Life is Blossoming

So yeah, I’m the eccentric woman crouching in front of other people’s gardens these days.

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Only my photo time stamp tells me I do this for 40 minutes or so. Ooops.

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To me it feels like I only spend ten minutes snapping pretty petals.

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Oh well, call me crazy, but seeing these blooms fills my heart with joy.

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I’m not the only one anthromorphising flowers.

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We had our first barefoot day in the park.

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Though it was slightly too chilly to read for too long.

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The air is filled with floral fragrance.

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Dandelions are everywhere.

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I chuckled at this outlier.

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Maria Sibylla Merian was on the brain again.

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What’s your favorite flower?

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This one’s mine:

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You can shop for pretty forget-me-nots on Etsy.

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Here’s to a warm summer.

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Escaping to Glen Ellyn

I’ve had some introspective weeks where it felt like I was working on lots of things in the background and mulling over much more in my head. So it was nice to get out of my head and venture to Escape Salon & Spa for a spell.

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Located in one of NEW’s favorite suburbs, Glen Ellyn, we cozied up on the sofa and chatted about our latest business ventures.

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New member Joanne of Red Hare Photography fits right in with her desire to empower women by highlighting their natural beauty through photography. Clemens Enterprises is going strong after 19 years of direct mailing services. Author Barbara Joan Zeitz will be featured in Glancer Magazine’s July issue, is working on her second book, and will be at the Printer’s Row book fair next month. Networkhoncho.com keeps adding features to its social media site that is in beta launch.

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Founded 5 years ago, Escape is a full-service spa offering hair, nail and skin care; massage; makeup and body waxing. We were treated to hand-massages which made my wire-bending fingers quite happy. Some ladies also opted for the upper lip waxing.

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I’m intrigued by the bamboo massage and look forward to making a spa day of my next Glen Ellyn outing.

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We’re also looking forward to our anniversary party benefiting Girls in the Game.

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Click here to see how you can help us, and mark your calendar for this festive event on June 11 that is featured in Crain’s.

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The co-founders hung out for a post-networking snack at Shannon’s Irish Pub, which was a great way to launch the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

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Photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com

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.

Creating an in-home gallery (Part 1)

When I moved in 2008 I had one big wall that I wanted to turn into a gallery, but didn’t have much art to fill it up with. The vintage walls are also quite ‘rubbery’ which makes putting nails in the walls a tricky process.

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So the project lingered until 2012, when I started collecting pieces from my newfound artist friends. My hallway was home to a family gallery with lots of funky frames, but over time the photos became dated and I took them down with the intent of updating them, which never happened.

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So I had all these random nails in the walls that I started using as art storage. Anyone one with a touch of perfectionism will understand that this is NOT working (especially since some fell out)!

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I have picture rail molding and knew there were hooks to use, so I gathered ideas on Pinterest on how to hang pictures from moulding hooks as well as gallery-style systems.

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The Frame Warehouse introduced me to a hook with a tulip style pattern, which spoke to my Dutch roots, so I ordered a whole bunch of them.

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I had seen some fun ideas with ribbons, but given the volume of pieces I plan to hang and the varied content within each frame I decided to use fishing line instead so my wall wouldn’t become a visual nightmare.

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To test the look and feel I started with my own art first, reasoning that if any of those glass-less pieces fall I have a way of repairing or re-creating the piece.

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I started stringing pieces together based on the tutorial.

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It took a bit of trial and error to manage the spaces between pictures and account for stretching.

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Trusting the knots is hard, but thus far nothing has come tumbling down.

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I am glad to have this practice wall to get used to the way everything floats. My inner perfectionist is too used to having pictures flush against the wall.

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Obviously hanging pieces 4 feet with just a sawtooth hanger isn’t working very well. And heavy pieces (the dragonflies have metal frames–as do the Malachites) shouldn’t be hung from 3 feet or longer, as that creates more of a tilt.

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But since this isn’t meant to be permanent, I will keep this set-up until my next exhibit.

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It is nice to get an overview of my pieces in this ‘solo show’ setting.

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I cannot wait to show you my ‘real’ art collection, which has been in the works since mid-April.

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Pinning my Butterfly Specimens

In late 2012 I took a butterfly pinning class at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Thanks to my drawing workshops I learned to de-sensitize to the morbidity of handling dead butterflies and appreciate the preservation of these lovely creatures.

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With the ambition to raise my own I decided it would be good to know how to preserve specimens.

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Butterflies at the Judy Istock Haven get frozen when they die to kill any bacteria in them. They can curl up and become brittle when they dry, so they have to be placed in a  ‘relaxing chamber’ to make the wings stretch-able again. We got to choose from the relaxed selection and set about pinning.

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We were given a styrofoam block with a groove that would fit a butterfly’s abdomen and strips of paper. We were also given special archival pins (that won’t rust over time) to press into the thorax. With the paper strips we gently separated the wings and stretched the butterfly on its board. The instructress was generous and let us pin quite a few. She also sent us home with a shadowbox to place them in.

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I ordered more butterflies online and also found a dragonfly on a local park stroll. Mom gifted me with a Luna Moth.

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I eventually pinned the Buckeyes as well.

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For my home gallery project I decided the black background didn’t do the butterflies justice, so I found a remnant of cotton at Vogue Fabrics to brighten up the shadowboxes.

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Here’s my current butterfly collection, including Illinois Moths from Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop, a Peacock Butterfly, the Palamedes Butterfly my mom found in Texas and Dave’s Rock Shop mounted for me.

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One shadowbox holds specimens from Butterflies and Things: Urani aripheus, Ancyluris meliboeus, Ulysses butterfly (Papilio ulysses), Chorinea sylphina and Graphium weiskei arfakensis. The other holds a mystery butterfly, a smiley faced Zebra Longwing, the Black Saddlebags skimmer, a Luna Moth, and Hamadryas chloe.

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Of course nothing beats the Field Museum’s collection!

Dresses for Lili Trunk Show

The lovely Aurora Rose Boutique is hosting trunk shows throughout the year, always on the fourth Saturday of the month. This Saturday, May 24, Dresses For Lili will be on site from 1 to 4 p.m.

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Susi will be doing a demonstration and taking custom orders for her inspiration collage necklaces, cuff collage bracelets, fun koozies (perfect for water bottles, pop cans, etc) key fobs and other great products not currently sold at Aurora Rose, A Unique Boutique.

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The first 10 customers get a swag bag with free goodies from Dresses For Lili and Kim Peters, Tastefully Simple Independent Consultant.

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Guess who is up for June? ME! Mark your calendars for June 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. for a lovely shopping spree at Aurora Rose.

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Get a sneak peak of my inventory in this brand-new video and then go shop!

The store is located in Historic Lemont with blast-from-the-past architecture and lovely eateries. Make a day trip of it and explore the nearby Hindu Temple or take a hike in Waterfall Glen.

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Dresses For Lili product photos by Dresses for Lili.

American History Re-learned

Last Summer I randomly discovered the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian here in Evanston, and made a mental note to visit it. So when we were looking for places to host NEW events, I decided to give our cultural knowledge a boost and book our Meet & Munch there.

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The museum was founded in 1977, when John and Betty Mitchell decided to make the Indian artifacts they had collected available to the public. John Mitchell met Native Americans during his summer work on a farm and wanted to introduce others to their rich culture. Initially the museum was part of Kendall college but eventually became an independent non-profit organization.

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The Mitchell Museum’s mission is to promote and share a deeper understanding of Native American peoples through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of their traditional and contemporary art and material culture.

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We were taken across the country with exhibits of the Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Northwest Coast, and Arctic regions of the United States and Canada. We learned that the relationships to tribes by early settlers varied by nationality, some more eager to collaborate and intermingle (the French), others merely seeing native Americans as a labor force (Spaniards) and others wishing to convert the tribes (British).

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Our docent Barbara Johnson shed light on the misrepresentations of history and how our vocabulary for the tribes are a result of biased perspectives and things getting lost in translation.

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Wigwam, for example means a house made from birchwood, but has come to be a generic term. Teepee translates as ‘where they live’ when we associate it with a particular type of structure (home vs. castle/bungalow/cottage etc.).

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Some of the tribal names are based on the feuds between tribes, Apache meaning Enemy and Sioux meaning little rattlesnakes. True tribal nomenclature will take some time to take hold.

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Beads are one way to determine when Native American tribes interacted with European settlers, as this was an object not indigenous to Native American Art. We perused a lovely collection of garments, tools, kachina dolls, jewelry and other artifacts that mesmerized us.

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Tawa is my favorite from my Arizona days.

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The clown kachinas are quite reminiscent of other mischievous characters in pop culture.

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Upstairs, where temporary exhibits are located, we discussed the art of storytelling and the parallels of tribal tales to other cultures trying to figure out the origin of the earth and the elements that are part of life.

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To cap off the delightful visit we made a God’s Eye out of chopsticks and wool. Tribes would create a God’s Eye for a child, wrapping one round for each year of its life until it was five years old, when it was assumed the child would survive. The ritual is intended to serve as protection and teach the child spirituality.

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Crafting in communion is such a joy.

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Our next NEW event is this Thursday, May 22 at Escape Salon and Spa from 6 to 8 p.m. Join us at 505 Crescent Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL for soothing mini spa treatments, joyous networking, and a sip of relaxing wine.

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While we kicked off NEW in May last year, our birthday party will be in June, at our original host Avalon Salon & Day Spa. Join us for a party and charity raffle on Wednesday, June 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. 20530 North Rand Road in Deer Park.

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We believe in paying it forward, so in lieu of birthday presents to ourselves, we want to offer young ladies in need the opportunity to live their dreams with a charity raffle and silent auction to raise funds for the Ruth McBride Memorial Scholarship for Girls in the Game. While we bid on member-donated pieces, we will munch on festive goodies, sip on teas, tour the fabulous themed massage areas and hair salon, and celebrate our milestone with relaxing mini hand and neck massages. Please consider donating to our raffle and auction via this form.

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On June 16 we will discuss how to brag; Self Marketing for the Women’s Business Owner in Hyde Park at 57h Street Books. Mark your calendars for these fabulous events and more on Meetup or Facebook.

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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.

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People Photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com

Ambling Caldwell Woods

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy
is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone
with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.

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As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will,
I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow,
whatever the circumstances may be.
And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

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The day after Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day in the Netherlands) I took a stroll in nature, per Anne Frank’s advice, and was indeed uplifted by the beauty around me.

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I explored the un-paved path of Caldwell Woods per a friend’s recommendation. Yellow flowers were abundant.

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A Wigwam gave scope for the imagination.

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It is inhabited!

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Another compilation of tree trunks seemed to offer shelter.

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There was water to reflect upon.

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This tree has a face if you look closely.

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These grapevines inspired me immensely, and remind me of some pieces I created.

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This looks a little like some of my collar creations.

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Spirals feature quite frequently in my work as well.

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Textures were abundant.

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I channeled my inner Bridgette with a tree photo.

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My third eye was made aware of the violas and felt refreshed by the outdoors.

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“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember,
a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight;
a home, a teacher, a companion.”
~ Lorraine Anderson (1952 – ),
Quoted in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

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Spaces We Inhabit at Hairpin Art Gallery

On Friday fellow FUSEDChicago members Alicia Forestall-Boehm and Emily Rutledge hosted an opening with Mary Zeran.

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“Spaces We Inhabit: Sculptures and Paintings” will show at the Hairpin Arts Center in Chicago’s Logan Square from May 9 until June 8, 2014.

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I knew of the Hairpin building but had never visited. So it was a fun exploration of a new hometown neighborhood.

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The art deco style of the building is lovely and I felt grand ascending the marble staircase.

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The exhibition explores the influence that the “spaces we inhabit” have on physical and emotional spaces.

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Knowing how different Alicia and Emily’s styles are, I was curious to see how the group show would work.

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Alicia does wonderful sculptural works with lots of texture, and she was quite the ‘cubist’ for this exhibit.

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Her Infinity Cubes matched the necklace she was wearing.

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Everyone was intrigued by this installation.

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Emily works with spray paint, encaustics and image transfers.

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So much texture, movement and layering.

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A friend and I liked this title.

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They were joined by Mary Zeran, who creates intriguing collages with duralar and acrylic paint.

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I enjoyed the Delaunay-esque “The Beauty of It All #1”.

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Bright translucent layers.

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We had an impromptu FUSEDChicago Happy Hour as several members came to see the show.

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It was fun to see the different forms of expression form a cohesive narrative. I’m inspired by the vibrancy and texture of all the pieces.

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Here’s to more shows and more inspiration.

People photos courtesy Doug Boehm

Malachites for Mom

My mother has been coveting the Malachites Diptych I created last year.

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But then she also liked the Desktop Minis with their quotes, so I’ve had a mom-specific project knocking about in my head for some time.

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This year’s Mother’s Day was the perfect time to create a piece for her, incorporating her favorite stone, the Malachite, the gorgeous butterfly of the same name (Siproeta stelenes), and the quote she loves.

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I sifted through my photo collection to get the right posers.

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Then I combined the healing properties of the malachite stone and the quotes onto a hand-stamped piece of newsprint.

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I also wrote some malachite qualities onto the canvas, consulting Melody’s Love is in the Earth book and infused the canvas with the stone.

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Then I layered out the paper scraps and the photos to start fusing away.

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Waxing the paper.

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Layers upon layers.

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Et voila, we have a 10 x 10 inch piece to complement her custom Cruzar la Cara de la Luna piece based on my Migrating Monarchs.

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We are constantly evolving into better versions of ourselves.

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Here’s to the unfolding of that positive energy over the coming year.

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This collage is a gift, but you can peruse my other encaustic photo collages on Etsy.

Practicing the art of Selfies

Recently an article made the rounds that taking selfies is an indicator of narcissism, which made ponder my Pendants of the Day shoots.  Incidentally, as I typed ‘selfies’ my spell checker changed it to ‘selfless’, irony upon irony.

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I will cop to having a slight Facebook addiction, but that is also the primary means of communication with my overseas family. However, my intent with taking pictures of my Maraviglia is to show how they wear on a person in regular outings, not to plaster my face all over your screen.

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Pink and Gold Butterfly wax and wire pendant with Swirly Pearls Earrings

It does take practice to get the right angle from arm’s length, and I am learning much about lighting, background, facial expressions and chin-posture as I shoot and reshoot my neck and shoulders. The intent is to focus on the jewelry though, and hopefully eventually I can have friends model them so different complexions and body types are represented.

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Meconopsis with Double Spiral Earrings

So these are the pieces I wore out and about in the past month. My brother snapped me getting instructions from my other brother during an outing at which I wore a polkadot heart pendant with smashed abstract earrings.

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The set that went to the Fixation Opening:

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Coiled wire earrings, Whirls of Red, Red Swirl Collar and
the Chakra Bangle I have not listed yet.

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I fully understand the compulsion in this media age to check likes and views and do occasionally question my ability to conjure up a fan base when compared to the artists I aspire to emulate. I was a wallflower in my youth, so seeing a numerical value to how many friends your peers have via social media must cause some pressure when you are still defining who you are.

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The Spiral Collar visited Symphony’s with NEW
and also complimented my green floral dress.

Here’s to balance in all aspects of life, and using social media in moderation, without sacrificing other forms of socializing and quiet contemplation.

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