Now don’t think I’m boasting, but it is true that times like these are made for salvagers like me. It’s not like my salvage/antiques/alternative collections are exactly on everyone’s holiday shopping list anyway. So if you are feeling blue about the new austerity, maybe I can cheer you up. Of course I wallowed in self-pity and boo-hooed around about having no reason to celebrate. Feeling broke and unloved, I committed the cardinal sin of retail and ordered no holiday merchandise. Call me the anti-Christ, I just didn’t feel like it. Like your old Aunt Mary, I stuck what money I had under the mattress and called in my scrappy band of pickers and artists and said dream something up with what we’ve got.
First there was the jump-start from Holly, my funny, razor-sharp friend/artist and vintage clothing dealer who took one look at my lifeless body and organized a holiday “bailout ball.” With cursor on send, there it was: an invitation to hundreds for a now annual party. Like a grungier, back-alley quilting bee, there I sat at the ninth hour with my street-genius artist friend Jon and his crazy garbage-picked collection and together we made “holiday wreaths.” Every sentence to describe these wreaths started with, “nothing says Christmas like…” and off we went. First it was the car accident wreath; vintage photos of car accidents, a broken car, then on to nudie pin-up girls and bondage Santa. A feverish trip to the dollar store yielded bright green plastic dissecting frogs with see-through organs that became biology wreath, festive with old hemostats and bows. 1940’s bow ties became the best-dressed man’s dream wreath. The film enthusiast got a wreath with popcorn boxes, old theater photos and film strip bows and the fisherman got a wreath of lures and tangled lines. We were on our way.
My painter friend David took all the scrap wood I had laying around and made urban-fresh wall pockets that looked up country. To hang on doors, walls or fences, stuffed with greens or dried flowers, these he painted with simple stencils of snowflakes, birds and initials. The result is clean and elegant and will continue looking good long after the ornaments get put away. Lisa, she with the most treasures wins, took her collection of architectural fragments and made ornaments with bits of crystal, charms and upholstery tacks. She cleverly dismantled old silverware and made window-mounted bud vases with their handles. Irreverent holiday cards with vintage photos, sewn on with buttons, are loved by those who share her devilish streak. A last minute entry by our partners at Richard Gage Design Studio kept us all smirking with disembodied Santa heads in homemade snow globes and an x-rated wreath I had to hang behind the counter.
All this is to say that the holidays aren’t just for kids or the beautiful people. Santa may not come in the way you had hoped or expected, but maybe that wasn’t all that satisfying anyway. He came for me, not under the tree or in my cashbox, but with true friends to my messy studio and store by the tracks.