MEET THE MAKER: Jim Standerfer AKA Lumbering Behemoth

Jim and I have been working together for a while now. Together we have built libraries, drop zones, crafting stations, bunk beds, and installed an iconic family heirloom on a wall… the list goes on. The best part about working with Jim is how he connects with our clients on a personal level - he is built to build things for people who are building a meaningful life.

Next time you come to visit us, look up! Jim was in charge of our exterior signage and selecting the fancy steel that it is made out of. And if you want to visit us while he is here, Lumbering Behemoth will be having a pop up on the 12th and 13th of October. Also, check out his insta @lumbering_behemoth

First, what the hell is a Lumbering Behemoth?

Naming things is hard. In my mid-30s, I decided I was going to train to run a 5k. At 6'5" and 240, I'm not exactly a natural-born runner. In fact, my prior running policy had a strict limit of "only when chased." Early on in the training process, it occurred to me how I must look, this big, oafy guy, stumbling and wheezing my way through 3 miles. In my head, I heard myself say, "You've got to look like some kind of lumbering behemoth." 

So I guess it started out a little silly, but it also relates to my work. So much of what we "build" these days is a little diaphanous and ephemeral. I don't understand how phone apps are built. I'm absolutely befuddled by block chain. So many blips and bloops. I don't know how to build with those. But I can build a dining table out of wood and steel. It's going to be heavy, and moving it into your house might make you sweat. No drone delivery available. You might stub your toe on it. But it isn't going to crash or get hacked or become immediately obsolete. It will comfortably and beautifully provide an environment for family dinners, study sessions with your kids, Thanksgiving feasts, romantic dinners (whenever possible, I make my tables suitable for dancing on, should your romantic dinner take that kind of a turn.) There's also a good chance that your great-grandchild will end up with it, telling stories about you while they feed their kid breakfast.

This is not light-speed technology. Big, slow, solid work. Lumbering Behemoth.

Glad we got that out of the way. Tell us your story: when and why. 

I spent a few years after college working construction with my dad. I think that's a pretty standard career move for those who graduate with a degree in English. My dad is a pretty amazing guy. He is a really effective critical thinker and solver of problems. One of those rare people that can do anything. He is not at all a micro-manager on the job site, but he has very high standards. If my work didn't meet those standards, we would work through what the problem was, and then I would undo what was unacceptable and fix it. There were probably a few frustrating days in there for me, but it was really an effective way to learn not only the basics and best practices of the trade, but also a very "real world" kind of confidence. It taught me that I can do things that I don't know how to do yet.

When I ultimately decided to earn my secondary teaching certificate, I wanted to bring that same kind of creative critical thinking into the high school classroom. I didn't enjoy high school as a student, so I wanted to create a learning environment that was more relevant and engaging for students. There was a lot of trial and error, but I was given a lot of latitude by my administration, and I think there were a lot of successes. Teaching, however, is a very taxing gig, especially when you are trying to reinvent the wheel. I was working all the time with no tangible evidence of my efforts. I wasn't even sure if I was doing the thing effectively. With education, you usually don't get that until a few years later, when students start sending you messages of appreciation. (Thankfully, a few have!)

So, I started hanging out in my uncle's workshop in the old Brown Shoe Factory in Sullivan, IL, just experimenting with materials and seeing what would happen. I really didn't know anything about woodworking or furniture building; I was just using my construction skills and applying them to smaller projects. I ended up making a few interesting pieces and selling them, and I was hooked. After a couple more years - 7 years total - I left teaching and started this business. That was in 2011.

The last 7 years have been a process of constant learning, growth, and revision. I've learned a lot about woodworking and design, particularly that there is much, much more to learn. I'm continuing to work on expanding my knowledge base and developing my skill set.  I think that the work has become more refined and more purposeful, and I hope that I'm starting to develop an identifiable aesthetic without becoming predictable. Fingers crossed!

What importance do you place on connecting with your customers/clients?

All of the the importance. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea that what I do is an art form. I always thought of art as something on a bit of a higher shelf than what I do. Art is a form of communication. It's something that triggers an emotion, catalyzes a tremor in one's worldview, challenges perspectives. I thought of my work more as a place to put your coffee cup or magazine. But the fact is that I invest a lot of emotional energy in this work. Uncovering a hand-fabricated steel tool base in a pile of scrap metal or revealing chatoyance in a piece of rough-sawn walnut are great joys for me. Snags in a design can keep me awake at night. The drive to see a piece finished can push me to stay in the shop and work well beyond what my body wants. I'm not manufacturing widgets, here; I have a personal connection to these pieces. My quality control process boils down to one question: "Do you want to keep this?" If the answer is yes, then it's ok to let it out into the world. Built-in struggle, right there.

So it is really, really important to me that my clients fall in love with the work. I've had the great fortune to watch this happen a number of times. They say things like, "I never would have thought of doing this," they want to know about the history of the material, they dream out loud - starry-eyed - about where they would locate the piece in their home and how they would use it. That's a pretty magical form of communication. I put emotion in; they get emotion out. That's art, I think. Plus, I'm also providing a good place to put their coffee cup or magazine.

Of course, the importance of that connection multiplies when I am working on a custom piece for a client. The collaborative nature of that process makes it at once more difficult and critical. I always want to design and create work that has meaning and function for my clients - I want it to become part of their homes and part of their lives and stories - but I don't want to build anything that I don't believe in; it has to be part of my story, too. Essentially, we're talking about an intense emotional and financial collaboration between people who start out as complete strangers. It's not an easy process, but it is one of the best parts of my job. 

What does 'shop local' mean to you? Alternatively, what impact does sourcing local materials have on your business and how it impacts your products.

I think the above answer speaks a lot to this question. As a maker, I want to know my clients, and I want to know that my work is serving them well. As a consumer, I want something similar. I want to know the people whose businesses I am buying from, and I want to believe in what they are doing. You used to be able to get that by walking up to your small-town business district and buying your shoes from the folks who had been selling shoes for 40 years. Growing up as a "gen x" kid, though, I witnessed a pretty intense wave of homogenization of our communities, especially small ones like the one I grew up in. Fast food chains and big box stores have stripped a great deal of local character out of those places. Thankfully, the internet has given us the opportunity to create a community out of the scattered (and, thankfully, increasing number of) businesses who are small, dedicated, and passionate about what they do. 

Quick example: I have become a bit obsessed with small, American companies that are making blue jeans. I think I follow 4 or 5 of them on Instagram. I'm talking really small. They range in size from maybe 5 or 6 people making a line of a few products, right down to one guy with a few machines who makes one pair of jeans at a time, custom-order. These companies are not local to me. Ohio, California, Texas, etc. But I know from their posts that these folks are passionate about what they do. In some cases, I've seen photos of their families and of their hobbies. I know that some of them work a different job through the summer so they can spend the winter doing the work they love. I've read about the struggles they have as business owners. I've had conversations with them. These are the kinds of businesses I want to support. They aren't local to me in a geographical sense, but they are definitely local. 

What is your favorite goodie here at The Hop?

I've never had anything at Hopscotch that wasn't amazing. I think my favorite was some shortbread I had once. Brown Butter, maybe? So good. But my very favorite thing about Hopscotch is that, when I come in for cold brew, the barista knows that I want it full-strength. That's local service, right there! (And I live 90 minutes away!)


MEET THE MAKER: Carol Farnum


Friends, Meet Carol Farnum: Artist and Mom. Carol is a co-conspirator and founder of Art Nerd Club a group that meets once a month at Art Coop, Inc. in Urbana. She is also a member International Society of Acrylic Painters and has had her work up for Sky Gallery, 2014, MTD Art, 2017 and she won the Arts Impact Award, Champaign Park District 2016. Ooof, right? Thats just the tip of the iceberg with this lady. We’re proud to have her mini’s paintings here at the shop and cant wait to to see what else she will bring us.

Tell us your story and why you make.

In this modern day of technology, we are all so disconnected from each other. But  even more importantly–from ourselves. I hope that in my work people will feel something. Anything. And they may not even realize my work has affected them until they’re sitting in traffic or having a conversation with a friend or walking their dog. I hope maybe my work will spark a memory for them, or a “good” feeling or a “bad” feeling…anything at all. If we can reconnect with ourselves in a way that we listen to what’s happening in our own heads we learn to trust…ourselves first and each other second.

If my work can help people feel something then that really is everything, because that’s where the human condition starts.

What do you make and HOW do you do it with a toddler in the house?

To boil it down to basics, I make abstracts. I am a painter and I would paint anything I can get my hands on because it is just how I experience the world, and how I attempt to explain how I process the world. Currently I am focused on painting large pieces on raw canvas, miniature mixed media pieces, and because I am a skater in a previous incarnation of myself, the occasional skatedeck. 

I am also a mom, so being self employed is a challenge. I don't think there's any formula for balancing having kids at home and having my studio in our home. Definitely I think having my studio in house is easier in a lot of ways, because I can mold my practice around the needs of my family. It also creates challenges, but in general, working at home affords me the flexibility I need to ebb and flow with the needs of my family. I do think that working at home provides learning opportunities for my kids, and they are all very creative so that's fun to watch!

What importance does ART play in our community?

I truly and deeply believe in the power of public art, that it can and does ignite things in people. Maybe it makes them feel happy because it's a lovely, colorful mural or billboard. Maybe they've had a crummy day and that shade of orange or yellow was just what they needed (even if they didn't consciously recognize that!). Maybe it's a more provocative painting or sculpture that deals with social issues and leads them to think about why they think what they do, or to consider another point of view. Ultimately, art in the community helps us have a sense of ownership and strengthens ties to our communities--provides us all with a common ground, no matter what walk of life we come from.

What is your favorite treat at The Hop?

My favorite treat at the Hop?? REALLY!??  I absolutely ADORE Kaya's cakes. I love to ogle them. The artistry is MAGNIFICENT; each one is like it's own painting.  However, my favorite thing to eat is macarons. The colors! Also, nom nom nom. 





MEET THE MAKERS: Shades and Punchy

On Friday September 14th, Shades and Punchy hosted a dinner here at the Hop This was their second dinner here with us and they plan on having another at the end of October (information will be posted soon!)

Tell me a bit about yourselves and how you started doing pop-up dinner events.

Leslie and Mark have about thirty years each in the food and beverage industry, and while we've never had a place to call our own, we've tried to create a number of unique experiences and tried to explore various food trends unavailable in our area. Call us insatiable, but we're experimentalists with a never-say-die attitude. We've done hotdog carts and lobster roll shacks, Greek dinners and Burgundian tables, whole hog bbq in South Carolinian style and izakaya bar snacks from Tokyo. We had a long running happy hour at the now shuttered Corkscrew in Urbana which featured Danish open-faced rye-bread sandwiches known as smorrebrod. We've also held a roving ramen pop-up for the last five years thanks to the generous hospitality of Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, Crane Alley, Bunny's Tavern, Cafeteria & Co., and Watson's Shack & Rail.

What's your philosophy when it comes to food and feeding people?

Not sure we have a "philosophy" per se, but Mark always thinks of the Yoko Ono piece which inspired John Lennon: Climbing a ladder and armed with a magnifying glass, the viewer looks at a small work posted on the ceiling which reads "YES".  That positivity, and how that piece validates an effort on the part of the viewer, is energizing. We like to be as positive and open to experience as possible, always trying to come to the table or cookspace with fresh eyes. We'd also like our diners to join us in the journey, and hopefully give them moments of revelation and delight.

Tell me the importance of locally sourcing ingredients in your menu.

Sourcing locally is part and parcel of a "Small is Beautiful" economics, where we value shorter and more familiar chains of relationships. Knowing who the caretakers of our community and environment are and appreciating the labor that goes into our bounty, makes our work more fulfilling and feel better connected. We appreciate locally sourced foods as the result of a friend and neighbor's strenuous work and concern. This village-level thinking informs what we value from the outside of our small circle of production; so we trend towards the limited-production or family-run or sustainably-minded or personal-projects.


During the subtle and languorous transition of Summer into Autumn, we'd like to share our “flechazo” (love at first sight) of Iberian cuisine at our next installation.The dinner menu features a number of tapas, shared plates, and wines from Spain and Portugal, and (seafood aside) is once again aggressively local with produce sourced from Blue Moon Farm, Sola Gratia, The Seasonal Plate, Prairie Fruits Farm, Red Crib Acres, and others.


Pintxos (Basque hors d'oeuvres)

Calabrian anchovy toast, cultured butter, lemon zest

Potato & herb tortilla, uni aioli

Benton’s aged ham, kuri squash, nasturtium, sesame

Beaver Dam peppers, saffron rice, octopus, parsley

Braised beef cheek, greens

“Ensaimada Mallorquina” (apple strudel), PFF Moonglow


Partida Creus, MUS (2017) Vermouth, Penedes, SP

Casa de Saima, Bairrada Espumante Bruto (2015) Baga, Bieras, PT

Camino Roca Altxerri, Txacoli de Getaria Rosado (2017) Hondarrabi, Basque Country, SP

Bodegas y Veñedos Raúl Pérez, Bierzo Ultreia (2015) Mencia, Castilla y Léon, SP


MEET THE MAKER: Joan Jach, Old Town Flowers

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Joan Jach is a remarkable urban flower farmer (Old Town Flowers) and we want you to know who amazing this maker/farmer is. Here at The Hop she provides us with flowers, body balms, teaches classes, and every once in a while a peach or two. Joan’s farm is located in Old Town Champaign and she lives there with her husband Jason, daughter Abby, two cats and a dog. Not only does she provide goods and services to the shop, she is our dear friend and confidant.

Hi Joan! You're a hyper local maker, tell us about your farm and how it came about.

Our farm is in our backyard which is about 5 blocks away from Hopscotch - we keep bees and chickens in our backyard, as well as grow flowers and veggies. It is about a quarter of an acre maybe a little bit smaller - it is a small space but we do a lot of farming in the backyard and there is a lot of diversity. I use the flowers and the herbs in my bodycare products and I sell the flowers as straight up bunches. Many flowers and herbs that I grow I turn into medicine and the body care products.

What does 'shop local' mean to you?

To me is a powerful statement about voting with your dollars. Being a farmer who has sold flowers and vegetables, when you buy from a farmer you know who is supplying your food and that the dollars are staying in your community. When you support a local business that money is reinvested when they go out and spend money in their community. It’s a power statement when you buy your veggies from a local produce or flower farmer instead of going to Walmart and buying a flower arrangement. It's about knowing you are supporting a real live person and you can meet them - that's really important to me.  

You are a natural teacher - what is different about your classes?

I teach from the perspective of someone who's been in a classroom for the last 15 years of their life teaching all ages. My view on teaching is that people learn by doing and you will not find me talking for more than 5 minutes at a time during a class. When you come to one of my classes there's minimal talking from me but there is a lot of interaction and instruction on a one-to-one basis as I walk around. In my class you will be doing and not just sitting there listening.

What classes do you have coming up?

My next class is Build Your Own Terrarium where we will be making terrariums of all shapes and sizes and we have a bunch of fun plants, ornaments, rocks and crystals in the terrarium. We will be learning about how to make it and how to keep it alive depending on what kind of plants to put in the terrarium. This fall I am going to do the pumpkin floral arrangement class which is great for the upcoming holidays and centerpieces. I also teach painting classes based on my love for water color that I have been doing for my whole life.

What is your favorite goodie at the shop?

It’s a toss up! Flourless chocolate cake, but I also love the coffee cake, but I also love the cheesecake. If I had to choose I would get the cheesecake for two and eat the whole thing with a cup of coffee. Her daughter Abby’s favorite are the following: macarons, the flourless chocolate cake, the cheesecake, the peanut butter cookie, the chocolate chip cookie, the donuts, lemon custard with the strawberries on top (pure summer in your mouth!).

Listen to Joan here

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Fall is around the corner...

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Labor day! The day we unofficially welcome fall back in to our lives. Is there anything really better than fall? Sweaters, savory treats, our world changing colors. Here at The Hop, we are transitioning in to our favorite season with a new fancy drink menu.

LUXARDO COFFEE COLA espresso - Luxardo cherry syrup

One shot of espresso with Luxardo Cherry syrup, sparkly* water with a cherry garnish!

STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMONADE fresh strawberry basil puree -  house-made lemonade

Locally grown basil and strawberry puree mixed with our in-house lemonade garnished with fresh basil.

PIÑA COLADA FIZZ pineapple - coconut milk

A roasted fresh pineapple puree + fresh lime zest mixed with fizzy* and coconut milk with of course, a mini parasol.

CUCUMBER FENNEL SPRITZ cucumber - fennel - ginger - apple cider vinegar

Pureed cucumber (from Prairie Erth Farms) fennel ginger and lime zest with sparkly* water nasturtium leaf garnish

ROSEMARY BEET LATTE rosemary syrup - beet powder - Malawi black tea - milk

A tea latte, with beet powder and a rosemary simple syrup - served hot!


*House carbonated filtered water. 

Cucumber Fennel Spritz

Cucumber Fennel Spritz

Rosemary Beet Latte

Rosemary Beet Latte