SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Coming soon...

Tune in later this week for a Craftstravaganza wrapup. One-word review: AWESOME!

SPC Media Wrapup

Holy crap, it's been a crazy week, and the real madness is just about to start. Check out our media page for all the press we've had so far. It took me a few hours to update our site this morning, so there was no time for a real blog post. Go read that stuff instead.

p.s. There's a typo in the Star Tribune article. Craftstravaganza is tomorrow, not Sunday.

SPC Vendor Feature #3

I love posters, so I was excited to get designers Lonny Unitus and Nate Nolting in last year's show. For round two, we added Adam Turman and "Miss" Amy Jo to our roster of local gig poster artists. Double the fun!

Adam designed our poster for the 2nd Annual Craftstravaganza, which I apparently never posted here. His main themes are "boobs, flames, and skulls." See if you can guess which two are represented on our poster!

Compared with Adam's bold-line pinups, Amy Jo seems to tend toward a more detailed, vintage illustration-y look. Two Minneapolis poster artists, two totally different styles.

SPC Vendor Feature #2

Of course we love all our vendors equally, but some are more equal than others. We received more than twice as many applications as we had booth space for this year's show. Between my wife and me, we narrowed them down. We picked some because I loved them, some because she did, and some because even though they weren't our cup of tea we knew that somebody else would dig it.

The fair will have something for everyone, but this blog is all about me, so I'm just going to talk about my favorites. I already mentioned it once or twice, but Cricket Syndicate is at the top of my shopping list for Saturday. One-of-a-kind, hand-sewn, box-cut briefs. With that much hyphenation, it's got to be good!

This model is displaying the cut of the under-pants and the fact that they are unisex, which is brilliant, but you can't see the best part: front panels made from recycled t-shirts. What a great idea! Each pair is unique, and you're sure to find something that fits your style (i.e., band, sports team, picture of wolf).

I'm on TV

Click here to watch me embarrass myself on live television! This was one of four segments on local Fox 9 News this morning. The other clips talked about the shop (I like you) and did a couple of craft demonstrations. You can't buy this kind of publicity (well, maybe you can, but we got it for free).

We didn't know in advance exactly how the day would go. So we were delighted to get not just four whole segments, but also four teasers. You know the little clips that run before a commercial and end with "...when we come back" or "...a-right after this"? They did that. Because our craft fair is cliffhanger-worthy.

I'm still thrilled about the coverage and kind of amazed that we got away with it. I think it will sink in when we get to watch the whole thing. Jenna asked her sister to Tivo the whole program, and we'll try to put that footage on the online somehow. Anybody out there who knows how to make that happen?

2007 SPC Vendor Feature #1

Welcome to the first post for this year's gushing about how great our vendors are. I did something similar before the show in 2006. It's part promotional, sure, maybe if more than ten people read this blog on a daily basis. Mostly I'm writing about stuff that makes me excited. In this case it just happens to be vendors for the rogue craft fair that I organize.

Up first is Timothy Haugen of Fantastic Toys. We were hoping for more plush vendors this time around, and he blew us away with these soft-looking creatures. Also check out his gnome mushroom cottage!

Star & Tribune Adventures

We were interviewed for an article in the Strib! My wife and I drove to the Star and Tribune offices in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday morning and had brunch with a friendly reporter. The interview was fun and much less stressful than appearing on live TV. The article should appear in a week.

Afterward, we visited Corazon, another new (2 years old) shop selling (some) handmade stuff. It's a very convenient location if you are walking from Sex World to the Vu, and in between you decide that you would like to shop at a girly chic boutique.

We finished our playdate with a visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I thought I could get some garden ideas. Bad news: it was too early to go; almost nothing is blooming yet. Good news: this was the second-to-last week of free admission Thursdays. Cheap date!

Unpainted Russian nesting dolls

Continuing this week's "doll" theme, we come to these imported wood matryoshkas (the tallest is 6 inches) from the Wurst Gallery. You can click here for a gallery of these guys, painted and decorated by contemporary artists.

I like the set by Adam Bayer best. Or maybe these by Jeff Kling? At only $12, I'm tempted to buy a set of these and decorate them myself.

This is Blythe

Dolls are not something I am generally "into," yesterday's post notwithstanding. But I can understand the attraction for Blythe dolls after reading about their history in the new issue of Craftzine. The dolls were originally produced in America by Kenner in 1972. They flopped. Recently, Blythe hit it big in Japan--of course--where her bizarre proportions and giant eyes echo the anime aesthetic.

Lots of new dolls have been produced since then, but the real appeal is in custom work. Collectors do everything from sewing clothes, to building new eyeballs, to re-rooting hair. I think this Blythe looks like my friend. She wants to be a doll, so it's the perfect match!


The doll on the left was made by my wife's grandmother, and given to her when she was very small. She named it "guh-gon." Each of her sisters had one of their own. So when my sister-in-law's baby (my niece) turned one year old, I made her the doll on the right.

It is an updated version of my wife's beloved Guh-gon. I added a mouth (the red dot on "original guh-gon" is a nose), and I removed the disturbing "diddle" on the bottom. Also, it is difficult to see because I lined up the fabric like a master, but my doll has a large pocket on the front of her clothing parts.

I needed some help from my mother-in-law with the hair braiding, but I was proud of myself when I finished. I was very excited to see the look on my niece's face when she opened it. The end result? She took one glance at her new doll, and then:


Video game cross-stitch

Over at Kotaku, there's a post about a dude who recreates scenes from classic videogames... in cross-stitch! May I say, radical. This is a truly excellent example of traditional craft remixed with modern themes.

Crafts in Minneapolis: I like you

Graffiti by Siloette (

When I go to Uptown on a weekday, there are two things I always forget:
  1. My camera
  2. The fact that everything is closed before 11:00
I ate brunch at the French Meadow Bakery and waited for shops to open their shutters. Then I walked around town and hung posters. I got a kick out of finding them already up in several places, including the big pillar outside of Wedge Co-op.

After that was done, I visited a new craft consignment store, run by one of our vendors. It is called "I like you" and it's a cozy little boutique in the style of Paper Boat. You should go! It's on 42nd and Nicollet. They are still working on signage and everything, but I expect great things from them soon.

Painted Rooms

If ever I visit San Francisco, I will stay in a painted room at the Hotel des Arts. These special suites are decorated from floor to ceiling by individual artists. It's like a live-in gallery. Imagine the dreams that would be inspired by sleeping under the soothing skull designs of Jeremy Fish.

Another good reason to move to Canada

Residents of our neighbour to the North can win one of six hand-painted Wii consoles. This contest is closed to foreigners. I'm so close, yet so out of luck!

This graffiti-style case by Udon collective member Arnold Tsang is my favourite. Another is done by Gary Taxali, probably the most famous artist on the list. Hoi-An Tang and illScarlett round out the roster of announced artists, and two more are yet to be revealed.

Handmade Nation sneak peek

Clips from an upcoming documentary about the rise of DIY Art, Craft & Design. Faythe Levine traveled all around the country to shoot for this movie, and she filmed some footage at the 2006 Craftstravaganza, so we might be in it! It looks awesome. She says that they will be posting a trailer soon at the official film website:

uekiya ni naritai

Like many city lots, there's a narrow strip of land between our house and the neighbor's yard, about four feet wide. I got a bug in me to turn this weedy patch of dirt into a miniature Japanese garden. I envision a path of stones surrounded by moss, with a slightly raised bed of ferns and shrubs along the wall.

To stock this area, I will need to find plants that are not only suitable for a Japanese garden, but also:

  1. Tolerant of partial to full shade
  2. Very small (to fit the tiny space)
  3. Cold-hardy (to survive Minnesota winters)
This would be difficult to accomplish even with money. My challenge is to do it cheaply and kind of fast, because I'll probably be moving in a few years. I've been scouring resources on Japanese gardens and so far I've identified promising Hydrangeas, shrub pines, and rhododendrons. It's a great start, but I have a long way to go. I got some great advice on swallows when I wrote about my bird house. Do any kind strangers have the inside scoop on gardening?

Rabeneick, Rad!

This bicycle is one of a pair of German 3-speeds from the 50's. The photo looks super-crappy in the preview above. Click to view the full size at a higher quality. Matt has more beautiful photos of these vintage bikes at his blog, Two Cities Two Wheels.

By the time I get to phoenix

One of my friends got linework for a backpiece, apparently. She has made up her mind to get it colored in, which is the correct decision. Now she is seeking suggestions for color choices, in the form of a contest.

I submitted the option above (the bird in the upper left is a tattoo that she already had finished). It took me over an hour in Photoshop to complete that whole thing, and I didn't even stay within the lines. This is why tattoo artists charge by the hour. I'm not totally loving all the color placement, but it should give her some helpful ideas, I hope.

If there's one thing I like, it's helping people. And tattoos. And coloring contests.

Voltage: Fashion Amplified

I heard that Voltage was canceled this year, but it was a lie! City Pages is running a feature about it called "Catwalk Confessional" (that's where I stole this image from). I'm not sure if it's already sold out, but I think that this would be a fun event to attend. A runway show set to rock & roll sounds okay to me. But... what would I wear?

List of Events:
April 4th – Voltage CD listening party (that's tonight!)
April 11th – Voltage: Fashion Amplified at First Avenue Mainroom
April 13th to 15th – Voltage Fashion Weekend

On sneakers, part 2: my new kicks

I have a general rule for sneaker ownership. I buy one pair of shoes, and I wear them every day until they are worn into the ground. I'm talking seams ripped open, heels broken out, stains, holes, and general total busted-ness. At that point, and no sooner, will I begin to look for a replacement pair (this applies to my wardrobe in general--one good pair of pants? I'm all set--but especially to sneakers).

As such, many of my former purchases have been primarily utilitarian. I like my shoes to look nice, but I prefer if they cost less than twenty bucks. I splurged on my most recent acquisition and got sneakers that feel comfortable and look good. I believe the total was forty dollars, a considerable sum, but supplemented by some gift money from my grandma.

The new shoes look nice. In fact, they might be a little too nice. For one thing, they are very white. The morning after I bought them, it was raining. I looked outside and started thinking about the mud, and what a shame it would be to get my new shoes dirty so quickly. Sneakers are supposed to be all-purpose, but I wanted to protect them. I started to seriously entertain the idea of purchasing an alternate pair of shoes.

Such a thing has never been done before.

(next: the thrilling conclusion!)

On sneakers

Shoes are a special type of object that fit into a niche between form and function. They are similar to cars in this way. Shoes also, like cars, speak volumes about the person who possesses them. The type of shoes you wear are a visual cue of what you like to do and who you are. The shoes make the man.

There are a limited number of basic shoe varieties. You have your dress shoes, in shades of black or brown, which correspond to fancy vehicles (e.g., Ferrari, Porche, limousine). There are performance-oriented sport-specific footwear, which are like race cars. When you stomp around the trails in your big luggy boots, you're wearing the off-road vehicles of shoes. Leather sandals are jeeps, or dune buggies. Thongs? Convertibles.

And then we have all the rest, the sneakers, which is what most of us actually drive on a daily basis. There's a wide gamut of sneakers, from the economy-class two-doors, to the tricked-out low riders with spinny rims and hydraulics (yes, Prada sells sneakers). There's a sneaker for everyone's style. What's yours?