Ivy & Gold Handcraft

Ivy & Gold Handcraft

But the wind blew me back, via Chicago


My “studio” one year ago

It seems appropriate at this time to look back on how far I’ve come in just a year.  In April, I wrote a post about my journey in Upstate New York.  Owning my own store with my best friend Emily and all the adventures that ensued and led me here to Chicago.  In the past year my husband and I have successfully put together a really great home studio that I’ve completely fallen in love with.  However, it wasn’t love at first sight.

Moving to a new place that you are completely unfamiliar with, during the winter time is a bad idea. Unless of course you’re moving to Florida or Hawaii where there is absolutely no chance the temperature will drop below -20 with a -40 windchill. I was told that Chicago was cold in the winter. So what? I grew up in upstate NY near the Adirondacks. I took my drivers test the day after a blizzard in February.  I frequently rode my snowboard up at Hunter Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills. I knew what cold was.  Rather, I thought I knew what cold was.

According to everyone that has lived in Chicago for 5 or more years, this was THE COLDEST/WORST winter ever.  I believed them as when my husband and I dated, I had visited Chicago several times in the winter and found it not to be too different than New York. There was a LOT less snow, which was fine as there is no place to snowboard in Illinois. Oh but not this past winter. Snow was more than abundant.  The temperatures were so cold they closed school and told people to stay in their homes. I took these instructions too literally and didn’t really leave the house until the middle of March because I had friends visiting.  To be honest, who really wants to explore a new place, especially a walkable city like Chicago, when your runny nose snot is freezing to your face? Nobody.


During this time I slowly added more tools and machinery I needed to have a functioning studio.  I sank into a sad seasonal depression in which Netflix became my very best friend. This sadness led me to re-watching all seasons of Dawson’s Creek and a myriad of Julia Roberts movies (and probably other things I’ve blocked out). I honestly didn’t work much more than I had to at the time.  If there was an order, I’d fulfill it.  If I got some freelance work, I did it.  I wasn’t really creating and I wasn’t getting joy from metalsmithing as I usually did. All of my tools were in new spaces, and I would constantly be searching for things.  My studio space just seemed so unfamiliar to me.  The excitement and wonder I once felt when creating became daunting and frustrating.  I began comparing and despairing.  I feared that I would become a failure. I suddenly felt like I had made this huge mistake.  I had a good thing in New York! Why did I think this was a good idea? I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss my apartment, I miss going for coffee runs next door, I miss my studio and working next to my best friend. Seriously, what was I thinking? I felt like Kristen Wiig’s character Annie from the movie Bridesmaids.


Once April rolled around, things started to feel more natural. Perhaps it was the presence of sunny blue skies, rather than grey.  I was feeling more inspired and driven than ever.  It all began when I  received my first custom comission from a loyal customer (thank you Valerie, you have no idea how much you helped jumpstart my love for creating again. I’m forever grateful for that project). I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided I was not going to let my fear of failure be my enemy.

Bridesamids 2

Things began to work out for me due to my newly attained enthusiasm. I focused a lot of my energy on how to blog and take better photos. I made an effort to get better at social networking.  I doubled my inventory on etsy.  I started taking on more custom work.  I had finally found my groove. I had always dreamed of living in a new place that wasn’t within New York state.  I was finally fulfilling a dream of mine, except it was way more magical in my mind than it truly was.  Sometimes, things don’t always turn out as you expect them to and it’s disappointing.  However there is beauty in the struggle.  I learned more and challenged myself in this last year than I had since 2008 when Emily and I opened our brick and mortar jewelry shop. Hindsight being 20/20 I now see it. Things are always going to be in flux, even if you stay in the same place.  Change is inevitable.

I’m not saying things are perfect and everyone lived happily ever after. Right now I’m happy with the challenges and success the last year has brought me.  While I do get homesick once in a while, I find that my decision to move was a great one.  I’ve really fallen in love with Chicago and its beginning to feel like home.  I absolutely adore my studio space so much that I might as well add a futon. My business is growing and I’ve been able to create some really fun and challenging custom jewelry pieces.  I’ve met some truly amazing people here in Chicago that I now call friends. My husband and I adopted two kittens this fall to make this house feel more like a home. I’d say things are pretty spectacular and I can’t wait to see where this life takes me next.

Here are some photos of my studio, one year later (special appearances made by  Oliver and Elliot)

Studio 9

Studio 1

Studio 3

Studio 4

Studio 5

Studio 8

Ellie 3

Studio 2

Studio 7

Studio 6

Oliver 1

Oliver 2

Ellie 1