Dealers Room Denizens for the Holidays

Dealers Room Denizens for the Holidays

We got to know some of our fellow Dealers Room Denizens at the sf conventions we attended in 2023. They are an eclectic, creative lot. Ever since our season ended I’ve been meaning to write a post that mentions some of our favorites, but it just never came right.

However, now I realize that the start of December is the perfect time for such a post. All of the small creative businesses I list here have websites, sell online, and ship to customers. Every single one of them has very cool, fun, interesting things to offer. And of course cool, fun, interesting things make great gifts.

So, yes, in this post I am shamelessly shilling for some friends. But if you do happen to be looking for cool, fun, interesting gifts, I bet some of the Dealers Room Denizens in this post might have just what you need.

This montage is made up of four square images that originally were created for social media, to promote our attendance at this year’s round of science fiction conventions: top L-R, DemiCon 34 and ConQuesT 54. Lower L-R, SoonerCon 31 and Archon 46.
Images courtesy of their respective convention websites or Weird Sisters Publishing.

Dealers Room Denizens of Taste

Most food products are an iffy proposition in a dealers room. There are lots of rules, and they can’t compete with the onsite food venders. But that doesn’t mean Dealers Room Denizens can’t sell tea. Many kinds of candies are on the “okay to sell” list, as well. And because this first category is also the smallest, I decided to expand it by adding makers of vessels to hold or serve, or implements to prepare, food, drink, or ingredients.

My aim in this post is only to include Dealers Room Denizens from whom you can buy things online – but I immediately ran into a problem. My son has been cherishing his stash of “Space Cadets Candies” (specifically the freeze-dried Skittles) since Archon. I was all set to recommend them, but they don’t seem to be available online (there goes my promise!). They were such a hit, I wanted to recommend them anyway (they travel to a number of regional shows. Check their Facebook page if you live near the St. Louis /Mount Auburn, IL area). All the rest of these really are available – I checked!

This square montage shows part of Space Cadets Candies & More LLC’s display at a recent show, plus website screen-capture images of three tea blends by Casting Whimsy, 10 tea blends by Dryad Tea, and the contents of a gift set from Dryad that includes bagged tea samples, a tea trivet, ceramic “tea pet” rabbit seven multi-sided dice, a ball-shaped tea infuser with a semiprecious stone as a weight at the end of its chain, and a fancy tea spoon.
Offerings from Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, Dryad Tea, and Casting Whimsy.

Buy the Tea, while Pottering Around

My personal favorite tea emporium, Dryad Tea (and sister business Dryad Pottery) has a robust website. Get your toes wet with their Sample and Gift Sets, or dive right in and Shop Tea. This being an sf-convention-related business, they also carry dice-themed and tabletop role-playing game-themed trivets, infusers, dice sets, notebooks, and more on their “TTRPG” tab.

Another great resource for tea is Casting Whimsy. They, too, cater to gamers (click the “Tea & Dtab).And check out their Shop, replete with teas, accessories, themed gift sets and – if you’re in the Woodstock, IL, area – “Afternoon Tea” events each month.

And oh, my. If you want pottery, Rubiee Talynn Hayes’s Dryad Pottery has competition from fellow Convention Artists Guild member and the Grand Master of them All, Peri Charlifu. See his Aegean Goods website. He’s possibly even more reachable via his Aegean Goods Facebook Page. No click-to-buy with Peri, but he does take a few commissions.

On a background of a photo of assorted pottery by Peri Charlifu (showing bowls, vases, pitchers, and more), are three inset photos from Dryad Pottery: a ball-shaped tea infuser with three green multi-sided dice as the weight at the end of its chain, an assortment of ceramic tea trivets, and a collection of rainbow-colored mugs, two of which have places engraved with script that says “Tea-Drinking Queer.” A third mug’s message reads, “Be Gay Do Crimes.”
Pottery shelves filled by Peri Charlifu. Mugs and tea accessories by Rubiee Tallyn Hayes of Dryad Tea/Pottery.

All Those Creative Products!

One place that many Dealers Room Denizens shine for sf and fantasy lovers is their vast array of toys, games, and genre-specific garments and trinkets. We walk into a dealers room, and it’s a little bit like Christmas, no matter what month it is. So what could be better, in the actual lead-up to Christmas, than reminders about a range of well-crafted fannish gifts?

If the previous category was small, this one is ginormous. I’ve tried to whittle them down some by categories, but there are a lot of overlaps. First, it’s a small step away from tea to aromatic herbs used for soaps, herbal essences, and similar products – again with ample tie-ins to many fans’ favorite games.

Swords & Soapery has you covered, there! Their tagline is “Epic Scent-craft for the fantasy escapist,” with collections of candles body care, fragrances and gifts, themed for “World of Warcraft,” “Elder Scrolls/Skyrim,” and “Stormlight Archives,” plus book recommendations and other things.

This montage contains screen-grabs of an Ashelon RPG card and book set, assorted candles, soaps and fragrances from Swords and Soapery, a collection of Borg figures by Top Tier Figures, and a screen-grab of three square promo images from Crypt Monkey Games. They feature, L-R: “Dragon of the Month: A New Dragon Miniature Released Every Month!” “Mystery Crate: Get a Set of Mystery Miniatures and More!” and “Monster of the Month: A New Monster Miniature Released Every Month!” The Ashelon book cover says “Ashelon RPG Character Creation Guide. Chaz Kemp.”
Offerings from Ashelon Publishing, Swords and Soapery, Top Tier Figures, and Crypt Monkey Games.

Dealers Room Denizen Games

We’ve discussed accessories for games, but how about some actual games? Dealers Room Denizens are there for you. Try Ashelon Publishing, featuring fantasy oracle cards, developed and marvelously illustrated by Weird Sisters’ frequent favorite illustrator, Chaz Kemp. And take a look at the jigsaw puzzles by another Weird Sisters favorite, Lucy A. Synk.

This square promotional image has a red background and features pictures of the boxes for three different jigsaw puzzles. Above the boxes it says, “Lucy A. Synk’s Specialty Jigsaw Puzzles.” Below, it says, “‘Checking it Twice,’ ‘Halloween,’ ‘Farmers Market’ Buy all three together for a substantial savings!”
Puzzles by Lucy A. Synk.

You might also try the Jack the Ripper Card Game from Crypt Monkey Games. They also offer Mugs, lots of 3D Resin Printed Minis, “Mystery Crates,” and more, including “Monster of the Month” and “Dragon of the Month” subscriptions. Who doesn’t need one of those?

If you’re interested in custom handmade action figures, toys, and sets, try Top Tier Figures. Their website wasn’t working well when I checked it before writing this, but they have some rather cool offerings if you can get access to see them. Another interesting shop with game-related items among their vast range of offerings is Kreative Menagerie.

This square photo montage is anchored at upper left by a view of the Kreative Menagerie’s elaborate display at SoonerCon 31. Along the right are three screen-grabs of gorgeous wood and resin-inlaid pens by Mazurka pens. Across the bottom, L-R a view of multicolored Whimsical Whiskers stuffed dragons in a display, the sumptuous details of a pink, white, and gold-patina pen by Turtle Cove Imaginings, and a pair of seam rippers with a rainbow-colored art design on the barrel, also from Turtle Cove.
An array of fun stuff from Kreative Menagerie, Mazurka Pens, Whimsical Whiskers, and Turtle Cove Imaginings.

Creative Denizens of Many Types

Dealers Room Denizens are creative and resourceful. They come up with some amazing things that are completely their own thing. Take the Whimsical Whiskers of Brenna Deutchman – stuffed fantasy animals in a rainbow of colors and a variety of sizes, for kids and kids-at-heart.

Practical artwork takes a different turn with hand-crafted pens. I found two wonderful pen-makers at this year’s conventions. For Fantasy Artwork Dragon Pens (Also other designs) Check Turtle Cove Imaginings’ Etsy page. Take a look at D. Jensen’s fantasy art, too. For gorgeous wooden, or resin-filled wooden pen bodies and more, explore the Mazurka Pens website. How could you not write better if you’re wielding one of those!

This square photo montage is anchored at upper right by a photo of MacCamie Studios’ SoonerCon 31 display, complete with portable fitting room. Co-owner Corwyn McCamie works the sales table at far right. Below that on the right is a photograph of a display by Jennifer Stolzer showing her books and other offerings, anchored at lower right by her “Jen’s Dogs Gifts and Custom Designs” webpage header and one of her custom totes, this one with a colored drawing of a “Yorkie-Poo” dog on it. In the lower left corner a rectangular image shows ten OffWorld Designs designs and the message, “20% OFF Store Wide With orders of $35. Or more. Holiday Sale Ends 12-10-23.” Above that are six stickers and a model wearing a T-shirt by Jessica Mathews. Inset photos near the center and at upper left show an “Edwardian Corset-Red Brocade, $120.00 USD” and the “Reversible Cotton Cloak-Black Night $120.00 USD” on two different models, both from MacCamie Studios. The cloak features a royal blue tie-dye lining.
Offerings from MacCamie Studios (see portable fitting room top center), Jennifer Stolzer/Jen’s Dogs, OffWorld Designs, and Jessica Mathews Books.

So Many Tees, So Little Time – And More!

You want T-Shirts (and few fans don’t)? The Granddaddy of All Fannish T-Shirt Dealers has to be OffWorld Designs. Cultivated for decades by Raymond and Barbara VanTilburg as a screen-printed T-shirt shop, they’ve recently passed the business to younger hands. They also updated their production to “direct to garment printing” that is more responsive to shifting trends. Bonus: Old favorites that went out of print are available once again!

Two young women I met at Archon, Jennifer Stolzer and Jessica Mathews, are “the whole package,” writers, artists, and more. They also have developed lines of T-shirts and other printed goods with their designs on them. Jen’s Dogs Gifts and Custom Designs offers a whole range of “pet breed themed” shirts and gifts (she’s also an author and illustrator). Jessica Matthews Books offers bags, scarves, stickers, backpacks, T-shirts, pins, and much, much more. In the rest of her busy, busy life, she’s an author, podcaster, and artist.

One last addition to the “clothing category” must be MacCamie Studios, who “make and sell clothing that fits everyone. Clothing that is inspired by our love of history and fantasy, but wearable today.” Shop their sometimes-hand-dyed, all-handmade chemisettes, cloaks, corsets, and skirts. When they say their clothing fits everyone, they mean it. They even set up a portable fitting room in their SoonerCon31 display so customers could get a just-perfect custom size.

This square montage shows photos from Facebook, plus several taken by Tyrell or Jan Gephardt at 2023 conventions. They show displays, clockwise from upper left, from Top Tier Figures, Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, a panorama of booths at the Archon 46 Dealers Room, the Ziggy’s West display at SoonerCon 31 and Tom Ulrick making a face at the photographer, and two views of parts of the Kreative Menagerie’s displays at SoonerCon 31.
Displays from Top Tier Figures, Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, the Archon 46 Dealers Room, Ziggy’s West, and Kreative Menagerie.

From Teas to Tees Doesn’t Span the Breadth

This post could only share a few of the wonderful Dealers Room Denizens we found at the four shows we attended in 2023. I’ve left broad categories unexplored. These posts can only be so long, so I’ve tried to cherry-pick some personal favorites who actually have websites from which you can buy things.

But I hope maybe I’ve offered you some resources! I’m happy if I’ve provided some new ideas for the stockings on your list to stuff. Maybe I’ve opened the door to a range of just-right items that might satisfy one of the favorite fen on your holiday gift list. If so, we all win!

And next year, perhaps you could practice a little proactivity at a local sf convention (they’re everywhere – and often. Here’s one of several lists you could begin from). Many conventions offer low-cost one-day passes or even free admission to the Art Show and Dealers Room only. Perhaps you could uncover even more wonderful Dealers Room Denizens on your own!

About the Author

Jan S. Gephardt (pronouns: she/her) is a science fiction novelist, fantasy artist, publisher, and longtime science fiction fan from Kansas City. She, her husband Pascal, and their son Tyrell did a
“summer tour” of four science fiction conventions in 2023 to test the idea of a Weird Sisters and Friends Dealers Table.

This post is one of several she has written about her “sf con” experiences in 2023. Read her thoughts on DemiCon 34, a two-parter about ConQuesT 54, a summative post on SoonerCon 31, and reflections after Archon 46.

IMAGE CREDITS

Most of the sources for photos in the montages above are mentioned and linked inline in this post. Follow the website links embedded where I mentioned them, or go to their Facebook pages, and you’ll find nearly all of the screen-captured or downloaded photos, with very few exceptions. Those would be a few photos Jan took herself (including the Ziggy’s West table at SoonerCon, with Tom Ulrick mugging for the camera), and the Archon 36 Dealers Room panorama taken by her son Tyrell E. Gephardt.

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