Fall creatures of Texas

Thanksgiving was spent warming up in Houston, and we encountered a few lovely creatures on our day trips.

Between Washington on the Brazos and Round Top we saw grasshoppers,


butterflies (most of which I have yet to identify)

and longhorns.


After watching the fabulous “Flight of the Butterflies” we spotted three monarchs during lunch.

Then we perused the Cockrell Butterfly Center.


Who doesn’t want windows like these?


The orchid mantis is so pretty.

It was a lovely way of truly saying goodbye to the Summer/Fall season, and ease into the winter time.


(I’m pretending I never saw that cockroach)

Spend this weekend in Evanston for Artful Giving

I’m not quite ready for the Holidays yet, but come December 1 I will be. I like to let Thanksgiving simmer a little bit before decking the halls and selecting my wreath. My inventory is ready for the holidays though, and I just brought my pieces over to PerficalSense Studio and Salon, where they will have a sleepover through Sunday.


The Third Annual Artful Giving Party at PerficalSense Studio & Art Salon includes all pieces from the Salon show, along with cards and paper arts, fiber arts, jewelry, paintings and pottery. My Maraviglia collection will also be on display, as well as my Desktop Minis, and larger wall decor.


The party begins on Friday, November 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. with wine and cheese. Additional gift shopping hours are Saturday, December 1, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Look for the red house with the blue door at 1209 Hinman Avenue in Evanston.

If you enjoy handling merchandise before you purchase it, this is the perfect way to introduce yourself to a variety of media and truly get a feel for what it looks like in person. You can also combine your visit with a play, as Piccolo Theatre will show Bah Humbug! Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. There are lovely eateries on Main Street and Dempster as well, so make a day trip out to Evanston.

Participating artists include: Sandra Bacon, JoAnn Baumann, Bleeding Hearts, Ellin Blumenthal, Douglas Boehm, Elizabeth Bolich, Julie Cowan, Judy Disman, Gail Drozd, Nancy Engelhard, Evanston Print and Paper, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Larry Geni, Michele Gorski, Susi Goldstein, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, Diane Hallinan, Chris Heisinger, Cindy Jevon Hogan, Judith Joseph, Harriet Kohn, Magdalena Liss, Lisa Loomis, Eileen Madden, Danny Mansmith, Chandrika Marla, Ruti Modlin, Talya Modlin, Crystal Neubauer, Yuki Nyhan, Ann O’Brien, Alexis Ortiz, Layna Portugal, Babette Powell, Emily Rutledge, Vicki Schwartz-Mided, Vanessa Shaf, CeCe Short, Mary Krebs Smyth, Jill Sutton, Michele Thrane.


I look forward to perusing all the pretty art myself, and am drafting the shopping list of lucky recipients.

Adorn your tabletop with Desktop Minis

What is a Desktop Mini, you ask?

It is a smaller version of my wall collages that have adorned the walls of The Arts of Life, The Evanston Art Center, The Uptown Arts Center, Dick Blick’s Evanston and Gallery 303 at Zhou B Art Center. I made a mini-canvas as a sample piece and the reaction was always ‘How much is this one? It would be fun to put on my desk.”

So if you go on over to my Etsy page you will see 3 x 3 inch, 4 x 4 inch, and 5 x 5 inch versions of small collages that you can place on your desk, in a bookshelf, on your nightstand. The cradled versions stand alone, and the flat artist boards can also be hung on the wall.

I’ll have a few of these on hand at PerficalSense Studio and Salon’s Artful Giving party December 1 and 2.

Assorted Desktop Minis by Maike’s Marvels

I’ve made a few pairs for those who like to make groupings, and am playing with the idea of a ‘tile’ series that can be collected and put on a wall. The process for my minis is the same as my larger wall art.

1. Scroll through the photos I have on file from my outings in parks and butterfly havens, and research the name and locale of the butterfly I pick out that day.

2. Figure out a color scheme based on my ‘model,’ and try to find a quote fitting the ‘personality’ of the butterfly.

In the case of What’s the Question? and I was wondering…, the quotes were printed on a teabag for a more translucent effect.

Sometimes the quotes inspire more pieces. I picked up Zen Soup from a thrift store a while back, and may have to repurchase it as an ‘un-cut’ version.

3. Determine if additional background words are appropriate, either a mythology relating to the butterfly’s name or information about their habitat etc.

4. Cut out the papers and photographs to fit the substrate.

5. If background words are used, adhere and burnish the paper to the substrate.


6. Layer papers and colored beeswax (encaustic paint) on as applicable.

7. Add the final touch, the photo:

Et voila! We have a set of Desktop Minis! You can purchase the minis on Etsy.

I obviously had green and orange on the palette this month. More color schemes will be forthcoming.

Shop unique. Shop local. Support artists and artisans.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. We have to face that Thanksgiving kicks off a commercial craze that is hard to ignore.

While I am spending time in gratitude for my family, others are lining up at mega-stores to get the latest gadget at a discount price. What I personally don’t get is why someone would stand in line for hours for something that is mass-produced. It’s not like the stores won’t restock before Christmas.

As I immerse myself further in the handmade and artistic market, I see the blood sweat and tears that go into creating unique pieces, one-of-a-kind works of art that will not repeat themselves in the exact same form again. So here’s my roundup of those artisans, whom I support, whose art I own or have wishlisted to own.

  • PerficalSense Studio will host an Artful Giving Holiday Sale with pieces from the Salon Show and additional local art works during a Wine & Cheese Opening Friday, November 30,  6 to 9 pm, or Saturday, December 1, 10 to 6 pm, Sunday, December, 2, 10 to 5 pm
  • That show will include items from fiber artist Danny Mansmith
  • Alexis Oritz offers ceramic pieces
  • Vitruvian Fine Art Studio is offering Gift Boxes for the holidays, including a Gift Certificate for any drawing or painting class at the studio, and select drawing or painting materials for the class – all bundled-up in a festive holiday package!

If you’re looking for jewelry (other than mine, of course):

  • Rebecca Zemans offers lovely sculptural pieces
  • Suze Weinberg hand-beads necklaces with unique finds
  • The Pieced Together Artist offers bits and baubles to create your own jewelry with
  • I’ve got a bridal bouquet trousseau I’m hoping to send Princess Lasertron’s way someday (even if I pull a Sue Sylvester and marry myself!) but she also offers brooches and pins and other cute felted items

For a bigger budget and those looking to adorn walls, I recommend one-of-a-kind art by the following:

Got a sweet tooth?

  • Chicago Chocolate Tours offers a perfect sampling of fine chocolates while touring Chicago neighborhoods. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
  • The Sugar Path bakes wonderful cupcakes and pies I have sampled at various WIN events. They’ll open a storefront in Geneva, IL soon.

Not everyone makes things, of course, and I also give props to these solopreneurs and entrepreneurs whose services are tailored and customized for you, and whose storefronts consist of hand-picked items intended to make your life easier.

  • Also in Geneva, Peaceful Parlour has handpicked environmentally friendly and unique products for your household
  • Ten Thousand Villages offers fair trade creations by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
  • Hello-Holiday has me revising my clothing budget to incorporate their joyful inventory of vintage and retro style dresses, tops, jeans, shoes and accessories into my wardrobe
  • ThriveYourTribe helps small businesses create an online brand presence with design and copywriting services

What local shops and solopreneur ventures do you recommend? Let’s support local, hand-made, and small ventures, shall we?

Moths and Moon Flowers at the Field Museum

Last month I took Lauren Levato’s second workshop: “Moths and Moon Flowers.” We ended it at the Field Museum, which was a blast. This time, we were treated to a field trip within the museum to visit a live Peregrine Falcon, Molly, who was there to educate a group of Audubon Society members.

She was surrounded by museum specimens, but didn’t seem to mind the dead and un-dead audience.

We also got to visit Peggy MacNamara’s studio, of Illinois Insects and Spiders fame.

Then we set out to draw.

I started with a small moth, and learned more about proportion, and color-matching. In a multi-week session I would have started over, but for a first draft I am happy with this drawing.

Rory Coyne accompanied us and picked out beetles.

Another student selected the wasp that is tattooed on Lauren’s arm.

After lunch I was told to go big or go home, so I had to pick a larger butterfly. The reason I pick lepidoptera for now is because one day of spontaneous drawing still takes a lot of brain-space for me.  Knowing the anatomy of your model helps in that regard.

I got a picture of the day-flying moths for you-which I missed last time.

We also discovered new drawers, like these blues.

My big butterfly, the Ornithoptera goliath (a birdwing), came from this box.

I was instructed to block it out and then focus on one wing. My eyes had trouble concentrating on the actual scallops of the wing vs. the brown scallopped pattern. It was an exercise in concentration and erasing.

Photo by Rory Coyne

I will try to work from photoreferences to see if I can complete this one on my own.

If not, there is always the next session, which will start after Lauren’s January show at Packer Schopf. Speaking of her show, it will showcase some of the lovely portraits I mentioned last week. Today is the last day to donate to the Wunderkammer project. Hop on over to the USAProjects site and see if she could use another $3, $5, $10 or more. Every bit helps!

Eyespot notes by Lauren Levato

Here is the Tarantula Hawk completed:

And Rory added some flair to his beetle:

We’re such anthromorphs. 🙂

A German 80’s pop flashback

As I wrote my Maraviglia pendant descriptions, I had a flashback to the 80s with this particular piece, which is now on Etsy.

The catchy refrain “Ich düse im Sauseschritt” by DÖF (Deutsch-Österreichisches Feingefühl) played in my head as I thought about hearts, so I wrote it out and made a pendant of it.

It was a number one hit in The Netherlands and has stuck in my head ever since. When I looked up the video I laughed because my memory was quite kind to this film.

We can still use a Codo today:

“Codo is an abbreviation for ‘Cosmic Dolm’
or also ‘Cosmic Depp’ (both meaning cosmic idiot).
Codo was an extraterrestrial creature without a specific gender,
which overcomes hate and brings everything that is missing
to us stressed and negatively attuned human beings:
a good mood, jokes, charm and above all love.”
~ Wikipedia

I bent a wire heart in shape and adhered the tissue paper and vintage paper with beeswax. It is very lightweight yet makes a bold statement.

As you can see, I can incorporate custom phrases and lines into a pendant of your choice. Here’s how the pendant looks on:

I hope one of you will let the message adorn you soon. A loose translation is:

Ich düse im Sauseschritt = I soar rapidly
und bring die Liebe mit = and bring love along
von meinem Himmelsritt = from my ride through the universe

Watching Codo had me looking up other catchy tunes from the past.

I was waaaayy too young back then, but how swooney is Peter Schilling in this Major Tom video?

Here’s Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus version I grew up with:

Nena’s original 99 Luftballons:

What’s your favorite 80’s song?

The Holiday Extravaganza begins!

Hooray! I’ve just finished uploading 40 Maraviglia pendants and 6 necklaces with their accompanying product photos, ready for you to peruse over the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond.

The Maike’s Maraviglia collection includes hearts:

Wire pendant hearts by Maike’s Marvels 

Spirals and swirls:

Wire pendants by Maike’s Marvels 

My favorite squiggly squares (and other shapes the wire dictated):


Maike’s Maraviglia wire pendants

Collar-style necklaces:


Maike’s Maraviglia necklaces

Which of these is your favorite?

None are the same, so purchase a lovely adornment for your unique self, or for a special someone to gift during the holidays. Shop here. Note that all items processed this week through November 25 will ship on November 27.

If jewelry isn’t on your loved one’s wishlist, I have another solution as well (eight for now, actually). Remind a recipient of you every day with a Desktop Mini, a small encaustic collage they can place on their desk, night stand, or bookshelf. Sizes range from 3 inches square to 5 inches square. My current collection is uploaded as well.

Desktop Minis by Maike’s Marvels

If you have a special phrase, quote, scripture, color or symbol you want to incorporate in either a Maraviglia pendant or a Desktop Mini, let me know. You can contact me via maike(at)maikesmarvels(dot)com to brainstorm a custom project. In fact, one customer already has!

Never been on Etsy? Here’s a run-down of how shopping on Etsy works: How to Navigate and Shop on Etsy.com.

I’m excited to see your response!

Bounty of Buttons participates in Art + Soul

This Saturday, November 17, Art + Science Salon hosts the first annual ART + SOUL Night Out at Double Door. The evening salutes music, fashion and collaboration with a socially conscious vibe. Proceeds from ART + SOUL will benefit the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS).

Since Art + Soul stylist LeighAnn has done wonders for my hair, I have entered Bounty of Buttons to be auctioned off at this event to benefit the National Association for Down Syndrome. Per their web site: “NADS is the oldest organization in the country serving individuals with Down syndrome and their families. It was founded in Chicago in 1961 by parents who chose to go against medical advice and raised their children with Down syndrome at home. Their pioneering efforts have made it easier for later generations of individuals with Down syndrome to be accepted by their families and communities, to develop their capabilities, and to work towards independence. The NADS mission is to ensure that all persons with Down syndrome have the opportunity to achieve their potential in all aspects of community life.”

Bounty of Buttons encaustic collage by Maike’s Marvels

Bounty of Buttons was inspired by a project in The Artist Unique by Carmen Torbus. She had embedded buttons in an encaustic project, and since I had just completed my button bouquet, I decided to play with that idea. During Bridgette Guerzon Mills’ worskhop we had played with scraping and ‘marbelizing’ textures in the wax. So I made my first foray into opaque wax colors.

I scraped it down with a razorblade.

Added more layers of wax (which I didn’t document), and then pulled some hand-stamped papers to collage into the warm wax.

The verse is John 14:1-6 from a freebie gospel of John.


ART + SOUL promises a live runway show with abstract hairstyles supported by new fashion, a video opener, and music performances by Purple Apple  as well as Scott Lucas & The Married Men. While savoring small bites, cocktails, wine and beer, guests can peruse the Art + Science Silent Auction and participate in a VIP Styling Lounge (complimentary hair styling with gift bag). One person will walk away as a ‘client for life’ (the raffle winner never again pays for hair services). The party is from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Double Door 1572 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, 60622. Tickets are available here.

I hope Bounty of Buttons finds a generous donor so that NADS can continue making a difference.

Learning about crowdfunding through local artists

“I wanted to free up my brain space
and my time to make art
that is not just remarkably executed, but simply remarkable.”
Lauren Levato

Lately I’ve seen a lot of crowdfunding activity for local projects. Crowdfunding is an online fundraising method through which startups, artists, and organizations request donations that are put toward a specific project. Several web sites specialize in this, as listed here.  Unlike a loan, those who donate can choose from a menu of perks, but once those perks have been provided there is no further claim to the business/project investment.

Recently I found out about another site, USAProjects, which is geared toward artists. My friend Lauren Levato is seeking funding for an ambitious project involving her drawings with frames that incorporate her porcelain creations.

Porcelain creations by Lauren Levato 

Created by United States Artists, a nonprofit grantmaking and artist advocacy organization, the USAProjects fundraising arm requires that participating artists have already been a grant recipient to demonstrate their dedication to an artist career. As the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship in 2006, Lauren qualified.

Lauren teaching at her Moths and Moon Flowers Fall Drawing Workshop

Lauren’s project is called Wunderkammer: A Year of Curiosities.  Her studio is a wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) indeed, with a display of butterflies, anatomy books, porcelain bones and animal legs, insects, pencils and her wonderful drawings. You can see glimpses of her studio and the beginning of a butterfly drawing here.

Lauren is working on exquisite self-portraits that show all kinds of intricate details in the hair and stomach of each woman (I have no idea how she can draw such fine lines). Based on old anatomical pop-up books, each pencil-drawn lady represents a true or imaginary story about Lauren and her personal history, yet conjures up our own imagination.

“Self Portrait as Capricorn”  by Lauren Levato
17″x14″ graphite and colored pencil on Bristol
You can support her project by donating here. All donations are tax deductible, and USAProjects also matches the funds, essentially doubling your donation to Lauren or the other artists.

Porcelain goat legs by Lauren Levato, a $100 perk

In addition to providing perks (see list below), everyone who donates at least $5 by 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 (Central time) is entered into a raffle to win fine coffees from Bowtruss and Intelligentsia, surprise items from G-Spot and Early to Bed, original art by Ellen Greene or by Rory Coyne. $5 gets you one ticket, $25 purchases 5 tickets (plus the thank you card), and there is a cap at 10 tickets for $50 or more (plus corresponding perks). The raffle is at 9 p.m. Friday night, and items will be shipped.

Per USAProjects, a total of 75% of all projects successfully fund, compared to success rates of 45% at similar sites. More than 500 artist projects have raised $3 million from more than 20,000 individual donors. Each artist is assigned a coach who helps with developing the budget and project materials, reviews updates, and mentors the artist throughout the process.

Gilded porcelain ribcage by Lauren Levato, a $250 perk

While the grant is unrestricted, Lauren has a plan in place for how these funds will be implemented over the next year. The funds will go toward creating handmade frames with porcelain embellishments, and will also fund her studio time for more creations.

Lauren will also pop up at my favorite Brothers K cafe this week, for a Latte with Lauren (donate the amount of a latte and get a free cup of coffee). That date will be announced on her Facebook page, to which you can subscribe. Video updates on the Wunderkammer project are at the Hioctaneredhead Video channel.

Latte with Lauren at Brothers K date to be announced 

Lauren evaluated various options to fund her project, but felt that the USAProjects organization was the most vetted. She found out about this crowdfunding site through porcelain artist Beth Cavener Stichter. Beth successfully raised funds for her project. Another attractor for Lauren was that three of USAProjects’ fellows were just awarded MacArthur Genius grants (granting them an unrestricted $500,000 each).

Lauren working on a large self-portrait

Lauren’s menu of perks includes:

  • $25: a hand written thank you card and monthly photo/video updates – both physical and digital delivery
  • $50: a digital book of the “Self Portrait as…” Series, a series of drawings inspired by 16th C. medical illustrations
  • $100: hand detailed miniature gilded porcelain goat’s legs
  • $250: hand detailed porcelain rib cage, gilded or black, your choice
  • $500: an original small moth drawing
  • $1,000: an original “Self Portrait as…” drawing
  • $2,500: your own hand built Wunderkammer box, full of sculpted porcelain animal and anatomical parts that feature in the work and an original drawing

I was quite inspired by the Kickstarter project of Birds of Chicago, which funded a CD project with a very humorous campaign, and primarily donations of $10 to $150 to raise $15,000, which earned them $22,153 at the end (from 427 backers). It is lovely to follow the duo’s success since then, and keep up with their adventures online. I sincerely hope that Lauren will also successfully fund her campaign, so we can watch her creativity unfold.

“Make your child’s visual world
a rich tapestry of memorable things
that they may continue that tradition in their own adult lives.”
~ Lauren Levato

* All photos copyright Lauren Levato

Preparing the Maraviglia upload

This week has been filled inventorying all the Maraviglia creations the wire and I collaborated on. I tried to reproduce a few of my personal favorites, but the wire wouldn’t let me. This one was snapped up already:

I tried to ‘replace’ it, but what’s gone is gone. Each pendant is truly one of a kind.

Current Maike’s Maraviglia inventory 

The experimentation and learning curve of art photography has been interesting. I know I have a ways to go, but don’t want to get stuck on that so I will soon upload the photos that I have, which should give you enough information to make a good buying decision, even if the pictures aren’t ‘gallery quality’.

Turns out the best way to showcase the pieces is on my own neck as opposed to one of the necklace stands, so I had some fun ‘off with her head’ moments as I cropped my face out of the images. I tell you, being a model is hard work, and being the photographer at the same time is exhausting. Those professionals in either profession certainly earn their keep.

Meanwhile, I am also working on some Desktop Minis. This is my line of smaller collages to place on your desk or shelf or even your nightstand.

Desktop Minis by Maike’s Marvels

A lot of people asked me if my purse-size encaustic collage is for sale, so I figured I’d test the market.

 Pocket Piece by Maike’s Marvels

That mini canvas was intended to just show what encaustic medium is and what I do with it; but where there’s a request, I am happy to make a way!

I hope to have everything up on Etsy by late next week, just before I take off on my Thanksgiving Holiday. That should allow you to get started on your Holiday shopping.

I’m happy to take custom requests as well, with the caveat that each piece will be an individual. The joy of making art is not just the expression of oneself, but learning that the medium one works with has a personality of its own, which embeds itself into the creative process, and–particularly with encaustic–guides the outcome of the piece.


Stay tuned for the big Holiday Extravaganza announcement. It is coming soon!