In the North Valley’s sometimes prosaic south end, where laundromats compete with check loan outfits and discount car lots for eyeballs, Kelly Crafts is an oasis of pleasing nuevomexicano texture. On Menaul just up Sixth Street from a Love’s Truck Stop, the terracotta-tiled showroom floor features majestic, detail-rich, artisanal wood furniture, much of it handcrafted by owner Paul Kelly. Other sumptuous home furnishings also abound, from upholstery fabric to drum coffee tables. Kelly has a discerning eye, too, for smaller, home-accenty-type items. A range of etched and painted pots can run up to $250 for the showy 2-foot pieces, but stocking stuffers start at just $5. About $20 to $39 will get you a snazzy Mata Ortiz piece covered in geometric or animal designs. Someone on your gift list is sure to want one adorning their kiva fireplace. Rustic pot display stands made with wood and cord go for $9. Dreamcatchers and decorative arrows are $12. Three-dimensional scenes by Navajo artist Bessie Kee, starting at $35, show soft sculpted women weaving on traditional looms and include details down to tiny wool skeins. Take a good look around Kelly Crafts, because you’ll hardly see the same thing twice.
Chase Hardware & Supply
6740 Fourth Street NW 344-2388 Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8am-6pm, Sun. 9am-3pm
A trip to Chase Hardware will make you feel like you’ve hitched a ride with the Ghost of Christmas Past. In business since 1954, the unpretentious white-paneled store is a North Fourth old-timer that survives thanks to superior customer service and fair prices. Maybe it’s not the most obvious place to buy presents, but there are all kinds of useful, sturdy goodies here for your most pragmatic loved ones. The selection includes blue enamelware for camping (coffeepots run $18-$24, plates and bowls $5-$6 and a candle lantern $12) and a whole array of cookware and accessories (Lodge cast iron baking pan for $42, chuck wagon dinner bell for $15, Chef John Folse’s Cast Iron Cooking book at $10 and other no-frill articles like a $9 jar vise). Link Agricultural Tool Handles ($8-$17) hang on a rack, just waiting to update someone’s favorite old gardening implement. Shovels run the gamut from small utility ($10) to the impressive Jackson 250 series ribbed scoop ($46). Check out Chase’s levels, carpenter’s bags, gloves, Dremel bits and chain by the foot. A treasure trove of old-school friendliness and eclectic selection, it’s vastly more fun than trying to wade your way through a big box store.
What a sweet, bright spot this place is. Sisters Charlee Smith and Cynthy Sax aren’t just co-owners of the gift-giving Shangri-la that is recyc-ology—they themselves have crafted the vast majority of its clever, truly one-of-a-kind content from a wealth of unusual salvaged materials. Wind chimes are strung using silverware, old beads and cups ($38-$62) or horseshoes and bullet casings ($30-$38). Mirrors ($48-$95) framed with scallop-edged tart pans and other metal baubles glitter from the painted walls. Sculptural flowers ($22-$55) incorporate snipped tin, old trays, finials and cabinet knobs in balanced chromatic blooms. A pebbly glass light cover becomes the base for a living garden of paperwhite bulbs ($25). Ornaments ($5 and up) might employ homegrown gourds, buttons or billiard balls, and delicate watch parts shimmer in winsome earrings ($12-$20) and pendants ($35-$38). Less than a year out the gate, recyc-ology already bursts at the seams with warmth, color and repurposed personality. “Art from recycled materials” can mean a lot of things, not all of them positive, but Sax and Smith prove that upcycled art can move beyond mere folk quirkiness into territory that’s elegant, bewitching and simply beautiful.