GIFT SHOP OF THE YEAR
Curtis Steiner’s new wonder emporium on Ballard Avenue beckons
paper lovers, jewelry fiends and one-of-a-kind-gift hunters
Eight months ago, it didn’t look good. Artist Curtis Steiner was closing his beloved Ballard shop, Souvenir, sporting a black funeral armband during the shop’s last week. Devoted fans mourned the loss. But luckily, the gloom quickly lifted as Steiner rallied and returned to his old ’hood in May, opening a new chest of wonders, Curtis Steiner, on Ballard Avenue in the corner spot previously occupied by the Guitar Emporium.
Like Souvenir, Curtis Steiner, the shop, is a quirky, eclectic and gorgeous homage to the loves of the artist’s life: jewelry and paper. The white space, with its refurbished wood floors and bold antique lighting that enhances the original stained glass windows, emanates with Steiner’s creative spirit (watch out; it’s catching), showcasing his linocut cards finished with elegant calligraphy ($6–$12) and jewels made from found parts, ranging from ebony horns to gemstones.
Pop in on any given day and gawk at the artist at work (along with his trusty Chihuahua sidekick, Mortimer). You might catch him crafting oversized paper window installations, designing cards or helping customers find a gift for that hard-to-please mother-in-law. Mixed in with Steiner’s pieces is a revolving set of featured artists; this fall, local artist Patty Grazini brings her paper shoes to the shop, adding another element of wonder to Curtis Steiner’s little world.
GREAT GIFT IDEAS FROM OTHER QUAINT SHOPS
$5 -- House Rules
A set of three giant letterpress doorknob hangers communicate your privacy wishes loud and clear with double-sided vintage prints, handmade in Tieton, Washington. Get it at: Downtown Seattle’s PAPER HAMMER, the paper goods offshoot of local art-book publisher Marquand Books, which features hand-bound writing journals and letterpress coasters made using good, old-timey methods.
$10 -- Green Girl
The house-made itsy-bitsy glass terrarium necklace, on a leather strap, holds just the right amount of soil, water and plant life (a succulent sprig) to create both an eco-system and a style statement. Get it at: Sam Crowley’s West Seattle floral boutique FLEURT, known for wild, organic arrangements, plus a wide array of mod air plants and, of course, terrariums (bring in your own container, and they will craft one for you on the spot).
$13 -- Salt of the Earth
Spice up a neighborhood barbecue with a jar of Cyprus Pyramid seasoning salt for the hostess; the scented crystals add an intoxicating flavor to grilled meats or crostini. Get it at: Capitol Hill’s new modern-day apothecary, Karyn Schwartz’s SUGARPILL, filled top to bottom with scent-sational herbs, bitters (for signature cocktails) and spice-infused salts.
$14 -- Party time
Nearly any occasion (baby! wedding! Tuesday!) merits the addition of local gal Kate Greiner’s darling handmade paper flag streamers, available in an array of merry patterns in 60-inch-long strands. Get it at: The new BUTTER HOME, a teensy, adorable shop wedged into the rafters of the Melrose building, is stuffed with shabby-chic finds, including scented linen sachets, felted birds and vintage milk bottle sets.
$20 -- Sweet sentiment
Created by Queen Anne’s Lauren Burman, the cheerful and petite Little Shirley’s 4-inch ceramic bud vases come in an array of bright colors, including tangerine and turquoise, to set off nature’s sweet gifts. Get it at: Glorious, year-old MARIGOLD & MINT in the Melrose Market, which features blooms from owner Katherine Anderson’s Snoqualmie Valley farm (so grab a bud for Shirley while you’re there), as well as her hand-picked soaps and vases.
$20 -- Animal Kingdom
Meet the Wonder Kittens, a pair of adorable, sweet tee’d felines, part of one of the cutest artistic menageries around. Portland artist Ryan Berkley spins an endlessly imaginative world with his series of colored-pencil animal prints (8 by 10 inches). Get it at: The sweet spot in the universe where art and yummy treats meet, Capitol Hill’s CAKESPY SHOP, a tiny palace of cupcake drawings, joy-inducing local jewelry, magnets and any kitchen accessory one could call “cute.”
$28 -- Plot twist
Sandwich your favorite books between Imm Living’s Big Top Bookends, balloon dogs made from resin so they’ll never leave you deflated. Get it at: The ever-evolving gallery of novelties CHARLEY + MAY recently opened atop Queen Anne. From local jewelry and unique iPod cases to hot haberdashery, owner Lauren Formicola always has something new and interesting.
$42 -- Bowled over
Hipster hostess gift givers will quiver at the sight of Bambu’s soft cork bowls made from two layers of cork sewn together. Pile fruit in the mod, pliable bowl for a centerpiece that’s cool, yet still practical (dishwasher safe, baby). Get it at: Our new “happy place,” BUTTER HOME on Capitol Hill.
$50 -- Be square
Wooden blocks (rather than reed sticks) channel the luscious scents contained in Le Cherche Midi’s Fragrance Cubes, with notes like absinthe flower, clean laundry and Sicilian bergamot, for a more consistent diffuser that you don’t have to flip (and the cat can’t spill!). Get it at: West Seattle’s best-smelling new shop, KNOWS PERFUME, home to high-quality scents from around the world in many shapes and forms. Just head to the Junction and follow your nose.
Vendor: Stitch & Swash
The Goods: Angie Bowlds is a bit famous among Twilight fans: The handbag designer crafted a leather tote carried by the main character—Bella—in the second flick. Thankfully not lost to Hollywood, she still makes oh-so-Seattle hand-stitched, patterned leather Kindle cozies, available in a variety of colors and prints. Buy It: $35 at stitchandswash.etsy.com
Vendor: Steel Toe Studios
The Goods: Metalsmith Erica Gordon hand-rivets each chunky steel buckle that comes out of her Georgetown studio. This one was crafted using a reclaimed vintage keyhole. Buy It: $76 (plus $46 for scarlet leather snap belt) at steeltoestudios.etsy.com
The Goods: Stay cozy on cool fall nights with a faux rabbit fur neck muff from scarf designer extraordinaire Rian Robison. The cowl (which can also be worn as a hood on those really chilly days) has a surprise tucked inside: a fully reversible layer of green and red poppy print. Buy It: $65 at tuesdayshop.etsy.com
Vendor: Andrew’s Reclaimed
The Goods: Coupeville husband-and-wife team Andrew and Melissa Pettit use recycled wood to craft their retro Eames-inspired business card holders. Pieces of upcycled plywood cabinets are pressed together and laminated in a pattern unique to each hand-notched organizer. Buy It: $21 at andrewsreclaimed.etsy.com
Vendor: Coffee Purse
The Goods: Barista Alexa Baehr uses materials close at hand (coffee bags!) to create her wine bottle cover; pop a bottle into the fleece-lined bag, tie a bow with the black, beaded ribbons and you’re house-party ready. Buy It: $30 at coffeepurse.etsy.com
Vendor: Haute Goat Cashmere
The Goods: Local EtsyRAIN organizer (a local team of Etsy artisans that organizes sales around the city; etsyrain.com) Heidi Kappes Belinsky’s lil’ “hOOt Owl” has a secret: Hidden behind this cock-eyed expression is a pocket, so you can tuck an iPod into your new hand-stitched, recycled cashmere friend. Buy It: $25–$30 at hautegoatlabs.etsy.com
Vendor: Barbara Dunshee
The Goods: Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, too) would love artist Dunshee’s bubbled honey crock. The handmade ceramic pot with contrasting cap holds one cup of the precious sweet nectar and comes with a vintage spoon for dipping. Buy It: $40 at barbdunshee.etsy.com
Vendor: Clinks for Drinks
The Goods: Toast to your ’hood with Leah Idler and Penny Yriondo’s neighborhood-themed bottlecap wine-glass charms. Never fear, non-Ballardites: The duo also offers custom- or ready-made Clinks featuring other ’hoods’ revered hot spots. Buy It: $17 (per set of four) at clinks.etsy.com