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!

Grown*UP Girls Club

Remember when I introduced The Collage Cafe? This Sunday I got to join the Grown*UP Girls Club for a creative session.


This gathering is Lindy’s brainchild of creating a haven for women to leave all the day-to-day behind and spend some time playing, creating and getting to know other ladies.


The group meets on the second Sunday of the month and includes annual members, drop-ins, and another tier of membership Lindy can tell you about.


Some considered themselves uncreative and bravely stepped out of their comfort zone, and others had dabbled in various artistic ventures.


After introductions we were given a blank canvas and instructed to write positive things on it, in order to set the intention for the class.


Then we selected paint colors to cover our words with.


After a few layers we started cutting out papers. In addition to the two sheets provided we were allowed to peruse numerous art materials in the studio, and it was lovely seeing what the participants gravitated toward.


Washi tape became a popular embellishment, and how can it not with this amazing variety?


We chatted while we snipped and pasted, making for a lovely afternoon of kindredness.


There were two birthdays so we were treated to Sacher Torte in addition to other nibbles.


We also got to try new teas that were refilled regularly.


Some snacks looked ready for a painting.


It was lovely to step out of my regular medium and get back to my collage roots. Some people experimented with rubber stamps and added dimensional embellishments to their pieces.


Mine may get wire-wrapped in the future, but I am pleased with how much was completed in the session.


I cannot distinguish between the creative and ‘non-creative’ collages, can you? Each of these is worthy of an open studios exhibit!


Want to be part of the fun? Check out The Collage Cafe’s upcoming workshops!


You can also visit my bangles and pendants, and peruse a plethora of lovely gift items that are bound to spark your joy.


The Collage Cafe is located at 912 Sherman Avenue in Evanston IL 60202, near the corner of Main and Sherman.

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.


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


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


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.


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


Have a great weekend!


studio time and another upcoming show

I’m back in the studio again, yippie. Since taking a variety of workshops over the spring, I have not spent time making encaustic pieces.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

It doesn’t mean I haven’t created anything. I learned encaustic techniques from Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Crystal Neubauer and Shawna Moore; bound books at the Chicago Print Collaborative, had two sessions of Metal Clay classes, and started a drawing course with Lauren Levato.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Each of these sessions has inspired me and I have lots of ideas to implement. The time to do so has been scarce, however. So spending time in the studio this week is quite exciting. I finally get to experiment with some of the techniques I learned, and also play with new photos from my recent nature excursions.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Meanwhile, my ‘old’ work will be on display at Bugfest on August 3. Bugfest is a two-day festival celebrating insects and other critters. My work will be up at the Kinzie Corridor Community Gallery, which provides a space for artists in the Kinzie Corridor to network, workshop, and showcase their work. They show the work of neighborhood artists as well as bring in artists from all over the Chicago area to increase exposure and opportunities for our local artists.

copyright The Arts of Life Studio

This Gallery is attached to the Arts of Life Studio, which is operated by artists with and without disabilities. Mark your calendars for two evenings of bug-appreciation. The gallery, located at 2010 W Carroll Ave; Chicago; IL 60612, will host our works through September 21.

Radvent: Creating (really fear-busting)

I sometimes forget that I am more creative than most. I had a professional Artwork Installer help me put frames up this month, and he was surprised he didn’t need to design the layout of the wall.

framing project at Maike's Marvels studio

A blend of my own and inspirational creations that are finally on my wall

People can be so impressed with something I perceive as simple that I remember to be grateful for artistic expression and a sense of design. It felt simple to distress a few dollar-store frames to give my pictures some pop.

frame painting by Maike's Marvels

Painting a dollar store frame

What comes easy to “non-creatives” will probably seem like rocket science to me.

I agree with Princess Lasertron that creativity and artistry are not always the same. I also believe that creativity can be expressed in ways other than what we have categorized as “the Arts.

Imagination is applied to so many things beyond the visual and audible.  How imaginative is technology, which we pass off as geeky or nerdy? (I didn’t know that geek derived from gek—crazy— in my native tongue).

In keeping with Princess Lasertron’s Radvent on Creativity I am going to create an empowering list.

Create Radvent by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

“We shouldn’t let fear stop us from living the life we want to live.
They [fears, critics] have no power unless we give them power.”
~ Echo Bodine

If sharing fears takes away their power, here are my top 3:

1. Fear of success. I am just one person ‘winging’ it this year, and in a way I am holding back because it is easier to not get busy. I’m startled when people ask to see my work because I don’t see myself as an artist yet (but I have no problems with being creative!).  I’m getting stuck in my business plan on defining my target market, because once I start believing that people (strangers!) will actually buy things from me, it means I have to make more. I can’t hide behind “Oh, I’m just starting out, I’m not a bona fide business yet, It’ll take time to develop whatever my style and art form is going to be.”

2. Fear of critique.  The other part of putting work ‘out there’ beyond Etsy is that it does open me up for critique. Most of the feedback I have received is positive, but there can be zingers out there. In one book I read that every rejection increases the odds of an acceptance, but entering the subjective visual art world is difficult. I’ve developed a thicker skin about my writing through decades of a career in that field, but my art is still a vulnerable spot.

3. Fear of dependence. Per my mom, one of the first sentences I learned was “I can do it myself”. There has always been a strong drive to be self-sufficient. I think I might be taking it to the extreme sometimes. I know intellectually that delegating (asking for help) is a good thing — that allowing others to excel in their best competency and freeing my time creates a symbiotic relationship — but ‘needing others’ is a fear in some way. It may be more an issue of reliability: knowing that what I ask to get done does in fact get done (as I sheepishly add “in my time frame” in my head). I forget that in general people are helpful, and I am depriving them an opportunity to feel good by helping me.

4. Fear of putting all of this out there. Because that is in fact asking for help isn’t it (hello #3)? Am I ready for that feedback (i.e. #2: Critique)? If someone has exactly what I need: the key to launching this thriving artistic business of mine with the perfect target market description, then I can no longer hide behind my #1 fear.

Fear is a vicious cycle, isn’t it? 🙂

I freed up my time last year, and now I need to free my fears. That’s an interesting visual: my fears are trapped! They want to get out of this prison too! LOL!

One of my friends boldly stated her dream big goal on Facebook the other day. I’d like to get there. I want to know what my true vision for my life is, without shooting those ‘crazy’ thoughts down.

What do I create?

“Expressions of love, joy and thanquility.” It started with greeting cards that were intended to help others express themselves (in a nonsappy, noncheeky way). Now I’m exploring collages of mixed media wall decor which serve more as reminders of love, joy and thanquility.

I am also creating a new life that turns me into a better me. Once I can support myself in pursuing my passion, I want to help others live their dreams. It’ll be one continuous cycle of creation and regeneration.