It's spectacular. What she does amazingly well (in ways that I can occasionally afford) is the earcuffs:
I want to become her apprentice. I want her to teach me how to make ear cuffs like her so I’m not always buying from her. I want to make circlets like that, so I could afford to wear them. It’s all very reasonably priced for the work and materials that go into it, but sadly there is no room in my budget for crowns that I’ll only be able to wear at ren fairs or some far-off wedding day.
That said even the bridal stuff is reasonably priced, and doesn't gouge people. Also, on their Facebook page they have a ten dollar off welcome coupon, if you sign up for their newsletter. Overall, Thyme2dream is an awesome place to shop.
This is an interesting company; they started out on ebay, making clothes of all sizes, but the stuff that sold well was the plus sizes. So they cut out the smaller sizes and focused on plus sizes, and being one of the few poeple who provided ren fair clothes for plus sizes their reputation spread quickly. Now they are slowly going back to including all sizes because of the demand for it.
It’s all handmade in-house in India, and ethically handmade nonetheless. It’s all lovely, and the embroidery is astounding (though more Indian than Celtic in looks, but SCA folks should be happy). I may have spent far more money here than is wise. Fair warning though, everything is far more fancy and sexy in real life than it is online. The model somehow wears it with ease, that this looks like just an a slightly more stylish sundress that I felt I could buy it:
Onc I put it on, I was suddenly a princess on a day in the country. There aren’t as many places as you’d think that the required outfit is Princess Causal.
I’ve seen this guy’s stuff, and it makes me want to take up metal working. But, I won’t because with my lack of grace, I know the only way it would end is in a trip to the hospital. It’s good quality stuff, and made by people who care. My sister owns one of the penannulars and wears it with everything:
Okay, you may have noticed. I'm a woman with a preference for women-folk stuff like jewelry and dresses. Well, I admit I find ladies much easier to buy for, but there's some nice stuff here. I rather like the Rob Roy shirt, since well, I'm picturing a fine, strapping fellow in a kilt right now.
She does really wonderful embroidery and look at it. It’s Celtic without being over the top. And it’s useful for hiding that really embarrassing cover of a Piers Anthony book you don’t want people to know you are reading. Not that I would know anything about that.
I admit that I'm a total perfume addict. My perfume, body mist and lotion collection is awe-inspiring and terrifying in its vastness. But I'm not lacking in discrimination, I like certain scents (Rose, Tuberose, Strawberry and anything Tea) and I hate with a passion others (Lavender, Melon, Cucumber and bathroom cleaner Citrus are the worst). And it's hard to buy thing online when most people are like, “A warm scent that makes me think of Ireland of the Celts” or “A misty and mystical scent that makes me think of stone circles by the Ireland's coast, and promotes healing.” All I really want to know is “Does it contain lavender?” Heather Glen Apothecary won my heart by listing the blend's smell in top, middle and base notes. You get an idea what it smells like without enduring a great deal of nonsense. Awesome!
Would you look at these rings? Ain't they cool? They come in larger men's sizes and make me almost wish, I had something other than my tiny, woman's hands.
Something for the lads at last. These look awesome, practical, and stylish. The only thing better looking than a man in a kilt, is a man in a kilt and a waistcoat. After all, as we know, waistcoats become men like corsets do to woman. You gain about 15 hot points in them. Keep this in mind, gents.
Celtic Music Magazine Stuff
Did you know places related to this place sell stuff? Where you can buy swag like this great mug:
Or a “Kilted for His/Her Pleasure” shirt?
Now that you've gotten some cool swag like that, you'll want some CDs to go with it.
This traditional album has become the runaway hit in my home. It probably will do the same in yours or your friends.
Get this for your friends who are fans of The Decemberists. Trust me they will like it. They are very much in that vein, save that they are less creepy.
You can’t really beat the classics, eh? This was the album that introduced me to the world of Celtic, previously I’d only heard little bits and pieces of it on the radio or influences in folksingers like Mustard’s Retreat or Scott Alarik. This flung me full into it with songs both traditional and irreverent.
You can donate, you buy from the artists, you can buy from Marc Gunn, you can buy the compilation CDs but the best to my mind is Song Henge. It’s like $2.50 a month or 25 dollars per year. You get a subscription to the Song Henge Mailing List, an album every month, two compilation albums, two albums by Marc Gunn, discounts from the Celtic Music CD Store, and stickers. Stickers! What are you doing not being a subscriber?
Support Your Celtic Reviewer of Things
You can support me via cheerful comments, buying or commissioning some jewelry at Amelia's Heirlooms (granted there not much up at the moment because of an upcoming show but what's up is incredibly nice), or just taking this thing off my hands: http://yardsellr.com/AlYrZw It’s nice enough. Buy it for an older relative. More in my later Gift Guide: Shameless Self-Promotion Edition.
Bonus Gift Advice:
I know it’s not Celtic or ren fair, but whatever. Do you have a particularly hard person to buy for? Get them this book. They will read it and laugh, and love it. When they are done they will love either one or the other or both Pratchett and Gaiman. Both authors are prolific, so you will then be able to buy books for them for years later. This has never failed me.
Gail Rybak is an occasional writer, artist, photographer, Avon Lady, and she helps run Amelia’s Heirlooms. She is also a full-time geek and cat owner, and enjoys writing for Celtic Music Magazine. She will hopefully (assuming she can remember her password) be writing on her personal blog Machinations of a Robothobbit. Fame and fortune has eluded her so far, but she has many fine hats.