Monday, 16 April 2012

Vintage Techie Technique

Vintage QR Coding 

Quick Response Code are black and white modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background that can be read by smartphones, putting a barcode reader in everyone's pocket that provides quick access to URL sites such as websites, blogs, contact information and more...

QR code in our little sparrow - vintage style collage for window poster
I came up with this idea to cleverly embody the code in our little sparrow for the display window at our new store in Downtown Elgin IL, in hopes to get our message out to passers by regarding our opening July 2012.  

I thought it would be a cool idea for my friends with stores and booth vendors, so here is how I did it:

It seems like everybody knows somebody with some tech savvy that can make a code to access the desired site.  In my case, it's my husband - my son's could probably do it too.

QR code printed on standard office supply labels

I had some standard office supply self adhesive mailing labels laying around that we printed on two codes per label.  I will cut them in strips that can be peeled off the backing in individual squares for business cards and postcard handouts.

cut, paste and enlarged for small poster application on a vintage book page

First I stuck the smaller, half of the mailing label sticker, on a bird image of an appropriate size for the sticker.  Then I enlarged it on my photo copier so my bird would esthetically fit my vintage book page which I pasted together with glue stick. 

Photocopied onto tag paper to be backed by clear laminate  

Then I photocopied the complete collage on manilla tag board, {So, I could have multiples}.  My finished poster size is 81/2 x 11,which this could be the last step for just a poster, but I want to apply it to the inside of our window facing the downtown sidewalk.

QR poster applied to inside window
I laid the poster backside to the sticky side of clear laminate that is cut  1-2" larger around the edges.  The sticky boarder is then applied to the inside of the window facing out.

Here are a couple other designs I created for variety in the windows and door:

"The Time Has Come QR

Soulful QR


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Artspace Elgin

Elgin IL is up and coming as a destination in the arts. We are so excited to welcome this to our community in downtown Elgin. Judy and I toured the campus in March and we were so impressed.

Ground was broken in October 2011 for the 55 units of live/work housing for artists.  It is a 14.5 million dollar project in downtown Elgin at the corner of Spring a Fulton streets,  formally owned and used by Elgin Community College as a downtown campus.  The city swapped out land with the college for this 1908 Sears and Roebuck building for conversion,  plus development of a new three story structure next door.

Here are a few statistics I took from a Courier News article from Oct. 18 2011, by Mike Danahey along with some pictures I took when we toured it in March.

Old Sears & Roebuck Building on the corner of Spring and Fulton Streets formally used by Elgin Community College

"building better communities through the arts"

The Elgin Artspace Lofts are being developed by Artspace Projects Inc. of Minneapolis, a nonprofit developer of arts facilities. Over the last two decades, Artspace has completed 30 major projects around the country.

The Elgin project will be Artspace’s second in Illinois, the other being the 24-unit Switching Station Artist Lofts in Chicago that have been in operation since 2003.
The atrium under construction where a new huge sky light will be installed

View from the balcony overlooking the construction of the atrium

In addition to housing, the old Sears building will hold 5,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor along with community space, including a gallery, for use by the project’s residents.

“This will be the centerpiece for downtown and define Elgin as an arts community,” - said Mayor Dave Kaptain.

Commercial space under construction on the first floor along Spring Street

... the mayor would like to hold an advance ribbon cutting in early August, timed to the annual Art & Soul on the Fox event that draws hundreds of people downtown.

To qualify for a unit, an artist’s annual income must be at 60 percent or less of the Chicago area median income, which means $30,060 a year for a single person and $45,060 or less for a family of four. Rents will range from $329 for a studio to $1,027 for a three-bedroom place.

To get on the interest list, visit or email project coordinator Heidi Kurtze at

The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin posted this very good youtube video(click on the link below):

ARTspace Elgin YouTube video


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Soulful Sparrow Shop coming to Elgin

Elgin store front (10 Douglas Ave. Elgin IL 60120)

The time has come...

Dreams really do come true.  Not that it has unfolded exactly as I had imagined, but then again ... when does that ever happen?  There is always a reason and a time for every purpose... {or RE-purpose}.  

Judy and I decided to merge our co-op business arrangement of La Maison Marché & Tapestries of Nature, formerly in St. Charles, into one boutique to be known as Soulful Sparrow.

Douglas Ave. street view
Elgin Illinois has been working diligently on a path to improve its image as a river front "City in the Suburbs."  The streetscaping was a long and painful process, but worth waiting for. There is an artist community that has made great strides in breathing new life into this community.  

Glos House window in St. Charles
I have dreamt of having an artistic and creative store in my hometown ever since I could imagine. My journey in store ownership ultimately started in the Fall of 2010, when I walked into the Glos House in the historic downtown business district known as Century Corners in St. Charles.  It was there I met artist Judith Walsberg, whose altered creations of such whimsical interpretation will make your jaw drop.   She has been doing her thing in the area since 1984 and has owned her own business as Tapestries of Nature in the Glos House since January 2007.

We just clicked...

We ventured off together with a store concept in the Glos House where we could run our own businesses: Judy, as owner of Tapestries of Nature and me operating as La Maison Marché.  We would share the rent and the shopkeeping duties in the charming venue of a historic house -- located amongst other quaint shops that are one of the areas best kept secrets... The secret of that area really must be let out, because it really is an amazing place!

Things developed...

Altered books for decor
We made ends meet in a struggling economy.  Our customers appreciated our retail concept of handmade and altered vintage style, which made our shop unique, mixed with cards and gifts.
Altered vintage suitcase

We both appreciate old things from times gone by, and we bonded over displaying the shop to showcase these things in a unique and artistic way to revitalize their appeal.

Along came the Soulful Sparrow House...

Our curiosity was piqued when Judy got wind of older homes in Elgin being walked away from in the collapsing housing market. She won the auction on a happy old house that needed some TLC in the North East Neighborhood of Elgin... We could see it had potential and we were both excited to go to work caring for this house and fixing up things that seemed to have such little value in recent years.

The house was to become a rehab project, where we could work out some practical creative concepts to "make do", but showcase it's character.  And so, we dubbed the project / studio house the Soulful Sparrow - a biblical reference that goes to how God cares for the smallest of creatures of the least value.

The Sparrow house, as we refer to it now, will continue to be our place in Elgin to create and to entertain in conjunction with the shop.

distressed bedroom wall {Anthropologie} style 

Bear with me...

So, as I am usually a woman of few words, here is where I apologize for my long-winded explanation for how things have come to pass.  

We decided after bonding over the Sparrow House and introducing it to our Elginite friends and neighbours, that Elgin was where our hearts were.

... and so the time has come

we decided to go into partnership with the business and relocate to Downtown Elgin. 

Vintage while dishes in the Elgin display window
Garden themed hand lotions for hard working hands

Handmade altered vintage jewelry

Soulful Sparrow


{AIRR}... in which we must all breathe to survive.

as we blog the soulful sparrow shop, you'll hear from both of us, {Judy and Mary} to inspire and refresh your imagination with the AIRR we breathe...   Boasting our hometown and introduce the friends & places that inspire us.

Come in to our shop in at 17 N. 2nd Avenue St. Charles, before we close it May 31.

Become one of our followers...

Keep up with the latest as we prepare to move from St. Charles through Memorial Day and {RE}-OPEN at 10 Douglas Street in July 2012.

...and be sure to stop by to see what's new once we {RE}-open in Elgin July 2012.