Celebrating Life

Happy Easter everyone!


Wishing you a lovely weekend of contemplating renewal, gathering with family, and celebrating life.


Crystal Clay demo at A Bella Bead

Last Wednesday the Network of Entrepreneurial Women had its Meet & Munch at A Bella Bead in Glen Ellyn. Since I am getting back into beading, I knew this was going to be a risky event for my wallet.


Sharon Dotson started out making jewelry when she wanted something to go with an outfit for a wedding. As she created pieces people would follow her in grocery stores and buy her necklaces right there.


After doing trunk shows and fairs, Sharon opened a shop selling her jewelry, but when the owner sold her building after two years, it was time to make a change.


In October 2013 Sharon opened A Bella Bead, which provides beading supplies, beading classes, and handmade jewelry by Sharon. Sharon likes to re-purpose vintage pieces and matches crystals and other accoutrements of that time period to the base piece. She can also do jewelry repair of vintage and not-so-vintage pieces.


Sharon also believes in supporting the community and teaches classes at schools and churches. She hosts open tables on Saturdays where people can come in and play with beads for a set time frame.


We quickly started discussing the challenges of solopreneurship in a retail store, and Sharon credits her family members and friends with keeping her going. They volunteer their time and offer business insights that help her innovate and brainstorm new offerings.


Our group discussed goal setting and how to determine whether to hire an intern or staff member. That theme continued in my inbox that evening when I came across Leonie Dawson’s How To Hire Staff When You Want To Do It All Yourself article.


One member suggested taking 90 days as a “year” planning cycle, and setting milestones for those 3 months at a time. She said that just by doing one thing on that list, other tasks may work themselves out as an effect of that first action item.


Sharon’s Wine cork classes and Cystal Clay classes are the most popular, and I can see why. She led us through a demonstration which has me itching to buy a kit and get sparkly.


The kit comes with an epoxy (gray) and clay (white in this case but available in all kinds of colors), and a small stick with beeswax for crystal setting. Sharon prefers using the magical pick for her crystals, and who wouldn’t want a touch of magic?


You mix equal parts epoxy to clay and rub it together for it to adhere. Then you place the clay into the surface you wish to embellish, a bezel, ring, bracelet, earring, pen, brush, comb, etc. They can be metal or plastic backings.



Then you set the crystals into the clay, either forming a design or just as inspiration strikes. Sharon recommends Swarovski crystals as other crystals don’t have the same lustre. One has 2 hours to set the crystals before the clay starts to harden.


After all the stones are set, a little crystal dust is applied, which also comes in various colors. This gives the piece a shimmer rather than the matte clay finish.


Et voila, a pendant is born. This will now dry for 24-48 hours.



This could easily become a new addiction! I opted for a few crystal beads to embed in a vision I had before entering the store, and I will leave the Crystal Clay kit for a time when I have made room for new tools in my overflowing supply drawers.


A Bella Bead’s calendar is updated on its Facebook page. We might have to do a wine cork class next!


We also happily took some promotional photos to aid Sharon in her social media needs.


Next week we’ll be dining at Symphony’s in Evanston and rotating after each course to get some quality networking time in with each other. (Last year’s progressive dinner was a blast). NEW’s May events are up on the calendar. We’ll be exploring Native American Culture at our next Meet & Munch and escaping to a spa during Wine Women and Wellness. Join us!


Some photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com, others by 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.


Oh yeah, we had delicious munchies too!


Hippity Hopping

I recently visited Norridge for a Trunk Show that was a lot of fun.


The sign makes me think of The Wedding Singer.

It was my biggest display table yet, so I had to take two shots to get it all in.


Fellow Network of Entrepreneurial Women member Marianne was there with Melaleuca and her embroidery.



The Amazonite set went straight to the table and I wore the double coil collar and my chakra stone bangle for the fair.


The Easter Bunny Hippity Hopped in.


For lunch I had my first Sloppy Joe ever.


I had fun conversations and gained some admirers who proudly walked off with their new purchases.


The Double Coil Collar then made its way to Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont.


My shelf has been refreshed with a few new pieces there.


Scarf pendants have a discount this month and there are other Springy deals in the store, but you’ll have to check in with Kim or Amber to find out what it is.


Etsy is fully updated with items intended to bring joy to the recipient. Taking photographs is always a fun project.


Sometimes my lingering Buckeye distracts me from the task at hand.


If you are green with joy at the coming of Spring and the celebration of new life, enter Coupon Code GREENWITHJOY on Etsy and get 10% off your purchase. Get the scoop on my latest shows and coupon codes with my monthly newsletter.


You’ll find pendants celebrating the Resurrection with passages pulled straight from the Bible.

Have a fantastic, lush week.

Creativity abounds

Spring is finally creeping into the Midwest. All the snow has melted and some flowers are beginning to emerge.


I cleared my workspace one evening, cleaned my tools and got creative.


The sunshine and longer days drew me into the studio several times and I’ve enjoyed shaping and embellishing the wire into my vision.


This wasn’t always successful, as an attempt at triple hearts just didn’t pan out, and a single heart became the final piece.


Since coiled wire takes some wrangling, I goofed around a bit too. Maybe tiaras will be a future line…


I matched an earcuff from the Renaissance Faire with my swirly pearls.


Bangles have been popular lately so I created a few of those.


There is something soothing about stringing beads. This one is a chakra bangle.


They’re fun to put on.


One birthstone bangle was sold, one is at Aurora Rose Boutique, and the third is for me to wear out for now.


Ayla’s Bead Bazaar inspired me to incorporate Amazonite into a bracelet and collar set. Amazonite turns out to be a lovely, healing and positive stone.


It went straight to a trunk show I will post about next week.


I’m also feeling a love of springy colors.


What’s your favorite piece?


Lady Lepidopterists

“Amongst the earliest known entomologists
were women of rank, wealth and fashion
who reared butterflies,
painted them and embroidered their images on cloth.”
~ Michael A. Salmon, The Aurelian Legacy

This month my Lady Lepidopterists encaustic collage is featured on Light Space & Time’s online gallery. This collage was in the works for some time, as I delved more into biographies of women who studied butterflies throughout 2012 after being so smitten with Maria Sybilla Merian.


I read Fiona Mountain’s Lady of the Butterflies about 17th Century Eleanor Glanville and was fascinated by the story of determination Eleanor had in spite of being considered eccentric and later being accused of insanity for her butterfly hunts.  The title page of that book is incorporated into the collage.

“Butterflies were Margaret’s key to freedom.
Studying them gave her a socially acceptable way to
exempt herself form a traditional domestic role on England. “
~ Natasha Scott-Stokes, Wild and Fearless

Thanks to the Evanston Public Library I also discovered botanist Ynes Mexia, author Hilda Simon, Margaret Fountaine, and a range of women naturalists mentioned in compilations or in passing. I am astounded by the bravery of these trailblazing women, who didn’t care that they were made out for lunatics but kept pursuing their passion in spite of societal and wardrobe constraints on women at the time. I also admire contemporary butterfly artists and researchers, and love discovering more.


The collage includes my drawing of a rice paper butterfly, also called the Large Tree Nymph. My friend and drawing teacher Lauren Coyne gave me this specimen when I took her drawing workshop a few summers ago.


“A lepidopterist or aurelian is
a person who specializes in the study of Lepidoptera,
members of an order encompassing moths and
the three superfamilies of butterflies,
skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies.”
~ Wikipedia 

In May 2012 my neighborhood was a butterfly haven and I saw my first Painted Ladies and Question Marks. I had never seen either of those butterfly species before, but both were feasting on the local foliage and were wonderful posers.


The Question Mark gets its name from the silver marking on its underwing, which resembles a question mark. It is similar to the Comma butterfly, which doesn’t have the ‘dot’ on its underwing, just a comma, and also doesn’t have the purplish edges on its wings that the Question Mark does.


Upon commemorating the brave woman lepidopterists of current and past centuries on my substrate (Eleanor Glanville, Margaret Cavendish, Maria Sybilla Merian, Lauren Levato Coyne, Hilda Simon, Rachel Ruysch, Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe, Margaret Fountaine, Jeannine Oppewall), I layered encaustic medium and green hues of encaustic paint onto the surface.


“I was careering wildly after everything I saw,
though catching tropical butterflies was no easy matter,
the intense heat seemed to have a most invigorating effect on them.”
~ Margaret Fountaine, Love Among The Butterflies, 1907 in Mombasa

After a few layers I added the collage materials, with the large photo of the Question Mark going on last.


The 3rd Annual “All Women” Art Exhibition will be featured through April, and then move to the Light Space & Time Archives. The art in the Special Merit Category could have also been placed in the top tier of the entries selected, but due to size constraints was given its own category.


The gallery received 709 entries from 22 different countries from around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Sweden,  Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the Ukraine, and entries from 36 different states in the U.S.


You can peruse my butterfly art work on Etsy, including collages of various sizes and pendants.

“Reading about the lives of the collectors
we sense that they are people who,
however inept at dealing with matters of state,
have accidentally found the secret of happiness—
concentrating with astonishing tenacity
to the details of another parallel world—
rising above the ills to which human flesh is heir,
on the wings of the angelic butterfly.’

~Miriam Rothchild, June 1999, The Aurelian Legacy

Recommended butterfly/naturalist reading:

  • Ynes Mexia: Botanist and Adventurer, Durlynn Anema
  • Swallowtail Butterflies, Jane Dallinger
  • Butterflies and Moths, Ken Preston Mafham
  • Luna Moths: Masters of Change, Sandra Merkle
  • Butterflies and Moths -Eyewitness Handbook, David Carter
  • Wonders of the Butterfly World, Hilda Simon
  • An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect, Sharman Apt Russell
  • Lady of the Butterflies, Fiona Mountain
  • A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton Porter
  • Wild and Fearless: The Life of Margaret Fountaine, Natascha Scott-Stokes
  • Love Among the Butterflies: The Travels and Adventures of a Victorian Lady, Margaret Fountaine
  • The Aurelian Legacy: British Butterflies and their Collectors, Michæl A. Salmon, Peter Marren, Basil Harley
  • The Family Butterfly Book, Rick Mikula
  • Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Die Blumenkönigin. Ein Maria Sibylla Merian- Roman, Inez van Dulleman
  • Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, Kim Todd


Beer, Women and Speednetworking

Last Thursday we had a blast speednetworking at Shannon’s Irish Pub for Beer Women and Wellness.


The Network of Entrepreneurial Women gathered in Glen Ellyn to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with pints and pub grub.


When our first round of beverages was ordered (we have our priorities straight!), we engaged in 4-minute introductions of our businesses to each other.


After the bell we switched places to meet the next person, until everyone had met everyone.


All that talking needed to be fortified with dinner, which won rave reviews. Shannon’s Irish Pub offers fantastic service, delicious food, and a well-varied bar.


Some of us lingered over beer and dessert afterward.


Join us for more meet and greets at our next Meet & Munch among beads. We will return to Glen Ellyn on Wednesday, April 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. at A Bella Bead. Open since October 2013, the store offers beading supplies for jewelry making, including loose beads, strand beads, clasps, findings, Swarovski crystals and lamp beads. Owner Sharon Dotson also provides a venue for beading classes, such as Resin Jewelry, Wiring, Stamping, Beading and Crystal. You can come in and fix jewelry at open table sessions, or throw a private BYOB party.


Join us as we learn about crystal clay and spark our creativity with sparkly, colorful jewelry accoutrements. A Bella Bead Boutique is located at 485 Main Street, Banyan Tree Mall Unit D in Glen Ellyn, Il  60137.

Celebrating Character, Courage and Commitment

“There is no royal flower-strewn path to success.
And if there is, I have not found it f
or if I have accomplished anything in life
it is because I have been willing to work hard.
Perseverance is my motto.”
~ Madame C.J. Walker

Women’s History Month has come to a close, but women continue to make history on a daily basis. At NEW‘s last Meet & Munch women’s historian Barbara Joan Zeitz provided us with a list of inspirational business women. While Barbara generally focuses on unsung heroes in her books, she made an exception for this presentation and mentioned trailblazers who have been recognized in the business world.


Nonetheless, a few of the women mentioned were new to me. Our attendees, ranging from business consultants to communicators to social media specialists were all keen on empowering women. Barbara’s mission is to share women’s history so each woman can learn and own her own history.

“We’re not competitors, we are compatriots.
Read your history.
Know your past, know your present, because it is your future.”
~ Barbara Joan Zeitz


Madame C. J. Walker ‎ was one of the first female millionaires in U.S. History, founding a hair product business in the 1920s after losing her hair and then training other African American women to become ‘franchisees’ before franchising was a concept. She trained agents in South America and focused on teaching black women to be self-sufficient.

Julia Morgan was the first female to graduate Berkeley with a civil engineering degree  and the first female licensed architect in California. She rebuilt the Fairmont Hotel in 1906 and designed 700 buildings in her life time, including Hearst Castle. In spite of her status as one of the most distinguished women architects in America who pioneered the use of steel- reinforced concrete, Julia Morgan was listed as Hearst’s secretary, rather than the designer of his castle and the surrounding 127 acres.


Muriel Siebert moved to New York in a used car with $500 in her pocket. She changed jobs three times because men earned more than her. When she applied with her initials rather than her full name she had more employment success. Upon applying for the New York Stock Exchange she was turned down by 9 sponsors, which put her in a  catch-22 because the bank insisted she have a sponsor and the sponsors insisted she have a loan. She became the first woman on the New York Stock Exchange and subsequently the first female Superintendent of Banks in New York (an SOB, as she called it). She started a personal finance program for High School Students in New York, which became a model for nationwide programs.

“If you find that you don’t like what you’re doing you can change it.
There’s no law that says
you have to continue to do the same job if you’re not feeling satisfied.
Your mind is capable of doing a lot of things.”
~ Muriel Siebert

Lena Himmelstein-Bryant ‎ was widowed with a young child after 16 months of marriage to David Bryant. She designed maternity wear at a time when women were placed in seclusion. She sold out the day her ad was published. The letters in her name were transposed at a bank, and she didn’t correct it, thus becoming Lane Bryant. She moved on to full-figured women’s wear and was the first to offer employee benefits.

Coco Chanel was placed in an orphanage at a young age who became a store clerk when she grew up. She built a fashion and perfume empire, took women out of corsets, and made slacks acceptable high fashion for women. She was fiercely independent and moved in elite circles where she networked very well. Barbara said she exemplifies the value of women and how to embrace your gender.


Elizabeth Arden ‎ started her career as a nurse. She learned of a cream that treated burns and combined science and technology for beauty. Her first salon was opened in 1910 which expanded to a $20 million empire. She marched for women’s rights with 15,000 Suffragettes and was the first woman to be featured on the cover of time in 1946.

Meg Whitman joined eBay reluctantly in 1998 when it had 30 employees. Her restructuring and management grew it to 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue by 2008. She was noted for redefining business principles by implementing procedures that steer and influence rather than control, focusing on conversing rather than commanding, and asking questions instead of giving answers. She was noted for saying that bottom line success comes from experimenting and failing rather than doing nothing when bold action is needed.

“My rules in life are to believe in myself,
keep a positive attitude and
hold on to my integrity.”
~ Maria de Lourdes Sobrino

Carrie Marcus Neiman was a fashion buyer with her brother for the Neiman Marcus store her husband owned. She brought ready to wear to the Dallas market and transformed it into a fashion capital.

Maggie Lena Walker dreamed of owning a bank at a time when women couldn’t own property. She founded the first women-owned bank, St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, which after merging with two other banks in the 1930s continues to be the oldest continuously operated African American owned bank.


Maria de Lourdes Sobrino came from a family of lawyers but had no interest in law school. She instead became a serial entrepreneur by starting a flower shop, which failed, a travel business that tanked during an economic downturn, imported crafts that didn’t prove lucrative, and opened a sandwich shop. In 1982 she put her savings into 300 cups of Gelatina, which became the multimillion dollar Lulu’s Desserts. As the owner of the fastest-growing Hispanic-owned business in the U.S., she served on the board of NAWBO-LA, Latina Style Magazine, D.C., Working Families for Wal-Mart.


We chatted more about these women of Character, Courage, and Commitment and left encouraged and enlightened. A Thesaurus of Women: From Cherry Blossoms to Cell Phones, is available on Amazon, via Barbara herself (who is working on her second book), and at our event host, Town House Books.


Join us for Meet & Munch among Beads at A Bella Bead next Wednesday, April 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Glen Ellyn. Open since October 2013, the store offers beading supplies for jewelry making, including loose beads, strand beads, clasps, findings, Swarovski crystals and lamp beads. Owner Sharon Dotson will demonstrate crystal clay, and we can peruse all her sparklies while we network. A Bella Bead Boutique is located at 485 Main Street, Banyan Tree Mall Unit D in Glen Ellyn, Il  60137.


“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”
Coco Chanel

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 Facebook.


Networking photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com, with the historic women’s headshots pulled from Google.

Maraviglia of the Month

I teased my Facebook Fans with pieces last week that haven’t made their way onto Etsy, but are being uploaded now.


I wore the pencil pendant out to NEW’s Women’s History Month event, along with Swirly earrings.


Green-ish pieces were featured on two occasions. I wore the turquoise-wrapped spiral earrings and the Knitter’s Delight scarf pendant to a St. Patrick’s Day Party (coat from Hello Holiday).


The Green Scribble Ball set enjoyed a pint during NEW’s Beer Women and Wellness (Bridgette Guerzon Mills’ Encaustic Art is in the background).


Maike’s Marvels’ Circulation collar helped inspire creativity on a studio day.


Coiled Earrings and the Flutterby wax and wire pendant perused the Encaustic Nature in Art show opening.


My Flower Cloud Pendant and Dancing earrings got complimented during Ayla’s Originals’ Annual Bead Show (headband created with a Princess Lasertron kit).


Mixing and matching pieces is fun, and I’d love to see some of these fly off to complement your wardrobe.


Progress is measured in small doses

Last week I hunkered down and got my 2013 bookkeeping in order. Taxes have a way of doing that, don’t they?

I had finally gotten around to purchasing accordion envelopes to get my receipts situated, and that system works like a charm. 2013 was easy to sort out through its compartments and then put in chronological order without sifting through a pile. 2014 will be much easier to reference in retrospect as well.


The number of receipts has increased dramatically since 2012, which is why I suddenly needed the accordion file. It is interesting how receipts become a marker of how the business has grown and evolved, even if monetarily it all seems so miniscule.

Looking back through my financial reports on Etsy, Square and Paypal was also enlightening. We need to step back sometimes and look at the larger time frame rather than focusing on the month-to-month or week-by-week. A lot of things weren’t in place in Q2 2013 that have now become routine in the business.


My acceptance rate to shows was high, as was productivity. All good things to realize.

It also felt good to put on my bookkeeper hat and think about streamlining some of these tracking mechanisms so next year’s tax preparation is easier. Selling goods is far different from operating a service-oriented business, so the learning curve cannot be denied.


All in all, I am grateful we have to file taxes so you can get a bit of numerical perspective that I would otherwise have pushed until summer.

As a reward, I perused Ayla’s Originals’ annual bead show on Sunday and got some inspirational strands of loveliness that will soon be incorporated into collars, bracelets, earrings and pendants.


Collaging Dragonflies

“Dragonfly is the power of light.
The dragonfly inhabits two realms:
air and water 
the influence of both these elements will
be felt by Dragonfly people.”

~ Lin’s Domain

This is the last week of the Encaustic Nature in Art exhibit. My Damselfly-Dragonfly Diptych will be up until April 1 and then the gorgeous exhibit is taken down to never be seen in that lovely company again.


I started capturing Dragonflies in 2008, when one settled on a journal while I was on a birthday trip. Since then, they’ve posed for me sporadically on summer trips, garden walks, and in parks near Lake Michigan.


I didn’t know how hard they were to capture on camera until later. I’ve been lucky that some were willing to pose for me for minutes on end, like this one in Bluhm Park.


Dragonflies are a totem for transformation as well as light and color. Unlike my favored Butterfly, Dragonflies are both water and air beings.


Dragonfly eggs are laid in the water, which hatch into naiads. They feed on mosquito larvae, and at times tadpoles and fish, and remain in this stage for 2 months to three years, some even up to five years.


It then climbs up a reed above water, where it begins breathing and emerges from its split skin into an adult dragonfly, to live for up to six months in this stage.


The musculature of Dragonflies is quite fascinating, which I learned at Backyard Monsters.


A fabulous explanation of the mechanism is below:

I snapped the 12-spotted skimmer at Emily Oaks Nature Center ‎where I often go to observe dragonflies. They feed on mosquitoes so creating a dragonfly habitat in your garden might be beneficial in summer.


The damselfly, a bluet, settled in my path at the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Damselflies have the same life cycle , except that their wings are parallel to the body when at rest. They also have separated eyes.


The colors of these inspired me to make a diptych after reading Hilda Simon’s painstakingly researched and illustrated Dragonflies book that I recommend to anyone interested in these creatures.


I lifted some quotes from her book and also looked up other dragonfly symbolism.  Then I pasted the base paper–with varying terms for Odonata–onto the wooden substrate.


I layered on encaustic medium and made sure no bubbles formed. Then I added layers of blue encaustic paint, alternating with the translucent medium, and scraping here and there.


I added more layers of paper and checked the position of the photographs.


After another round of encaustic medium, it was time to add the photographs, also coated in encaustic medium for durability.



Voila, the diptych is complete, along with another companion piece, the Ruby Meadowhawk.


Visit the Art Center of Highland Park at 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park this week-end to get a final glimpse at Encaustic Nature in Art and Primal Awareness.


“When the dragonfly shows up in your life,
it may remind you to bring a bit
more lightness and joy into your life.”

~ Elena Harris, SpiritAnimal.com Editor


 You can find desktop minis of the 12-spotted Skimmer in my Etsy store.

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