Heart in Texas

I’ve been trying to maintain normalcy since August 25, but there is a lot of emotional upheaval when the town you spent 8 years in is devastated by a catastrophic storm.

My mom and brother still live in the greater Houston area, as do many of my high school classmates whose parents are still rooted in the subdivision I finished High School in.

Since the airports were closed and the surrounding infrastructure tentative, I wasn’t able to rush out and be with my family. Now I keep tabs on them daily, watch the Facebook feeds of my friends in the aftermath, and feel helpless and guilty and on edge. I was too agitated to go into the studio last week; it felt too trivial to make art when lives were in danger.

The beauty is that so much unity is coming out of this. A lot of kindness and helpfulness and an abundance of love.

With my heart heavy, I decided to get back into my commissions yesterday, and worked on a Texas angel as well. Concentrating on the wire and pieces I have been assigned to make helped settle me again. I should remember that art is therapeutic, and that it would have helped me last week as well.

This storm has marked my family and friends. The full extent of the aftermath is not yet known. Neighborhoods that made it through numerous storms have become floodzones. My family was lucky in spite of the material losses. For my friends, their kids are displaced as Kingwood High School undergoes repairs, some of their families are dealing with devastating home damage, and emotionally everyone is spent.

I am aware of raging wildfires, more water damage around the world, political craziness going on, and all the microcosmic events my friends in non-disaster areas deal with day to day. I see the cynics utilizing images and opinions to promote their divisive agendas.

But Hurricane Harvey is deeply personal, and it is OK to sit with that for a moment while the rest of the world rages on.

What gives me peace is that my firefighter brother is utilizing his skills to help his neighbors, completely in his element, as weird as that seems. I know mom will be OK, and we all still have each other.

As volatile as the world and life seems just a few weeks after my birthday, I will continue to pursue what I am called to do, which means sending more angels out in to the world as I gear up for my mid-September fairs.

An Emerald Keychain

Sometimes a newsletter can lead to a commission. In response to my July newsletter, I got a request for a keychain. My friend wanted to carry a reminder of her ‘emerald green’ aura with her, and as soon as I read that I was thrilled.

I wasn’t sure if I had Emerald, but it turned out that I had picked up a small strand at the Bead & Button Show a few years back. So then I set about matching that green to my stash of green wire.

Bridgette has a family of four, so I picked 4 beads to encage into her scribble ball.

Then I wrapped the wire around the steel, and made a keychain.

After that I perused my crystal healing books for information on the beads and the color green related to the heart chakra, and made an information sheet. As always, the gems incorporated in my projects tend to suit the person who will receive the piece. So this one was especially fun to read about.

Bridgette is a fabulous encaustic artist and painter, and recently completed a 100 day drawing challenge, for which she chose to capture birds.

I own two of her beautiful encaustic paintings, and love her journals as well. One of my encaustic classes was with Bridgette.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

You can learn more about Bridgette’s upcoming art events here.

I am happy another keychain is traveling elsewhere in the U.S.

Plant Stakes for the Trunk Show

Last summer I made a dragonfly stake on a whim and it was well-received. This year I took the production level up a notch and added ladybug stakes to the collection. I distributed them at my various boutique outlets, and they steadily fly off to new homes. A post on Facebook prompted Ayla’s Originals to coordinate a trunk show with me.

So for Ayla’s Trunk Show this coming weekend, August 12 and 13, I am replenishing the batch. The traditional ladybugs go fastest, so red was on the brain this week.

Meanwhile, the jig I had set up for the Morpho application needed to be dismantled. However, I was inspired to create a stake form that setup before making the change.

I had also just made two mini-books, and that book setup led me to make two bookish stakes.

Then I changed the jig to my custom-created dragonfly template, and started bending wire into the popular dragonfly stakes. When my fingertips were sore I closed the studio for the evening.

The next morning I fired up the griddle and my irons, and started laying out the outfits for each critter. I hand-stamped lime green paper and interfacing fabric to reflect the writings of a book. Then I painstakingly added each page, which takes a lot of aligning, adjusting, cutting and realigning.

The books are my most time-consuming piece at this stage, followed by the dragonflies and their waxing intricacies.

I hand-colored interfacing with rainbow stripes (in permanent marker) for the ever-popular rainbow dragonfly.

One ladybug was begging for polka-dotted fabric, and the other two were given red tissue paper.

Storm clouds were brewing, so I also used that tissue paper and another fabric scrap for a test ladybug ornament, which I swiftly hung outside.

Soon the buckets came down and even splattered onto the deck.

Nonetheless, I stepped out in the rain to see how my own two creatures were faring. Rain was bouncing off the dragonfly.  The ladybug was shielded from the onslaught, but soon the angle changed and it too started getting wet.

After the storm, both ornaments were wet, but undamaged.

Upon closer inspection you can see spots of rust in the dragonfly, which has accumulated since I hung it in April.

But overall the droplets just hang out on the wax until they evaporate, and the fabric and tissue strips remain intact.

I waxed my new creations. The whimsical oval piece was fun to design.

Then I photographed them as the light and angle allowed.

Stakes are harder to take pictures of than my other pieces. They don’t lay flat like regular ornaments, and getting all the angles in a photogenic way is challenging.

The Everlasting Fire Studio vases showcase each one well, though.

I really like the bookish ones, which will be a whole other outdoor test run. As ornaments, these books are more fragile than my other pieces. So for now I’d recommend them indoors only.

Good thing I have a volunteer with an outdoor plant I can send one of these off to.

My fireplace mantel is also a bit crowded, so I played with one corner for now, which isn’t ideal.

I will need to work on a light box setup to block out the windowsill.

Meanwhile, they look pretty as a bouquet and by themselves, and make me happy.

Since I will be showing at a bead store next, I also wanted to play with some bling on a stake.

The organic creation received 3 led crystals, which I know will hold up outside.

I plan on asking Ayla what else is suitable for outdoor sun catchers when I set up my trunk show this weekend.

The new creations will have their own table at the Ayla’s Originals Trunk show. I will also bring my jewelry and angels of course. 

Ayla’s Originals Store is located at 1511 Sherman Avenue in Evanston. I will be there Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. Then all unsold pieces go home with me again.

There are lots of fun shops and eateries around 1511 Sherman. Be sure to take a selfie with Wonder Woman at the Other Brother Coffeehouse!

Trunk Show at Ayla’s this weekend

Whew, I thought 2 weeks between shows is a long time, but there is still a lot to be done by Saturday.

When I went to the Bead & Button show in June I stopped by Ayla’s booth first, and was promptly stickered by Joe.

At that time, we made plans for a trunk show, and August 12 & 13 felt so far away. I optimistically purchased some large hole pearls for the occasion. Fast forward one eventful month and I am wrangling wire like crazy, with idea after idea piling into my brain.

My aim is to make sure I am using beads sourced via Ayla, so I went through my inventory list, and I’ve attended quite a few of Ayla’s bead shows over the years, along with visits to the store itself with friends.

I compared the inventory dates to my visual archives (photos snapped after each shopping spree) and set those beads aside in my jewelers bench.

Soon I had ideas and matched papers to my designs.

The last batch came from Kina’s Trunk Show, and I started with those first.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vintage beads I bought from Ayla actually fit the 16 gauge wire, and had fun stringing those.

I waxed the pieces, with the cage versions being a bit more challenging than the others. The etched jade also fit the thicker wire, and I am glad my friend and I shared this strand last summer.

Ayla’s store has many beads that can be strung directly onto the steel wire for a swinging bead effect. David Christensen creates a gorgeous array of glass beads that I have had in my collection for a while. This pendant will get some matching earrings too, though whether that happens by Saturday is still a question mark.

Ayla’s Originals offers freshwater pearls, Czech glass, Swarovski crystals, antique trade beads and gemstones from all over the world. If you see something you love in the store this weekend, I am happy to design a piece if you aren’t interested in creating your own.

In 2016, Ayla’s Originals received an official proclamation from Evanston’s Mayor for the 20th anniversary in Evanston. The store’s history is longer though.

Two decades ago, Ayla was a Director of Human Resources in corporate America. She frequented a bead store to take her mind off her waning passion in the work she was doing.

After a few workshops, Ayla began designing her own jewelry. The bead store owner was retiring, putting Ayla in a position to take over the store’s lease after resigning from her job.

The Ayla’s Own jewelry line was soon featured in the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum Gift Shops and well publicized. In 1998 Ayla’s Originals moved to Sherman Avenue in Evanston.

The store offers classes, private lessons, and private party options. The store offers a wide array of You Are Beautiful merchandise as well.

You can get a bingo card for special discounts on future purchases. Ayla and her husband, photographer Joe Pizzo, reside in Evanston.

Ayla’s Originals Store is located at 1511 Sherman Avenue in Evanston. Hours are: T,W, F: 10 am to 6 pm; Th: 10 am to 7 pm; Sat. 10 am to 5 pm; Sun 12 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays.

I will also be bringing my stakes, which are getting additional siblings this week.

There is so much more to make!

Morpho’s 6th Annual Encaustic Exhibition

On Friday, I will be attending Morpho Gallery’s National Call for Encaustic Entries Opening party. This annual exhibit of encaustic artists will be held  August 4 at from 6 to 9 pm at 5216 N Damen Avenue in Chicago.

The 6th Annual Encaustic Exhibition includes 2D and 3D work made with the hot wax method of encaustic. Juried by Kathy Blankley Roman and Dan Addington, the exhibit includes works by several FUSEDChicago members and some encaustic artists I look forward to meeting that evening. The exhibit will be held August 4th through September 2nd 2017. Morpho Gallery’s hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 6 pm, and Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.

Artists included are: Brad Hook, Cat Crotchett, Laura Graveline, Anna Wagner-Ott, Brenda Erickson, Candace Law, Carol Myers, Carrie Baxter, Cindy Lesperance, Claudia Hollister, David Brown, Deborah Martin, Derek Brennan, Jeannette MacDougall, Jodie Sutton, Karen Ruth Karlsson, Katelyn Patton, Kathryn Isbister, Kathy Blankley Roman, Kay Vinson, Kaylee Dalton, Lamia Holden, Laura LaRue, Linda Mayer, Elizabeth Hubler-Torrey, Patricia Lagger, Penny Park, Rinat Goren, and Teresa Foster (the ones in bold are my FUSEDChicago friends).

For this show submission, I made a whimsical wall hanging. I was inspired by Brenda’s Now That’s A Jig! Shapes and put a bunch onto the Jig, initially thinking I would work with a 6 x 6 shadowbox.

Of course I went off-jig right away and started rearranging the wire as I went to make the shape more freeform.

Soon I had the basic shape to make a wall hanging.

I wanted to incorporate a vintage book page, which then determined the rest of the palette.

After some rearranging, I settled on purple and blue tones in addition to the text papers.

Then the fusing began.

With the fan going for ventilation, I had to weight the snippets down to keep them from fluttering off the table.

As always, the Xacto knife is my friend.

My friends recruited me for an evening meal, and it is always good to call it a day after a few hours in the studio anyway, because you need perspective and also don’t want to rush the design process.

While I liked the piece where it was, I still wanted to add the remaining papers as planned. I did swap out some swatches as the remaining papers were attached.

With big (to me) pieces like this, the wire isn’t always flush. It is a delicate balance of making sure the forms will be straight enough to hold the paper and also keeping in mind how the piece will hang in the end.

A Traveler’s Whimsy by Maike’s Marvels.


I am curious to see how the accepted pieces came together. Morpho Gallery always showcases a variety of techniques at this annual show. 

I didn’t get into the show, but this piece proudly hangs on my own wall until I am ready to part with it.

Evanston’s new Pop-up Gallery

On Thursday, a new pop-up shop will be opening its doors to the public. The Evanston Pop-up Gallery officially launches at 11 AM to showcase the art work of 50+ artists.

I snapped a photo of the application email when I walked by in June, and was promptly invited to see the space when I applied.

Having been a visitor to the former rendition of this storefront, I liked owner Steve and Sally’s vision for the space, and started scoping out the various options for my own display. 

After a few calls back and forth, we agreed to a pair of shelves by a mirror and I scoped out the dimensions some more.

It is always exciting to see something new take space. 

Maybe that’s why decorating shows are so popular, because we see spaces transform into something new.

I sat down at my bench and made some new earrings for summer.

Then I picked out the pieces I wanted to bring in and made the inventory sheet for it. The sheet was sent off so Sally would have time to add the inventory to the system.

After peeking in to see how lusciously other displays were coming together on Saturday, I decided to visit Michael’s and HomeGoods to scope out new shelf decorations.

HomeGoods inspired the look, and found the right pieces to complement each other.

I did some staging at home to ensure the dimensions would work.

On Monday I returned to Sherman Avenue. Steve put up my rented shelves and I started putting my display together.

Then the barcode stickers were printed and I cut them to size to fit my tags for the next 2 hours.

Then I heard a familiar voice, and Margarita and her mom popped in to plan out their space for Golden Sapphire bath bombs, soaps and other delicious materials to keep people and pets clean. Their natural and handcrafted bath and skincare products are safe for the environment, children, pets, and the rest of your family. All materials are recycled, and they use natural ingredients. I looove the bath bombs.

We are also partners at Hip Circle Empowerment Center’s Women-Powered Retail Zone so it will be fun to collaborate on this space as well. We decided to have fun in the selfie booth.

Angel also christened the selfie booth, and then Steve jumped in on the fun.

I also learned that Elektra and her husband will bring in their lampwork glass. Everlasting Fire Studio will bring in their beautiful  wine glasses, marbles and paperweights, and some pendants. I use their vases for my trunk shows.

The shelves were soon arranged, and I really like the look. It’s fun to see how a vision comes together in actuality.

I am super excited to see how the rest of the spaces come together.

There is already a lot of great art to see.

The pop-up gallery opens 11 am to 7 pm on Thursday at 1627 Sherman Avenue Evanston.

Then on Monday, the Mayor and Alderman will be present for a 4 pm ribbon cutting.

Check Facebook for updates, special events and hours

Here’s to a successful new boutique!

A family angel collaboration

Recently a friend asked me about various angel options, and when she mentioned having her children draw something, I couldn’t wait to start on this project.

I gave my friend my angel paper to use (handmade scraps and teabags), and the family sat down to decorate.

I received two drawings for the body, and two quotes for wings.

The young girl who drew the family had a preference over which picture to use, so that gave me the dimensions of my angel.

This body would be much bigger than my jig setup, but I started with the template anyway.

Then I resized the circle to fit the size of the family picture.

I also fit the wings around the quotes I had been given, and soon a wire angel emerged. Because the young girl had drawn a heart, I knew that would be the angel bodice embellishment.

Then I waxed the paper in encaustic medium on my skillet.

Safety is key, and I always wear my mask when the encaustic is hot.

I couldn’t let the extra art go to waste, so I made a bonus pendant as well.

Because the mom loves purple, I added a dash of purple encaustic paint to the wire.

I fit the wings so the quotes would be legible.

Dashes of color.

Then I fused the paper to the wings, the body, and added a head.

Exacto knives are my friends in the trimming process.

It is always fun to see the translucent effect the wax adds to the paper.

I hope the Su family enjoys these two mementos marking a transition in their lives. This is a fun way to memorialize chapters in family life, and I could see this as a family ornament tradition.

Let me know if you need a custom piece that incorporates a quote, a drawing, or vintage heirlooms wrapped in wire. I am always happy to collaborate on special pieces to reflect the owner of a handmade creation.

Final Evanston Made Sip ‘n Shop

June has flown by, and this is the final week to see all the Evanston Made art on display at the Evanston Art Center. As of July 1, all this lovely art will be off to new owners or back to artists’ studios. To celebrate the success of this annual event, Evanston Made is hosting a Sip ’n Shop party on Thursday, June 29 from 5 pm to 8 pm.

Enjoy a night of cocktails, nibbles and shopping at the Evanston Made Pop Up Shop at the Evanston Art Center, located at 1717 Central Street. It’s your last night to purchase locally created goods by the creatives of Evanston.

You can peruse ceramics that are decorative and functional, fiber arts you can wear, carry with you, or hang on the wall. Handmade Jewelry is abundant and offers something for everyone.

Gorgeous leather goods include bags and keychains. Prints, postcards, stickers and books offer affordable art that makes a statement. I especially love the mixed media vignettes.

You can also take in the full exhibit on the main floor one more time. I love all the vibrant art that showcases the variety of artisan skills Evanstonians have.

The event is free and open to the public. Though we hope you invest in some of your local artists, of course…

The night before, Wednesday, June 28 I will finally make my way to the Five and Dime for the Evanston Made Closing party. Dan Kelch of Lulu’s, Five & Dime and Taco Diablo is throwing a party to say “Thank you” to everyone who participated in Evanston Made!

There will be food and drink from 6 pm to 9 pm at 1026 Davis Street in Evanston. We’ll celebrate the volunteers who made this event happen.

I’ve never been to the Five & Dime but have great things about it, so I am looking forward to this excursion in my home town. If you cannot make it to either, be sure to follow the artists below for upcoming events. Their art is so lovely and I have been honored to be in such good company this month.

 

 

Creativity at Creative Coworking

My last pop-up in May was a set-up for Evanston Made Month at Creative Coworking.

The May-June Art & Wine Night featured macro photography art by Ross Martens and vibrant paintings by Laura Engel.

I set up a booth in a conference room, complemented by artwork created by Greg Palmer.

As usual, art appreciators came to converse about the work.

Laura showed off one of my favorite pendants, which she bought before the reception began. 🙂

Who doesn’t love rainbow druzy?

I chatted with wonderful Evanstonians throughout the evening.

It was fun to try out the new vases created by Everlasting Fire Studio just for me.

The Creative Coworking Art & Wine Nights always feature nibbles.

I liked the shadow games my pieces were playing.

It is always good to have extra product shots for the webshop (which is undergoing repair).

A few pieces found new homes.

And in time for pride month I was able to give Angela her rainbow safety pin commission.

It was a lovely evening, and I look forward to the next rotation of art in the front lobby.

My butterflies have moved to the third floor of Creative Coworking to make room for Virginia Kondziolka’s beautiful pieces downstairs.

This is my favorite Engel.

You can view this exhibit until the end of the month as part of Evanston Made.

People photos courtesy Creative Coworking

Testing Critters for Outside Use

As my critter plant stakes gain popularity, the question of how they hold up outside is asked. So in April I put together a dragonfly that has a variety of materials waxed in for testing.

I have some alcohol inks that are designed for metal and others that are not, so I painted parts of the dragonfly with various colors. I also tried colored wax, and left some parts ‘bare’.

Then I hung it outside to brave the elements. I used various types of gift tissue paper, a colored teabag and a scrap of cotton fabric to test.

That evening while I was at a pop-up we had a rainstorm, and I got to peek at the dragonfly when I returned.

The droplets just hung out on the waxed paper.

But the next morning you could see rusty spots.

I don’t mind that patina, but some people might.

Another rainstorm happened in daytime, and I checked out the dragonfly again.

I noticed the rainbow markers were runny, and I observed additional rusty spots.

So I purchased permanent markers for additional research. How cool is it that my business expense is rainbow markers?

I colored a new teabag for testing (original markers, rained out markers, permanent markers below).

I also decided to replace one piece of tissue with a handmade paper scrap to see how that holds up. Then I touched up rusty spots with colored wax to see how that holds up for the purists.

For now, rainstorms don’t bother the dragonfly structurally, and the paper/fabric remained attached.

I am curious what hot summer temperatures will bring, but my guess is that as long as the dragonfly just hangs out and doesn’t get handled in the heat, the paper or fabric will hold up fine.

Soon I will be checking some fabric versions of a ladybug too, since I have a second hook on my porch. Dragonfly 2.0 is awaiting the next rainshower. 

Unfortunately my web shop is undergoing repair right now, so you don’t see the full catalogue of my pieces there. You can check out the Hip Circle Empowerment Center, Sacred Art, ReVive Consignment and the Evanston Art Center Pop-up Shop for select pieces at retail shops.

I can also make custom designs of course, just pop me a message and peruse my Facebook page for samples.