Man, the last two weeks have been some for the books! I finished moving into the Hands Occupied Studio, hosted a sold out live show for the Very Serious Crafts podcast, attempted to keep up with my regular work, and held a Studio Warming party …. oh wait. All of that? That was all on my plate before the coldest polar vortex-induced temps in 25 years hit Chicago. As a North Dakota native, I can totally handle the cold, but turns out not all infrastructure can. So in the last few days leading up to the Studio Warming party, my building suffered a burst pipe, frozen waste water outlet pipe, and a foundation issue was found. For those counting, that’s three separate floods from unique issues in 4 days. Did I mention I live in the basement?
Fun fact: It was so cold out when I washed the outside of my studio windows that the cleaning solution froze & left streaks!
Our home is fine, or will soon be. Lest the crazy polar vortex-related home issues wash away any enthusiasm about the Studio, I’ll say this. While we had water running into our kitchen when the pipe burst, my intrepid husband shut off the water valve to our apartment almost immediately, we had a wet/dry vacuum at the ready to suck up the water, and I was clever enough to grab a hammer and start popping off baseboards and moulding in wet areas to avoid moisture clinging to and wicking up the walls.
I also got under the counter, found the leak, cut out wet insulation and ripped out compromised drywall. I’m pretty dang chuffed with myself for that, I’ll be honest! The emergency plumbers even referred to me as a beast and were impressed. Anyway, as a result of all this drama, the current week is now full of inspections and quotes and repairs for the larger infrastructure issues with our building, but we’ll soon be back to normal! Above is what three days without the ability to shower, sleeping a few hours at a time in shifts with my husband, and hulking out with a hammer looked like. Oh, and that was taken within 24 hours of the Studio Warming party. 😆
The Studio Warming Party!
That was the bad news, now on to the good! Having given myself a sponge bath and washed my hair in a basin (all you can do is laugh, right?), last Friday night we thoroughly warmed the Hands Occupied Studio. We had about 3 dozen folks in and out during the open house style soiree, and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for taking the time and braving the cold to be there. We all contributed to a giant community weaving project as the first official creative act in the space, we had snacks and drinks, folks brought knit and crochet WIPs, and it was hopping! Despite significant sleep deprivation and my husband (an actual saint) having to go home every 45 minutes to confirm our sink hadn’t flooded again, it was such a special evening. I can’t wait to see how Hands Occupied Studio will grow and evolve over time!
What’s next for the Studio?
While I first pursued a studio space to, you know, use as a place to do my design and other creative work, I also really envision it as an opportunity to foster a community of crafters. We’re starting slowly with weekly open Craft Nights (more on that below), which will take the place of last year’s monthly Meet Ups. Then I want to expand to include a monthly weekend Crafternoon, requested by folks who can’t come in to the city on weeknights, as well as out-of-towners who want to come visit. In addition to open crafting, there will be workshops, private lessons, guest instructors and more. If you’ve got any ideas for things you’d like to see in the Hands Occupied Studio, or if you’re interested in collaborating on something with the space, drop me a line at heidi-at-handsoccupied-dot-com. I very sincerely would love to hear your ideas. ❤️
P.S. I do plan on having regular studio hours at some point soon, but not until I finish dealing with polar vortex-related building drama. Stay tuned.
Craft Night every Wednesday!
Tonight is our first open Craft Night from 6-9 p.m. at Hands Occupied Studio. (We’re at 3323 W Diversey Ave. #1 in Chicago. All crafts are welcome, and feel free to bring any snacks and drinks to share.) Mark your calendars! We’ll be doing this open Craft Night every Wednesday unless otherwise posted. I’ll make Facebook events for each of them as well as posting them to the Events page on this site, though RSVPing is optional.
Before I go, I wanted to once again say that I’m so grateful for the Chicago crafting community. Y’all showed up on Friday after a hell week of terrible weather, and I couldn’t have been more humbled by and truly grateful for the support. See you at Craft Night! :)