Christmas Holiday

Today the remaining pieces from the EXPO are coming back home, and then I am taking a holiday break.

Fireplace

While I will be tempted to write up blog posts for the remainder of the year, I am going to allow for time to reflect and not post anything until the new year.

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This will help me close out the year business wise, spend time with family, and also catch up on some travel blog posts in progress that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice;
it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body,
and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition
for standing back from life and seeing it whole,
for making unexpected connections and
waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration —
it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
~ Tim Kreider

My Etsy shop is closed for the holiday as well, to eliminate the pressure of not being able to ship right away while I am visiting family. So hold your gift cards til the new year. 😉

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I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas holiday, and a festive, cozy end of 2013.

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See you in 2014!

Maraviglia of the month

It is always fun to come up with new combinations as I take my Maraviglia out and about.

LemontLockKeey

Under Lock and Key wax and wire Pendant

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Spiral collar necklace, double spiral earrings not yet listed.

At one recent fair I couldn’t resist a long beaded necklace and I am working on creating a ‘hook’ for it so my pendants can be attached to the decorative necklaces I am sure you have at home.

PODThyselfcomboKnow Thyself Wax and Wire Pendant

In turtleneck and sweaterdress season longer is better.

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White Butterfly cage pendant

You can see more scarf pendants at Aurora Rose Boutique.

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Knitter’s Delight Scarf Pendant

What is your favorite holiday adornment?

Draw

Draw Pendant currently at the Evanston Art Center EXPO

EAC collar

Blue Scribble Ball earrings, Double collar has sold.

Fair Hangover

It’s been a whirlwind of fairs and I’m a bit exhausted from navigating new neighborhoods, weather fluctuations and setting up and tearing down my booth multiple times.

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Setup

It sure is exercise to haul bags, which are streamlined to three since October.

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I trimmed the tree 7 times in 2 months.

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At one company fair it was fun to see fundraiser creativity in action.

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Happily several of my favorite pieces found new homes, which is always a validating experience.

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I like the thought of my Maraviglia making their way into the world.

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My inventory is back up on Etsy for last-minute shopping, but will close on Friday for the holidays.

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The Evanston Art Center’s EXPO continues through Sunday.

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Aurora Rose, Stella Boutique and Peaceful Parlour have my pieces on hand as well for last-minute shopping through December 23.

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Get your wishlist on!

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Closing out the NEW year

The Network of Entrepreneurial Women closed out the year with a lovely party at Anna Shae’s Chocolate Lounge in Barrington last week.

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We warmed ourselves by the fireplace as we enjoyed the whimsical and girly setting.

fireside

whimsy

Chocolates are made on site here, and we couldn’t resist sampling pieces.

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I imbibed in the delectable S’mores Martini.

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We exchanged business cards as we discussed what’s new and big in our businesses.

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Then we had fun with a pub-style trivia quiz on which both teams did quite well.

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They didn’t go home empty-handed.

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After wishing each other happy holidays we were on our way to more merry-making.

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The three NEW cofounders crafted our fun and varied calendar for 2014.

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The recipe exchange continued with a buttered rum demonstration.

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It was delicious.

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We will see you in January for our next event!

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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, where the events will be listed as well.

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Bucktown prepping

Last week’s 2 fairs had me dragging for a few days, but yesterday I couldn’t resist going into the studio in spite of numerous other catch-up tasks waiting for me.

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It’ll make today a bit more packed, but I was happy to have creative juices flowing so I went with it.

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I upgraded my tools since I’ve reached the 250+ mark in wire creations and am loving the ergonomics already.

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You’ll see the results at the Bucktown Holiday ArtShow from noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at Holstein Park Fieldhouse (2200 N. Oakley Ave.) in Chicago.

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After that, Etsy will be open again until December 22.

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Have a great weekend!

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Fun factory

It’s been a veritable factory in here the past few weeks as I created ornaments for fairs, friends, families and boutiques, and sprinkled in some new pendants and earrings to keep the fingers nimble.

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The start is always cutting and prepping the wire (sanding off the oily residue) and hammering it into a straight line for easier bending. Then it is shaped into what it wants to be (sometimes matching my vision, sometimes making its own).

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After that the tissue paper is selected and cut out.

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I leave an allowance for trimming until it is properly fitted to the piece

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Then the paper is adhered with wax, mostly with just encaustic medium but at times with pigmented wax to match the figure’s color scheme.

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I use a little iron for detail work.

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I don’t have a favorite thing to make. Creating is such a joy and interacting with the wire, the wax and coming up with color combinations and the right carol to apply makes each ornament a unique experience.

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Trees are the most difficult, so I doubt I will make those in the quantities that I’ve done for the angels.

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While I do get faster as my finger-strength has improved and the bending becomes more routine, I can’t count the physical studio time as the only time I spend creating.

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Numerous pieces have mulled in my head for some time and I don’t log the time spent looking up quotes or musical scores and sizing them to fit the shape (plus the time picking up supplies from the store) by individual piece.

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I know there is a limit to how many wire lengths I can sand and bend in a day, as my fingertips have made that known. So in general a piece probably takes 3 days from conception to completion, though not always in a linear fashion.

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Of the 70 ornaments I made this year, 50 are scattered in Lemont, Geneva and the local Expo for in-person purchasing, and 15 were shipped overseas for custom orders. The remainder will be on display at the Bucktown Fair this weekend, but they’re available on Etsy until then.

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Bucktown Holiday ArtShow this weekend

This weekend I will be showing my pieces at the 15th Annual Bucktown Holiday ArtShow.

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The show represents 100 artists displaying and selling their creative works including photography, textiles, watercolors and oil paintings, jewelry, ceramics and more.

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The first Bucktown Holiday ArtShow took place in 1999, at Holstein Park Fieldhouse (2200 N. Oakley Ave. in Chicago). This year marks their 15th consecutive year of providing art lovers and holiday shoppers with the opportunity to browse and shop for one-of-a-kind-gifts and original works of art.

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The Silent Auction will showcase donations from artists. Download a free admission pass (admission is $2/person at the door).

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The show is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday December 14 and Sunday the 15th at 2200 N. Oakley Ave. in Chicago. There is street parking or you can take public transit with CTA bus routes on Fullerton, Western, Armitage or Damen and to the Western Blue Line stop.

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NEW Holiday Party Next Wednesday

Our combined NEW Meet & Munch and Wine, Women and Wellness event will be held at Anna Shea’s Chocolate Lounge in the small lounge. At The Arboretum of South Barrington, 100 W Higgins Rd Suite #5, South Barrington, IL.

Founded in 2004, Anna Shea Chocolates provides handcrafted artisan chocolate from fresh and fine ingredients, offering a sweet destination for our year-end celebration.

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We will have Nifty Educational Wisewoman Trivia during which we’ll break up into teams, make up awesome team names, and then test our knowledge of women and winter themed trivia.

A member asked if we could do a Holiday Recipe Exchange. Bring your favorite holiday snack recipe (sweet or savory) along with samples for us to try. The lounge offers chocolate fondue and wine and chocolate pairings on their menu which each attendee can order on their own.

This will be our only event for the month to give everyone time to close out the year and enjoy quality time with their families.

Sinterklaas

Tomorrow is the eve of Sinterklaas, the day Dutch children sing to fireplaces and hope something lands in their shoe overnight in exchange for a carrot or other treat for the horse who carries Sint from roof to roof.

My cousin was kind enough to include some pepernoten in a care package recently, so for once I can enjoy the Sinterklaas-sfeer with the right sweets.

Sinterklaas came under fire this year for its portrayal of helpers, Zwarte Pieten, whose costumes to some harken back to slavery, even though the lore states that the original ‘piet’ who followed the saint originally was actually freed and served Nikolaas in gratitude for his compassion.

When I grew up skin color wasn’t highlighted as much as it is here in the states. Yes, I was aware of socio-economic strife toward certain cultural groups, but I felt that it was in the context of ideology and lifestyle, not about skin.

It is always interesting to look at traditions and their origins and then review them from a new lens. If Disney were to adhere to fairy tales according to the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen no one would want to emulate the Little Mermaid. The Struwwelpeter tales I grew up with would be R-rated for graphic violence (but hey, I never sucked my thumb!). Many tales served as warnings for protection in a dark and violent world.

Anyway, I have fond childhood memories of Sinterklaas in spite of the threat of being put in a sack and carried to Spain if I didn’t behave.

What has fallen out of my life is the fopkadootjes, presents that are wrapped to represent something different from what they are. Sinterklaasavond is often a time of poking fun at each other, either with true gag gifts or with a ribbing via made up poems. In spite of the jabs family members spend weeks preparing the presents and the poems, so it is a labor of love even if delivered in a backhanded way at times.

A lot of traditions can be (and have been) overanalyzed. Many celebrations have been retrofitted into cultural ideologies that are a far cry from their origin. Ultimately, the story of Sinterklaas is one of living with compassion and having a generous spirit. That to me is what every holiday should be about, whether in remembrance of saints and significant people, historic events, or seasonal occurrences. We mark this time to commemorate something significant, however idealistic or simplistic and even stereotypical the portrayal of those people or occasions seems to the modern eye.

Generosity and gratitude should be practiced and reflected upon year-round. To me, celebrating a season of gift-giving puts us in touch with that childlike innocence where we don’t question whether horses can balance on roofs, why our presents don’t emerge from the chimney soot-smeared, and why in a sea-faring nation one particular ship brings out droves of people in multiple cities at the same time.

So I will commemorate the setting out of a shoe by the fireplace, enjoy my ginger snack, and ponder where my compassion and generosity can be amplified over the next year.

Holiday Deadlines

I am getting personalized Christmas orders together, and wanted to give you a heads-up that if you want your loved ones to find a custom piece under the tree or in their stocking, the time to order is now. Orders confirmed before December 6 will be in the Holiday queue, but custom requests after that may not be completed by December 24.

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These are my (often blistery) hands creating each piece, and it is better to have some time to gather the materials and measurements than to rush through a creation that is intended to last. Like Elf, my hands work at the speed of a cotton-headed ninnie-muggins, and rush orders don’t work too well.

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Multiples of a piece will also require additional time, as I generally limit how often I re-use a color combination or a verse/hymn (for ornaments in particular). Since my pieces are intended to be one-of-a-kind, I have no more than 5 ornaments of a similar shape in stock at a time, so any number beyond that will have to be created from scratch.

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You can order custom pieces anytime, but you might need a token placeholder for it if you order after December 6. I am also showing at 2 fairs this week and another mid-month, which takes a bite out of studio days.

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Etsy orders of existing pieces should be made by December 16 to ensure on-time Christmas delivery. Note that items may wander off during the December 14 & 15 Bucktown Holiday Show, so you might want to call dibs by the 12th (I do take layaway orders).

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The pieces pictured in this post are on Etsy, (and a few more to come after December 6) so poke around there for holiday gift ideas. The Etsy shop will be closed December 4 and December 6 for the fairs, as well as on December 14 and 15, reopening with the latest inventory updates after each fair.

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