Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hey, Maker! Home & Studio Tour with Kristin of 622 Press

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528

This week we're taking a peek inside the Bermuda home and studio of Kristin, owner & maker behind 622 press. Browse our Q+A with Kristin and follow along as she takes over our instagram.

All photos by Adrian Cunningham

"These [pictures] are from our living/dining area with a few glimpses of our kitchen and the rest of our main living area. They feature lots of decor I made (the paper flowers, concrete planters, paintings, coffee mug and hoop of course!)"

Concrete planters and paper flowers by Kristin.

"This is the guest bath and bedroom, which tends to double as a drying room for my letterpress work—that's a set of invites all over the bed!"

Kristin's hoops feature original 622 press designs. Select hoops are currently available in our Chicago storefront and coming soon online.

The guest bath.

The entrance to the 622 press studio offers a perfect view of Bess, Kristin's 134-year-old press.

Saved the best for last! This is the gorgeous view of the Ocean from the balcony.

Thanks for following along, and a super big thanks to Kristin for sharing her space with us! We'll be back soon with more tours & Q+As. Till then, don't forget to check out some of our other maker features:

   === 622 press Q+A

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

Hey, Maker! 8 Questions with Kristin of 622 press

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528. Follow along for Q+As, house and studio tours, and instagram takeovers. 

This week we're getting to know Kristin of 622 Press. When she's not making paper flowers or getting her hands dirty forming concrete decor, the multi-talented artist creates bold letterpress cards and colorful embroidered hoops out of her Bermuda studio. Shop 622 press at our Chicago storefront with select pieces available online at apt528.com in JulyBrowse our home & studio with Kristin and follow along as she takes over our instagram.


   === 622 Press Apartment Takeover on instagram
   === 622 Press home & studio tour

All photos by Adrian Cunningham

Let's start with a real thinker. If you could only watch one movie and/or TV show for the rest of your life, what would it/they be?

Is it too much of a cliche to say Sex and the City? It's either that or Bones—those are really the only shows I watch on repeat. I do get made fun of for listening to Dave Matthews Band ALL. THE. TIME! I won't ever get sick of their music, especially live shows. 

Your work is so colorful! Is your house the same? What's your favorite room and why? 

It is actually! The space around me has such an influence on my work and mood and I've always been into decor. In past homes, I've been a bit strict with myself, limiting each room to neutrals (I love grey walls!) and a pop of just one or two accent colors. Our house now has white walls and light floors, so it feels right to have a lot of color in the decor. I definitely have my favorite hues—robin's egg, chartreuse, orange, mustard, hot pink—and that just sort of naturally creates the color scheme of our home, with dark wood and navy to tamp down the crazy a little :) I love it!

It's taken me quite a while to really make this house feel like home, as moving across an ocean limits how much you can bring, and everything on-island is so expensive! The only room that was fully moved into for the first year was my studio, so of course that's my favorite! It gets so much natural light, it's really an ideal work space. But we just rearranged and got a few new things for our dining/living room area, so that's my favorite now!
You left Wisconsin and moved to Bermuda almost two years ago which means your life is basically a Beach Boys song! Is it all sunning on the beach and surfing? What was the hardest adjustment you had to make? 

I wish! Actually the first thing people usually say when I go back to Wisconsin is "You're not very tan!" Living here is pretty amazing, but it's not vacation, so I still have to work, clean the house, all that normal stuff! But I certainly can't complain—my office has an ocean view! 

There were a lot of adjustments, but I think the most difficult one for me was just getting used to the pace of life here. Things move slower, any task takes twice as long to get done, everyone is perpetually late—island time is a real thing!

You do a little of everything - letterpress, embroidery, textiles, crochet, paper flowers. Which medium is your favorite?

Letterpress and design are my first creative loves, so of course those are my favorite! The variety of mediums really keeps my creativity flowing—solutions for a digital design piece will often come while I'm printing, or if I'm having a hard time with something on the press, I take a break to embroider and come back to it later and it usually works out. 

Is there a skill you'd still like to learn?

Always! I've been practicing pointed pen calligraphy for the better part of a year, and I'm finally getting close to good enough to offer addressing services for wedding clients. I'm not sure what I'll tackle after that, but I'm always learning something new! 

I feel like having to come up with clever new sayings and designs for each greeting card would be tough. How do you keep the ideas flowing? Have you ever put a card out there and then looked back later thinking "that was so lame"? (ALL of mine would be horrible!)

Ha! That is actually the hardest part! I keep a running list of phrases I think would make good cards, and now that I've been doing this for a few years, I force myself to wait a few weeks before printing because there have definitely been some that I now think were pretty dumb! I'm also lucky to have some super funny friends who I'm always asking "Can I put that on a card?" —they always say yes, probably because they know that means free cards!

Has Bermuda, its culture, and people influenced your work over the past couple of years?

My business is still U.S.-based, so I haven't created any specifically Bermuda themed work, but I do think living here and working in a sun-filled studio has made my work brighter and more colorful. The move allowed me to take my business full time, so the biggest change has simply been in the amount of work I've been able to produce! I have more stock than I've ever had before and have been able to take on some truly awesome custom projects in the last year or so.  

What's next for 622press? What's inspiring you at the moment?

As far as letterpress work goes, the most exciting thing right now is that I switched printing plate vendors and have been working on designing several new lines! I had been holding off on a lot of new designs until I made the switch, so the last few months have been really fun. Stay tuned for lots of fresh new cards!


Thanks for following along, and thanks to Kristin for letting us pick her brain! We'll be back soon with more tours & Q+As. Till then, don't forget to check out some of our other maker features:

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hey, Maker! - 8 Questions with Tina of Change Soap Co.

Welcome to Hey, Maker!, our first maker feature in four years! (Almost) every week, we'll showcase one of our awesome artisans with Q+As, house and studio tours, and instagram takeovers. Our first Hey, Maker! is with Tina of Change Soap Co. The organic skincare maven makes organic soaps, scrubs, serums, and more in scents so delicious, you'll want them all! Change products can be found in our Chicago storefront, an are coming soon to apt528.com.

Follow us on instagram @apt528 to see Tina's Apartment Takeover and get a sneak peek behind-the-scenes at Change.

First question, NSync, Backstreet Boys, or 98 Degrees? It's super important!

Seriously, this is the most important question ever!!  In my middle school days, my life goal was to marry Lance Bass from N’Sync!  My aunt took me to see Janet Jackson in concert and N’Sync was the opening act, before they were very well known.  It was love at first sight, and I’m pretty sure I wore my N’Sync shirt from the concert 24/7.

What's your favorite music to throw on when you need an extra jolt of energy on long days?

My 10-years ago self would be mortified, but I’ve fallen in love with country music!  I love Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and The Band Perry.  And of course Taylor Swift, even though she’s not really country anymore.  I’m not nearly coordinated enough to know the actual line dance moves, but if nobody’s around, I’ll bust a move and make up my own dance while I’m working!  One day my four year old walked downstairs where I was working while I was wearing a full on activated charcoal face mask and making hair mists while dancing, and he walked up to me and gave me a kiss, and walked away.  He’s so used to my bad moves and face masks that he doesn’t even take a second look at me!

It's a crazy morning and you only have 5 minutes to get ready and head out the door. What's your basic 5-minute (or less!) beauty routine?

This sounds like every morning around here!  I don’t wear a lot of makeup which makes mornings quicker.  I’ll dab a couple drops of serum on my face for a little glow, throw on a little mascara, and mist Pink Sea hair mist in my hair to embrace my wavy bead-head hair.  Oh and I don’t leave home without lip balm, I’ve even been known to dab it on my cheekbones for a little extra glow!

You started making soaps to create natural alternatives for your son. What encouraged you to push it from a hobby into a business? What was the first product you made?

The first successful soap I made was super gentle with lavender essential oil and calendula petals to soothe my little guy’s skin.  It really helped him, and it’s now in my line as Relief soap.  When I made the first batch, the recipe made 20 bars of soap, so I had lots of extra!  I gave it to my family and friends to try because I wanted to make more.  They loved it and asked what else I could make, and insisted started placing orders!

I imagine finding the right scent combos and ingredient mix is a bit of trial and error. What's your biggest disaster story? 

My biggest disaster was a painful one!  I was getting ready to make a batch of soap and I was getting my ingredients together.  I went to open a new one pound bottle of lemon oil, and the lid was stuck. So, I did what any impatient girl would do, and I pulled it as hard as I could until it flew off, and lemon essential oil splashed all over my face and in my eyes!  Did you know that it takes 150 lemons to make just one ounce of lemon essential oil?  This stuff is super concentrated!  I felt my way up the stairs since I couldn’t open my eyes, and my kids were horrified because my face was bright red and splotchy.  My husband helped me flush my eyes with cold water for about 30 minutes (I later learned that apparently flushing with oil is better), and I was ok. But I’m a lot more careful when I open the bottles now!  Oh, and I remember thinking thank goodness it wasn’t peppermint oil!

For some people, making the switch from commercial to natural products can be scary. Do you have advice for those that are on the fence and thinking about making the transition? What product did you have the hardest time letting go of?

I read a pretty scary statistic that I’ll never forget: women put an average of 168 chemicals on their bodies every day, and 60% of what we put on our body is absorbed into our bloodstream within seconds!  This scared me, and made me think about what I was putting on my kids too.

For me, deodorant was by far the hardest thing for me to switch. Did you know that it’s really bad to keep our body from sweating?  Apparently sweating is our body’s way of naturally detoxing, and traditional antiperspirants contain aluminum and other nasty ingredients. I discovered Rustic Maka deodorant and have even become good friends with the founders of the company, and now even my deodorant is natural!
Pink Clay & Activated Charcoal Soap

There are outrageous amounts of serums, creams, and potions on the market but somehow, you managed to keep it narrowed down to a lineup of essentials. How did you decide what make the cut?  

Serums are what have taken the most experimenting out of my whole line!  There are SO many out there, all with a different promise of what they will do. It’s funny because I used to be terrified of getting oil anywhere near my face because I thought I’d break out, so I’d use products that stripped my face of any possible oil. Once I learned that oil actually fights oil, my whole routine changed!  Some girls collect shoes or purses, but for me it’s oil. I have a collection of oils, from rose hip to almond to argan, and I tested every possible combination to find what works best. I choose oils that balance both oily and dry skin, and that are amazing at hydrating which, in my opinion, is the key to a glowing complexion. If I’m lazy at night and I don’t put my serum on, I’ll wake up, look in the mirror and think, “wow I look old!” When your skin is properly hydrated with good, quality ingredients, you look younger and healthier! Who knew?

Packing orders. Laila is not only a guard dog, but a huge help around the studio!

You already have the perfect assortment of goods but I imagine that as a maker, you're always think up something new. What do you see happening for Change in the coming year?

I am always dreaming up new scent combinations and how I can use different ingredients!  I’m intrigued by what caffeine can do for skin and I’m playing around with a couple different recipes that incorporate caffeine.  It can help with puffiness, cellulite, and fine lines, it’s amazing! And it’s obviously a main component in my favorite food group, coffee.

Don't forget to check out Tina's Apartment Takeover on our instagram @apt528.

Aaand, we're back!

So, um, it's been awhile. My last blog post was almost two years ago. Oops! Don't worry, I have a good excuse - WE FINALLY HAVE A STOREFRONT!! 

Yep, we finally did it! For the first five years, Apartment 528 was an online shop but we dreamed of opening a brick-and-mortar location. After years of searching and not finding what we were looking for, we came across the perfect little Humboldt Park shop and fell in love. With a bit of elbow grease and help from our handy friends and family, we knocked down walls, built new ones, and got everything just as we wanted.

BEFORE: the day we got the keys to the new shop!


Since our grand opening in September 2014, a lot has happened. We've added tons of amazing makers to our roster, started selling handcrafted furniture, and switched off most of our vintage inventory to focus more on our handcrafted lineup. We also launched Crombe & Co, our own line of completely custom sofas and chairs at affordable prices. 



So what's next? Well, we're adding a new collection of high end furnishings this summer. And we're hoping to expand the storefront within the next year. We also have a few top secret business ideas in the works. And now that the storefront's up and running, we're committed to keeping the online shop, apt528.com, updated with new products and getting this blog back up and running! Look for maker interviews, house and studio tours, and features about our favorite artisans. We may even sneak in a DIY post or two! You can check out our first feature today with Change Soap Co., an awesome, all-natural skincare brand based in Michigan. 

Here's to many, many, MANY more posts. We promise!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Weekender: Urban Gardening Part 1 - DIY Raised Patio Garden Planters

Over the past year, my inner Martha Stewart has been clawing its way out. I'm not sure what's caused this sudden domestication, but lately I've been all about making things from scratch. From fresh baked bread to the three layer, triple chocolate cake with peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake and peanut butter buttercream frosting cake I made for my husband's birthday, I've been baking and cooking like crazy!

Which is what led me to gardening. I started with herbs planted in vintage canisters and milk glass bowls. I spent an obsessive amount of time staring at my gorgeous herbs before deciding it was time to go bigger and start a veggie garden.

My little indoor herb garden.

The idea didn't take much planning. If you google raised garden beds, you'll see that they're pretty easy to make; it's a box on legs. Our landlords had planned to build their own raised beds the year before but never got around to it so they still had the wood, plus a few scraps from other projects. Using their wood as a starting point, we decided to keep our design pretty simple and build 3 4' x 2' tables. The first two tables were 33" high and 11" deep with a shelf on the bottom to hold gardening supplies. The last table was 16.5" deep to hold veggies with longer roots and only 24" high, which makes it the perfect height for growing taller things like tomatoes and cucumbers.

After coming up with our plan and making a list of needed materials, it was time to make the hardest decision ever:

TREATED OR NOT?- Seriously, there are HUGE debates about this online. Some people fear that the chemicals in treated wood will contaminate their garden. The wood that my landlord had was treated so we had no choice but to work with it. To be safe, I googled and found that since 2003, arsenic is no longer used to treat wood. Nowadays, treated wood contains alkaline copper quat (ACQ) and copper azole (CA-B) which work to protect the wood from soil rot and ward off insects. If you're worried about the copper getting in your soil, studies show that only a negligible amount of copper actually leaches into the soil, so even if ingested, you'd have to eat a LOT of veggies in a short period of time for it to amount to much.

That said, if you have the money for it and want a certified organic garden, go with cedar or for a cheaper option, try fir. The treated wood we had from our landlord wasn't enough for all 3 beds and when we went to to buy more, all they had was cedar. To make our planters look uniform, we used the cedar on the fronts of the planters and saved the treated wood, some of which had warped from being stored in the garage, for the backs.

My first time at Menard's lumber warehouse. I think THIS Home Depot girl may have to switch teams!

There are other things to take into consideration such as soil choice and planting method. I'll go over that stuff next week. As far as style, do a google image search and you'll come across tons of design ideas. We wanted easy and inexpensive so our design is pretty basic but you could go crazy with built-in benches, powder-coated metal legs, and built-in water systems. Make them long and narrow to fit condo patios or go big in a suburban backyard. The possibilities are endless!



TIME: 1 day
COST: $50-$100 per table depending on type of wood
  • (1-2) 4"x4"s cut to desired table height for use as legs (ours are 33" and 24")
  • (2) 8ft 1"x6" boards cut into (4) 4ft sections
  • (1) 8ft 1"x6" board cut into (4) 2ft sections
  • (2) 8ft 1"x4" boards cut into 2ft sections (add an extra 1"x4" if you want to build a shelf, optional)
  • (1) 8ft 2"x2" cut into (2) 4ft sections (for the shelf, optional)
  • bolts or decking screws (we used screws)
  • vinyl hardware cloth
  • landscaping cloth, window screen mesh, or cardboard
    **calculations based on one 2'x4' table that's 11"deep

BUILD - This is super easy. Screw (or bolt) the 1x6s to your legs. When it's all together, turn the table upside down and lay your 1x4s across the bottom to serve as the supports for the soil. If you plan to add a shelf, attach your supports to the legs at the desired height, then screw the extra 1x4 boards on top. (Side note, you don't have to use 2x2s for the shelf supports. We did because that's what we had on hand but you could use any size boards cut to size.)

STAIN - Staining isn't necessary. My landlord was super worried about the cedar warping and had me add the stain, which is also a waterproofer, to help it last longer. We used Cabot Solid Color Acrylic Siding Stain. This was my first time using a solid color stain and I have to say, I LOVED it! Unlike regular wood stain which is thin and watery, it goes on thick like paint which came in handy for doing designs. It only took one coat, 2 in a few spots, to finish the job. 

MESH - Cut the hardware cloth and your landscape cloth/screen/cardboard to fit your table adding a little bit extra to go up the sides. Place the hardware cloth inside the table resting on the slats and use a staple gun to staple it to the frame. Add the fabric/cardboard and do the same.

Raised planters have a problem retaining water since there's no ground under them to keep the moisture in. For this reason, landscaper's cloth or cardboard are good liners since they both hold moisture. If you use cardboard, just be aware that eventually it will decompose which is good for the soil since it will leave behind lots of beneficial nutrients, but bad for you since you'll have nothing keeping your soil inside. We were going to use cardboard to line the bottom of the planters but we didn't have enough so we used our landlord's landscape cloth. The weave of the cloth is so tight that it doesn't drain when you water your plants, and instead, the water slowly evaporates through the bottom of the cloth which is good. We've been watering every 1-2 days so far no problems!

FILL & PLANT - Now you're ready to fill your planters! Move the planters to your desired location (they're heavy once soil is inside) and add your soil, plants, and seeds. I'll post about our soil and gardening choices next week. Till then, happy building!