With a name like W.C. Longacre, it's no surprise that he looks like Willie Nelson and talks like a wise journeyman. "I like the term ‘trader,’ ” he says. “I find ‘artist’ is a little presumptuous. I dabble in a lot of creative endeavors." The entrepreneur, craftsman and lover of creativity is also a professionally trained chef (he co-authored Great Bowls of Fire! with Dave DeWitt, aka “The Pope of Peppers”). In the mid-’70s he created the first line of cosmetics made in Albuquerque that was non-animal tested, petroleum-free and used no animal products. These days the 59-year-old lives with the younger artists Colleen O'Callahan and Patrick Stokes. Together, the unlikely fellowship create and trade for a bevy of handmade artifacts. You may be familiar with them if you've been walking around Downtown during your lunch hour. They work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—and sometimes Tuesdays and Thursdays, if weather and inclination permit—in the open air downstairs from the Anodyne (409 Central NW).
Some of their items are more commercial, like gift baskets ($15 to $150) containing chocolate bars, bath products from Martha’s Body Bueno—the line Longacre helped start that now exists as an online store—and all sorts of holiday miscellany. "We have baskets for dogs, we have baskets for cats, we have baskets for kids, we have chocoholic baskets," Longacre says. They also have more adult baskets, or they can customize one to your tastes with the bounty of wares available on their tables.
These include the popular “octostash” ($7), which is pretty much what it sounds like—a knitted octopus that you can stash things in. O'Callahan, who creates them, says they're popular for phones and cameras. And with their cute button-eyes, you'll quickly forget they're fashioned after vicious predators of the salty depths. O'Callahan also makes jewelry in the Native American tradition of peyote stitch beadwork. And her bottle cap earrings are eye-catching and quite affordable ($3 a pair).
As for Longacre, he's refurbished and handcrafted a number of wooden boxes ($7 to $25) into nifty dwelling places for jewelry and playing cards. He also sells painted corn necklaces ($4.75) that he buys off friends at Santo Domingo Pueblo.
And Stokes? "I'm an octostash sales rep," he says. Stopping by their tables is a good way to inexpensively stuff your Christmas stockings. Beyond that, the trio is just a warm group of people to chat with if you're strolling the Downtown streets. I like Longacre’s stories. "We live on some acreage down by the river," he says. "Our time is spent around the fire making things. We got a nice kiva fireplace that was made by a friend of mine in the house. This is kind of how we work." They'll be there through the end of the month.