Short Attention Span Gallery Night showcases craft-kit art

April 1, 2017

By Peggy Platter

In an effort to create a unique gallery night that’s “different than some of the pretentious stuff out there,” and “to celebrate people who sort of like to do art, but not really,” Michael Plume, owner of Michael’s Rejects Studio in the Lincoln Warehouse, has a different idea: a gallery night that will exclusively feature items made from arts and crafts kits.

Plume formed Michael’s Rejects in 2015.

The business name is twofold, combining his first name with what defines his work: art made from kits purchased from chain craft stores like Michael’s. Plume’s studio displays his handiwork made from Bake A Craft Stained Glass kits, string art kits, Shrinky Dinks jewelry, paint-by-numbers paintings, quilling kits, and latch hook rugs.

A large section of Plume’s studio space is filled with unfinished projects, “which also look sorta cool half-finished and are a statement about distractions in our fast-paced society,” he said.

Many of Plume’s arts and crafts kits were bought on impulse, and he sometimes got bored halfway through and set them aside.

He still has a Pottery Craft Wheel and a rock tumbler from his childhood.

“My mom got those at Leewards, Michael’s predecessor. Every now and then, I’ll bust out the pottery wheel — if I can find extra batteries for it — and whip out a vase or something,” Plume said.

Plume also wanted to display some of his better work that of others. He felt there had to be more artists out there who didn’t think it was beneath them to take shortcuts by doing kit projects, where the groundwork was already laid out. He invited others, like himself, who didn’t want to just leave their projects sit in a drawer.

“Some people also make these things as gifts, and the people they give them to just don’t appreciate how much work really goes into a stained glass kit. Those little plastic beads that get melted into the design can go all over the place. If the colors get mixed up, it can take over an hour to finish a project,” Plume said.

Plume did find other people to showcase their work. Lily Tipton, a part-time IT worker who lives on Delaware Avenue, said she does string art when she’s bored and can’t find anything else to do.

Her project, which depicts a tiny anchor, took over a year to complete, but Tipton said she was so pleased with it that she decided to show it at Plume’s gallery night.

Tipton shrugged when asked if she’d do another string art kit or ever consider crafting a string art board from scratch.

Ray Carrington, Plume’s cousin who lives near Humboldt Park, was captivated by the recent adult coloring book craze and will showcase three of his skillfully penciled-in mandala and Zentangle works.

“I got impatient and went outside the lines a few times, but I don’t think anyone will notice,” said Carrington.

Plume gathered nine artists, some that responded to the notice he posted on Facebook, and others he met while shopping for felt Christmas stocking kits at Target on Chase.

“We’ll have a good time,” Plume said. “Guests can enjoy snacks like chips, Chex mix, and Jell-O made in a tri-color mold. For drinks, we’ll serve those pre-mixed cocktails that have a parrot or pirate on the label.”

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