A kitschy, retro, new and unique
shop for Bangor
By Jenn Wayboer
BANGOR – Jodi Renshaw has turned her passions and her dreams into a new store for Bangor. This Handmade Life and Studio 36 opened earlier this month downtown at 170 Park Street. The shop is full of all kinds of wonderful art and handmade products, and the studio provides a professional space for local photographers to meet clients and expand their work.
This Handmade Life started out six years ago as an online shop on the popular online handmade marketplace, Etsy. At the time, Renshaw and her husband were looking for a way to make the money they needed to adopt their son, Isaac. The concept came about because Renshaw wanted to create as handmade a life as she possibly could.
“You’re the author of your life, so create your best life” Renshaw said. And it was this ideal that made her want to know who created, by name, all the products around her instead.
Everything in the shop is handmade by someone in the United States, but not necessarily in Maine. Etsy has become a great resource to pull products from around the country into the shop. The goal is to support local and creative economies. Currently, the shop’s selection includes paintings by local artists Lyndsey Marston, creator of 3 Legged Dog Ink, and Jim Lagasse, whose art is also being showcased in the Bangor Public Library, along with photography by Michele Barker and Tom Grogan. There are handmade gifts such as the journals/scrapbooks that Renshaw makes herself out of Golden Books, along with tote bags she sews, and her own photography, both serious photography and some done by posing action figures and older generation toys.
“The journals are a way for adults to play with kids’ books, to play with the books we grew up with,” Renshaw said. “And I like to play with toys and I’ll do anything to have the chance to play with them. I want my shop to really be different and fun…and maybe a little bit silly.”
Soon the shop will be receiving handmade sock monkeys from Tennessee and the original Harry Potter puppets from the popular potter puppet videos on YouTube.
The upstairs of the building houses Studio 36. Currently there are four local photographers in the co-op, but the space is available for any photographer who needs a professional space to rent. For only $25 an hour, a photographer gets use of the studio, all of its backdrops and props, lighting and dressing room area. The studio was previously on Hammond Street and was established when Renshaw was looking to rent a space to do her own photography and found out that no such place existed. It has been a success from the start and has already helped some photographers get a jump-start on their careers.
The studio will also be a place for people to come and pick a photographer to do the work that they need done. One of the rooms will showcase work done by the co-op photographers and have portfolios of artists’ work. There will also be portfolios of models so that the studio can act as a liaison for them as well.
This Handmade Life and Studio 36 will both be fully up and running by the double grand opening that will take place on March 18. Both make great artsy additions to downtown Bangor.
Stop in and talk to Renshaw about either business, or check them out online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/thishandmadelifeand http://www.studio36bangor.com. You can read Renshaw’s blog at http://www.thishandmadelife.blogspot.com/. Both This Handmade Life and Studio 36 also have Facebook pages.