Reflecting in Nature

I am taking a little pre-birthday time-out.

It is easy to get overwhelmed in calls to actions, FOMO, grass-is-greener and doomsday thinking with the barrage of headlines and ensuing social media reactions.

My Atlas of World History confirms that territorialism began when land ownership started in 9000 BC. As Billy Joel sings, we didn’t start the fire. The mid-eighties were full of songs about the End of the World, and When the Wind Blows still flashes in my head on occasion.

So I go to the lake to stare at the horizon and ponder the tides going in and out.

Hopefully the skyline will remain for a bit.

It is lovely to be a tourist in my hometown. I rarely visit Bennison’s, so strolling there is worthy of a treat for here and one to go.

There is a private park with little reading nooks that is open to the public part of the day.

Shimmying at the beach is a lovely way to start the day in summer.

I love the Brothers K baristas and used up the last bit of my gift card for this gorgeous creation.

A moth hung out by the basement as I was doing laundry.

Flowers are blooming so gorgeously.

I recite the Desiderata in my head when things seem too depressing.

Then I ponder the bravery of Sophie Scholl, Anne Frank, Miep Gies and Corrie Ten Boom.

The Little Prince has left a reminder by the lake as well.

The upcoming solar eclipse is supposed to be auspicious, and I sincerely hope it will bring with it goodwill and peace.

But for now, I will reflect on all the agitation of the world in silence, and hope that my plans for my next year aren’t too frivolous for this time in history.

After all, my town can sometimes seem like I’m in wonderland, so anything can happen!

See you sometime next week.

An Emerald Keychain

Sometimes a newsletter can lead to a commission. In response to my July newsletter, I got a request for a keychain. My friend wanted to carry a reminder of her ‘emerald green’ aura with her, and as soon as I read that I was thrilled.

I wasn’t sure if I had Emerald, but it turned out that I had picked up a small strand at the Bead & Button Show a few years back. So then I set about matching that green to my stash of green wire.

Bridgette has a family of four, so I picked 4 beads to encage into her scribble ball.

Then I wrapped the wire around the steel, and made a keychain.

After that I perused my crystal healing books for information on the beads and the color green related to the heart chakra, and made an information sheet. As always, the gems incorporated in my projects tend to suit the person who will receive the piece. So this one was especially fun to read about.

Bridgette is a fabulous encaustic artist and painter, and recently completed a 100 day drawing challenge, for which she chose to capture birds.

I own two of her beautiful encaustic paintings, and love her journals as well. One of my encaustic classes was with Bridgette.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

You can learn more about Bridgette’s upcoming art events here.

I am happy another keychain is traveling elsewhere in the U.S.

Plant Stakes for the Trunk Show

Last summer I made a dragonfly stake on a whim and it was well-received. This year I took the production level up a notch and added ladybug stakes to the collection. I distributed them at my various boutique outlets, and they steadily fly off to new homes. A post on Facebook prompted Ayla’s Originals to coordinate a trunk show with me.

So for Ayla’s Trunk Show this coming weekend, August 12 and 13, I am replenishing the batch. The traditional ladybugs go fastest, so red was on the brain this week.

Meanwhile, the jig I had set up for the Morpho application needed to be dismantled. However, I was inspired to create a stake form that setup before making the change.

I had also just made two mini-books, and that book setup led me to make two bookish stakes.

Then I changed the jig to my custom-created dragonfly template, and started bending wire into the popular dragonfly stakes. When my fingertips were sore I closed the studio for the evening.

The next morning I fired up the griddle and my irons, and started laying out the outfits for each critter. I hand-stamped lime green paper and interfacing fabric to reflect the writings of a book. Then I painstakingly added each page, which takes a lot of aligning, adjusting, cutting and realigning.

The books are my most time-consuming piece at this stage, followed by the dragonflies and their waxing intricacies.

I hand-colored interfacing with rainbow stripes (in permanent marker) for the ever-popular rainbow dragonfly.

One ladybug was begging for polka-dotted fabric, and the other two were given red tissue paper.

Storm clouds were brewing, so I also used that tissue paper and another fabric scrap for a test ladybug ornament, which I swiftly hung outside.

Soon the buckets came down and even splattered onto the deck.

Nonetheless, I stepped out in the rain to see how my own two creatures were faring. Rain was bouncing off the dragonfly.  The ladybug was shielded from the onslaught, but soon the angle changed and it too started getting wet.

After the storm, both ornaments were wet, but undamaged.

Upon closer inspection you can see spots of rust in the dragonfly, which has accumulated since I hung it in April.

But overall the droplets just hang out on the wax until they evaporate, and the fabric and tissue strips remain intact.

I waxed my new creations. The whimsical oval piece was fun to design.

Then I photographed them as the light and angle allowed.

Stakes are harder to take pictures of than my other pieces. They don’t lay flat like regular ornaments, and getting all the angles in a photogenic way is challenging.

The Everlasting Fire Studio vases showcase each one well, though.

I really like the bookish ones, which will be a whole other outdoor test run. As ornaments, these books are more fragile than my other pieces. So for now I’d recommend them indoors only.

Good thing I have a volunteer with an outdoor plant I can send one of these off to.

My fireplace mantel is also a bit crowded, so I played with one corner for now, which isn’t ideal.

I will need to work on a light box setup to block out the windowsill.

Meanwhile, they look pretty as a bouquet and by themselves, and make me happy.

Since I will be showing at a bead store next, I also wanted to play with some bling on a stake.

The organic creation received 3 led crystals, which I know will hold up outside.

I plan on asking Ayla what else is suitable for outdoor sun catchers when I set up my trunk show this weekend.

The new creations will have their own table at the Ayla’s Originals Trunk show. I will also bring my jewelry and angels of course. 

Ayla’s Originals Store is located at 1511 Sherman Avenue in Evanston. I will be there Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. Then all unsold pieces go home with me again.

There are lots of fun shops and eateries around 1511 Sherman. Be sure to take a selfie with Wonder Woman at the Other Brother Coffeehouse!

Trunk Show at Ayla’s this weekend

Whew, I thought 2 weeks between shows is a long time, but there is still a lot to be done by Saturday.

When I went to the Bead & Button show in June I stopped by Ayla’s booth first, and was promptly stickered by Joe.

At that time, we made plans for a trunk show, and August 12 & 13 felt so far away. I optimistically purchased some large hole pearls for the occasion. Fast forward one eventful month and I am wrangling wire like crazy, with idea after idea piling into my brain.

My aim is to make sure I am using beads sourced via Ayla, so I went through my inventory list, and I’ve attended quite a few of Ayla’s bead shows over the years, along with visits to the store itself with friends.

I compared the inventory dates to my visual archives (photos snapped after each shopping spree) and set those beads aside in my jewelers bench.

Soon I had ideas and matched papers to my designs.

The last batch came from Kina’s Trunk Show, and I started with those first.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vintage beads I bought from Ayla actually fit the 16 gauge wire, and had fun stringing those.

I waxed the pieces, with the cage versions being a bit more challenging than the others. The etched jade also fit the thicker wire, and I am glad my friend and I shared this strand last summer.

Ayla’s store has many beads that can be strung directly onto the steel wire for a swinging bead effect. David Christensen creates a gorgeous array of glass beads that I have had in my collection for a while. This pendant will get some matching earrings too, though whether that happens by Saturday is still a question mark.

Ayla’s Originals offers freshwater pearls, Czech glass, Swarovski crystals, antique trade beads and gemstones from all over the world. If you see something you love in the store this weekend, I am happy to design a piece if you aren’t interested in creating your own.

In 2016, Ayla’s Originals received an official proclamation from Evanston’s Mayor for the 20th anniversary in Evanston. The store’s history is longer though.

Two decades ago, Ayla was a Director of Human Resources in corporate America. She frequented a bead store to take her mind off her waning passion in the work she was doing.

After a few workshops, Ayla began designing her own jewelry. The bead store owner was retiring, putting Ayla in a position to take over the store’s lease after resigning from her job.

The Ayla’s Own jewelry line was soon featured in the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum Gift Shops and well publicized. In 1998 Ayla’s Originals moved to Sherman Avenue in Evanston.

The store offers classes, private lessons, and private party options. The store offers a wide array of You Are Beautiful merchandise as well.

You can get a bingo card for special discounts on future purchases. Ayla and her husband, photographer Joe Pizzo, reside in Evanston.

Ayla’s Originals Store is located at 1511 Sherman Avenue in Evanston. Hours are: T,W, F: 10 am to 6 pm; Th: 10 am to 7 pm; Sat. 10 am to 5 pm; Sun 12 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays.

I will also be bringing my stakes, which are getting additional siblings this week.

There is so much more to make!

Morpho’s 6th Annual Encaustic Exhibition

On Friday, I will be attending Morpho Gallery’s National Call for Encaustic Entries Opening party. This annual exhibit of encaustic artists will be held  August 4 at from 6 to 9 pm at 5216 N Damen Avenue in Chicago.

The 6th Annual Encaustic Exhibition includes 2D and 3D work made with the hot wax method of encaustic. Juried by Kathy Blankley Roman and Dan Addington, the exhibit includes works by several FUSEDChicago members and some encaustic artists I look forward to meeting that evening. The exhibit will be held August 4th through September 2nd 2017. Morpho Gallery’s hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 6 pm, and Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.

Artists included are: Brad Hook, Cat Crotchett, Laura Graveline, Anna Wagner-Ott, Brenda Erickson, Candace Law, Carol Myers, Carrie Baxter, Cindy Lesperance, Claudia Hollister, David Brown, Deborah Martin, Derek Brennan, Jeannette MacDougall, Jodie Sutton, Karen Ruth Karlsson, Katelyn Patton, Kathryn Isbister, Kathy Blankley Roman, Kay Vinson, Kaylee Dalton, Lamia Holden, Laura LaRue, Linda Mayer, Elizabeth Hubler-Torrey, Patricia Lagger, Penny Park, Rinat Goren, and Teresa Foster (the ones in bold are my FUSEDChicago friends).

For this show submission, I made a whimsical wall hanging. I was inspired by Brenda’s Now That’s A Jig! Shapes and put a bunch onto the Jig, initially thinking I would work with a 6 x 6 shadowbox.

Of course I went off-jig right away and started rearranging the wire as I went to make the shape more freeform.

Soon I had the basic shape to make a wall hanging.

I wanted to incorporate a vintage book page, which then determined the rest of the palette.

After some rearranging, I settled on purple and blue tones in addition to the text papers.

Then the fusing began.

With the fan going for ventilation, I had to weight the snippets down to keep them from fluttering off the table.

As always, the Xacto knife is my friend.

My friends recruited me for an evening meal, and it is always good to call it a day after a few hours in the studio anyway, because you need perspective and also don’t want to rush the design process.

While I liked the piece where it was, I still wanted to add the remaining papers as planned. I did swap out some swatches as the remaining papers were attached.

With big (to me) pieces like this, the wire isn’t always flush. It is a delicate balance of making sure the forms will be straight enough to hold the paper and also keeping in mind how the piece will hang in the end.

A Traveler’s Whimsy by Maike’s Marvels.


I am curious to see how the accepted pieces came together. Morpho Gallery always showcases a variety of techniques at this annual show. 

I didn’t get into the show, but this piece proudly hangs on my own wall until I am ready to part with it.

Arming ourselves with body positivity

Last weekend Hip Circle Empowerment Center hosted its third annual body positivity photoshoot.  This year’s focus was arms, with a dress code of sleeveless tops and dresses.

Having just made two sleeveless dresses, it didn’t occur to me that some women are self-conscious about their arms. Then on July 14 going sleeveless even became a political issue in congress with women striving to change the dress code that doesn’t allow for sleeveless dresses in the Capitol’s House of Representatives lobby.  

I like my arms, especially now that they are toned from wire bending and Moxie Boxing. We had a blast striking various poses in front of the new Main Street Station Mural (more will pop up on Hip Circle’s web site). The fabulous Zinta Jauntirāns-Vogel took all our photos.

I knew I would bump into friends and was pleased to meet new power-women. Some are studio regulars, and others just found out about the shoot and decided to join in. We even tried to get passers-by in sleeveless outfits to take pictures with us (they declined).

Unlike the bikini shoot that sparked this annual event, I had no jitters during the day. It was more about deciding which dress to wear! One person had bought a top especially for the occasion.

A little girl who had been made self-conscious of a farmers tan refused to join. She later wanted to be part of some photos, but the rule was that she had to remove her cardigan. As the shoot progressed and we asked her about Wonder Woman’s power poses, she warmed up to the ladies present. Just as the group session wrapped she decided to join in after all. Now she is happy to leave the cardigan at home on hot days.

Here’s to the next empowering activity. I missed the shorts photoshoot last year, which also has fabulous messages.  Check out the various classes, workshops and events Hip Circle Empowerment Center organizes and see if one or more of them resonate with you.

Photos copyright Zinta Jauntirāns-Vogel

Hip Circle Empowerment Center just turned non-profit. Their mission: “Through dance, fitness, and community we empower ALL women to believe they are strong, beautiful, and worthy of attention.

Vision: The Hip Circle Empowerment Center is a safe space for women of all ages, backgrounds, and economic status. It brings together women from across societal boundaries for shared experiences. Through dance and fitness, women are empowered to joyfully inhabit their bodies. Through personal and professional development, women are empowered to courageously accomplish their goals. Through involvement in the studio community, women are empowered to confidently make their voices heard.”

Evanston Sidewalk Sale pop up

This weekend is the annual Evanston Sidewalk sale. Retailers along the Main-Dempster Mile and in Downtown Evanston will be setting up tables in front of their businesses for a communal sale and art fest.

Local artists have been invited to be a part of the action in downtown Evanston. Stroll down Sherman Ave. between Church St. and Davis St., to check out jewelry, accessories, children’s clothing and more! Artists will display their wares in downtown Evanston on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

The brand-new Evanston Pop up Gallery will be participating as well, and I plan on being there with some of my extra pieces in addition to what the two shelves inside hold.  

The 1200 block of Sherman is close to many lovely eateries and unique shops. Downtown Evanston will have a giveaway on their Instagram feed, and some restaurants will have special discounts that weekend.

As artists we are limited on discounting our creations, but we hope you stop by anyway to get to know this shop and get some gift-shopping done. You will find gifts at a variety of price points, and new products keep being added each week.

On Saturday, July 29, Downtown Evanston and Main-Dempster Mile are providing free entertainment. Stop by 1603 Orrington Plaza (outside of LYFE Kitchen) to enjoy big games and music.

Street musicians Chicago Traffic Stop will make stops near delicious venues at: 1603 Orrington Plaza, Frio Gelato (517 Dempster St.), Blind Faith (525 Dempster St.), Cultivate (704 Main St.) and The Wine Goddess (702 Main St.). Beaches will play outside of yummy Hoosier Mama (749 Chicago Ave.) and the School of Rock Evanston will rock out in the parking next to their building at 1311 Sherman Ave.

Catch a free ride on a pedicab on Saturday, July 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. special thanks to First Bank & Trust. Pedi-cabs will take shoppers from downtown Evanston to Main Street and Dempster Street, making stops in each district. The pedicabs are first come, first serve and do not have specific pick-up or drop-off times. They’ll hang out for a bit to see if there is a pick-up.

  • Church Street and Maple Avenue, across from Terra & Vine
  • Chicago Avenue and Grove Street, at Raymond Park
  • Dempster Street and Chicago Avenue, near Stumble & Relish
  • Chicago Avenue and Kedzie Street, outside Hoosier Mama

I had a blast last year with Sara Jane at See Jane Sparkle, and highly recommend shuttling back and forth between the various stops to see what vendors are looking to send to new homes.

The Evanston Sidewalk Sale is accessible via public transit. To get to downtown Evanston take the CTA Purple Line “el” to Davis or the Metra to the Davis stop, to get to the Chicago/Dempster district take The CTA Purple Line “el” to Dempster or Main or the Metra to the Main stop.

Angel will be happy to pose for selfies with you.

Encaustic 2017 Show

On Friday I visited the Bridgeport Art Center for Encaustic 2017: Rebirth of an Ancient Medium. Several FUSEDChicago members were part of this exhibit, so I knew it would be a fun social gathering of members.

In addition, I am always inspired by the works of my friends, and I enjoyed perusing the various walls showcasing a variety of encaustic techniques.

This all-encaustic exhibition includes the work of FUSEDChicago members Dan Addington, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Cat L Crotchett, Helen Dannelly, Shelley Gilchrist, Carol Hamilton, Jeff Hirst, Cindy Martin Lesperance, Ahavani Mullen, Sarah Rehmer, Michele Thrane, VA de Pintor Art Works and Kathleen Waterloo. Also included is Jane Michalski and Paul Rinaldi.

Watching the group photo come about was fun.

Alicia’s cubes cast beautiful shadows.

She used the hooks already on the ceiling which is kind of a work of art.

In other installations the public can walk through her art work.

The color palettes are as varied as the techniques and substrates.

Kathleen Waterloo documented her work.

Michele Thrane’s work spans wide.

So much inspiration on each wall.

A wide variety of scale and texture.

Shelter Me Sweet Nurse by Dan Addington is large and has exquisite detail.

It makes a statement on the wall.

Life Signs: Rewind, Power, Play by Cindy Lesperance are a great take on the changes in technology.

Her dot technique is mesmerizing.

I love the shadows cast by some of the sculptural pieces.

Artist Helen Dannelly offered a demonstration for those unfamiliar with encaustics.

It was fun to watch the reactions to the demonstration and see the audience return to the art work with fresh eyes.

I am looking forward to the 3D class she and Alicia are offering in October.

This show runs through September 8 and is worth seeing in person.

You can see more photos at the FUSEDChicago Facebook Page.

The Bridgeport Art Center is located at 1200 W. 35th Street in Chicago. Enter on the North Side off of Racine / 34th Place to park.

FUSEDChicago offers various events and has resources for workshops and additional encaustic exhibits.

I’m inspired to enter the studio again.

 

Summerfun

Between EvanstonMade and preparing for the pop up and gearing up for August’s events, my art life has been quite busy.

Nonetheless, I do make sure to stop and smell the flowers, observe butterflies, and stroll in nature.

I blog outdoors when I can to soak up the sun.

Here are some of the snapshots of my downtime in the past few months.

The grocery store’s passion flowers are a special memento of the person who first introduced me to this flower.

I stroll around the neighborhood and love looking at the indoor and outdoor bunnies.

The new Taco Place is plotting its grand opening.

I noticed this lovely little lending library that is twinning on the big house it belongs to.

I danced in the Custer Fair’s flashmob in June.

Then I cheered on my Hip Circle friends during their World Arts and Culture Fair performance.

The Collage Cafe continues to host workshops in the new space, and our last Grown*UP Girls project was weaving paper strips that we shared amongst each other after painting them.

I spotted a yellow butterfly on the way home recently.

Someone in the neighborhood has a Clueless license plate.

I splurged on an empowering movie on a half price Tuesday.

Angel frolicked in the Merrick Rose Garden last weekend.

When I am weary of the walking and doing, I spend reading on the sofa. Angel’s geneaology is fascinating.

It is a thrill to see monarchs take advantage of all the milkweed patches both the city and Evanston gardeners have planted.

They are not as abundant as a few summers ago, but spotting butterflies of any kind gives me hope that we aren’t killing them off just yet.

I hope we can reverse the damage humanity has done to nature.

I continue to monitor my outdoor dragonfly, and I think it is safe to keep my stakes in the garden.

Meanwhile, there are still a few other things I want to do.

  1. Walk the Openlands Long trail (I found the short trailhead but couldn’t tell where the long path merged, so I will be using the southern entrance next time)
  2. Watch Despicable Me 3 on a half-price Tuesday
  3. Find trailmaps for Harms Woods so I can return there again
  4. A cabin retreat to write (2 night stay-the pop up opening had me postpone my July 19 trip)
  5. View Takashi Murakami at MSA (I have until September 24)

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Evanston’s new Pop-up Gallery

On Thursday, a new pop-up shop will be opening its doors to the public. The Evanston Pop-up Gallery officially launches at 11 AM to showcase the art work of 50+ artists.

I snapped a photo of the application email when I walked by in June, and was promptly invited to see the space when I applied.

Having been a visitor to the former rendition of this storefront, I liked owner Steve and Sally’s vision for the space, and started scoping out the various options for my own display. 

After a few calls back and forth, we agreed to a pair of shelves by a mirror and I scoped out the dimensions some more.

It is always exciting to see something new take space. 

Maybe that’s why decorating shows are so popular, because we see spaces transform into something new.

I sat down at my bench and made some new earrings for summer.

Then I picked out the pieces I wanted to bring in and made the inventory sheet for it. The sheet was sent off so Sally would have time to add the inventory to the system.

After peeking in to see how lusciously other displays were coming together on Saturday, I decided to visit Michael’s and HomeGoods to scope out new shelf decorations.

HomeGoods inspired the look, and found the right pieces to complement each other.

I did some staging at home to ensure the dimensions would work.

On Monday I returned to Sherman Avenue. Steve put up my rented shelves and I started putting my display together.

Then the barcode stickers were printed and I cut them to size to fit my tags for the next 2 hours.

Then I heard a familiar voice, and Margarita and her mom popped in to plan out their space for Golden Sapphire bath bombs, soaps and other delicious materials to keep people and pets clean. Their natural and handcrafted bath and skincare products are safe for the environment, children, pets, and the rest of your family. All materials are recycled, and they use natural ingredients. I looove the bath bombs.

We are also partners at Hip Circle Empowerment Center’s Women-Powered Retail Zone so it will be fun to collaborate on this space as well. We decided to have fun in the selfie booth.

Angel also christened the selfie booth, and then Steve jumped in on the fun.

I also learned that Elektra and her husband will bring in their lampwork glass. Everlasting Fire Studio will bring in their beautiful  wine glasses, marbles and paperweights, and some pendants. I use their vases for my trunk shows.

The shelves were soon arranged, and I really like the look. It’s fun to see how a vision comes together in actuality.

I am super excited to see how the rest of the spaces come together.

There is already a lot of great art to see.

The pop-up gallery opens 11 am to 7 pm on Thursday at 1627 Sherman Avenue Evanston.

Then on Monday, the Mayor and Alderman will be present for a 4 pm ribbon cutting.

Check Facebook for updates, special events and hours

Here’s to a successful new boutique!