Agápē Commission

When I started adding wire to my encaustic collages, a friend asked me to make a piece for her. She bartered for massage services, which I couldn’t refuse!

So her Agape piece has been marinating in my head for a while. I started by writing good words on the cradled board and then layered encaustic paint representing water and greenery for her.

I received a partial anatomy book from a friend that had hands and hips, which were quite appropriate for this lady. I also gathered other snippets of words and images that would fit her profession and personality.

Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē) is a Greco-Christian term referring to “love: the highest form of love, charity”, and “the love of God for man and of man for God”. Per wikipedia, “agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances. The noun form first occurs in the Septuagint, but the verb form goes as far back as Homer, translated literally as affection, as in ‘greet with affection’ and ‘show affection for the dead’.”

Since the words would be obscured, I also made a small stab-stitch journal for my friend to allow her to read the content of the collage.

It was fun to play in a different artistic arena for an afternoon.

Then I wrangled the word ‘agape’ out of wire.

I embedded the steel into the wax layer, which is harder than it seems. The metal heats up while the wood stays the same, and it is a challenge to get continuous pieces of wire to stay on the board as they cool.

After that, I forgot I had not yet added hardware to the back, so making sure I wouldn’t make the steel bounce off the front was interesting, but the challenge was mastered.

Last week I sent this piece on to its journey to a new state, where it will reside in Rebecca’s new office.

If you’re in Louisville, Kentucky and need a massage therapist, check out Rebecca!

She truly has healing hands.

Mother’s Day Gift Market

I love honoring the nurturers in my life, and I have another Mother’s Day shopping pop-up this week. On Wednesday, May 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. I will have a table at the Mother’s Day Gift Market hosted by Ravenswood Covenant Church.

The Mother’s Day Gift Market features fresh flowers and plants from Patyk Farms, green beauty products, and goods from local artists. It also features fresh new pieces by me.

I will be joining these fabulous vendors:

Bring the kids to create a personalized message for mom with a “Why I Love Mom” photo backdrop. Our friends at Ravenswood Covenant Church will also be running a craft table with activities for children.

The Mother’s Day Gift Market will be held indoors at 4900 N Damen Avenue in Chicago from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Ravenswood Farmers Market is a joint effort of Ravenswood Covenant Church, Ravenswood Community Council and Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Check out the new creations I made last week to gift to your favorite maternal figure. I decided not to get too attached to the beads I had bought at last week’s expo, so after counting them I already had ideas.

Pink is always a fun color and perfect for spring, so I started stringing the square marble beads into new pieces.

I knew this would be a jewelry set right away, and the bangles called for the longest stringing.

The teardrop pendant has fewer beads.

Soon the set materialized.

I hope someone enjoys this combination!

LEGOs at the MSI

Last week I finally got to see the fabulous Brick by Brick LEGO exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

This exhibit showcases landmark buildings while also teaching about structural engineering and other scientific feats pertaining to construction and architecture. We even get an inside view of the Giza Pyramids.

Adam Reed Tucker is the architect behind all these amazing structures. Who knew one could turn LEGO-building into an artistic career?

The Golden Gate Bridge had to be completed onsite and is 60 feet long.

Each display has facts about the real building as well as the number of bricks and hours it took to construct the replicas. Who wants to go to Rome’s Colosseum now?

Children of all all ages can build their own LEGO structures, and interact with a few other exhibits.

The buildings range from historic to modern around the world, and even a structure in outer space that is actually built like LEGO components.

Adam Reed Tucker took the solar panel bricks from Harry Potter sets. He also designs the architecture kits you can buy in stores.

Of course the MSI had to be replicated.

So much detail in each structure!

Visitors are encouraged to use the force.

There is a wall where all types of LEGO bricks used for each display are highlighted.

Disney’s Cinderella Castle is so lovely.

Engineering, calculations, patience and lots of imagination!

I love all the land-and waterscapes as well.

It makes me want to visit the real-life structures too, though I may not want to ride the American Eagle Rollercoaster.

Smaller structures are highlighted throughout as well, though I am not sure who created those.

After all that, we wanted the Great Train Story to be all LEGOs too, but that would be too much to ask.

Prompted by Cinderella’s LEGO digs, I told my friend about Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, and was thrilled to introduce her to it for the first time.

The Castle sparkles after its recent renovation.

There is so much to see, and each time I marvel at Colleen Moore’s dedication to this project, and her desire to help children with this ambitious hobby.

I reread the book about this project, and love how all the artisans and celebrities involved were captivated by the project as well.

We clowned around in what I call the Circus Wing.

I learned more about some of my favorite elements.

My visit is not complete without chuckling at Jollyball, my favorite pinball machine in the whole wide world (as far as I know thus far).

The museum is such a great blend of playful learning along with instruction about history, the environment, inventions, nature, scientific phenomena, and life.

Brick By Brick remains at the Chicago Museum through September 4.

Everything is AWESOME at the Museum of Science and Industry, and all the other museums Chicagoland cultivates.

What’s your favorite exhibit?

Black History Education at the Cultural Center

Last week I commuted downtown and decided to stroll over to the Chicago Cultural Center.

First, Angel and I passed the Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet.

I walked in on a prototype of the story chair from the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, which apparently doubles as a table and turns into a throne as stories are told.

Then I decided to start my exhibit exploration upstairs, where Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College are on display.

This exhibition features all 32 doors painted by Eugene Eda for the stairwells of the original, now demolished Malcolm X College. Painted in 1971 they are considered a landmark of the Black Arts movement in Chicago.

The doors are thematically distinguished in 4 categories, based on their original stairwell locations.

  • A: Egyptian Hieroglyphs
  • B: West African and Sankofa
  • C: Black Aesthetics, Black Family
  • D: Black Power and Survival

Eugene Eda started with ancient Egypt as the foundation of his works, and then narrates the history of African culture and heritage with the other door themes. I was fascinated by all the symbolism represented in stairwell B, and want to learn more about Adinkra symbols used in West African culture.

Fortitude, unity and community are themes for stairwell C, showing scenes representing the various areas of study at Malcolm X College (currently arts, general studies, science and applied science), along with depictions of family. In Stairwell D, according to Michelle R. Perkins, the doors are to remind those passing through to “rise above anything that imprisons the body and the mind.”

Part of the interior design of the walls in this room had the inscription “lūx et vēritās”, meaning light and truth, which was very appropriate for this particular exhibit. As a European, I have a cursory acquaintance with American History, and even my world history education was quite Euro-centric, so learning more about Black History, African(-American) culture, Indigenous culture and what is essentially ‘non-white world history’ requires awareness and alertness.

I am grateful there is much activism to have these stories told and celebrated. Attending art talks and exhibits about marginalization is uncomfortable, but makes me a better human being who can hopefully respond better to the impact oppression has had on any group than be clouded by my own perceptions.

The next exhibit was 50×50 Invitational / The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities, with artists from various Chicago Wards represented to make statements on the current state of the world, ranging from a postcard exhibit in which people wrote an artist about their wishes to statements about the current political climate.

Then I wandered on to The Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and the Legacy of Black Power, where Eugene Eda was mentioned again. The history of this particular wall spoke of the difference in opinion even among a group that society at large tends to homogenize, and was educational in so many ways.

The activism on making voices heard about cultures and groups that have been oppressed, suppressed and ignored is important, and while it takes effort to gain understanding, it is vital to deal with the discomfort of historic inaccuracy and work to rectify it.

I wandered through a corridor that landed me in the ramp, where Passage by SO-IL from New York City, U.S., featuring photography by Iwan Baan from Amsterdam, The Netherlands is an ongoing exhibit.

From that window I also got a good view of the Piranesi Circus (Atelier Bow-Wow in Tokyo, Japan) in the Atrium, which intrigued me on all levels of the cultural center. Both these architectural masterpieces were part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, a global exhibition of contemporary architecture, showcasing the visionary ideas of 100 architects and designers from 30 countries.

It is certainly a playground for the imagination.

Of course the internal architecture of the Cultural Center is a feast for the eyes as well.

With its original intent as Chicago’s first central public library in 1879, the building was designed to impress with rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics.

This building is home of the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome.

Healy & Millet designed the other glass dome.

The workmanship is mesmerizing. You can learn more about the Chicago Cultural Center exhibits on this link.

I also came upon lovely quilts like this one by Laverne Brackens.

These quilts are held in library collections and loaned out for display after their cleaning before being placed in their conservatorship’s collections again.

With so much history and creativity to ponder, I left the Cultural Center to make my way home.

Chicago is such a diverse and vibrant city, and I strive to be more alert to the expression of voices that may not reflect my experience or point of view, but require me to get through some cognitive dissonance to grow as a human being and be a more compassionate citizen of the world.

Assemblage at The Collage cafe

I joined the Grown*UP Girls Club this year at The Collage Cafe and I am loving it. While I have my own studio where I can create, there is something about gathering around women, being in a different space, and having someone else prescribe a project that soothes the soul and takes me out of my head.

This month we did assemblage art. We started with a small chunky canvas to embellish with anything we wished.

The Collage Cafe owner Lindy Stockton has gathered numerous objects over the years, from buttons, ribbons, vintage clothespins, paper scraps, game pieces, puzzles to metal objects like washers and rivets, chunky safety pins, keys and a plethora of other things.

Clearly making a mess is part of the inspirational process. I found a lovely pencil that had to be mine, and gathered a variety of other embellishments that spoke to me.

I put a layer of acrylic paint on mine for starters.

Then I added scraps of decorative paper from a scrapbook paper stack.

With glue guns and drills and super-powerful glue we had a blast making our pieces.

Waiting for paint and glue to dry was the hardest part, but gave an opportunity to walk around and see what everyone else was working on.

It is such fun to see what people pick and how they use it in the end.

I snapped this picture as inspiration, and saw the piece being used by someone else.

I am really happy with how mine turned out, especially since I had no vision at all in the beginning.

Sometimes not knowing what could or should be is very freeing, and leads to results you don’t expect.

Playing with dimension is such fun.

The front addresses the writer in me.

The back clearly needed to sparkle.

You can catch a glimpse of the other pieces here.

Go check out this lovely play space and get your inner creatrix going!

Affair of the Arts Spring Show

Last Sunday took me to the Shores of Turtle Creek in Spring Grove for the Affair of the Arts Spring Show.

The grounds are so pretty and I can imagine the festive events that are held here.

Like the holiday show, we had ample setup time. The load in was smooth, and soon my table was all set.

I had time to visit my friend Cindy Lesperance’s booth.

She had already made two sales before opening.

Of course I had to pick out one of my favorites as well, since her ‘stippling’ technique in encaustic is so fascinating.

My neighbor was the lovely coat lady of KatKo Designs, for which I still need to save up funds. The transformation of the coats on different people is amazing. They each have their own personality.

Across from me Kari’s Clay Creations had her table, and her ‘drunken mugs’ were admired by many.

It was fun to interact with so many friendly people.

The Lodge was filled with amazing art and one of a kind creations.

I love the bright skylights and rustic decor.

The downstairs level was also filled with talent.

Cindy was one of the booth award recipients this time around. The winners are automatically part of the Fall 2017 Show on November 19.

You can apply for that show here.

I had a great day and was happy to see my creations go to new homes.

Organizers Karen and Joe Isacson also had a booth.

Check out the web site of J + K Isacson for upcoming artist events.

I am excited to have a bit of the show in my home.

 

Reconnecting with the Sewing Machine

During my corporate life, I took a pencil skirt class at Vogue Fabric and of course gathered materials to build on that, except that my inherited sewing machine thwarted me and I gave up.  Eventually I got a brand-new machine, but I only used it for small projects and never went back to my UFOs, especially since my size changed over time and the pattern might not apply anymore.

Enter Evanston Stitchworks, a lovely store along Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile offering sewing and knitting classes for teens and adults, along with all the supplies for those projects. This “Stitch Lounge and Studio” has been in business for a few years, but moved to the Sherman Street location last year.

Owner Amalia curates beautiful high-quality and fabrics, findings, yarns and patterns. I love the vibe of the shop and the beautiful array of fabrics. Her store reminds me of the doll-shop my mom made for me as a child.

Intrigued by Amalia’s workshops since the beginning, my schedule finally worked out to where I could take the Willow Tank Top Dress class she hosted in February.

For three Wednesday evenings, four of us gathered at Evanston Stitchworks to learn to make this lovely pattern by Grainline Studio. It was hard to decide on a fabric, but with Amalia’s guidance I settled on a lovely Birch Floral Periwinkle print by Rifle Paper Company.

On the first evening, we traced our pattern onto an interfacing fabric, and spent the remaining time cutting out our pieces. Tracing our pattern keeps the original pattern paper intact, allowing for size changes, which I love.

The next week, we started sewing half of the pattern together.

One selling point of this pattern is that I learned to make darts, which are a useful skill for my anatomy.

We learned machine threading, bobbin winding, and how to adjust needle and stitch settings during this session.

Lots of pinning was involved.

My classmates did just the top, so my dress portion took a bit of adjusting by Amalia. We decided I would come in for an extra session the next day to get me caught up with the rest of class.

I sewed the fold, fixed a wrongly attached collar, and received confidence boosters on my sewing capabilities.

Sewing class also involves tutorials on pressing seams.

Then decided to go home to figure out my own machine for the other half of the dress.

A few days later, I sat down with my manual to check out the difference between the Stitchworks machine and my own machine settings. Photo references helped me make sure I was doing the right thing with the arm holes.

Getting the attachment removed for the arm holes took some googling, but I got it figured out and was on my way.

Then I befriended the seam ripper some more due to a sewing snafu. I bet no one else has accidentally folded fabric into the seam mid-way through a garment. 😉

Seam rippers are lovely tools.

With all side seams connected and the hems all pressed, I was all caught up.

The final class was spent sewing the collar, arm holes and hem up to complete the dress. A side exercise was avoiding pinpricks during this round-about fabric feed.

I got some ironing tips for the darts, photos of our end result were taken, and we all went home happy with our creations.

I cannot wait for the weather to warm up so I can wear this fun dress out!

Overall, it took about 9 hours to put it together. Having Amalia supervise every move was affirming and confidence building. Knowing that my home machine is compatible also helps support future projects.

Now I need to incorporate the sample fat quarter fabrics I picked up on Small Business Saturday into my wax and wire creations.

I already gave an old pendant a makeover with a dress remnant.

My next quest is deciding on the next fabric to make the dress again.

Evanston Stitchworks is located at 906 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Illinois and hosts monthly drop-in events that are posted on FacebookCheck out upcoming classes and online shopping opportunities here. You can also cheer up your Instagram feed by following Evanston Stitchworks.

Spring Grove Show Sunday

On Sunday I will be making my way to the beautiful Turtle Creek Lodge in Spring Grove. Affair of the Arts, a Fine Art & Artisan Gift Show, is held Sunday, March 5, 10 am to  5 pm at The Shores of Turtle Creek, 7908 Winn Road, Spring Grove, Illinois 60081.

The spacious lodge will be filled with 10,000 sq. ft of original artwork and artisan crafts. Admission to the event is free. You can peruse Jewelry, Ceramics, Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Fiber Art, Wood, Metalwork, 3D Mixed Media, Fine Art, Home Accessories, and Artisan Fashion items while sipping on cocktails.

You can find me in the Mixed Media category, along with:

  • J + K Isacson
  • Cindy Lesperance
  • Maike’s Marvels
  • Will Slagel
  • Maija Steele

I’m thrilled my friend Cindy’s part of it. Cindy Lesperance is an award-winning artist who works out of her private studio in the NW suburbs of Chicago. Her art has been exhibited and has earned awards in many juried shows and competitions, galleries, and museums throughout the Chicagoland area and across the country. Cindy loves spending time in nature, traveling, and learning about other cultures: their art, traditions, and architecture.

Always aware of color, pattern, and texture, these experiences are an inspiration for her geometric works of art which are reminiscent of nature, oriental rugs, and fabrics. Although self-taught, Cindy has evolved a personal style in encaustic that is highly sophisticated and meticulous in attention to craftsmanship. At times she plans out a painting in it’s entirely before it is begun but more often she works intuitively applying minute “droplets” of wax, one-by-one, to produce a tactile pattern that invites the viewer to touch.

Ceramics and Home Artists include:

  • Lynn & Diane Abbott
  • Michael Benstein
  • James Blechschmidt
  • Natasha Glumova
  • Jan Johnson
  • Feisty Dog
  • Danuta Loane
  • Regina Lombardo
  • Josie Rochell
  • Kari Thornton
  • Fiber and Photo artists are:
  • Katie Biedrzycka
  • Shari Emme
  • Meghan Faulkner
  • Kathleen Freund
  • Brook Mrkvicka
  • Upsydoozy
  • TF Wilcox
  • Jewelry artists include:
  • Marianne A. McKoveck
  • Paula Dammeyer
  • Leanne Emery – Triskele Moon
  • Amy Hassan
  • Jewels Botanica
  • Maike’s Marvels
  • Despina Pafralides
  • Kathleen Watson

Drawing and Painting artists represented are:

  • Barbara Benstein
  • Tonya Bestor
  • Robert Cairone
  • Caroline Goldsmith
  • J + K Isacson
  • Connie Olmstead
  • Elizabeth Waddington
  • Tree Frog Studio

Visitors are able to purchase beverages and enjoy complimentary snacks during the Affair of the Arts event.  Wine, mixed drinks and other beverages can be purchased on the first floor, past the central fireplace.  Hors d’ oeuvres and light snacks will be available. I was a booth winner last year at the holiday fair, and had a great time trying on fancy coats and meeting wonderful people during the day-long event. I look forward to seeing the new creations everyone has come up with.

The first floor of Turtle Creek accommodates about half of the participating artists, with plenty of room for browsers to mingle and shop.  Downstairs,  you will find another full level of inspiring fine art and crafts to purchase. All items for sale are handcrafted. There will be something for everyone’s budget, from affordable small gifts to collector pieces.

Both levels are handicapped-accessible. There is a ramp to the upper level along the west side of the building, and also a ramp sloping down to the lower level entrance. The staircase to the lower level is located immediately to the right after you enter the main entrance doorway.

The lodge is situated on 32 scenic acres. Inside, there is seating along the large windows overlooking beautifully landscaped grounds. Affair of the Arts is Directed/Produced by J + K Isacson who coordinate other art exhibitions, events and artist call via xculturearts.com.

Main-Dempster Mile fun

I am easing out of hibernation and it is safe (no longer too cold) to take angel out and about on my adventures.

Evanston’s Main-Dempster mile is full of fun adventures. Squeezebox has the right idea with these postcards.

I had tacos for charity on the day of the Woman’s March, and later went to La Principal again with friends.

A few weeks later Brothers K collected funds for the ACLU.

My frosty is still hanging out at Rolf’s Auto Care, where I took my car for service.

We rewarded ourselves with some Sketchbook beer after a Hip Circle workout.

Stumble & Relish’s lovely card selection, along with my stash of Curly Girl Design’s Love Delivered subscription has me writing a postcard on Sundays.

I got to sample SPARK Syrup with Prosecco on Thursday and picked up some earrings I couldn’t resist.

Vivian Visser explained the process and inspiration behind her beautiful creations during an Artist talk at Cultivate.

This wonderful show is up through the end of the month.

It is always neat to see who shadows interact with art work on the wall.

I attended a few recent The Collage Cafe workshops, and loved the glowing woman who emerged from the last Grown*UP Girls Club session.

My vision boards will be shown when they manifest.

Then I was introduced to Bullet Journaling at Hip Circle Studio.

Next weekend I hope to explore Evanston’s Black-owned Businesses during Tour de Noir.

There’s always something fun to do in Evanston.

Bead Counting

Last week I shopped for some birthstones at Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop and at Ayla’s Originals. Ayla’s had a wonderful vintage bead sale and I couldn’t resist picking up a  sparkly iridescent strand.

Then I made a pact with myself to inventory what I have at home. I always gravitate toward the same colors, so I had to ensure that what I have is sufficient rather than giving in to temptation.

I also need to update my spreadsheets with what is still on hand after a few years, so much counting ensued.

When I went to the Bead & Button Show I had a list of colors and types of beads I could buy. I also had a current photo of my bead rack in the camera for reference. Over two days I made my way through my stash and identified beads that I had not yet learned names of in 2011.

Clearly I have plenty in my stash to keep me busy, but it is still wonderful to peruse bead stores, fondle the strands, and learn more about unique gemstones and bead artisans.

Right now my mission is to make a dent in the beads I have and post those creations onto the shop.

I also need to get the birthstone bangle completed that started this inventory session in the first place.

What are your favorite gems?