Embroidery En Plein Air | Art Institute of Chicago

October 8, 2020 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA

Work in progress of an embroidery hoop illustrating the exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago
Untitled, work in progress. Original embroidery by Allison M. Clark. September 2018. Black cotton thread on beige linen in wooden 4-inch hoop.

I’m a Chicago gal at heart, so stitching this little hoop outside the Art Institute of Chicago one blustery afternoon in September 2018 was a major treat. This was one of my very first embroidery hoops and my first original design! (My inaugural embroidery hoop was a monogram of the letter "A" using a kit from Miniature Rhino!) The wind bent most of my lines, but I’ll always love this lion! Fun fact: This lion has a twin on the other side of the stairs, and they're both ceremoniously wreathed each winter to mark the start of the holiday season! No, I've never seen it. Yes, it's on my bucket list... but living through another Midwestern snowstorm is not. 


This was my first (and only, thus far!) attempt to sketch my surroundings using needle and thread. It was a big ol' learning experience filled with more than a few mistakes, but there’s something a bit ~magical~ about having a tiny artwork woven with my memories of this special Chicago trip. My husband, Colin, and I had flown from LA to Chicago the day before for what I lovingly dubbed my "Bachelor hometown-date." I spent roughly half of my childhood in Chicago’s suburbs yet hadn’t returned since early high school – and definitely never with Colin! When we had flexibility in our work schedules for a week away, I was so excited to plan a super tourist-friendly travel itinerary featuring kid-me's favorite things: deep dish pizza, fancy drinks topped with whipped cream, outdoor parks, Navy Pier, and the Art Institute (just to name a few!). 


After more than a decade away from this city, I’m happy to report that the pizza is still solid (though it takes so long to cook!), museum coffee breaks are worth every penny, Ferris wheels are more fun with your best friend, and trips to childhood hometowns can nail the sweet spot of nostalgia and fun pretty darn perfectly.


Photo Collage of Allison and Colin in Chicago, IL

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