Joyfully Crafted: My name is Tammy and I am the designer of the business. Joyfully Crafted offers meaningful jewelry as well as everyday designs. Special messages and family photos can be used to create a jewelry keepsake.
What I like most about my job is creating for others. Don’t you just love giving gifts with all the excitement you feel getting something so perfect for them and when you see their joy of receiving it? Well I get to enjoy this through all my wonderful customers. On the creation side of making jewelry I am always trying to learn new skills. Working with metal has been so much fun and the most rewarding.
You’ve always liked art. In fact your favorite memories from summer camp are the arts and crafts classes. You’ve made dozens of friendship bracelets. You can latch hook a rug like nobody’s business. You still have that composition book with the black and white marble cover, from when you went through your poetry phase in junior high. You painted watercolor unicorns and action figures. You sculpted miniatures of the entire cast of “Saved By The Bell” out of clay. But, you grew up. You got a job. You became responsible. But it’s still there, somewhere inside of you. You wonder, what would my life be like right now if I’d pursued art?
Well, you’ll be happy to know you have some options. You could pay the $35,000 per year to go to a private art school, or, you could mosie on down to Gallery’s Choice in Downers Grove, Illinois and learn oil painting, stained glass, jewelry making, watercolor painting, mosaics, copper enameling, acrylic painting, lampworking, origami, or silk painting. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
The owners, Rose and Bill Jarecki, along with their daughter, Katie, are living testaments to what life can be like when a person follows their dream. Having gotten an MBA and spent fifteen years in corporate marketing, Rose decided to leave that life behind and follow her dream of living an artistic life. She is a self-taught glasswork and silk-painting artist who has pieces displayed in the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.
The shop has been open for five years in Downer’s Grove and in that time has gone through some radical changes. Giving up half their retail space, for one. I asked her what made her decide to partially turn her art gallery into a working art studio. “I noticed other artisans getting discouraged and not making the money selling their work as they’d hoped,” Rose explains. “Customers have changed their focus when it comes to the arts. More and more people are saying, ‘I don’t want to buy it, I’d rather experience it, make it myself’.
“And if they do want to buy something, they want it to be custom and unique. Not something that’s been sitting on a shelf somewhere. The most successful artists are the ones who respond to the customer’s wants. So we made the decision to dedicate 50 percent of our retail floor space to classroom and studio space.”
I asked how business has changed since going from being just a retailer, to a retailer and art learning center. “I really feel that we are giving back to the community,” she says. “We are very family oriented with a hands-on approach. We’re doing both chilldren’s and adult’s classes, but I especially love being able to give kids the support I always had as a kid. I was allowed to try anything. We’ve had over 5,000 Girl Scouts come through our doors. And we make sure that students have some success right away, in order to encourage them to not be afraid to try different, maybe more complicated techniques.”
It’s not just kids who keep the shop busy. Gallery’s Choice hosts “Girls’ Night Out” events, birthday parties, and couples’ stained glass classes. And, I have to mention that I was impressed and surprised at how much shelf space had been given to display beginning artists and art students. “People are more sensitive to keeping business local. So, the community seeks us out. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t really matter, as much as you might think, if a piece is made by a beginner versus a long-time professional. Customers are telling me, ‘I don’t want a print or a replica. I’m tired of going to the mall.’ I’m hearing that on a daily basis. If a piece speaks to a person, they buy it and the value is that it’s been made by hand.”
The response to Rose and Bill’s hands-on approach has been tremendous. I can’t help wondering if we can expect their model to be the new direction for art galleries and shops. But, Bill feels there’s room for different art experiences. “We like to make art more accessible for people, that’s true. But, there’s definitely room for our type of shop, as well as the high end galleries. In fact, people come into our place and learn to make and buy art, and then they are not afraid to go to the high end shows. If they take a stained glass class here, then they can attend a retrospective on Louis Comfort Tiffany and feel comfortable. They are now interested and not intimidated. They feel they understand the work better, they can speak with knowledge about the medium and the process, and can better appreciate the genius of the masters.”
Increasing their class offerings has certainly transformed the business, but Gallery’s Choice remains, very much, a gallery with dozens of local artists and artisans on display. “In the beginning it was just my work. I was kind of scared to let other artists show here,” Rose admits. “Coming from a business and not an art background, I struggled with wondering if I was good enough, but it was about getting over that. Artists just found us through word of mouth. I’m glad, now, that I had the confidence to let other artists show their work alongside mine. It’s been wonderful. We’ve found such a high quality of work. Jewelry, fiber arts, glass makers, etchings. And we get tons of referrals from customers as well.”
And now, Gallery’s Choice is using the social networking site Facebook in order to give the public a chance to see some classroom experiences, new artists and upcoming programs and events. I asked Rose if giving up half the sales floor has affected the number of artists they are able to show. “Oh, there’s always room for one more,” she replied. “We aim to keep our gallery accessible. We are a self made environment.”
Gallery’s Choice, 1014 Curtiss Street, Downer’s Grove, IL, 60515, USA.
Fun rings which are great for giving or getting, in low to high price ranges… slip one on yourself or someone you luv on Valentine’s Day.
Right: California Pink Tourmaline and Sterling Silver Ring by McFarland Designs $204.
- Pretty Pink Poppies Ring by The Intuitive Garden $22.
- Pink and black Resin flower ring by All Just 4 You $8.
- Bloom Dinner Ring by Jewelry By Reshell $23.95.
- Hot Pink Rock Ring by Emily Tyrie Creations $37.50.
- constellation ring by jessi taylor (sold as I was writing about it!)
- Diva Ring by Kalicat $149.
- Pink Poppy Flower Ring by Kacchan $15.
- Pink and Lime Button Ring by Funky Monkey Jewelry $4.50.
- pink cupcake ring by summer pickles $8.
- Button Ring by yanadesigns $7.
- Yummy Cupcake Ring by lara lewis $7.
- Tropical Sugar ring by Sparkle Couture $49.
- Golden Textile Embroidered Flower Ring by La Camelot $45.50.
- Tea Time Ring by Natali Araya $60.
- Sweetheart Heart Ring by The Funky Felter $10.50.
- Maisy’s Daisys by Fancy Me $5.
- Heart Ring by Kristin Perkins Glass Jewelry $80.
The image above is from Gbrosseau Photo
I’m writing this at the end of a wonderful long weekend, and as the title suggests, I’m pondering the meaning of the word home. Why now? It’s been on my mind for months really… We currently live right downtown – and while many of our friends have found this to be an ideal environment for raising kids, for me personally, I’m not sure that it feels right.
Both my husband and I fondly remember childhood days spent frolicking in the forests near our homes, building forts, exploring, and having “adventures”. For me time spent in the forest feels as natural as eating or sleeping – despite having lived in cities of various sizes from the age of 11.
The city we live in and the surrounding countryside have an increasing problem of affordability – and many people are forced to move further and further out into the suburbs.
While the suburbs are an option – my husband will continue to work in the city for the foreseeable future, and many of the suburban areas that appeal to us involve an hour and a half commute. And I think it’s tough to know on the outset what kind of experience you’ll have in the suburb you choose. Some neighbourhoods are certainly more community minded and friendlier than others.
This past Tuesday I was busy planning our hike for this weekend and thought it’d be fun to go a bit further afield than usual, to Bowen Island (a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown). I started reading about this jewel of an island on the Pacific and I really liked what I read. I was actually so distracted by everything that I read that it made it tough to work that evening. We decided we ought to go for the weekend as perhaps this is just the type of place we want to call home. Bowen is a heavily forested island with a year round population of 3,000 people that swells to over 4,000 in the summer. It has a quaint downtown with shops, restaurants and a vibrant artisan community. There are no chain stores of any kind. Instead you’ll find miles and miles of trees and hiking trails, hemmed in by rocky bluffs and sandy beaches. The island has a strong history as a place of deep community ties and its populace is very involved in civic affairs.
The image above is from Spread the Love
After this weekend I’ve fallen in love with the island and I know my husband has warmed to it too. As city folks we aren’t that involved in our community right now. It’s easy not to be in the city. I volunteer as much as I can for a local social enterprise, and we make time to see our close friends – but other than that we often find ourselves working long hours, which often seems necessary to keep our entrepreneurial ventures healthy. Now as we ponder the next stage of our lives, thinking about our future children and putting down roots, we’re forced to ask ourselves just what home means to us, and what we should prioritize. We’re planning to visit Bowen again in September to learn more about the island, and we’re considering giving it a test run as renters, perhaps next spring. So for now, things are up in the air – but in the meantime, it’s given us plenty of food for thought as we plan for the future.
I’d love to hear some of your experiences as you were looking to settle down and have kids!
Escape or Explore Ring (above) in recycled eco-friendly fine silver, by Happy Go Licky.
The car is tuned-up, gassed-up, packed-up, and you’re finally on the road…now what? Is it possible to get to your destination without making a huge impact on the environment and your wallet? Getting better gas mileage is the key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and saving money.
It should go without saying that you should keep your cool behind the wheel, but did you know that aggressive driving causes you to use extra gas? Simply by accelerating and decelerating smoothly and slowly, you can increase your gas mileage by as much as 30% for highway driving. And, as a bonus, you won’t annoy everyone around you!
You’ve heard the expression “speed kills”. Well, it should come as no surprise that it wastes gas, too. Driving over the speed limit is not only unsafe; it is a huge drain on the fuel tank. Consider taking secondary highways to help keep your lead-foot in check. Not only are posted limits lower, the temptation to speed is reduced when others aren’t whizzing past you like Kimi Raikkonen. (Tip: if you have cruise control, use it to help maintain a constant speed.) Optimal fuel economy will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 100 km/h, so take your time, enjoy the scenery and put all of that saved gas money in this upcycled seatbelt wallet, above, by Interrobang.
Many urban centres are cracking down on idling and for good reason – idling vehicles contribute to pollution (both air and noise) and get zero kms /litre. It’s a myth that restarting your car uses more fuel than leaving it running, so turn off your engine when packing or unloading your car and while waiting in the seemingly endless line-ups for ferries, highway road crews, accidents, etc. To keep your little passengers happy (and quiet) while you wait for the all-clear, give them something fun to do. These little lap-sized, portable Creativity Wallets (above) by Ducks in a Row Boutique keep paper, crayons and artwork organized and at your child’s fingertips. Ideal for the backseat, they’re also perfect for keeping kids entertained in restaurants and waiting rooms.
And, finally, pack light. Before you add the weight of passengers and luggage, remove unnecessary heavy items from your vehicle. An extra 50 kilograms of cargo in your vehicle could reduce your gas mileage by up to 2%. This, of course, affects smaller vehicles more than large, but any little bit helps. Plus, you’ve gotta leave room for souvenirs! The locket set pictured above, cleverly made from a recycled auto part, saves space by giving you three looks in one, simply by switching between the three magnetic lids. I love the vintage travel theme, but there are literally hundreds of attractive options (pun intended) available in the Polarity shop.
Next week: A Movable Feast