Handmade for the holidays

Gifts from the mall? Not on our watch.

Ruby Barrientos’s coloring book draws on her Salvadoran heritage.

Ruby Barrientos’s coloring book draws on her Salvadoran heritage.

“The reason that I do this is—holiday shopping gives me nightmares,” said Tessa Miller. She owns The Nest, a little vintage shop on Keystone Avenue that’s filled wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with housewares, furniture and clothing. Each weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she’ll host a few different local artisans who make products she loves—soaps, hats, unbelievably pretty cookies—but don’t have their own brick-and-mortar shops.

“Box stores are crowded, people are elbowing, it doesn’t feel like the spirit,” Miller said. “If I feel that way, there are probably a lot of other people that feel that way, too. … Not, ’Let’s feed into the corporate hamster wheel of crap.’ More like, ’Let’s get back to the true spirit of Christmas.”

At RN&R, Miller’s vision of holiday spirit is music to our ears. And we don’t just mean the hot chocolate bar she’s setting up for her customers—whipped cream, sprinkles, schnapps and all. We mean the way she wants to avoid the road rage, the long lines, and the nagging impetus to grind our teeth to a fine powder when we hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for the 55th time in one day.

All year long in this office, we get to talk with artists, makers, crafters and creative, local businessfolks—so, now that the holiday shopping season is upon us, we’d like to introduce you to a few of them so you can visit their boutiques or studios, or—if “getting into the holiday spirit” strikes you as being less about the hot chocolate bar and more about finding good gifts without getting out of your PJs—right from the comfort of your keyboard.

Lisa Kurt rendered her adoration for tumbleweeds on tree ornaments.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how Miller is going to fit all of these handmade wares and warm beverages in her tightly-packed shop, she’s making extra space as we speak. “I’m having a giant couch sale right now,” she said the week before Thanksgiving.

Between the lines

“Art is therapeutic for me,” said artist Ruby Barrientos. She finds drawing to be meditative and comforting—and she figures that people who color in her new coloring book will, too, and so, probably, will the local high school students she intends to donate some copies to.

Barrientos explained her imagery this way: “I’m a first-generation American descendant of Salvadoran artists. My El Salvadoran spirit guides my art. It’s a reflection of my heritage.” Her indigenous Central American figures pack the page with kinetic, slightly trippy energy and still leave plenty of negative space to color.

“The Haphazard Doodles Coloring Book,” ($12) is available at Sol kava bar, inside the West Street Market, 148 West St., or online at www.solkava.com.

Artist Killbuck scaled down his huge sideshow paintings to fit under a tree.

A “Frog Boy” for every home

“I do banners for sideshow performers, magicians, as well as people who just simply like the nostalgic, low-brow charm of the old-style sideshow banners,” said Rex “Killbuck” Norman. The dark humor and bright colors of his cigar-smoking, tattooed mermaid and similar characters attract a lot of fans at the festivals where he shows them, but his paintings are often the size of a whole room, or even a small building. “Not everyone has the wall space,” he said. So, he’s designed a line of affordable prints that fit pretty much anywhere.

Paintings such as “Clothed in Snakes,” “Tattooed Mermaid,” and “Frog Boy” are available as 11-by-14-inch prints ($20), from bit.ly/2j3aM85

A hole selection

The RN&R editorial staff is comprised of research nerds, and, to us, there aren’t many hobbies as good as deep dives into hours-long Wikipedia holes. Around this time of year, a Redbubble hole is almost as satisfying. The comprehensive online marketplace features photos and graphics by a huge range of artists from near and far, printed on posters, pillows, cards t-shirts, and all sorts of other products.

Images by artists near and far are abundant on redbubble.com.

One good starting point is the “Snowfall in Washoe Meadows State Park iphone case” ($25) by South Lake Tahoe adventurer and author Jared Maninen, rdbl.co/2j3NfnO

Fair warning: This site has a one-thing-leads-to-another appeal, and you might end up clicking around for hours. A search for “Reno” yielded over 1,200 results. (And this is where we got the First Amendment poster that’s on the newsroom door, in case you were wondering.)

Storybook stocking stuffers

Painter Lisa Kurt has been prolific as of late—and not just with gallery exhibits. She’s stocked her Etsy shop with affordable, original paintings of endearing storybook animals and adorable, gray-scale vampire children. She’s also the illustrator of a book for first and second graders about India’s first female pilot. And Kurt, who is originally an East Coaster, rendered some of the everyday features of her adopted home region—cacti and tumbleweeds—cute as buttons on a new line of painted, wooden tree ornaments.

Find prints ($20 and up), paintings ($65-1,000), and ornaments at http://www.etsy.com/shop/lisakurtart or at Holland Project Rogue Art + Craft holiday sale at on Dec. 9. The children’s book Sarla in The Sky ($12.95) is available from several online book retailers.

Local grammarian Mignon Fogarty has 365 tips for your loved ones.

Cop some grammar

Obviously, we’re grammar groupies over here. We try not to correct people’s grammar in public—that’s just obnoxious—but, much as we try to resist chiming in sanctimoniously in polite company, we know a lot of you might have lingering questions about “who vs. whom,” “affect vs. effect,” and how the heck to use a semicolon. Lucky for you, the only person on Earth who can correct your grammar constantly without sounding like a jerk lives right here in Reno. She’s Mignon Fogarty, otherwise known as Grammar Girl, and, after publishing a website, a long-running podcast and a few books, she’s released a calendar—not just a 12-page one, a 365-page one, with a tip for each day of 2018.

“I tried to make it a mix,” she told us over the phone the other day. “I wanted to make sure I had commonly confused words and punctuation, sentence structure—I like to also include tidbits about word histories.”

“Grammar Daily: Tips From Grammar Girl 2018 Boxed/Daily Calendar” ($14.99) is available at local and online book retailers.

Make a splash

Ever taken an out-of-town friend for an epic day at Lake Tahoe, then realized your selfies, cute as they were, didn’t really do justice to the visual grandeur of having watched the optical play of water and light next to glorious, sweeping vistas all afternoon?

South Lake Tahoe adventure photographer Dylan Silver has got you covered. Photographing Lake Tahoe is one of his passions. He has a really good underwater lens, and he knows how to use it. That means that the images you can buy from his website look a bit like something from National Geographic and a lot like that epic day. And they’re priced moderately enough that you can send a handful of them to one of those out-of-town friends you shared that great swim with.

Prints on paper or aluminum, small or large, ($10 and up) are available at Silver’s Tahoe Clarity website, www.tahoeclarity.com.