Maryellen Chicago
After years of being interested in fashion and sewing, I created the first Maryellen hat with a vintage table runner and some antique beads. That first hat opened the flood-gates to a world of possibilities for creating functional and decorative headwear.

I chose the name Maryellen in homage to my aunt who had great style and an independent spirit, and her lovely image graces the brand. Recently the label has expanded to include jewelry and some collage and assemblage pieces, but it is always in flux because I really enjoy experimenting with new materials and I am always looking for ways to repurpose discarded stuff.

A lifelong love of collecting vintage and new textiles has afforded me an extensive library from which to choose in making each hat a special one-of-a-kind composition.

Many of the hats have been assigned identities in honor of some of the strong women in my family like Ruth, Eleanor and Esther. The hat that speaks the loudest about my vision is called "The Vivian" in honor of my mother. I have a rough idea of what a hat might look like when I start, but the finishing touches are often decided on by the availability of materials on hand and applied with the spontaneity of brush strokes on an abstract painting.

A box of spent bicycle inner-tubes from my son's adventures with city biking sat collecting dust for a long time before I first started to cut, bend and string them into curvilinear, interlocking shapes. The hand-cut loops combined with machine-made beads that both enhance and contradict the industrial look of the rubber forms, give the necklaces their interesting silhouettes and make them appear both formal and understated.

Recently I have expanded to making bracelets and have made mixed media pieces by gluing the rubber loops on a flat surface combined with other 2-D and 3-D materials.