Now THIS is unexpected – even for Judy Maxwell Home. The Gold Coast favorite owned by Evanston-born actress Joan Cusack is always full of surprises. From cotton undies and vintage lingerie to beautiful paintings and handmade soaps, Judy Maxwell specializes in home goods for the eccentric and imaginative. Here you can have a cup of tea adorned with pure local honey, carry on a conversation with Hansel and Gretel (the store’s two finches), or lose yourself in the work of resident artist Dorian Allworthy.
However, no one could have expected their newest addition – a piglet named Wilbur! I brought a friend from central Africa, visiting Chicago for the first time, to the boutique Wednesday afternoon and Wilbur was the first to greet us as we entered. Not too fond of animals, my friend practically flew across the room when this charming baby pig approached us. Eventually, though, Wilbur stole our hearts with his every little ‘oink’ and I had to find out more about him. Judy Maxwell’s brilliant artist Dorian Allworthy shares his story:
How did you acquire Wilbur?
We were creating prototypes for organic dog beds with the idea of making the best beds anyone can imagine. After gathering the highest quality materials and manufacturing the sample, sadly we found the cost of production was just too high. As a solution, we looked into directly purchasing raw wool for the beds and doing all the washing and refining ourselves. I called farmers from everywhere looking for wool and finally found a man at a petting zoo. As I’m picking up the wool I saw the pigs in his zoo. We went over and there was this bigger black pig that bit me! Taking it as a sign, I went home. Joan suggested I go back and check it out again and that’s when I found Wilbur.
How charming! So, you’re making the dog beds by hand?
Take a look! (She shows me the prototype.) This is amazing! Wool, leather, and hand-stitching. This is so beautiful. We made this blue velvet cover, which is washable, to protect the handmade mattress.
Can you tell me a bit about the vintage lingerie?
We have this collection that we curated, branded, and we love them. They feel beautiful!
(My friend agrees and says she loves the feel and color of each gown.)
How do you and Joan work together?
A lot of these [art displays] were my idea. I’ll have an idea and she’ll come up with a better one. We always feed off of each other.
Check out Judy Maxwell’s latest displays and pay Wilbur a visit next time you’re in the Gold Coast.
Judy Maxwell, 1151 N State Street
Photos: Chicagoings and Judy Maxwell Home’s Facebook page