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!


The day before my birthday, a light fixture fell on my head. My mom was coming to town and I was preparing the futon for her to sleep on, when the ceiling fan decided to wobble out of alignment and to the floor, but since I had just pulled the futon out and was looking down, it bounced off my head onto the cushions.

A lightbulb shattered all over the place, and my forehead had an instant bump.

So I told mom to take a cab and swept the shards off myself to lay down for a bit, while googling concussion symptoms. After mom arrived we did cleanup and I had a fun birthday week with her, including a visit to Little Light Bazaar so I could shop for light fixtures.

After mom departed I interviewed electricians, and then researched ceiling fans, concentrating on flush mounts only.

I had a fun visit with Mateen to select the colors of my chandelier. All globes are interchangeable so you can change your mind and do a new color scheme over time.

The electricians arrived and on day one pulled out all the old wiring of my 1925 unit.

Outlets came first.

All the old lights came down.

Then they ran new wiring through all the light switches and light fixtures.

The next day they upgraded my fuses, and I no longer have neighbor envy. Now my studio has the appropriate power supply for all my equipment.

Soon the pretty part came and the new light fixtures were securely and professionally installed. I didn’t ask anyone to swing from chandeliers, but I am assured none of these will crash down on me.

Getting electrical work done is a scary thing, and I held off out of fear of the expense and any scope creep, but this project was completed within 2 days. Some of the vintage fixtures could have been fire hazards. I donated all the old ones to a refurbishing store.

I had fun playing with the dimmer switches and enjoying the light in my studio.

Since my futon cover was littered with mercury glitter, we tossed the thing out and I shopped affordable portables for a new cover. I fell in love with BOHO by SIS covers, which was so new the store had to order a sample. That made me feel quite fashion forward.

I love the bohemian-ness of this design, which obviously fits right in as a work surface!

My favorite room is the bedroom, where we installed the beautiful chandelier.

All globes are hand made with Czech glass and each has its own personality. It completes the decal headboard very nicely.

Now I am enlightened in all my rooms, and happy this home improvement project is completed. My head is also OK. The weekend after the bump I had some bad symptoms where lights were too bright and noises were too loud. Strobe lights at a party were very irritating so I had to move off the dance floor, but otherwise things are back to my normal.

Creating an in-home gallery (Part 2)

“I believe that if you love everything you are consuming/purchasing/
collecting/surrounding yourself with, it will all go together.
I suppose that’s the idea behind eclectic style–
that if you love it, it matches.”

~ Megan Hunt, It matches if you love it

Since 2008 my home has undergone a few small improvements, but my library walls were always a long-term project.


When I freelanced in 2012 I paid my funds forward by purchasing art from my friends (read this lovely article about art collecting).


Quickly a butterfly theme emerged, but I also acquired/was gifted pieces that spoke to me emotionally.


Then I started working on my art business more and my affluence waned. It wasn’t until I got my estimated taxes back this year that I gave myself permission to have the pieces framed and start a hanging system.


It’s funny how frugal I am with myself (to the point of stingy) when for anyone else I would be in total support of them surrounding themselves with beauty. But if I was willing to fork over that money to the IRS, I should be willing to invest some in my home, right?


So I swung by the Frame Warehouse to get the non-standard sizes framed, and had a wonderful collaborative session with Marian on matching mats and frame styles.


Because the content of each picture is so varied, I decided to form cohesion with basic black frames, rather than getting creative with tones in the work which can be great as well.


I realized my art fair-buddy Jason McPhillips wasn’t represented, and went through his ‘bargain bin’ one afternoon to remedy that.


Since I had to go back to the Frame Warehouse for his piece I decided to also frame my own favorite studies from Lauren Levato Coyne’s drawing workshops, a vanity-project if you will.


It was another collaborative project with Maggie picking the mat color and getting a visual of what the final frame would look like.


Then came the hardware adjustments, since store-bought frames aren’t set up for gallery-style hanging.


It took some time to figure out gravity and weight. Smaller and lighter pieces hang differently than wider and heavier ones.


I got my exercise stringing, hanging, seeing how it looked, and adjusting.


The project wasn’t as expensive as I thought. The big ticket items are large frames (on which I got generous discounts), as expected. The fishing line (I chose 30 lbs strength) cost $3, the moulding hooks can run between $1 to $5 a piece, and the d-ring hanger hardware was about $2 per pack of 3 (why they pack those in odd numbers is a mystery to me).


Michaels often has 40% off deals on their frames and shadowboxes, and I took advantage of that for the two butterfly prints and the pinned specimens.


From dropping off the pieces for framing to getting the second set back the process was about a month, and I didn’t complete the walls all at once.


You need a breather to step back and review the progress and rethink the layout-even after you’ve stared at it on a floor for 3 weeks.


The great part is that no holes are in the walls, so you can re-commit anything at any time you want.


The completed landscape and places corner.


The original works are:


Lest you imagine my whole home is spic-and-span, here’s the pile of paperwork I ignored while taking the weekend to finish the bigger wall…


But now the butterfly collection is complete.



  • Vintage butterfly print gifted from a friend via Anthropologie
  • Shadowbox of Buckeyes
  • Morning Drawing by Lauren Levato Coyne, tropical moth, species unknown, colored pencil on maple
  • Selah! by Crystal Neubauer, collage, ink, graphite, pastel




Time to throw a cocktail party with the artists represented here! It’s been a pleasure to get to know each of them better over the past few years, and I’m so happy to have their creativity and talent present in my home.


“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.
It will not only improve your life,
it will improve the lives of all those around you.”
~ Robin S. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

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.


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.


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)!


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.


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.


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.


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.


I started stringing pieces together based on the tutorial.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


My Boudoir make-over

When I first moved in 2007, I knew I wanted to get a new bedframe and do a little jazzing up of the room. I splurged on a faux finish when I got the home painted, and then installed the necessities for sleeping and adorning, thinking I would at some point make a Morroccan themed boudoir out of the room.


A few years passed, my life was too busy with deadlines, so I got new curtains and new sheets for the time being. I can’t even find a picture of my ‘original’ bedroom setup. It was that ‘temporary’ to me. My metal bedframe gave out in 2009, so I moved the headboard and footboard into storage, and made do with a box spring on the floor.


Three years later it was time to get a new mattress, but when I laid down on the Tempurpedic I realized I had some saving up to do. So another year passed during which I got recommendations about the mattress from those I knew, and in February I set foot into a mattress store again to splurge.

Mattress store

Then came the fun part, furniture shopping! Nadeau had just gotten a shipment from India in, and I swooned over two handpainted nightstands. I wanted to get a side-board of sorts too, but couldn’t resist a corner cabinet. It passed the lift and load test, and I found myself hauling three pieces up the stairs that afternoon. My old nightstands sold on Craigslist the next weekend. My wall decor includes inherited Wayang dolls, a fiber arts art collage gifted from Egypt, and an Eastern-looking mirror.


The bedframe was a bit more challenging, as American Mattress didn’t have a platform bed option. The store manager called around and apparently my idea was ‘out of style’ with her vendors.



So on to the Internet I went, where a variety of platform beds were available, but I wasn’t sure of their quality. Fortunately, World Market had an option, and luckily the Evanston store had a floor model I could look at and knock on to check its sturdiness. It passed the test, but Evanston had no frame in stock, so a suburban round-robin call ensued, and the South Loop still had 2 available. Into the car I hopped to place my order there, and arrange for delivery with the recommended contracted company.


I ordered delivery and assembly, but the allotted time came and went, without a bed. So I had to reschedule for the next day. The next day two guys took the bed upstairs, and then set out to leave. No one had passed on the memo about assembly. So, the next morning, the assemblers came, and saw that one of the drawers was broken. Fortunately everything else was intact.


World Market was fantastic in offering me a replacement drawer, which it turns out took the South Loop store manager to St. Charles because this bed is no longer being carried in the stores.  I got one of the last ones in Chicagoland, with it now being an internet-only order. With the drawers complete, I could finally have the mattress delivered.


During the wait I had perused all the horror stories of how horrible the mattress smells, how for some it never went away, and I braced myself for sleeping on the futon for some time. It wasn’t that bad, even for a sensitive nose like mine. To me, it smelled mildewy–in spite of it coming out of a new box and plastic casing.


Of course the makeover called for a new duvet cover, which I found at World Market, and then some sheet sets to match from Target. After some contemplation I steered away from other fabric canopy designs floating in my head, since all the dust would likely aggravate my allergies, and it would crowd the room. Pinning ideas and inspiration was fun though.


I aired out the room for a few weeks, burned incense, and gradually the smell got fainter. I could still smell it a couple of weeks after coming in from outside.


However, I decided to be kind to my back and sleep on the bed after 7 days. Spine trumped lungs in my case, or I might have given it an extra week.


Then came the headboard design. I’d known Shelley from Single Stone Studios for a few years, and I always wanted one of her decals for my room. I sent her photos of my new furniture and the existing art work, and I knew I wanted butterflies incorporated. She sent me a gorgeous design that immediately spoke to me. She sent me some swatches to help me decide on color, and the chocolate brown matched my espresso wood perfectly.


I received the decal quickly after placing the order, and it was a lot bigger than I envisioned (which has nothing to do with the measurements Shelley and I agreed on, I just pictured it smaller in my head even though I approved her dimensions and had measured it out that way before). So I needed to recruit help, and my helper arrived Sunday to assist in putting it up.


This gave my butterfly lady plenty of time to unfurl on my dining room floor.


For something this size and intricate, I would recommend a professional installation. However, as much as I would’ve loved to fund a girly weekend with Shelley in Chicago, that just wasn’t in the budget this year.


So Lauren and I worked our way through the installation, fixing mistakes here and there, but incredibly happy with the end result. My arms are still a bit sore from all the burnishing, but I slept oh so well Sunday night, and waking up to butterflies the next morning was a thrill.


I may add some paper cut-out butterflies over time as I have seen on Pinterest, but for now, I am content with my new boudoir.


Here’s to awakening your dreams!



The Holiday Extravaganza begins!

Hooray! I’ve just finished uploading 40 Maraviglia pendants and 6 necklaces with their accompanying product photos, ready for you to peruse over the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond.

The Maike’s Maraviglia collection includes hearts:

Wire pendant hearts by Maike’s Marvels 

Spirals and swirls:

Wire pendants by Maike’s Marvels 

My favorite squiggly squares (and other shapes the wire dictated):


Maike’s Maraviglia wire pendants

Collar-style necklaces:


Maike’s Maraviglia necklaces

Which of these is your favorite?

None are the same, so purchase a lovely adornment for your unique self, or for a special someone to gift during the holidays. Shop here. Note that all items processed this week through November 25 will ship on November 27.

If jewelry isn’t on your loved one’s wishlist, I have another solution as well (eight for now, actually). Remind a recipient of you every day with a Desktop Mini, a small encaustic collage they can place on their desk, night stand, or bookshelf. Sizes range from 3 inches square to 5 inches square. My current collection is uploaded as well.

Desktop Minis by Maike’s Marvels

If you have a special phrase, quote, scripture, color or symbol you want to incorporate in either a Maraviglia pendant or a Desktop Mini, let me know. You can contact me via maike(at)maikesmarvels(dot)com to brainstorm a custom project. In fact, one customer already has!

Never been on Etsy? Here’s a run-down of how shopping on Etsy works: How to Navigate and Shop on

I’m excited to see your response!