Reconnecting with the Sewing Machine

During my corporate life, I took a pencil skirt class at Vogue Fabric and of course gathered materials to build on that, except that my inherited sewing machine thwarted me and I gave up.  Eventually I got a brand-new machine, but I only used it for small projects and never went back to my UFOs, especially since my size changed over time and the pattern might not apply anymore.

Enter Evanston Stitchworks, a lovely store along Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile offering sewing and knitting classes for teens and adults, along with all the supplies for those projects. This “Stitch Lounge and Studio” has been in business for a few years, but moved to the Sherman Street location last year.

Owner Amalia curates beautiful high-quality and fabrics, findings, yarns and patterns. I love the vibe of the shop and the beautiful array of fabrics. Her store reminds me of the doll-shop my mom made for me as a child.

Intrigued by Amalia’s workshops since the beginning, my schedule finally worked out to where I could take the Willow Tank Top Dress class she hosted in February.

For three Wednesday evenings, four of us gathered at Evanston Stitchworks to learn to make this lovely pattern by Grainline Studio. It was hard to decide on a fabric, but with Amalia’s guidance I settled on a lovely Birch Floral Periwinkle print by Rifle Paper Company.

On the first evening, we traced our pattern onto an interfacing fabric, and spent the remaining time cutting out our pieces. Tracing our pattern keeps the original pattern paper intact, allowing for size changes, which I love.

The next week, we started sewing half of the pattern together.

One selling point of this pattern is that I learned to make darts, which are a useful skill for my anatomy.

We learned machine threading, bobbin winding, and how to adjust needle and stitch settings during this session.

Lots of pinning was involved.

My classmates did just the top, so my dress portion took a bit of adjusting by Amalia. We decided I would come in for an extra session the next day to get me caught up with the rest of class.

I sewed the fold, fixed a wrongly attached collar, and received confidence boosters on my sewing capabilities.

Sewing class also involves tutorials on pressing seams.

Then decided to go home to figure out my own machine for the other half of the dress.

A few days later, I sat down with my manual to check out the difference between the Stitchworks machine and my own machine settings. Photo references helped me make sure I was doing the right thing with the arm holes.

Getting the attachment removed for the arm holes took some googling, but I got it figured out and was on my way.

Then I befriended the seam ripper some more due to a sewing snafu. I bet no one else has accidentally folded fabric into the seam mid-way through a garment. 😉

Seam rippers are lovely tools.

With all side seams connected and the hems all pressed, I was all caught up.

The final class was spent sewing the collar, arm holes and hem up to complete the dress. A side exercise was avoiding pinpricks during this round-about fabric feed.

I got some ironing tips for the darts, photos of our end result were taken, and we all went home happy with our creations.

I cannot wait for the weather to warm up so I can wear this fun dress out!

Overall, it took about 9 hours to put it together. Having Amalia supervise every move was affirming and confidence building. Knowing that my home machine is compatible also helps support future projects.

Now I need to incorporate the sample fat quarter fabrics I picked up on Small Business Saturday into my wax and wire creations.

I already gave an old pendant a makeover with a dress remnant.

My next quest is deciding on the next fabric to make the dress again.

Evanston Stitchworks is located at 906 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Illinois and hosts monthly drop-in events that are posted on FacebookCheck out upcoming classes and online shopping opportunities here. You can also cheer up your Instagram feed by following Evanston Stitchworks.

Main-Dempster Mile fun

I am easing out of hibernation and it is safe (no longer too cold) to take angel out and about on my adventures.

Evanston’s Main-Dempster mile is full of fun adventures. Squeezebox has the right idea with these postcards.

I had tacos for charity on the day of the Woman’s March, and later went to La Principal again with friends.

A few weeks later Brothers K collected funds for the ACLU.

My frosty is still hanging out at Rolf’s Auto Care, where I took my car for service.

We rewarded ourselves with some Sketchbook beer after a Hip Circle workout.

Stumble & Relish’s lovely card selection, along with my stash of Curly Girl Design’s Love Delivered subscription has me writing a postcard on Sundays.

I got to sample SPARK Syrup with Prosecco on Thursday and picked up some earrings I couldn’t resist.

Vivian Visser explained the process and inspiration behind her beautiful creations during an Artist talk at Cultivate.

This wonderful show is up through the end of the month.

It is always neat to see who shadows interact with art work on the wall.

I attended a few recent The Collage Cafe workshops, and loved the glowing woman who emerged from the last Grown*UP Girls Club session.

My vision boards will be shown when they manifest.

Then I was introduced to Bullet Journaling at Hip Circle Studio.

Next weekend I hope to explore Evanston’s Black-owned Businesses during Tour de Noir.

There’s always something fun to do in Evanston.

Small Business Saturday Consignments

It’s been a whirlwind of making enough angels and frosties for my pop-ups as well as the four spaces I am consigned to this holiday season.

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Just in time for Small Business Saturday, my ornaments are now in three Chicagoland retailers: The Collage Cafe and See Jane Sparkle in Evanston, and ChromaK8 Beautique and Sacred Art in Chicago. My angels went under the sorting hat to determine which ones would fly off where.

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A few went to Chromak8 Beautique, where I get my hair done. ChromaK8 strives to deliver the highest quality beauty services with the cleanest, high performing products.

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On Black Friday, ChromaK8 will debut special holiday gift sets and a local artist showcase. The salon is located at 5425 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.

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I am thrilled to be in a new location in Lincoln Square as well.  Sacred Art offers a variety of gift items for the whole family, including wonderful Chicago-themed items. Owner Kate curates a selection of work from 110+ makers with a focus on Chicago-made art.

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Check out the Facebook page for extended store hours on Small Business Saturday, with nibbles offered to shoppers. Sacred Art is located at 4619 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.

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I hope these characters enjoy their slumber party and find new owners.

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The sneak peek in the store is gorgeous.

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I switched out my inventory at See Jane Sparkle on Tuesday, so you will see brand-new pendants, bracelets and earrings in Sara Jane’s store. 

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The new pendants went straight from my studio to her.

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I hope you like perusing them.

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You can also peruse my sparkle ornament collection, created specifically for the boutique. 

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I’ll have my full collection available on December 8 during the Warm Bevvy Walk.

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The Collage Cafe also has brand-new pieces in the shop, and I cannot wait to see how my ornaments look in this lovely playspace.

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A few angels incorporate alcohol inks purchased at the store.

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Both The Collage Cafe and See Jane Sparkle are participating in the Hip Circle Studio Holiday Hike on Small Business Saturday, with special bags and goodies for shoppers walking off their Turkey coma.

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Check out the holiday offerings online at The Collage Cafe  and See Jane Sparkle

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I am so excited to be supported by these lovely women entrepreneurs, and look forward to visiting their holiday setups soon!

Evanston Winewalk for Mudlark

Last Thursday the Main-Dempster mile was adorned with lime green aprons galore. Almost all the retailers between Chicago Avenue and Sherman on Main Street participated in the Evanston Charity Wine Walk benefiting Mudlark theater.

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I bought a raffle ticket, and many others tried to win the 12 gift baskets offered this evening.

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I’m curious which baskets my four keychains ended up in, and happy to know they will have a new owner soon.

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I met my friend at Sketchbook brewery where she sampled the wine.

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Hip Circle Studio offered a 3-class flight at a discount, so you can try out their classes and get a whiff of all the positive empowerment Malik’s space offers. Their class cards are also worth a whirl.

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We had a taco at La Principal’s Cafecito.

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I still want to try their morning cocoa with breakfast tacos but always forget about the 10:30 cutoff.

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Dave’s Down to Earth Rock shop offered edible rocks with the Wine Goddess’ selection.

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It was my first visit to the new Prehistoric Museum, and angel’s first view of ancient fossils.

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Ten Thousand Villages has lovely soaps I hadn’t perused yet.

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Their wine display was the best.

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At The Collage Cafe Lindy served greek wine along with creative energy.

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Her pumpkin tree is so fun.

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Next door I had a nice chat with Geoff Martin Photography.

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Open Studio Project had a live drummer.

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Evanston Stitchworks has all kinds of fun class and gathering offerings for all ages, and vintage patterns!evanstonstitchworks

Belgian Chocolatier Piron paired an assortment of their pralines with the Wine Goddess’ Boula Monsanto 2013 from Catalonia.

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I went back the next day to pick up their hot cocoa blend and the famed Hazelnut Chocolate spread that will get me through the cooler days (they ship too) and goes with the French Press home brew from Brothers K.

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We bookended the walk with a pint at Sketchbook brewery. There were many stops further north, so hopefully the event will happen again and we can map our route in another neighborhood to get to know their businesses better.

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Beer starred again the next night, with Sketchbook brewery launching their Oktoberfest beer, DIAPASON, in conjunction with Opus 327.

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St. Luke’s Episcopal Church houses the Skinner organ developed by Ernest M. Skinner, one of his best maintained original organs. Eating in the pew felt irreverent, but the food created by St. Luke’s members with meat provided by Bluestone Restaurant was delicious.

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Christine Kraemer played an “organ Flight” for us with Toccata in D Minor, Adagio from Symphony V, Flues Blues (my favorite) and the Fanfare of the Common Man, which showcased the newly restored trumpets.

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I look forward to visiting this church for their various concerts again. Go check out your local community events. You may be surprised at how much fun you will have even down a street you think you already know.

Birthday Break

Monday was my birthday, and I started the celebration early with my mom’s visit on Thursday.

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We took a long weekend and explored Evanston, while meeting friends for food and libations among various stops.

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Prior to mom flying in a ceiling fan fell on my head, so we made this a walking weekend while monitoring for potential concussion symptoms.

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We walked Main street first, picking up delicious chocolate mousse and lots of chocolate at Piron.

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We got our nails done at Agora Spa.

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Then we looked at the rocks at Dave’s Rock Shop and took some goodies home.

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I got a silver dollar plant from Cultivate.

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We took the alcohol ink coaster workshop at The Collage Cafe for one of my birthday parties.

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I even got birthday cake and a serenade.

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The inks are wonderful, and I played with some on my wire to see what that would do.

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Then I picked out the colors to take home. The iridescent effect is lovely, and I cannot wait to design new pieces.

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Afterwards we met friends at La Principal for delicious tacos, churros and cocktails.

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Sunday was Dempster day, with a stop at Little Light Bazaar to explore my new lighting options.

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Mateen has designed a whole new line of light fixtures out of punched copper and metal.

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Some of these might work with a ceiling fan attached, so I get to ponder various rooms.

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So many pretties!

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You can create a souq-like atmosphere or be very monochromatic.

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Lots of ideas to ponder, and also consider more functional lighting in the studio.

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We stopped in Stumble & Relish and then visited my inventory at See Jane Sparkle.

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I want these bangles to go travel the world.

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After those sparklies we made our way to Ayla’s Orginals to pick out more beads.

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Ayla’s has a bingo game so you should go in and get your playing cards to earn discounts on future purchases.

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All that shopping made us thirsty, so Sketchbook’s new Taproom was a great spot for refreshment.

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We had dinner at Campagnola which is always a treat.

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Monday morning we had our coffee fix at Brothers K, and I get to drink more with a gift card!

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The bulk of the day was spent wandering near the lake.

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We dined at Oceanique for a lovely birthday celebration.

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Of course Lucky Platter was the favorite breakfast choice.

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With all that could have gone wrong during the ceiling fan drop, I am grateful to have another year to look forward to, and to have so many friends and loved ones to celebrate life with.

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It is good to be alive, and to live the life I am living.

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Here’s to more bright days ahead!

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Evanston Sidewalk Sale next weekend

Next week is the Evanston Sidewalk sale. Independent retailers and national chains will set up shop with specials on the sidewalks throughout downtown.

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I am teaming up with Sara Jane at See Jane Sparkle to scatter more sparkle into the world.

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I will have a table outside with newly created sparkle sets from 10 am to 4 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Sara Jane will have special offers on her own designs and likely some nibbles and bubbles.

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It’s been fun to use the sparkle beads I picked up at the Bead & Button Show last month and come up with new designs.

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I’ve been coiling away.

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Some Sidewalks along Chicago Avenue are undergoing a makeover, but there will still be plenty of room to stroll. Check out the calendar event here.

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The Evanston Sidewalk Sale is held along the Main-Dempster mile and in downtown Evanston throughout the weekend.

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There will be discounts and special offers on apparel, shoes, one-of-a-kind accessories and decorative arts, including specialty and hand-crafted goods. Not all retailers will have items on the sidewalk per se but go inside to check out goodies.

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Depending on weather, you can peruse my wax and wire creations inside the See Jane Sparkle Boutique.

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An “Artists Row” will be set up on Sherman Ave. between Davis and Church Streets, displaying paintings, clothing, jewelry, home goods, accessories and more for all to peruse, enjoy and purchase.

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Artists will display their wares in downtown Evanston on Saturday and Sunday.

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In addition to shopping and art, there will be games and kid-friendly art activities set-up in Fountain Square. Challenge friends and family to a match of ping-pong, life-sized chess, giant Jenga and Scrabble or take part in a massive chalk art.

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Then, head over to Hyatt House located at 1515 Chicago Ave. to check out the outdoor terrace and enjoy a complimentary, cold glass of lemonade (regular and spiked!).

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To get to See Jane Sparkle you can take the CTA Purple line to Dempster St. or on the weekends, the CTA Red Line to Howard St. and then the Purple Line to Dempster Street.

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You can also take the Metra UP-N Line to the Dempster St. station. Downtown Evanston is just a few blocks from Dempster St. and a few more from Main St. so you can easily walk between the districts.

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If you’re driving, there are three City of Evanston parking garages in downtown Evanston, there is metered parking on the streets and free parking on side streets (like Hinman Ave.). Parking is $1/hr and it is free on Sundays.

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Visit the Main-Dempster Mile Facebook page to learn about the deals at participating stores and other fun activities on Dempster Street, Main Street and Chicago Avenue.

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Trunk Show Sparkles

The last day of April was marred by rain, but that did not deter shoppers from browsing See Jane Sparkle and my Trunk Show.

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I set up for the show in the morning, and dropped of more yarn bomb doilies next door, where drawing angel hung out for the day to support Stumble & Relish’s guest artist.

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It was fun to play with social media throughout the day.

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My traveling angel almost got snapped up, but then she was recognized and her friend went to a new home instead.

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Jaime of Stumble & Relish wore her new pyrite pendant out the door.

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In the afternoon, several people perused my wares, and adopted some pieces.

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I had made lots of sparkly pieces for See Jane Sparkle, and she consigned the new collection.

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Exclusively for her I made some single-dangle bangles.

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Sara Jane Abbott is a participant in Evanston Made, which runs through the month of June.

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She offers a variety of fun events throughout the month, including designer make and takes and beads and bubbly parties.

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Check out her Facebook page for the latest and greatest.

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Be sure to stop by other Evanston Made venues through June. I might have an angel photobomb during the various art walks and events.

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The Evanston Art Center Made in Evanston Show featuring participating artists is up at 1717 Central Street along with a pop-up shop in the lobby.

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The SWARM show at SideTracked Studio is also fun to peruse, located at 707 Chicago Avenue.

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The Collage Cafe also has an Evanston Made exhibit, and offers numerous workshops for you to create your own art work.

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Evanston Made kicks off June 3

June is promising to be a fun month. I will be exhibiting at the Evanston Art Center as part of Evanston Made. Formerly Open Studios Evanston, Evanston Made is a month-long celebration of the arts in Evanston designed to create opportunities for artists to engage with the community (and vice versa). Art studios, galleries, museums and businesses throughout Evanston will show works by Evanston creatives June 3 through 30, 2016.

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I am looking forward to attending the opening reception of the Evanston Made exhibit at the Evanston Art Center (1717 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201). Numerous local artists have submitted art work and I look forward to mixing and mingling and being inspired by their work. The reception is from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, June 3. There will be shadow puppets too!

I walked the show last year and had a blast. The Evanston Made show will be up through June 30. Evanston Art Center Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday: 9 am – 9 pm, Friday: 9 am – 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday: 9 am – 4 pm and admission is free.

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In conjunction with the exhibit, Evanston Art Center is hosting a Pop Up Gallery and Store June 3-30. The store is located in the lobby of the Evanston Art Center and you can meet the various artists (listed below) during their pop-up shifts. Evanston Made’s artist studio tour is June 4, 12-5 p.m. Maps for the studio tour will be available online and at Evanston Art Center June 3 & 4.

Evanston Made Kids! — held on June 4 from 11am to 4 p.m. at Evanston Art Center — celebrates young Evanston artists and their families with a day of FREE fun and creativity in the parking lot of 1717 Central Street. Visitors will enjoy hands-on make-and-take arts activities, how-to workshops, an eclectic exhibition of Evanston-based artists, a pop-up store of handmade goods, live performances and picnic nook featuring the fares of various food trucks.

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Participating venues will show works by Evanston creatives June 3 – 30. In addition to the Music piece you’ll find at the Evanston Art Center, I am creating a swarm installation for SideTracked Studio. That opening takes place Saturday, June 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. (more on that in my next post). You can see my pieces and other artists works at Creative Coworking, 922 Davis street. Sara Jane Abbott of See Jane Sparkle is an official participant (where I am consigned), and I met The Collage Cafe’s Lindy Stockton during the first studio tour, who is featuring Angela Williams this month.

My caffeine source Brothers K Coffeehouse features an exciting collaboration for Evanston Made. Jason Brown, Rob Larson, and Travis Clement are collaborating to create site specific wall installations. In the spirit of Evanston Made, they are hoping to stretch their coffee-sipping neighbors to creatively re-imagine the everyday. Cultivate Urban Rain Forest features works by Laura Mae Noble, terrarium designer, Mollie Miller, ceramicist, and Paul Whittaker, abstract artist and photographer.

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Next to See Jane Sparkle Perspective Group and Photography Gallery will exhibit photographs by Bob Tanner and Faigie Tanner. Stumble & Relish features assorted locally made goods that will be discounted 15% throughout June.  Other venues include:

  • The Celtic Knot Public House showing works by James Deeb
  • Space 900 features works by Ken Avick, Colleen Conley, Clark Ellithorpe, Judith Roston Freilich, Joanna Pinsky and Peggie Robinson
  • The Pot Shop has works by Dominic Mosca
  • The Saw Room features works by Dana DeAno
  • Open Studio Project showcases works by Y.O.U. Youth Artists
  • Ausrine’s Arts Room shows works by Ausrine Kerr, Rita Shimelfarb, Yvette Meltzer
  • Bookends & Beginnings showing works by Stephen Murphy
  • Boltwood with works by Dana DeAno
  • The New Studio with Mel Winer and Karen Vierneisel
  • Chiropractic 1st showing works by Stephen Lloyd
  • Mill Creek Miniatures showing works by Judith Lewin, Amy O. Woodbury
  • Midwest Clay Guild featuring Patty Kochaver, Sarah Meyer, Susan Curry, Jon Weiss, Dana Shearin, Layna Portugal,Judy Disman, Jill Birschbach & Joanna Kramer
  • DragonFly Boutique showing local artists Vanessa Filley, Kristin Bruni and Karna Erickson
  • Ayla’s Originals, featuring beaded baubles
  • Five Finger Press hosts works by Patti Montgomery
  • Gather featuring works by Kristen Neveu
  • Trash & Treasures featuring works by Carol Hammerman
  • Alley Gallery showcases works by Ross Martens and Darren Oberto
  • La Petite Gallery Lapin showcases works by Katherine Orr
  • Prairie Joe’s features works by Aydin Dincer
  • Frame Warehouse will highlight Paul Nebenzahl

Other events include artist talks at EAC on June 5, 12, 19 and 26. Find out more and tag #EvanstonMade via http://twitter.com/EvanstonMade, https://www.facebook.com/Evanston-Made and instagram @Evanston_Made.

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Hosted by the Evanston Art Center and produced by Anomaly Productions, the Pop-Up Gallery and Store is an “all -inclusive” event and artists, with locally created wares in categories from ceramics to jewelry to housewares. Participating creatives include: Amy Amoroso, Amy Gabbert, Amy Harms, Andrea Koch, Angela Williams, Ayla Pizzo, Carol Beaver, Carol Hammerman, Chris Heisinger, David Sutton, Deborah Hirshfield, Dena Vincent, Donna Bartman Masini, Doug Haight, Fay Bomberg, Heather Hancock, Jane Grover, Jane Sisco, Jason Brown, Jason Cohn, Jill Birschbach, Joanna Kramer, Julie Rivera, Karen Daughtry, Kate Williamson, Kathryn Ware, Katie Sircher, Kevin Kipp, Kristin Mariani, Lena Kim, Leon Litinsky, Lisa Nicolson, Margarita Shimelfarb, Marla Wallerstein, Micah Hanson, Pat Bernard, Patty Kochaver, Paul Segedin, Rebecca Hill, Rob Larson, Roslyn Broder, Sara Piepmeier, Sarah Meyer, Sheryl Coaxum, Theresa Pawlan, Travis Clement, Vanessa Filey and Yvette Meltzer.

This annual studio tour changed its name to Evanston Made in 2016, to alleviate confusion with the non-profit organization Open Studio Project.
Promotional Graphics courtesy Evanston Made and SideTracked studio.

A lovely local pop-up

Art & Wine Night at Creative Coworking is always a fun event, but even more exciting when you’re an exhibitor.

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On March 18 numerous Evanstonians perused the artful mixed media collages of Melanie Deal.

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They also chatted under my encaustic and steel wire works on the opposite wall.

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I also popped up with my jewelry, which was well-received by many.

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A pair of angels flew to new homes.

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There was much conversation and perusing of art.

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Wine and nibbles were served and the evening was videographed by Creative Coworking interns.

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

I observed my pieces in profile.

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I was thrilled to see my friends pop in and out.

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

You can enjoy pie by Pyrite Sun, get massages from Rebecca and Journal with Maggie.

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Photo by Lauren Levato Coyne of Sidetracked Studio

A few pendants, earrings and a keychain got adopted.

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Check out Creative Coworking’s upcoming events here.

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

Thank you Angela for hosting me!

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

I’m still sorting out details for my next pop-up.

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

In Evanston you can find my pieces at The Collage Cafe and See Jane Sparkle (the latter has a soiree Thursday you’ll see me at).

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I was gifted a rainbow of macarons from Bennison’s Bakery too!

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The show is up through the end of the month, and then a new artist will rotate in.

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So swing by between 9 am and 4 pm on weekdays at 922 Davis Street.

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Photo by Abby Powers for Creative Coworking

Hanging my Show

It’s been a fun few months preparing for Friday’s Show Opening.

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After creating all the substrates and bending the shapes to go on top of the pieces I had to attach the hanging hardware before fusing everything together.

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Then I fused the wire to the encaustic backgrounds and did the hanging test to make sure the shapes would stay put.

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Meanwhile, Downtown Evanston promoted the show in their newsletter, right above Ayla’s Bead’s upcoming event.

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Next came the challenge of transporting dimensional art to its destination.

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My bouncy heart of Communicating Love had to ride shotgun so I could keep the springiness at bay.

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Then came the daunting task of filling up a giant wall.

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I have hung art, but I have never hung an actual show before, and having a vision for how to hang it is much different when faced with the blank wall in actuality.

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But I hammered in nails, and eyeballed the spacing as I went.

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I learned a new vocabulary word, hexaptych, in time to describe the 6 piece grid I made.

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I like how the angles are reflected in Melanie Deal’s mixed media collages as well.

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This one might be my favorite, but I haven’t looked too closely at the other ones yet.

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Such fun details!

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To bookend Communicating Love I added triple heart collages next to the re-wired Piano Scrolls Diptych.

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Tomorrow I’ll also be popping up with my Jewelry pieces for one night only.

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The art show remains on display through the end of the month.

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So come on out to 922 Davis Street for some wine, good company, and colorful art from 5 pm to 8 pm. Creative Coworking is a fabulous space to peruse.

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I think we complement each other well.

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Here’s hoping for a good turnout tomorrow!

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