Utica shop offers craft classes, customizable home decor

On a Thursday evening, a group of friends and strangers gathered around a table in the back of a small corner shop in Utica, looking to flex their creative muscles while sharing some rollicking laughter, fun and even a little wine.

They were brought together by the event, “String Art Thursdays,” featuring an up-and-coming trend among crafters. Jody Fogle, owner of the shop, Makery on Mill, offers this and a variety of other evening craft classes to stir the lurking artist in everyone’s soul.

“We have a lot of people say, ‘I’m not crafty, I’m not artistic,’ and to watch them throughout the night is amazing,” Fogle said. “You can see it in somebody. They’re so proud they made something cool. (String art) is a fun class because it’s a little crazy and noisy.”

Angie Dahl, of La Salle, was attending her first class, while meeting friends from Tonica and Princeton for an evening of crafting.

“I love this place,” she said. “I guess you could say it brings friends together.”

Examples of string art, shown here as a baseball and heart, along with string color selections, are displayed on a table next to the string art class.

String art involves putting a pattern of an image on a wooden background and pounding nails around the lines of the pattern. When the crafter is done with that, they wrap string around the nails to form the shape of the image. It can be a lengthy process and Fogle recommends beginning with a simple design.

Fogle said the classes even draw tourists from around the world, who stop in the quaint village of Utica in Starved Rock Country.

“The best experience here has been around the table,” she said. “We’ve had people from all over the world here. Unbelievable conversations between people … grandparents coming in with their children to make art.”

Helen Schuster, of Pennsylvania, was recently in Starved Rock Country on business, and searched Facebook to find something to pass the time in the evenings and found Makery on Mill. The classes are similar to art classes Schuster’s daughter offers in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Schuster’s first attempt at string art would entail a tree of life design.
“I did the canvas class last night and I had so much fun, I signed up for tonight,” she said. “I’m not an artist. It’s a nice way to spend some time.”Fogle also has simple pre-nailed string art pieces available for children to come in and finish anytime.

Jody Fogle, owner of The Makery on Mill, demonstrates during a string art class.

“When people come in they can do hands-on projects. We always have small string arts on hand for kids $6 to $8,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many people have come in to sit down and bang out string art. People are often surprised they can sit down and make things. It’s fun; it’s become a family thing.”

Fogle’s transition from selling real estate to operating a store with custom-made home decor began in May when she opened the shop.

“I went from one extreme to another and sold real estate most of my life, but I always enjoyed doing art with friends,” she said.

In addition to the art classes, the store — which is not a craft mall — offers selections from handpicked local makers, products from a few collaborative businesses outside of Utica, as well as many customizable items that can be shipped around the country.

Fogle encourages those interested to follow her on Facebook at The Makery on Mill, where she updates class schedules. She welcomes people to contact her through Facebook or phone any time.

“Honestly for me it’s all about the people, meeting the people.” she said. “It’s not a fancy place. It’s a quaint place with kind people.”

The Makery on Mill
ADDRESS: 167 Mill St., Utica, IL
PHONE: 815-252-4100
Hours: Vary

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