Claiming my closets

When I first got my built-ins created my second bedroom was still a guest room that would function as a craft room. I was focused on greeting cards at the time, and that wall was ample space for all my supplies. Then I left my career and my plans as a small business owner morphed from greeting cards to wall art to then becoming more focused on jewelry making, adding more tools and confining my workspace.


Meanwhile, I only house guests twice a year max. So I started storing larger art boards and canvases in the his and hers clothes closets, and added display items that I balanced on a shoe rack. Shipping boxes gained importance, and over time the two large closets became rather inefficient.


In November I met Sandy Spatz of Step By Step by Sandy, and I blurted out that I wanted to organize my studio after the holiday season. Once out, the words became reality, and Sandy followed up with me in January. We soon set a date for her to assess the damage, and she was very understanding of how my studio functions for me.


I had picked up some books from the library for inspiration, but knew I needed closet overhaul rather than drool over vintage architect drawers and other items hard to find and get up stairs.


Sandy sent me links to various elfa shelving examples, and I started measuring out what I wanted stored and how it could get laid out with the new system.


I also moved things around the house and did some purging as I cleared the closets.


It did feel good to get things cleared out and dusted off.


The upheaval was not for the fainthearted.


I did a visual exercise of how the art books might fit.


I also measured lengths and widths and depths of items I wanted to store.


We then met at the Container Store to get the actual design mapped out and pick up the shelving. However, due to the January sale, most parts were on back order, so we only left with the top tracks and hanging standards. I did get to take home a modified version of the elfa utility Gift Packaging Door & Wall Rack Solution, though.


I live in a historic building, so I knew my walls might be problematic, but we did not anticipate spending almost an hour trying to drill holes into the wall.


We resorted to drywall anchors for the majority of the hanging system.


With one closet an inch wider than the other, the allowance for the wooden inserts had been forgotten about, and the top track was too long to install in the other closet (it was an easy re-cut when I went back to the store).

too long

So all we could do was install the tracks on one side, and I started playing with the over-the-door organizer.


It was nice to have one thing installed at least.


In the middle of that Friday night I decided the closets were boring, and got all my paint samples out. With a crappy brush and a limited supply of years-old paint I started painting one closet with a dry brush effect (to make the half pint stretch).


The next morning I swung by ACE hardware to get better equipment, and painted the other closet walls.


I went by swatch when I had the color mixed, only to find out out after the fact that the color name is “Happy Endings” : ) .


I pulled an inspiration card that affirmed my decision.


I set up my jeweler’s bench as well, and then waited the long week until I could pick the shelving up.


After some stairmastering and weightlifting exercising, I got all the components into the room.



It took a Youtube video for me to figure out how to snap in the shelving, but once I learned it was easy to set up the closet.


The other closet also had wonky walls, but the anchors did the trick.


I measured the brackets out based on the shelf heights I had allotted.


Soon the installation was complete, and my love for power tools had been re-affirmed.


Then I started pulling in everything from the closet explosion, and rearranged some shelving based on the actual feel in the space itself.


There was a moment of trepidation as I closed the door organizer, but the door still closes.


Did the Cat in the Hat’s cleaning machine help a lot? It did not!


Now I have storage for my art fair display pieces, my shipping supplies, art boards, collage ingredients, drawing supplies, and a bit of room for growth to expand my creativity.


There are still photos to organize, so one shelf may be filled with archival boxes soon (unless I go into a scrapbooking frenzy).


Meanwhile, my Manufakturen shop is on display.


With everything in place I felt compelled to tackle my collage work area, which had been in perpetual chaos from being both a jewelry and a wall art station.


Beads and jewelry supplies moved over to their new space, and soon I could wrap the table in fresh wax paper.


Now it is fully dedicated to the encaustic art work.


My encaustic palette got streamlined as well.


I also scraped the floor to get rid off a bunch of wax, not realizing what a difference that elbow grease would make-or I would have done before and after pictures!


On to creating more wall art for the Creative Coworking exhibit in March!


My built-ins will need some light straightening up, but I do have everything in its designated drawer still.


The ‘bead boards’ are my favorite.I bought more hooks and ribbon holders to round out that design.


It is so lovely to view the color array and gems at a glance.


It felt very empowering to dedicate the closets to my art, and to truly claim them as my own with the paint color. Guests can store their clothes over the doors, and I can always repaint when it comes to selling this place.


While my bank account is in slight shock at this mega-splurge, it also is a very important investment in my business, in my art and in myself. I can now be more productive by having two work stations and by having things in their place rather than sliding various bins around the floor and moving trays around the sofa.


There is a lightness of being that comes with repurposing cluttered spaces and thinking about how to make it more functional for oneself. The organizing frenzy will spill over into other parts of the house, but for now I need to focus on the upcoming pop-up February 18 and get moving on the pieces for March.

Jerry Stangl at Moon Art Gallery

This First Friday is hopping! Lots of my friends are in awesome openings throughout Chicagoland. My first stop on Friday will be Moon Art Gallery in Arlington Heights, where Jerry Stangl is the featured artist of the month.


Jerry strives “to present the many varied moods of the seasons and times of day in my paintings. I work mainly by recall and seek to transmit to the viewer the impression of subjects, be they natural or man-made, realistic or abstract.” His work will be the center-piece of the gallery, replacing last month’s showcase.


various artists at Moon Art Gallery

Working in watercolor and mixed media, Jerry has created landscapes, structural compositions, abstracts and figures. He was the recipient of “The William Church Osborne Memorial Award” in the 106th Annual Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society in New York City and received the “Best of Mixed Media” in the 2009 Art in the Barn Exhibition in Barrington, Illinois.


Jerry’s work will be showcased at 15 E Miner Street in Arlington Heights for the entire month. Moon Art Gallery hosts an Art Opening every First Friday of the month featuring a new artist, and the walls are lined with photography art work from the co-op.


You can also find fiber arts, jewelry, coasters, pottery and other gift items in addition to the wall art.


I dropped off some hearts and springy pieces for Valentine’s Day in January.


The new and expanded permanent hours in the Gallery are 12 pm to 7 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday. Please call to arrange for a visit outside of these hours.


Like Moon Art Gallery on Facebook  and follow on Twitter.  There is also an Etsy Shop.


It’s an inspiring place with many engaged artists.


A Healthier Me

Earlier this month I started a 2-week cleanse inspired by MyHealthBeet. I had done a 4-day cleanse with her program before that didn’t impact me too much results-wise. I quickly went back to my old food routine. This time, I needed a re-set from stress-related habits that crept in, such as snacking a lot (and mindlessly) at night, grabbing prepackaged meals instead of frequenting the produce isle, and indulging in holiday sweets and treats too generously.


Since I had worn dresses for the duration of Spring and Summer, realizing that my winter pants no longer fit (even the roomy ones) was a bit of a wakeup call. So when Svetlana had a pre-Thanksgiving special on her Shred program, I jumped in, though the PDFs sat in my folder until after New Year’s eve.


I cleared out the pantry of non-Shred foods over the holidays, and the week of January 4 shopped for the recipes I knew I would like. On impulse I got oranges too, but found out that these are too high in sugar for this low-sugar, no-carb Shred program.


I alternated between egg white omelets and smoothies for breakfast, neither of which took long to make.


Banana Blueberry pancakes kept the Sunday morning pastry craving in check.


The lunch salads were fun too, though as a Chinese medicine “warm eater” this was discontinued after the cleanse for warmer options. Still, I stuck to the program for the two weeks.


On a super-cold day I resorted to a stamppot recipe since carrots were on the approved foods list (but left out the potato), and enjoyed the hearty winter meal.


The evening meals were easy to prepare as well, and I learned more about protein as I tried to find meat alternatives.


A Pinterest post said that one can grow lettuce from home in just water, so I am experimenting with Romaine Lettuce to see where that goes.


I accepted a brunch at a Vegan eater’s house, and during a collage workshop I did partake in a slice of cake in spite of the cleanse. It was about conscious eating, not deprivation. True cleanses are easier to maintain in a vacuum, but I am about setting up a better lifestyle for myself, not going from one extreme to another.


I also went off-plan with the craving suggestions, having walnuts in the evening for their crunch rather than the softer food suggestions pinned to my cabinet. The walnuts were part of a salad recipe, so I wasn’t going entirely off script, and a handful was more effective than a cookie or chocolate bar (or 2, or 3) before.


On a whim I stepped on the scale at the beginning of the program and was a bit shocked that my last check-in a year ago was 10 pounds lighter. The good news is that thanks to cutting out breads, wine and chocolate and sticking to the portion-controlled, non-dairy, clean food program I actually lost 10 pounds in the 2 weeks.


I am maintaining the smoothie mornings and have not yet purchased bread or chocolate to keep in the house. That doesn’t preclude me from stopping at the cafe for a mocha and pastry fix, or enjoying appetizers with my friends at a bar, but being aware of the habits at home will help me maintain the weight and might help me shed a bit more.


Meanwhile, I feel better about having upped the ratio of vitamins in my life and lowered the bread-dependency. I may eventually experiment with the recipes that didn’t strike my fancy, but for now I know myself well enough to stick to the foods I enjoy and not let foods I feel iffy about go bad.


Spring and summer will see me having more smoothies in lieu of meals. I’ve got some recommended movies on my watch list that I am sure will reinforce the semi-Vegan program a bit more, and I’ve found that it is perfectly maintainable.


When I see those ‘what I eat in a day’ features of top models I am always skeptical at their tiny portions, but I’ve found that when using natural foods smoothies are quite filling, and focusing on protein rather than carbs also keeps cravings away.


For me it really isn’t about the scale but about fitting back into my favorite clothes. If they don’t fit by the end of summer, when I am most active throughout the day, then it is time to let go of the wardrobe and invest in fashion I feel good in, regardless of label size.


I enjoy my life as it is right now, inclusive of outings with friends that involve food and wine. Hip Circle Studio workouts keep me active and healthy, and as long as I feel good about looking in the mirror, my clothes should reflect that.


Upgrading my Studio Space

It is pretty telling that with all the documenting I do, I have not taken a single photo of my studio since my last studio view blog post in 2014. As my creations toggled between jewelry making and larger wall collages, I’ve been envisioning an extra table in my space, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen since storage was becoming an issue.


When I met an organizer at a networking event last fall, I blurted out that I wanted to organize my studio after the holiday season, and once I made that proclamation, it took hold. After a meeting on closet organizing, I started sorting through everything.


As I reviewed other people’s spaces in books and thought about my needs, I started poking around for jewelers’ workspaces online, and came across fabulous workbenches.


Not encouraged by the online reviews (arrived damaged, had to drill holes to assemble), I poked around some more and found a local store that carried benches. So I went downtown to check it out.


Jeweler’s Row takes on a whole new meaning for me as jewelry tool and supply stores are discovered.


The in-store sample was exactly what I wanted, and the order was made.


I also ordered a desktop organizer which has Jeweler-specific functions I need to investigate.


After getting it loaded into my trunk (barely) I happily awaited my friend’s muscles to carry it up three flights of stairs.


Initially I held off on assembly to get the closets installed first, but a delay in shelving had me itching to assemble this before the studio was fully re-assembled.


Getting the legs on was easy-peasy, but how to lift up this hefty and bulky piece by myself?

adding legs

I took out the drawers that didn’t change much of the weight (the table top is solid).


After some online browsing I learned to prop it up with a chair, so my trusty yellow chair became my assistant.


A bit of gravity finagling soon got the bench into its intended upright position.


I decided to restring some beads in my collection to get a feel for the workspace.


The drawers have functions I don’t even know about yet.


The catch tray is handy though.


It also has nifty armrests.


Soon task lighting was added, and I transferred some of my tools from the big table.


I am excited to work on my next commission from this new dedicated workstation.


Meanwhile, my shelves are on order for next week’s closet organization. Elfa has a fabulous wrapping station that I modified.


I saw a pegboard wall of beads in a book which this door-installation is perfect for. My beads had been gathering on a tray for years.


I rediscovered many gems as I re-sorted them. I need to pick up more hooks to space them out, but I love the beginning of it.


Stay tuned for the closet reorganization adventure.


I’m days away from getting the new shelves installed.


It feels very empowering to truly invest in my studio space and give my different modes of creation dedicated work areas. While it will still function as a guest room, it was time to adjust the space for its primary purpose.


After all, there is so much inspiration to put into tangible objects!



While last January was a slow beginning full of introspection, this month has started with quite a bit of momentum, and blogging takes away from other activities.


With the impetus of a studio re-organization I am also decluttering my house as a whole, and taking it one room at a time with a deadline of late February. Trying to get it all done this month is too overwhelming.


I am mapping out art shows and looking for indoor pop-up venues for the months that aren’t covered yet (suggestions in Chicagoland are welcome). I listened to the Right Brain Business Plan Webinars and am starting that eCourse this week.


There are blog posts in progress with a cleanse I am completing, works in progress for a new show, and upcoming events a few weeks out. While the content is in my head, networking and social activities are more important to attend than typing away behind a computer.


So the blog may be a bit sporadic until my new routine is settled in. I’ll still try to post on Facebook and Instagram daily, so you’re not entirely disconnected. Thank you for reading and following me.


It got frosty again last weekend.


In spite of the freeze, the skies are gorgeous.


Old snow got shoveled and turned into its own sculpture.


Hibernating included having lovely icescapes on the windows.


It’s neat to see what the combination of heaters and ice create.


My original angel perused the winter wonderland.


Another load of snow came on a quiet afternoon.


Another blanket freshened up the world.


Prompting a midnight shift for this snowplow.


It’s supposed to melt a bit again by the end of the week.


Seasons have an art of their own.

Grown*UP Girls Club

Remember when I introduced The Collage Cafe? This Sunday I got to join the Grown*UP Girls Club for a creative session.


This gathering is Lindy’s brainchild of creating a haven for women to leave all the day-to-day behind and spend some time playing, creating and getting to know other ladies.


The group meets on the second Sunday of the month and includes annual members, drop-ins, and another tier of membership Lindy can tell you about.


Some considered themselves uncreative and bravely stepped out of their comfort zone, and others had dabbled in various artistic ventures.


After introductions we were given a blank canvas and instructed to write positive things on it, in order to set the intention for the class.


Then we selected paint colors to cover our words with.


After a few layers we started cutting out papers. In addition to the two sheets provided we were allowed to peruse numerous art materials in the studio, and it was lovely seeing what the participants gravitated toward.


Washi tape became a popular embellishment, and how can it not with this amazing variety?


We chatted while we snipped and pasted, making for a lovely afternoon of kindredness.


There were two birthdays so we were treated to Sacher Torte in addition to other nibbles.


We also got to try new teas that were refilled regularly.


Some snacks looked ready for a painting.


It was lovely to step out of my regular medium and get back to my collage roots. Some people experimented with rubber stamps and added dimensional embellishments to their pieces.


Mine may get wire-wrapped in the future, but I am pleased with how much was completed in the session.


I cannot distinguish between the creative and ‘non-creative’ collages, can you? Each of these is worthy of an open studios exhibit!


Want to be part of the fun? Check out The Collage Cafe’s upcoming workshops!


You can also visit my bangles and pendants, and peruse a plethora of lovely gift items that are bound to spark your joy.


The Collage Cafe is located at 912 Sherman Avenue in Evanston IL 60202, near the corner of Main and Sherman.


The more I get to know authentic people, the more “anti-resolutions” the input becomes around new years. I agree with not setting unrealistic goals for yourself, especially those driven by ridiculous image standards, but I also like the concept of using the new year as a re-set.


Halfway through reading Essentialism my life became quite un-essentialist, and it is time to re-prioritize.


I caught up on my holiday correspondence over New Year’s weekend.


Leisure books and books about jewelry provided relaxation and inspiration as I hibernated for a mini-staycation.


I did a cleanse last Spring but old habits soon crept in and as the year got busier I fell into the late night snacking trap. In November Svetlana of MyHealthBeet came out with the 2-week Shred program, but it took me until this week to read the program and also make sure the tempting foods were out of the house.


Rather than diet, I just want to be more mindful of what I eat and to stop the eating-while-multi-tasking pattern. If my clothes are still snug 3 months from now, I will review the 2-5 year old wardrobe instead. My body isn’t 20 anymore, and I am healthy and active, thanks to ample workout opportunities at Hip Circle Studio.


Next week I hope to get some assistance organizing my studio closets so I have better storage than the regular explosion on my futon. In anticipation I am looking at other areas to streamline, but I am trying not to do so much pre-work that the professional I called in cannot get a picture of what I need.


My lightbulbs all decided on a fresh start this month too, so I got some replacements and was baffled by the Reveal vs. Incandescent vs. Daylight options (and googling it gets waayyy to technical). I’ll try daylight in the studio and see what that does.


There is still a lot of year-end closing out to do for the business, and one angel got a make-over after being passed over 2 years in a row.


This year’s newbies are getting their photoshoot this month so I have them ready to upload by November.


Whether I will stick to Etsy or use an alternate store (or both) is subject to the legal review and some research still sitting on my desk.


Lots to check off, right? Good thing I have a WHOLE new year!

Frosty beginnings

The new year is off to a frosty start with the ice queen paying a visit again.


Her crown is a bit different this year, but still gorgeous. I watched Frozen for the first time over Christmas, and then read the orginal Snow Queen fairy tale.


In the real world we are facing crunchy ice-capades with cars as the mounds create ice boulders that make parking an issue. Nonetheless, it still looks festive in some places.


I like this Narnia-esque landscape in spite of the cold. The blanket of snow softens the winter a bit and creates a clean slate (fleetingly).


Here’s to a 2016 full of possibilities and an abundance of inspiration from nature and other sources.


A Merry Year-end

It’s been fun to create new goodies for my friends this season. Their inspiration has sparked my creativity, and I have more spin-offs in my head from the pendants and ornaments ordered for their loved ones or themselves.


My chunky beaded bangle got a few admirers, and fortunately Dakota Beads had two more strands for me at Ayla’s Originals Highland Park Bead Bazaar so I could make two custom bangles for my friends.


Her wonder woman powers will only be used for good and adventuring.


This set of portraits has special meaning to the recipients.


They are now traversing the world.


A transgender symbol adorns a proud owner.


I wonder if I will see these pendants around town or if they flew elsewhere.


Some of my favorite Angels got adopted.


Frosties weren’t as popular due to the lack of snow, but some found new homes and What Linus Said sold twice this year. Destinations include Mexico and Portland, Oregon.


Earrings were admired, one pair converted to clip-ons at the Bucktown Holiday ArtShow, and ‘write’ actually went to a novelist.


Musical pendants continue to be bestsellers.


My Delft Blue set stayed in the family.


Two of these sets will be auctioned off in Houston on New Year’s Eve.


Thank you all for your support this season. It’s been very affirming to make these goodies and know that they are meaningful to you.


I have re-opened Etsy, and The Collage Cafe has my bangles and pendants in Evanston. Moon Art Gallery will get an inventory update in January. I’m exploring additional venues, and will keep you posted on upcoming fairs and pop-ups.

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