Faire Play

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013

You’re not going to believe this. I just realized that I never shared my pictures from last year’s Renegade Craft Fair! For shame! As per usual, Brian and I had a great time perusing the impressive wares this past September at Chicago’s premier craft fair, and the booths certainly weren’t short on creative inspiration for me. I made sure to check out nearly every booth (a feat, let me tell you), and I snapped some pics of my favorites. After editing the pictures and putting this blog post together the following week, I promptly forgot to publish it. Gimme a break, though—it was a really busy time for me. But better late than never, right? I still wanna share all this great handmade work!

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Elizabeth Suzann dyed shirts

{ beautifully hand-painted silk shirts from Elizabeth Suzann }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Elizabeth Suzann dyed scraves

{ Elizabeth Suzann }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Dolan Geiman portraits

{ impressively large-scale, collage portraits and mixed media sculptures by Dolan Geiman }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Dolan Geiman art

{ Dolan Geiman }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Humperdinck Haberdashery hats

{ hats, hats, hats! from Humperdinck Haberdashery }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Naked Goat Farm jams

{ We got some DELISH bourbon peach jam from Naked Goat Farm after enjoying their free samples. }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Manymade wall art

 { I liked this cool booth filled with geometric animal portraits on wood. The business card I got said manymade.com, but sadly, the site doesn’t seem to exist anymore… }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Manymade art

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Adrienne Vita illustrated cards

{ colorful animal illustrations and printed gifts by Adrienne Vita }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Adrienne Vita pillows and prints

Adrienne Vita }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Caroline Borucki clothing

{ darling dresses made from unique fabrics by Caroline Borucki }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Susan Eastman textiles

{ Susan Eastman‘s display of hand-dyed scarves was perfect! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Lisa Swerling glass cathedrals

{ Lisa Swerling’s Glass Cathedrals, delightful shadowbox sculptures }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Milled Home Goods Co

{ beautifully simple (and simply beautiful) wooden housewares and furniture from Milled }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Milled handmade furniture

{ Milled }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions glass vases

{ The highlight? Finally meeting the charming, talented Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions and seeing her gorgeous glass jewelry and vases in person. Joyous! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions glass jewelry

{ Urban Revisions }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions handmade clothing

{ Urban Revisions }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Moss for Meditation

{ serene moss sculptures from Moss for Meditation }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Moss for Meditation

{ Moss for Meditation }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Peg and Awl

{ special rustic treasures from Peg and Awl }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Michelle Starbuck tent decorations

{ Of course we stopped by Michelle Starbuck’s festive booth and admired her classy jewels! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Michelle Starbuck Designs

{ Michelle Starbuck }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Janelle Gramling necklaces

{ And I got a crazy/cool necklace from Janelle Gramling. }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Janelle Gramling

{ Janelle Gramling }

Blog News, Craft Contexts

Westervin Recently

Screengrab: SarahWest Ervin's Ochi Shop Picks

{ My curated collection for Ochi Shop }

It’s been a grand week! Westervin and I have been featured in a few places around the internets recently, and I thought I’d share these happy mentions. First up, I’ve made a lovely new e-friend in Pauli Ochi, a jewelry designer from Sun Valley, Idaho who runs Ochi Gallery and Ochi Shop. After I discovered her amazing jewelry via Pinterest, Pauli found her way to Westervin then reached out with the friendliest email. In the end, Pauli invited me to guest curate some picks from Ochi Shop and kindly agreed to answer some of my questions for a Maker’s Remarks post here on Westervin. Stay tuned for the interview going live next Monday, but for now, check out my Ochi Shop picks!

Screengrab: Sarah West Ervin Interview with Alistair Porter on Marginalia

{ My interview on Marginalia }

Also this week, my friend and former classmate Ali Porter interviewed me for Marginalia, the graduate student blog at Columbia College Chicago. Check it out to learn a little more about me, my job at Lillstreet Art Center, and my experience as a graduate student in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management MAM program at Columbia.

Screengrab: Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist

{ Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist }

In other local crafty news, my recap of the recent Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival got a little shout-out on the LoganSquarist, a blog covering our Chicago neighboorhood, Logan Square. They liked some of our pics from our visit!

Screengrab: Westervin featured on Mint Design Blog

{ Westervin mention on Mint }

Now, this final feature isn’t actually from this past week. It’s from last summer, but I only just stumbled upon this nice little surprise. If you’ve been around for a while, you might recall that the save-the-dates Brian and I made for our wedding were included in the book Design: Paper. Well, another person whose work was included in the beautiful book, Ellie Snow, blogged about it and included a snapshot of our save-the-dates. Her blog, Mint, is so lovely and she seems to be a very talented designer, so we’re super flattered to think that she was impressed enough with our handicraft to include a mention in her post. Thanks, Ellie!

Craft Contexts, Faire Play

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival 2013

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival 2013

After my last post on craft fairs and their impact on commerce and culture, I was motivated to get out of our apartment this weekend. The beautiful weather didn’t hurt either. I went with Brian to the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival yesterday in search of some crafty inspiration. We were not disappointed! For those of you who weren’t able to attend this fun neighborhood event, I am happy to share — through the modern miracle that is the internet — some of my favorite sightings. Feast your eyes upon these glorious works of creativity! May they inspire you in some way…

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Stephanie Burke and Jeriah Hildwine

{ T and O Map by Stephanie Burke & Jeriah Hildwine }

The first several photos were taken at one of the festival’s popup galleries, which were put together by the South Logan Arts Coalition.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Stephanie Burke and Jeriah Hildwine

{ right: Eldar Thing and T and O Map by Stephanie Burke & Jeriah Hildwine }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Garth Borovicka

{ Ends of the Earth by Garth Borovicka }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Garth Borovicka

Ends of the Earth by Garth Borovicka }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: photograph by Evan Baden

{ From Under the Influence by Evan Baden }

 Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Evan Baden at a South Logan Arts Coalition Popup Gallery

Evan Baden }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Atira Design

{ Atira Design }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Atira Design

Atira Design }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Penguin Foot Pottery

{ ceramics on display at the Penguin Foot Pottery tent }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Penguin Foot Pottery

{ ceramics on display at the Penguin Foot Pottery tent }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Rich Salamander's wire portraits

{ wire portraits by Rich Salamender of Neglected Renderings }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Rich Salamander of Neglected Renderings

{ Rich Salamender of Neglected Renderings }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Natalie Wagner

It Could All End in an Instant: The Existance of Absolute Destruction by Natalie Wagner }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Natalie Wagner

{ It Could All End in an Instant: The Existance of Absolute Destruction by Natalie Wagner }

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival: Natalie Wagner

Craft Contexts

Craft Fairs!

Hiya friends! Sorry I’ve been absent the past few weeks, but, I’ve got an exciting summer project that will keep my posting regularly now. I’ve started reading through the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft by Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf. Boy is it a fun read so far—chock full of fascinating facts, stories, and historical context that’s really enlightening my understanding and appreciation for contemporary crafts. As the reading inspires me each week, I’ll share some of what I’m learning. I’m pretty pumped about it. First up? Craft fairs. Yay!

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

{ from our trip to the Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012 }

With June wrapping up and the weather FINALLY getting warmer here in Chicago, I find myself, joyously once again, in craft fair season. My favorite time of year, mind you. I’m particularly lucky to live in Chicago, which has a large and strong craft community and is home to one of the most popular contemporary craft fairs in the US, the Renegade Craft Fair. There’s also a long list of other fantastic craft fairs lined up in Chicago—which I’ll get to later!

shopcolumbia holiday market art booth

{ from the ShopColumbia Holiday Market 2011 }

In recent years, it seems that dozens of new, indie craft fairs pop up each year, and the more established ones keep getting bigger and better, drawing even larger crowds of hip, DIY loving shoppers. My kinda crowd, really. And while this ever growing canon of indie craft fairs seems so fresh and progressive, there’s no doubt that today’s booming crafty economy draws on a long history of fine craft and economic trade.

New York World's Fair 1964-1965

{ image found at Papergreat.com }

As Makers points out, world’s fairs were one such phenomenon that particularly influenced today’s art & craft world. As many Chicagoans who’ve read Devil in the White City know, world’s fairs were massive public exhibitions offering economic and cultural exchange at an often-unprecedented scale, encompassing everything from art, design, and architecture to science & technology, international trade, tourism, and much more.

According to the authors of Makers, these fairs were “of pivotal importance to the history of craft,” because they provided craftspeople an opportunity for exposure, artistic recognition, and commercial success, as well as inspiration and education from others at the fairs. These diverse marketplaces “influenced taste and artistic development.”

Centennial International Exhibition 1987

{ source: Library of Congress }

The first world’s fair in the US was the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Makers asserts that “a renaissance in American decorative arts can be traced to ideas generated by the Centennial Exposition displays.”

World's Columbian Exposition 1893

{ the first Ferris wheel, at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893; source: Wikipedia }

In 1893, Chicago proudly hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, displaying grand achievements in architecture, design, and invention, including the first Ferris wheel.

World's Columbian Exhibition 1893

{ an exhibit hall at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893; source: Wikipedia }

This fair also included displays of American heritage through design and handicraft, as well as the cultures and customs of countless other nations.

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

{ Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago; source: topwalls.net }

The Fine Arts Building, which was constructed for the World’s Columbian Exposition, is now Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, housed nearly 9,000 works.

Louisiana Purchase Universal Exposition 1904

{ “Artist Views of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition – St. Louis, 1904″;

source: My Papered Past }

Next, St. Louis welcomed the Louisiana Purchase Universal Exposition. For this fair, a Palace of Arts was created, which is now the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Louisiana Purchase Universal Exposition 1904, Palace of Arts

{ Palace of Arts building constructed for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904; source: unknown }

Then, in 1915, San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and the Palace of Fine Arts was built to display over 11,400 artworks from all over the world.

That woulda been a sight to see, huh?

While today we don’t have any single event quite like a world’s fair to attend, there are innumerable fairs and festivals, large and small, that celebrate the works of artisans and fine craftspeople. There likely wouldn’t be the craft fair circuit we know and love today without the standards and traditions established by the world’s fairs of yesterday.

Here are a few of the crafty festivities I hope to hit up this summer!

Renegade Craft Fair

Dose Market

Revolution Craft Show

Bellwether

Chicago Flea MKT

Lillstreet Holiday Craft Fair (which I get to help organize this year!)

Which craft fairs are you excited about?

Blog News

2012: The Highlights

Yesterday was Brian’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brian! As a result, I reflected, as one so often does on such occasions, on how quickly the past year seemed to fly by. He’s 27 years old? Already? Didn’t he just turn 26…? I guess the year flew by because it really was chock full of fun and fantastic-ness. We just hopped from one milestone to the next.

Brian turned 26

Please join me, if you will, on a look back at the past year with the Westervins, starting with Brian’s 26th birthday on January 31st, 2012. That joyous celebration saw a cookie cake—Brian’s favorite kind of cake, obviously—as well as a few choice presents and a relaxing break with the Wests outside of the city. We were all so happy that this sweet man was born just 26 years prior.

Grace Steinel Jones started guest blogging

Soon after, we welcomed one of our dearest and most talented besties, one Mrs. Grace Steinel Jones, as a guest blogger for Westervin. Cooking away in her hot Austin kitchen, Grace whipped up such delicioso creations as the above carrot cake with honey-ginger figs, homemade granola, and some super tacos!

Sarah West Ervin started working with Lillstreet

Later in February, I started working with the Lillstreet Art Center. For class credit, I offered my newly acquired marketing skills to Lillstreet to help spread the word about their many amazing services and products for the creatively inclined and curious. In exchange, I got some professional experience, an invitation to a screenprinting workshop, and an opportunity to work with them again on another fun marketing project.

Westervin got a makeover

In March, Brian exercised his creative muscles and unveiled a new look for Westervin.com. He’s so talented. Note to self: keep him around.

Newby Treasury GIveaway

We celebrated the redesign with a very special giveaway from Newby Treasury. This giveaway had been in the works for a few months, since around the first time I met Sarah Newby. I latched on to that cool lady like white on rice, determined to make her my friend. BTW, it worked.

Brian West got a new Job

In April, Brian started working at Columbia College Chicago…one floor above my office! Now, we get to go to work together and get coffee together and eat lunch together and go on walks together and go home together and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!!!!!

Debbie Carlos starts guest blogging

In other tremendously exciting April news, Debbie Carlos started guest blogging for Westervin with her series A Sunday Ritual. I don’t think I need to say much about this, other than: apricot pie, coconut corn fritters, ratatouille, sesame pea-shoot salad, cochinita pibil, and savory bread pudding, and 60-second gooey chocolate mug cake. Oh, and I should probably also say, “OMG! Thank you so much, Debbie! You are sooooooo awesome!!!!”

Celebrated World Party Day

Also that month, we were invited by BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School to participate in the fun DIY-ness of World Party Day. We made some margarita jello shots for the festivities. I think they were appreciated…

Columbia College Chicago Manifest: Please Generate Art

As I wrapped up my first year of graduate school last May, we rounded out the semester with our interactive art installation, Sound Collective, which was part of PGA: Please Generate Art, the graduate Manifest project at Columbia. It was a disgusting amount of work coupled with some poor timing (damn you, finals!), but I think it was all worth it for the delirious giggles and slaphappy bonding among the Sound Collective team: Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, me, and (unofficially) Brian.

Westervin Honeymoon

Brian and I soon recuperated on our Dollymoon. That is, we took our belated honeymoon at Dollywood! Best. Trip. Ever.

Sarah West Ervin made some videos for Lillstreet Art Center

When we returned, I began working with Lillstreet again on the Make It video series. I’m a producer, y’all! I’ve shared a few of the completed videos, and there’s a few more still to come…

Westervin gets juiced

In June, Brian and I started juicing! The good kind, guys. In an attempt to circumvent my general disinterest in most foods of the vegetable variety, Brian got us a juicer and started sneaking nutrient-rich vegetables into my diet, disguised by the sweet nectar of fruit juices. Let’s face it: everyone knows that vegetables are gross. Also fact: fruit is nature’s candy. So, if you mix fresh fruit juice with a little vegetable juice, like carrot, celery, spinach, etc., you can barely taste it! Since our juicing ways began, I’ve increased my vegetable tolerance and we’ve been drinking several servings of fresh juice every day. As a result, we generally have more energy, my hair and skin feel healthier, and I barely drink soda anymore. I’m serious. The power of juice has broken the hold that sweet, sweet soda had over me. Get juiced!

Sarah West Ervin learns to screenprint at Lillstreet Art Center

In other self-improvement news, I built up my crafting repertoire by learning how to screenprint! Laura Bock and I went to a screenprinting party at Lillstreet, wherein we sipped wine, ate fancy snacks, and got our crafty on with the help of instructor and textile artist Nora Renick-Rinehart. If only every month could include such craft parties…

Westervin was Published in Design: Paper

Perhaps the most exciting development in June, however, was being published! Our handmade save-the-dates were featured in the beautiful book Design: Paper. We loved making those little postcards, so we were overjoyed to see them in a book!

Sarah West Ervin blows up on Pinterest

In July, I got a lot of Pinterest followers, and we’ve had a lot of fun together since then…

Sarah West Ervin turns 26

And, in August, I finally caught up to Brian and turned 26 myself. I doubled the fun by joining forces with our local bestie Laura, who turned 24 a few days after my birthday. The fantastic festivities included a potluck brunch party and a trip to Six Flags. Brian also fulfilled one of my lifelong wishes by getting me an edible arrangement, delivered to me at work. All together, it was a dream of a birthday.

First Anniversary

That milestone was followed by an even better one in September: our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a delicious dinner, a nice walk, and a new set of handmade wedding rings! I gotta say, this marriage stuff is great.

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

Later than month, we hit up the Renegade Craft Fair. As the highlight of my craftventures for the year, much fun and shopping was had by all in our party, both new friends and old.

Sarah West Ervin went back to school

And, to balance out the fun of September, my second year of graduate school began. Fitzgerald and I felt the same way about it: Meh.

Brian West is Famous

But soon, things were looking up again! In October, Brian was commissioned to create the signature cocktail for Poetry‘s centennial celebration. He expertly crafted the bubbly and well-balanced Hippocrene, inspired by a Keats poem. It was written about in the New York Times, guys. Note to self: seriously, keep this fella around.

Sarah West Ervin is Famous

Soon after, I saw my five minutes of fame as a guest pinner for Etsy, my other love.  Ok, famous is a strong word here…  but I’ll use it just the same! LOOK AT ME! I’M AN INTERNET CELEBRITY! Would you like my autograph?

Sarah West Ervin went crochet crazy

In November, to combat the stress of sudden stardom (but mostly that of homework and impending finals), I got into crocheting. REALLY into crocheting. I went a little crazy with hats there….

Going to Louisiana

For Thanksgiving, Brian and I took a roadtrip to Louisiana to visit my family. Highlights included: gramma’s twice-baked potatoes, playing with my little brother, cracking pecans, and stopping in Little Rock along the way for a quick catch-up with my forever-valentine, Megan.

Westervin turned 3

And then it snuck up on us—-Westervin turned three. We’re pretty proud.

Goodbye to Sarah Newby and Ryan Glenn

Then, in December, we were forced to say a tearful goodbye to our sweet, interesting friends, Ryan Glenn and Sarah Newby. We shared a brunch with these two, gave them a little going away gift, and shooed them on their way to L.A. Expect a visit this summer, guys. Sunshine, here we come!

We got a new kitchen

When we were away for Christmas break, our landlord updated our kitchen. I really feel like the beauty of our new wood floors and clean, white cabinets has changed my life. I actually enjoy being in the kitchen now! And, I’ve even been helping Brian out a little in there with this thing they call “cooking.” It’s not as terrible as it seems! We’ll share some photos soon—-of both the renovation and my delectable (not really) creations.

Rang in the New Year

And finally, Brian and I rang in 2013 with our sassy frands, Laura Bock and Jonathan Thomason. Never underestimate the enjoyableness of pie, boardgames, and an all-night slumber party.

If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the last year was a pretty good one. Here’s to the next!

Faire Play, Featured

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012: New Faves & Quirky Finds

ceramic cups & bowls from Ship & Shape

In addition to the few friends and old favorites we saw at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago earlier this month, I also happened upon a few new favorite shops. One of my most favoritist new shops is Ship & Shape, which had a very well-curated assortment of handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, ceramics, and other lovely miscellany.

Ship & Shape at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

So many things I wanted!

handmade jewelry and accessories from Ship & Shape

air plants from Alapash at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

The greenery and beautiful displays from Alapash were refreshing to see. Unlike our now sad terrarium, these looked pretty darn robust!

handmade scarfs from Herron Clothier

These scarves from Herron Clothier looked perfect for a classy, geometric fall and winter.

Herron Clothier at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Just look at that beautiful weaving.

beaded necklaces from Moshi Handmade

Moshi Handmade had approximately one million necklaces I wanted.

handmade purses and pouches by Milkhaus Design

But the award for having so many beautiful things I wanted in my life that I couldn’t decide which one to get goes to….. Milkhaus Design! Can I have it all? Puh-leeeeease.

handmade dishes from The Bocket Store

I loved these hand-painted and re-imagined vintage pieces from The Bocket Store. The beauty was in the detail. And in the name. Bocket. That’s fun to say.

handmade bead & wood necklaces from I Am Home

Feeling nostalgic for the Original Wham-O Superball? Or maybe you just like bright colors and sand inspired patterns? In either case, iamhome makes the necklace for you.

iamhome at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

homemade kitchenwares from Tartella at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

At Tartella, I found some adorably printed napkin sets that were packaged in mason jars. Now that’s a nice touch.

handmade porcelain envelopes from Redraven

I’ve never really considered that I might one day need a handmade porcelain envelope, but these from Redraven were pretty enough to make me consider it.

art by D. C. Ice

These weird old animals in vintage frames from D. C. Ice were a major highlight for me. The stark color palette and elaborate frames really fit these delightful little weirdos.

D. C. Ice at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

That’s one tall drink of rabbit.

handmade cards from Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress

Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress had some of our favorite cards. Brian and I definitely picked up a few for some lucky someones.

handmade beaded jewelry by Sara Cramer

Sara Cramer was one of the friendliest sellers I met, taking a few minutes to explain to me how she made her intricately beaded jewelry. As you can probably imagine, each piece takes quite a bit of time.

Sara Cramer jewelry at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Nerfect at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

A pug with a banana? A gnome with a hot dog? This silly cat face? OK, count me in, Nerfect!

upcycled candles from Reuse First

…Somebody drinks a lot. Namely, those at Reuse First.

crocheted dolls from Morico

OMG fuzzy creatures! Need something silly and fuzzy…. Morico is your new best friend.

temporary tattoos and illustrations from Burrowing Home

It’s probably no secret that I really want a cat tattoo, but I figured I should play it safe for a little while and try out a temporary one first. Luckily, Burrowing Home came to the rescue. Now I just need a special occasion to try it out! Like, maybe… a Monday?

Faire Play

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012: A Few Friends & Old Favorites

Brian West, Jonathan Thomason, Laura Bock, and Sarah West Ervin

{ I stole this photo from Debbie Carlos }

The Renegade Craft Fair came to Chicago the weekend before last, and it was, as expected, the crafty highlight of my year. Brian and I grabbed some comfy shoes and our buddies Jonathan and Laura (pictured above), fueled up at the Milk & Honey Cafe, and got our shoppin’ on!

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

There was quite a crowd to navigate through, but we kept our heads down and pushed through to the goods.

Labrabbit Optics at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

One of the first booths we stopped at belonged to our old favorite Coyote of Labrabbit Optics, flaunting his awesomely curated collection of affordable new and refurbished vintage frames. With our powers combined, I think Laura and I must have tried on ever pair of glasses he had. I vowed to come back this winter for a new pair!

vintage eyeglass frames from Labrabbit Optics

Lady Faye Jewelry at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Then we found Katie of Lady Faye Jewelry and I got the kitty ring I’ve been wanting all summer!

handmade czech glass rings from Lady Faye Jewelry

Right Brain Drifts at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

We also stopped to say hi to Steve & Michelle of Right Brain Drifts.

bright, geometric wall art from Right Brain Drifts

handmade jewelry from Michelle Starbuck designs

But Laura and I probably spent more time drooling over Michelle’s jewelry (Michelle Starbuck Designs) than chatting! That little macaroni necklace was one of my favorite necklaces I didn’t buy that day. I’m gonna get one eventually.

Debbie Carlos and bf/gf at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Finally, we ran into our new friend and guest blogger Debbie Carlos with hubby Devin at the booth she shared with BF/GF.

handmade jewelry by Debbie Carlos

We also spent a lot of time ogling Debbie’s beautiful jewels and posters.

photo posters by Debbie Carlos

Laura Bock and Jonathan Thomason with their new Dino Planter

But are you wondering what all we bought? Well, Laura and Jonathan brought home a new bundle of joy—a triceratops planter from The Plaid Pigeon!

bright aqua triceratops dinosaur planter with succulent

silver teardrop ring from Ship & Shape

Laura also got the sweetest dainty ring from Ship & Shape.

handmade loot from Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

While there were a million things I wanted but didn’t get (I’m not made of money, people), I did make out with quite a bit of loot. In addition to my Lady Faye ring, I snagged clay bead earrings and a set of ceramic cups from Ship & Shape, a temporary tattoo from Burrowing Home, and cards from A. Dub Designs, Kate Funk, and Bison Bookbinding.

temporary cat tattoo from Borrowing Home and cat ring from Lady Faye Jewelry

handmade ceramic cups and earrings from Ship & Shape

These shops and killer handicraft weren’t the only things I discovered at Renegade, though! On Friday, I’ll share some of my new favorites and a few more quirky items we found.

Faire Play

The Vintage Bazaar

The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago's Aragon Ballroom

In addition to our Dose Market outing, we recently visited the The Vintage Bazaar with our beloved summer brunch club. This monthly market occupies Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom and spills over into a nearby lot with many vintage and antique vendors, as well as a few food trucks and stands.

a vintage camper at the Vintage Bazaar

We started our adventure in the lot, where we were greeted by a cute, retro camper and a plethora of vintage clothing. I found a beautiful blue floral dress on the cheap (maybe I’ll show you later…), and Caitlin snagged a cool pair of tan woven shoes for a pretty good deal. I think our other partner in crime, LB, made out with a sweet vintage slip for a few bucks. I’d say were were fairly happy with our finds!

a crowd at The Vintage Bazaar

There was a good sized crowd — not too busy, but not dead.

a vintage ethiopian dress at The Vintage Bazaar

This is my favorite thing I didn’t buy — a magnificently embroidered, vintage Ethiopian dress. It was, very sadly, a tad too small and more than a tad out of my price range.

antique elegance: chandelier and ceiling at The Aragon Ballroom

One of my favorite things about the Vintage Bazaar is the setting. The exquisite details of the historic Aragon — the intricately adorned ceilings, the mosaic tiled floors, the chandeliers — were quite distracting in the best possible way.

the "Ladies Lounge" at the Aragon Ballroom

I saw several other attendees stop to take pictures of the space.The entrance to the women’s bathroom (aka the Ladies Lounge) appeared to present the most popular photo-op. I think I’m going to start using the term ‘Ladies Lounge’ to refer to all restrooms. “Pardon me… I need to powder my nose in the ladies lounge.”

a travelling barbershop at The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago's Aragon Ballroom

And fitting with the old-timeyness was a traveling barbershop, complete with a retro “tiled” floor mat. I tried to get Brian to sit down for a shave, but he wasn’t havin’ it. I don’t think he trusts anyone else with his prized beard hairs…

Laura Bock, Sarah West Ervin, and Caitlin O'Meara at The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago

After snapping a few ridiculous photos at the Smilebooth (who is that dude?!), it was time for our summer afternoon naps…

If you’re in the area and want to experience The Vintage Bazaar for yourself, the next one will be Sunday, August 12th!

Faire Play

Dose Market

Sarah West Ervin, Brian West, and Laura Bock at Chicago's Dose Market

If Chicago feels like a dark, dead wasteland of misery in the winter (I exaggerate a bit), then I’m happy to say it really comes alive in the summer. There are more festivals and markets than you can shake a stick at. Brian and I have finally been taking advantage of these exciting outings, with some help from a few friends. Last month, our buddy LB (pictured above right) was able to drag us out of our apartment to visit the Dose Market, which happened to be celebrating it’s first birthday. If you’re not awares (as we, ourselves, were not), Dose is a monthly, indoor market, with an impressively curated list of food and fashion vendors (aka Dosers).

coffee at Dose Market

After arriving, we decided to fuel up with some horchata from Crop to Cup. I think my love for horchata is rivaled only by my love for chocolate milk.

upcycled speakers at Dose Market

We then started winding our way through the crowd, the tables, and the impressive displays. We were quite impressed with Gentleman’s Boombox, which wins the award for most creatively repurposed object.

yummy treats and sweet kicks at Dose Market

LB and I drooled over some treats from Bake and Brian drooled over some finely handcrafted leather shoes from Oak Street Bootmakers.

handmade leather goods at Dose Market

There was some more fine leather work…

camping supplies at Dose Market

And some vintage camping gear from Camp Wandawega.

Laura Lombardi's handmade jewelry at Dose Market

Then I noticed one of my favorite local jewelry makers, Laura Lombardi. It’s always such a treat to see her work around town.

handmade jewelry at Dose Market

peanut butter! at Dose Market

We then made our second purchase: some chocolate peanut butter from Yumbutter. Yum is right!

handmade scarves and other accessories at Dose Market

fresh berries at Dose Market

handmade clothing at Dose Market

After we enjoyed our complimentary drinks (beer from Goose Island and cocktail creations combining whisky from  Spicebox Whisky and snow cone syrups from Jo Snow), I grabbed a bottle of  smoky heirloom tomato catsup from The Scrumptious Pantry (lord knows I love my condiments!).

Laura Bock & Sarah West Ervin at Dose Market

We also took full advantage of the Smilebooth before we headed out.

being silly at Dose Market

We even got Brian to join the fun. And you know how much he hates fun….

goodbye, Dose Market! we had a blast ;)

All in all, it was a wondrous adventure!

Blog News, Featured

Lillstreet: A Love Story

Dearest Lillstreet, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. You are one rad art center with so many classes and workshops I want to take!

Lillstreet Art Center

I love that you offer classes in so many fun art and craft media, like ceramics, jewelry making, textiles, photography, drawing, painting, and more! You make the arts fun and accessible.

2. You’ve got some cool & talented folks under your roof.

Opening Reception at the Lillstreet Gallery

I loved working with Jess, your Galley Director, and Julia, your Marketing & Communications Director, this past spring on a marketing case study for class. I got credit for learning about you and applying some of my newly acquired  marketing lingo! Every time I walk through your doors, I feel inspired by the great art on display and the creative people who fill  your halls.

3. You invited me to one of your new art parties!

Screenprinting party at Lillstreet

You mean I get to screenprint a tote bag, drink wine, eat cupcakes, and converse with other crafters? You’re really making it impossible not to love you.

4. You’re letting me work with you again this summer on a series of DIY videos.

Handbuilt clay mug at Lillstreet

The fun really never stops. I’m so happy that you liked my idea to create video tutorials that bring the art and craft  education you offer to a broader online audience. You liked it enough to run with it and to let me coordinate the project!  Though we’ve only just begun, I’ve already met some ridiculously talented craftspeople (like cutie pie Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry), have learned a lot about working with those creatives, have pushed myself and my communication skills, and have felt more connected again to the craft community, which I so dearly love. I can’t wait to share the finished videos — featuring projects for jewelry making screenprinting, photography tips, and more — with my readers and so many more DIY hungry people!