I have a small, kids’ art studio, Doodle Art & Design in Western Springs, where I teach both art and design concepts. For one of my projects, Create-A-Shop, we used clear-lidded stationary boxes to create the store of our dreams. Since I always make my projects before I present the concept to my students, I created the Doodle Dog Emporium, where I’d sell stuffed versions of the ubiquitous poodle mixes.

My inspiration for my last body of work, Interiors, also came from a kids’ art project, so it’s no surprise that the puppy store idea percolated in my brain for years. Plus, I’ve always been enamored with artists who’ve created stores to sell their work. My favorite is Lucy Sparrow.

Ms. Sparrow recently opened Sparrow Mart in Los Angeles after having worked with five assistants over one year sewing 31,000 grocery store items out of felt. So, inspired by her, I began working to make my show a reality and Designer Doodles Puppy Store will be opening on December 1st.

I wanted my shop to be an interactive experience, geared toward kids as a way to introduce them to art collecting. So I experimented with making white dogs and adding color to them using paint or markers. That turned out to be too messy, smelly, and expensive.

So I painted the dog designs in a rainbow of colors and sent them out to Spoonflower to be printed on fabric. I didn’t leave enough time to sew all of the dogs, so after having the fabric pressed, I enlisted a local seamstress in town, who, with the help of her mother-in-law, is sewing and stuffing my pups.

While the dogs are being made, I’m working on planning the opening, and creating buzz about my show through news outlets and social media. I’ve created a Designer Doodles Puppy Store Facebook page and event page, and I’ve been posting updates on my @doodleartanddesign Instagram.

The dogs will be priced at $49, which may seem high for a stuffed dog pillow, even with a bandana and dog bowl, but the price takes into account the expense of making the pups, transforming my art studio into a puppy store, complete with signage, paying for the reception and donating ten percent of all purchases to Bark From the Heart Rescue.

Each puppy will come with a coloring page-like bandana and a little dog bowl, both of which can be personalized at the puppy store. The kids will also be required to read and sign their Puppy Adoption Contract. The experience will be fun and educational.

The opening reception will be at 1:00 on December 1st, the day of the Western Springs Christmas Walk and will begin with a Blessing of The Dogs by Reverend Kate Spellman of All Saints Episcopal Church. The public is invited to come with their real dogs and enjoy human and canine snacks after the blessing.

Kathleen Thometz

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the mid.com and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...