I’m from a tiny little town in Central Illinois.
When I say small, I mean that I had 350 people in my high school, and graduated with 79. Everyone dressed up for Friday Night football and I can still walk into my grocery store and find someone I know (who then stops to talk – happens all the time).
To find anything original or different is difficult. Until the Factory Art Studios opened a couple years ago (while I was away at school and basically moved away, go figure).
It’s at the AB Seals factory and used to be a shoe factory.
The first studio you see (and my personal favorite) is actually owned by a friend of my family’s, John. He makes the most amazing and gorgeous furniture for his Yellow Dog Studio.
This coffee table is made from recycled woods. The look is different than anything I’ve really seen out here and, while all the sharp edges may not work for small kids, it’s perfect for my cats (who like to rub on anything and everything).
This entry way table looks unassuming and rather plain, but it’s made from an old piano and actually opens up to reveal storage underneath.
Seriously, how great of an idea is that? I’m crushing on this piece pretty badly and may make it my first “grown-up-and-have-a-job” purchase.
There’s another dining room table I’m wanting, but that has to wait until I move into an apartment of my own.
There are so many GREAT reasons that I will be buying (probably a couple pieces of furniture) from John.
First, it’s incredibly reasonably priced. Any of his pieces out East here would be at least double what his prices are. It’s almost a steal.
Second, I’m supporting a small business and a family friend. When you’re from a small town like I am, you want to support those you know and the people in your community. While I did move out East, I still have that feeling and it’s great to know that I can do that still.
And lastly, each piece is handmade and original. It’s literally a work of art. And if you need anything special, because you know the artist personally, it’s possible to have that done. For example, I know that my dining room table will have to have the option of removable legs (for moving into apartments and elevators). I can actually talk to John personally and get exactly what I need, which is something you can’t do when you buy at the big box stores or national furniture stores.
I could go on and on about how beautiful his furniture and artwork are, but there are also other artists inside the factory. One has a name that you can’t forget:
It definitely gets your attention.
He turns old finds into new treasures. I swear, one of his favorite stops is the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore next door (which my Dad manages).
While wandering through the factory, I saw a lamp that I loved (and hope he can replicate cause it was already sold!).
How great is that? I love the more rustic feel. I love it!
(Want to see more of the Man and His Wood? Check out his Facebook page!)
There are many, many more artists in the studios: everything from pottery, jewelry, photography, painting, drawing, and fabrics.
Are you in or traveling through Central Illinois (for some random reason)? I would HIGHLY encourage you to stop by. There’s not much happening in Sullivan, but the artists are there and love talking to new people.
Check out the Factory Art Studios on Facebook for their upcoming events (their Cinco de Mayo party was great!). And support some great, local artists.