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So I went to look at some studio spaces in Bridgeport neighborhood last night with a friend who is interested in teaming up to split costs. The area is great, old industry, converted to modern small-scale manufacturing.

The building I was looking at is part of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, otherwise known as Bubbly Dynamics owned by John Edel. I’ve been acquainted with him for some time, and remember when the building was just taking its baby steps toward renovation. It was a mess, really, full of timber, old windows, junk and other people’s storage (John’s a nice guy like that). I haven’t been there in almost 2 years, and when I rolled up on my bicycle, I didn’t recognize the place!

The road had been paved, the factory across the street was razed. There was a sidewalk and curb cuts, and TREES. Wow. What a difference. Chicago really did some work over there. That makes me glad. Then, inside the building was another impressive sight. John had transformed this building into a gorgeous glowing example of economy and sustainability, married with fantastic design and beauty.

The walls that I’d been previously impressed with the fact that they had been sheet rocked finally, were now real solid walls, painted, trimmed with art on them. Oh! The big lobby sign was great too! The windows and doors and all the little things: finished and sealed concrete floors, HEAT!, some nice ficus in the hallways, lovely hand made railings on the stairs. So lovely.

As we toured the building, John pointed out how all the materials were salvaged, or donated. This door was pulled out of a junk yard, this railing was old brewery pipe, this glass block wall was reconstructed from block that was taken out of somewhere else in the building, this expensive Italian tile in the restroom was left behind by a contractor. Yay! For freebies.

We saw two different available spaces in the Center. One on the second floor, with nice windows. Not much of a view, but what can you really ask for in the manufacturing district? (Also, it smelled like cinnamon the whole time we were there. The Factory down the road, makes every kind of off-brand “Pop-Tart” sold in the US.) This space was just about 600 square feet. More than adequate for my needs, but I was going to team up with Chuck, so we went to the basement to see the larger space, but not before we went up to the roof.

A few years ago, I had gone to Bubbly and helped plant the roof top garden. John’s daughter’s face had been pixelized and mapped out with plant colors, and we were planting a picture of her. It didn’t look like much then, but now, wow! I can’t wait to Google Maps updates their satellite photos! Its very clearly a child’s face on the roof, in plants!

Then down to the basement, we saw an 1100 square foot space. Holy cow, it was SO BIG. It was empty and that made it feel even bigger. My voice echoed and to tell you the truth, I was a little intimidated by the vat openness of it. Agoraphobia, just a smidgen. Chuck liked that space. He likes to spread out and says he has done his best work in basements. :)

Now I’m rolling around the numbers in my head, thinking about what I’d have to do to get into that space. Sheesh. I’d have to get the capital funds to start up the business. Then, I’d have to move all my equipment in, which would be ok because there’s a freight elevator and loading dock. Then, I’d have to get all my stuff up from Saint Louis that’s still sitting over there. ugh. Then there’s planning to bring in enough money to pay rent in 2 spaces one to live one to work. Thankfully, the utilities are included at Bubbly.

The other tenants we met seemed excited to have printing in the building. Two are screen printing artists, and a few are people I know from the O.G. Chicago bicycle scene. It seems like an ideal space to work from, collaborate within and maybe become a real participating part of something meaningful and sustainable.

The only problem now, is the funding. And the fact that if I have the space, I now NEED a Vandercook. Dang.

NOTE: I’m a dumb ass and my boyfriend just informed me i’ve been mixing my metaphors. Like booze and sleeping pills, it could be dangerous. The title of this post was supposed to refer to the phrase “Wet behind the ears” but I confused the saying with someone being “green” as in “new and young to something”. So alas a new phrase, “green behind the ears” is born meaning: to have not yet participated in one’s first ecologically conscious craft show…

My set-up

My set-up

Well, I did my first big craft show! I’m so proud! It took a lot of work and preparation, and today, I chill out a bit and don’t really want to look at my press (my print pulling hand still has some blisters that need to heal, for reals).
Left End

Left End

Right End

Right End

The crowds were alright for the show. I don’t really know too much about what to expect this time of year, during that weather etc etc in regards to turn-out of attendees, but its seemed like there was a good flow of people.

I am a little disappointed in the amount of sales and such though. I’m pretty sure its not my fault (I Am good enough, people like me!), as a few other vendors where wondering where all the sales were too. But, really, I suppose we should have expected it in this economy…

One thing that really killed my sales was my table location. See, I picked a nice corner spot, thinking that I’d be right by the doors where everyone came in. I guess The Powers That Be decided those doors were Emergency Exits only, so instead the main entrance was at the exact opposite corner, putting my table at the end of the very last row. Unforeseen switch-a-roo there… BAH and FIE!

The other things that I hesitate to complain about because they were pretty awesome, were the Fashion Show, and the Bands. The Fashion Show went on for almost 2 hours, and while it was very cool and participants got their work show cased, it literally blocked off an entire aisle of vendors from any traffic at the busiest time of the day.

The last thing I’m going to have to keep an eye out for at other shows, is : Do Not choose a spot directly in front of the band stand. While I had a front row seat for several great acts including Raw Earth and Red Card Royale, it was hard to converse with customers, and I think a lot of shoppers avoided that corner because of how loud it was. Also, there were belly dancers that accompanied Raw Earth. They were EXCELLENT. I loved it! (One gorgeous woman even asked me to dance with her but I was so intimidated I couldn’t. She was too beautiful and I was unworthy…) But anyway, awesome as they were, it created a bottle neck in front of my table. Lots of people hovered to watch the dancers, but no one wanted to walk in the narrow space between us end cap vendors and the dancers.

Belly Dancers

Belly Dancers

I’ll hand in these observations as notes for next years Green with Indie.

All in all, for this show being the first show in the area of its kind to focus on sustainable goods, up-cycled art and craft items and be billed as a No Waste Event, it was a complete success! April Tate of Miss Lemon fame of the STLCM did an amazing job organizing the whole thing and booking the entertainment. (I don’t know when that woman sleeps.)

Webster U was gracious and we had no problems that I know of with the event being held in the gymnasium. Hooray! They’ll let us back next year?

I also got to meet some pretty kick ass fellow Craft Mafioso, like David from Cranky Yellow, Kate of Red Anvil Art (she traded me a necklace!!!), Katie from Scarlet Garnet, and Shelah of Destroyed by Design.

I met some other great crafters (and colleagues I hope) like Sparrow Studios, Chef Jeff, Secret Leaves Paper Works and lots of others who are linked on this page.

Next big shows coming up are the Big Ass Indie Art and Craft Show July 31 – August 2, and the Cherokee Street Cinco de Mayo Art Fair. Also, check out some of Lock and Key’s printed Ephemera for Sale at Cranky Yellow, on Cherokee Street at Nebraska in Saint Louis Missouri.

Green with Indie!!!

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