More Etsy newbies

I’ve loaded some new pieces to Etsy last week while reviewing what I have in stock.


Anything created since then will debut at Platt-A-Palooza on August 30 and make their way to Etsy after that (if it doesn’t go home with someone).


My newly loaded pendants include Lime-Green Abstract Circle, Peace be with You, Write in Green, Fiery Heart, along with Purple Waves Earrings .


You’ll see these musical pieces go up after August 31.


Take a gander at my earrings too.


Blog Hopping

This month several FUSEDChicago artists are participating in a blog hop. I was asked to participate by Alicia Forestall-Boehm, whom I see at various FUSEDChicago exhibits. Her work is quite fascinating, as it takes encaustics to a sculptural level, and I love how she takes cheesecloth, wood and wire and turns them into abstract yet energetic works of art. Her pieces evoke atmosphere and make me rethink shape an texture a lot. You can see her work at my recap of the Hairpin Gallery show.

AliciaForestallBoehmAlicia’s “encaustic and fiber sculptures reduce larger images and concepts into elegant simplified forms.  By paring down basic elements of color, shape and movement I am able to acknowledge another kind of space. Ultimately they become symbols of incompleteness that come together in works of art that are complete and whole. My work elevates the humble cheesecloth.  When married with encaustic it becomes surprisingly malleable allowing for a broad range of sculptural treatments.  The resulting works are abstract representations of urban history that often explores the physical and mental boundaries of public and private spaces we inhabit.  I am currently working on an encaustic and fiber sculptural installation for a solo show at Art on Armitage in Chicago December 2014.” Alicia’s blog is at

1) What am I working on/writing?

I’m preparing for my next trunk show at Platt-A-Palooza in Bloomington, August 30 from 1-6.  It is time to implement ideas I have had simmering for a while and stock up on popular jewelry designs. I’ll be showcasing a few new jewelry pieces as well as new collage art. I’m also evaluating some Fall exhibit options and stretching my possibilitarianism as I apply to events I don’t quite feel ready for.


2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

The FUSEDChicago scene is quite varied in and of itself. The encaustic artists I know have a very distinct style and color palette that make them distinguishable among each other.
My twist on encaustic painting is that I add photo collages into the mix which are taken during my nature jaunts. There are still many techniques I have learned that I haven’t worked with enough to truly make my own, but I look forward to practicing and creating.

My wire jewelry grew out of a workshop with Crystal Neubauer and then just kept moving forward. Thus far I have challenged myself to create each wire piece out of a single piece of steel wire, without soldering or attaching separate pieces of steel wire. This has resulted in coils becoming part of my work, and some people consider the coil, which sometimes gets interpreted as a violin clef as my trade mark. I am still studying the wire wrapped jewelry landscape, but my pieces tend to be more rounded and less angular than what I see on a comparative level.


3) Why do I write/work what I do?

When I am in the studio I feel at peace. Time enters a different dimension and the materials and colors fill me up with joy and gratitude. I like infusing each piece with happiness and positivity, and my hope is that that energy translates to new owners. The look of wonder as people examine my work at fairs makes me happy, and knowing that they will own something truly unique that cannot be replicated.

As someone who never quite fit into a mold, I like the quirkiness of my creations, and how even if I try, no two pieces are ever the same, just like humans. In spite of the tendency toward conformity, it is important to hold on to one’s individuality and be aware that what makes each of us different is the special gift that makes us unique and one-of-a-kind in this world.

The necessity of using a heat source in encaustics helps me let go of my inner perfectionist and allow the wax to flow. I cannot be as precise as one would be with a pencil, and yet this aspect frees me tremendously. Likewise, the heavier gauge of the wire forces a more ‘rugged’ look rather than the delicate precision of different kinds of wire. Learning to balance my vision and precision with the energy and ‘pushback’ of the materials is a lovely analogy of life in general.


4) How does my writing/working process work?

I absorb a lot of stimuli and inspiration both in my head and captured on paper, a memory stick (what used to be film), and in other objects. Eventually something in particular will bubble up and come out during my studio session. My studio is filled with inspiration pieces that help me visualize what I want to create.

Sometimes the materials and I work in harmony, and at others the wire and encaustics will nudge me into their own direction, where my vision doesn’t always match the outcome.
I cut up lengths of wire and prepare them (sand and hammer them) for bending into pendants, earrings, bangles or collar necklaces. Then I pick out the beads, decorative wire, papers and other ephemera I want to embellish them with. This determines the shape and form of each piece.

For wall collages, I research images and words and prepare collage sheets ahead of time and print these out. Then I fire up the griddle to warm up the color palette of the day and melt the wax. I layer on the medium and pigments and then fuse the materials to the wooden substrate. As the layers come together I cut up the collage sheets and lay out the pieces to see how they fit the with photographic centerpiece. With each layer the layout takes on more permanent form, and eventually all parts of the collage are fused together.


Avid readers of my blog know Lauren Levato Coyne taught me how to draw. Our shared love for Moths and Butterflies provided initial conversation fodder, and now we enjoy sharing delicious foods on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing her upcoming show.

HeirloomLevatoCoyneArtist and writer Lauren Levato Coyne is a collector of exotic and unusual specimens with a focus on the entomological and anatomical. Lauren’s work comes from the intersection of wonder and memory and how the body itself becomes a wunderkammer, amassing all manner of mysterious and confounding issues, dramas, revelations, and dilemmas that either touch us as a fleeting corporeal moment or take up permanent residence in the body’s collection. The themes of body as wonder, memory, and curiosity have been the foundation of Lauren’s on-going series of self-portraits. She is preparing for her upcoming solo exhibition, Wolf Peach, at Packer Schopf Gallery which opens September 5. Lauren’s blog is at where you can read her blog hop next week.

I met Lisa Wilson at Shawna Moore’s encaustic workshop and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I enjoy the Oracle Card deck she participated in on a daily basis, and love the insights Being Breath has to offer.

LisaWilsonBeingBreathLisa Renee Wilson is a mixed-media artist, teacher, and blogger at She practices, inspires, and guides others into awakening to life As It Is though Mindful Awareness and Creative Engagement with the stuff of the everyday.
Her art isn’t meant to match the couch, rather to be a reminder of a life fully lived. Her teachings aren’t meant to provide answers, rather, to show doors to walk through. And her writing isn’t meant to instruct or explain, rather, to cause a pause in thought and a deepening of breath.
You can learn more about Lisa at where her blog resides, or find her on Facebook.

I’m supposed to have 3 artist links but Alicia beat me to the punch in snagging a few blog hoppers (and some of my alternates are too busy preparing for solo shows), so I will revert back to her post to link you to those talented artists, including Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Robin Samiljan, and Ahavani Mullen.


Pendants of the Summer

I haven’t been taking many jewelry selfies lately, though I always get compliments on the Maraviglia I am wearing.


Earlier this summer I wore Blessed are you among Women out paired with my favorite twinsy spirals.


At NEW’s anniversary party I wore my bangles, which pretty much go with all my outfits and can be custom-ordered.


The Make by Megan K. dress was combined with my Amazonite collar and swirly pearls at my trunk show.


Aurora Rose has a set for sale, which you can view here:

At other NEW events I wore Orange You Dancing with Smashed Earrings and a brown version of this green wax and wire triangle along with another set of abstract earrings.


On a sunny day I adorned my lace sundress with a wax and wire butterfly and the smashed earrings.


The other day I opted for just earrings and no necklace with this purple wire-wrapped pair that hasn’t been listed yet.


Message me if you are interested.


I felt the need for some inner peace one day and paired blue scribble ball earrings with this wax and wire peace symbol pendant. In the background is the jellyfish lamp from Peaceful Parlour.


I wore the lace dress to Evanston’s Lakeshore Art Fest with a caged feather butterfly similar to this one and added the pink scribble ball earrings.


Check out my Etsy store and see which piece would make a great adornment for you or someone you love.


I also make custom pieces year-round for any occasion.

Unbound(ed) at Morpho Gallery

Some calls for art are best for others, as was the case with Morpho Gallery’s latest encaustic showcase.


I had seen the Unbound(ed) call for art, but in spite of my freewheeling summer felt too confined in my work to create a piece for it. So I let the deadline pass, and instead got to enjoy the works of other encaustic artists.


Submissions from all over the country were accepted, and the show is a wonderful showcase of creative techniques and inspiration. Juried by Kathy Blankley Roman and Kathleen Waterloo the show’s title refers to the term “Unbound” and all of its meanings.  The show opened August 1 and is up through August 30.

Exhibiting artists include:


Carol Hamilton, Norman Soskel, Cheryl Holz, VA de Pintor.


Cat Crotchett, Laura LaRue, Daniel Hurley, Barbara Fredericks Miner, Martha Robinson, Robin Samiljan, Ahavani Mullen, Sandra C. Pence, Karl Kaiser, and Kathy Blankley Roman.


Kathy Cantwell.


Carol Flaitz, Amy Van Winkle, Barbara Walton, Ginny Krueger, Caitlin Edgar Bielata and Robin Samiljan.


Carol Flaitz, Nicole Prigan, Eileen P. Goldenberg, Jennifer Terpstra, Kathleen Cosgrove, Rodney Thompson, Patricia Lagger and Yvette Kaiser Smith.


Bill Oistad.

I look forward to playing with some of this textural inspiration.


Morpho Gallery prides itself in seeking talented artists who are on the cusp of being discovered by the mainstream art community.  The gallery is located at  5216 North Damen Avenue Chicago IL 60625 and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 1-6 p.m. And by appointment Sunday-Thursday.


Busse Woods BBQ

July was full of fun summer adventures, including a wonderful barbecue with NEW.


We claimed a pavilion at Busse Woods and brought salad, sweets and meat to grill.


It was lovely to listen to nature right in the middle of a large suburb.


Nature was quite close as we had a defensive pair of bird parents trying to keep us away from their chicks who were nesting in the roof of the pavilion. After a few dives we knew where not to stand and a truce was agreed upon.


The grills were fired up and the cooking and munching began.


We had a lovely time chatting about a variety of subjects.


Photobombing ensued.


There is something freeing about dining outdoors, surrounded by trees and the sounds of summer.


S’mores capped off the evening nicely.


I look forward to more gatherings like this. Join us next Wednesday from 2 to 4 pm for a tour of the White City at the Field Museum.


Photos copyright NetworkHoncho and Maike’s Marvels.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.


Buffalo Rock State Park

On my last day of the Utica excursion I decided to give Buffalo State park another chance.


I had visited it years before, excited about the earth sculptures, only to get hot in the harsh sun of the prairie landscape.


To let a speeding truck pass me I pulled into the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Lock Entrance and snapped a selfie there.


The birds-eye view can be perused from Starved Rock State Park.


The Buffalo Rock State Park entrance on this road was different from what I remembered, (and later learned I had indeed come another way before).


My trusty state park guide book was at home, and I went by the maps on signposts at each park this year, when before I always had everything mapped out ahead of time.


With Geocaching more prevalent I’m sure there are phone apps by the forest districts, but I still prefer to walk the trails pretending to be disconnected, though knowing I have GPS on my phone is certainly comforting as a lone wanderer.


I strolled down the overlook path, thinking it would give me the birds’eye view. Instead, it took me past the river, and a later sign clarified that this was a River Overlook. Four Pelicans flew over me at one point, which was awesome to watch.


The Effigy Tumili were in the other direction of the river overlook, so I wandered back that way, just enjoying the prairie flower scents and cricket and bird sounds.


I came upon the catfish and laughed at not being able to see the eye at all. It was just a mound, with a path that the sign said we were allowed to climb.


Titled “Effigy Tumuli” in tribute to the Native American burial grounds that inspired it, Michael Heizer’s “earth art” depicts five sculptures native to the Illinois River.


Sculptures of a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and a water strider were created into mounds hikers can climb and explore. On top of the catfish, I took a view around.

catfish view

This photo by L. Jenkins shows what the mound looks like:


I crossed paths with other hikers, who shared my initial disappointment of not being able to ‘see’ the effigies. Even Google Earth doesn’t do it justice:


The turtle was considered risky to climb, but I observed a pair of monarchs at the foot of the mound, both extremely camera shy. The grass was taller than me.


I kept the insect-cam going and trusted my zoom lens a lot.


If the snake is meant to be the exposed lime rock, it’s the easiest effigy to recognize.

snake sign

Limestone formations are so spectacular.


Google Earth’s view:


I wanted to linger but a mosquito urged me to move on. I had an allergic reaction to a bite on my arm, even though other bites were fine, so not having yet consulted my medical experts I was leery of inviting another sting of epic proportions. Next time Benadryl cream will be my companion, and a small container of vinegar.


I pondered walking the whole length of the park’s path to the area I had entered last time, but it was getting hot and I had not brought my hat, so I figured I wouldn’t risk heat fatigue with a 2-hour drive ahead of me.


I came upon a few of these “Say Anything” icons but am not sure what they mean…


More critters crossed my path:


Thus I wandered back the way I came, and startled when I noticed bison through a chain link fence.


I suppose Buffalo Rock should have some buffalo!



I switched into sandals and began the drive home. Most of it was easy except a stretch on I-55 where weavers crisscrossed all three lanes to violate the speed limit.


Otherwise the ride home felt surprisingly short, making me think I should head into the I&M Canal’s territory more often this year.


A Mini-Hike at Starved Rock

I planned on walking the majority of the Starved Rock Trail on day two of my Utica excursion, but the majority was closed due to fallen trees and storm damage in mid-July.


Even the Starved Rock Lodge had a tree fall in per one resident.


Basically the entire stretch of the park trail was closed, with just small sections near the visitors center and the other end of the park open.


So I walked the short open trail that led to the French Canyon, which was where everyone hung out.


Formations are fascinating.


The varying stairwells are an interesting analogy to life, some worn, some reinforced, some requiring careful treading, others steep.


I finally got a good look at poison ivy as the signs pointed out various operations of it.


A butterfly wing crossed my path.


Then I walked up the Starved Rock Trail with a lovely view of the dam and Pelican Island.


The I&M Canal connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River by way of the Illinois River. It provided the first complete water route from the east coast to the Gulf of Mexico. French explorers Joliet and Marquette navigated this water route in the 1600s and Native Americans and traders used it until 1823.  From 1823 to 1848 the I&M Canal was constructed at a cost of $6.5 million. It begins at the south branch of the Chicago River at Bridgeport and extends 96 miles to the Illinois River at LaSalle. The canal’s 15 locks accommodate differences in elevation.


In 1933, the Illinois Waterway was completed and the I&M Canal was closed to navigation. Since then, the canal has been developed for recreation.


Pelicans have nested in Illinois for 20 years, and one of the areas is an island in the Illinois River.


It was nice to watch them fly over.


After the short circular trail led back down the stairs, I sat for a bit to enjoy the weather and waterfowl.


I stopped for lunch in town and then headed back to Matthiessen State Park to walk the river Trail.


I look forward to returning when the trails have opened up again.


Bumbling Along Matthiessen State Park Trails

In mid-July I took an excursion to Utica to clear my head and ground myself in nature.


My favorite park in the Starved Rock Area is Matthiessen State Park.


For a while it was a well-kept secret, with most tourists favoring Starved Rock Park.


Unfortunately (for me) it has gotten more popular over the years, and this time I encountered quite a few groups hiking and cavorting in the water.


Nonetheless, I find the Dells area fascinating with its lime stone formations.


It had stormed recently, so the paths were quite muddy.


The trails aren’t long and tend to lead back to the same stairwell leading to the parking and picnic areas.


The bridge also had a lot of standing water, and though it wasn’t too deep, I opted to turn around rather than wade through it.


I do know from prior visits that that path after the bridge loops around and there are some nice benches where I have sat and read before.


This time walked the horse trail for a while.


That trail wasn’t mapped out on the signs.


Not knowing where it would come out I doubled back when a prairie view disoriented me.


It was a lovely walk to reintegrate into the forest world that is scarce in my suburb.

13_retracing steps

I spent 90 minutes here but could have whiled longer, but it was time to check in and I was antsy to be ‘settled’ in my home away from home.


The next morning, after my Starved Rock excursion was cut short, I made my way to the Vermillion River Area of Matthiessen State Park.


When I first visited Matthiessen I wrongly assumed this was for boating. Instead, this is a forest trail with a variety of paths.


Unfortunately the sign didn’t indicate the length of this trail, but I assumed it couldn’t be too long (or they would have!).


The map also announced closures, which narrowed down my route.


I snapped a photo of the map to carry with me, and enjoyed the cool of the woods.


I saw two couples on the trail, and had the rest of the paths for myself.


I was indeed forced along a certain way with the closures.


It left me curious about one trail that I could see went down a hill and serpentined around.


In spite of my attempt to follow a specific trail color, different colored markers started popping up, which was a bit disorienting. You can see that bikes and horses are allowed on some.


There are some lovely trees in these woods.


I spotted a damselfly on a boulder I was heading toward.


Then this lovely creature fluttered to my attention.


I managed to get one more good picture of it-a comma or a question mark butterfly.


My trusty walking stick kept me company as I started hearing a stream, which comforted me.


When I came upon it I saw lovely black damselflies, but they all were camera shy.


I snapped a few pictures, only one of which turned out, and marched on.


Later I spotted some more in another area, and got some better shots by trusting my zoom. They are Ebony Jewelwings.


More of these jewel wings who truly glitter in blue and green were cavorting along the stream as I walked the path some more. Here is a guide on identifying some Illinois Odonata.


My zoom did not disappoint.


Just as I started wondering if I was lost again this beauty gave me reason to follow along the path some more.


My photo reference of the map wasn’t much use to me as I couldn’t orient myself to which color path I was on.


I had to trust that I would come out somewhere, but at those times it does feel like having a companion would be wiser. Being lost together is more comforting than being lost by yourself.


Unless I spoke ‘insect’ of course. ;-) I started debating whether to get my phone out—I had turned it off to truly unplug—and see if I got a GPS signal when the trail ended onto a clearing.


I had a general sense of where my Inn might be, but not a good enough overview to know whether to turn right or left. Then this swallowtail pointed the way. It was lovely watching it swoop around the grasses.


I spotted another dragonfly from afar.


Then I heard the sound of a car, so I followed the path and my ears, and lo and behold, there was my trusty vehicle!


This unguided tour took about 90 minutes, and now that I am ‘oriented’ I look forward to walking it again with fewer second-guesses.


I drove back to the Inn where I spent a lovely evening in the garden reading and journaling to recover from my unintended bravery.

A&Z Designs at Aurora Rose

Last weekend I decided to be an attendee at Aurora Rose Boutique‘s Trunk Show instead of the vendor.


I’ve admired A&Z Designs’ jewelry for a while. Their steampunk-y pieces are custom formed, riveted, enameled and bent. It was nice to meet the family of creators, and I debated over a few pieces as I browsed their fabulous display.


Aurora Rose has a new card vendor with lovely witticisms.


Coasters that can be customized with your photography are also a new product there.


I took one of the happy octopi home.


Tomorrow is owner Kim Peters’ birthday and I had fun incorporating her family’s birthstones into a bangle fitted just for her.


Each stone represents one of Aurora Rose Boutique’s most avid supporters.


Happy birthday Kim!


Next Month’s #AuroraRoseTrunkShow will feature Laughing Cat, with lovely repurposed vintage pieces.


Stop by my shelf when you pop in!


I look forward to wearing the bangle and gifting the cards in the Fall.


something for everyone: Keychains

Last month I pondered what I can make that appeals to men and women, since my jewelry does have a slight gender bias. So I started making some keychains.


I put some coiled wax pieces on a keychain loop, which wandered off with customers at Aurora Rose during my last trunk show. I also put some scribble balls in the mix. The scribble balls can be customized with any color of choice.


My brother will be ‘product testing’ this one.


A blue keychain is on Etsy, but I’ll be happy to make more if you tell me that you’ll use them.


What do you think?

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