Valentines at the Pop Up Gallery

I was feeling the love vibe earlier this month and made some valentine hearts, along with other springy pieces.

I decided to deliver these to the Evanston Pop Up gallery and refreshed my shelf.

It was fun to determine a new configuration and see where it leads.

Some items have been sitting for a while, so I need to come up with a sale for those, or just swap them out.

I only had one stowaway heart left, so I made some more hearts for the Handmade Market Show on Saturday.

I was feeling the blues this time around.

Cutting the tiers is always tricky.

A glittery peace dove cam under the wire.

It is so pretty, and one of a kind.

So go get your Valentine’s Day shopping on. Love is a celebration year-round, but it is always nice to have an excuse to give those you love an extra treat or a token of your affection.

Here’s to warm hearts and joyous minds.

Communicating Love

The Textual Encounters show at ARC Gallery inspired me to create two new collages in February. I wrote about Encounters with Language prior to the show opening.


When I warm up the various wax colors I generally have two new substrates to play with. This keeps me from ruining a layer when I am too impatient to wait for it to cool off enough. Overfusing can create interesting effects, but once collage pieces are laid down the heating and reheating options become more limiting.


Communicating Love was prompted by the statement that attention and communication are the same thing. I disagreed, but since English is my third language, I gut-checked with my friends (who sided with me—YAY friends!) and checked the trusty dictionary. I always consult the dictionary to confirm the meaning of a word, and find joy in uncovering the layers, origins and evolution of definitions.


While attention and communication are not the same, they are both ingredients to a successful relationship, so I decided to create my own aspirational recipe for success and added additional words I’d like to see as part of my future. I pulled definitions and highlighted what spoke to me. Then I embedded the paper scraps into the warm wax and fused them with encaustic medium.


The embedded words include attention, communication, trust, appreciative, respectful, dependable, devoted, worthy, bold, kindhearted, authentic, integrity, reliable and reciprocal. Whether these words are interpreted the same by a partner is what makes a relationship ground for challenge and discovery.


When the fusing of the collaged pieces was done, I decided to apply the oil pigment technique from prior workshops, and carved in the words love, admiration, fun, joy, laughter, faith, companion, happy, pleasure and agape.


I thought about adding a wire heart and a small wire embellishment to this piece before I started it.


Finishing Encounters with Language expanded on that notion and had me wrangling 10 feet of wire into my biggest heart-shape to date.


Sizing and resizing took some effort.


Packing this bouncy piece would have been a shipping challenge.


I am glad I could drop the work off in person.


I am extremely proud to have my own wall in the gallery, and look forward to expanding on the wire-y elements of future wall decor.


Textual Encounters is up through March 28. ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N Damen Avenue in Chicago. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm.


The participating FUSEDChicago artists in Textual Encounters include: Ahavani Mullen, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Amy Van Winkle, April Nomellini, Brad Hook, Carol Hamilton, Carol Myers, Cat Crotchett, Catherine Keebler, Cheryl Holz, Dan Addington, Donna Zarbin-Byrne, Elyse Martin, Emily Rutledge, Jennifer Schmidt, Jennifer Terpstra, Jenny Learner, Julia Ris, Karen Tichy, Kari Hall, Kathy Blankley Roman, Katsy Johnson, Laura LaRue, Linda Sorkin Eisenberg, Maike van Wijk, Mary Krebs Smyth, Michele Thrane, Pat Lagger, Rebecca Stahr, Sarah Rehmer, Shelley Gilchrist, VA de Pintor.

00_FUSEDTextualEncounters ecardBlog


It’s Valentine’s Day week. Hearts are everywhere, roses abound, chocolate is allowed, and romantic getaways are promoted. Love is grand for those who have found it, and I enjoy observing the couples who are truly meant for each other.


Yet many of us don’t get to plan a night out for two. We’re busy living lives on our own, surrounded by friends, enjoying the freedom of a solitary life.


“Be the person you want to be with” is a popular mantra these days, yet around these kinds of holidays, being a couple seems to be more important than working on being one’s own best friend.


As a single gal, it is hard to balance the holiday promotions while not perpetuating the “if you’re single something’s wrong with you” implication of this holiday.


I am perfectly uniquely me, and I am happily living my life the best way I can on my own until Mr. Wonderful finally stops to ask for directions to my vicinity. (He’s clearly gotten lost without wanting to admit it!)


Over the past 6 months, self-love has become a big word for several people in my community, and that is something I can get behind.


Who says we need our partner to draw us a bath, take us on a romantic night out, buy us flowers or chocolate? I can do all of those things on my own, any day of the year, if I choose to do so.


So, my message is to not bum yourself out on this particular day. We can and should appreciate ourselves every day of the year, and we don’t need someone else to do that for us. (Though their validation is always graciously accepted.)


Love yourself for who you are, and tell your bestie what you appreciate about them. Give love to the non-romantic companions in your life who always lend an ear and never turn down the opportunity for a hug.


There is plenty of love to go around without that special man or woman in your life. Your sparkle is noted by many and just because you don’t get a flower or candy delivery at your door on February 14 doesn’t mean your radiance hasn’t made a difference in someone else’s life.


Set a date with YOU. Indulge in something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t committed to yet. Post a query on social media to see if others want to tag along. Write yourself a gift certificate to do something for yourself and calendar it into a date when you think you can swing it.


You are NEVER alone, and you are ALWAYS surrounded by love. Be happy with who you are right now, this minute, and revel in your unique awesomeness.


Meanwhile, there’s always eye candy!


Pact with Self

During a recent Tarot reading the King of Wands was my outcome. Now I’ve done numerous card-reading/astrology/pendulum/horoscope experiments when it comes to romance without avail, but as I read the description this representation of a man warmed up to me.


“He is a man of vision filled with energy and is happy and willing to share his wisdom with others.  The King of Wands enjoys life and expects and wants the same for others,” states Joanne Walmsley in her blog.


The description in Tarot Plain and Simple describes him as a “generous, mature man who is loyal and committed to a monogamous relationship” and “an honest, trustworthy, professional man.”


While I don’t know how to go about finding this fair haired suitor, it is fun to take those traits and internalize them.


In 2011 I was spooked by a breakup, and I haven’t really been proactive about putting myself out there again (not that I haven’t been looking…). To process the sudden turn of events I drafted up a list of all the qualities I wanted in a relationship.


I also crossed out all the things that were deal breakers.


While I was ambivalent about incorporating ‘negativity’ in the piece, I also felt it necessary to literally bury the bad and cover it with symbols and words of transformation to signify that I could move beyond old patterns and move into a better place.


Fusing it all was a therapeutic process.


I wrote out a pact with myself, and arranged words of joy and hope and enthusiasm onto the lighter side of the wood.


Sassy Aphrodite’s statue was added as the emblem of love and independence.


This could very well be just one more reading in a string of them without a true outcome, but nonetheless with Spring in the air I do have hope for a pairing with a nice companion at some point in my life.


The spread indicated my heartbreak (the queasy-making 3 of swords) is behind me, that I needed to be intuitive and patient, that it might be time to open up and be a bit more spontaneous.


Ultimately, it is good to keep dreaming and hoping.


Hearts are resilient, after all, and can grow three sizes with the right relationships.


While this is a personal piece, other encaustic collages are available for sale on Etsy.


So we’ll see if this Queen of Wands finds her King this year…


Photos of Tarot cards are from the Robin Wood deck, the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg, and the Universal Tarot by Maxwell Miller.

In love with May flowers

The other day it was overcast, but I felt totally in love.


May certainly has my heart this year.


Sure, it requires allergy relief (I use the homeopathic Sabadil from Whole Foods), but I was ready to swoon at the sight of the vibrant colors and gorgeous flowers.


It was raining petals while birds were singing their songs.


Tulips lined up in wonderful color palettes.



The array made me think of the Efteling’s Fakir who makes the tulips grow.

tuliprow2 prettyinpink

Pops of yellow are everywhere.



Not to mention my favorite blue hue.



A snuggly friend walked with me for a spell.


I love these funky flowers.


Nature’s so vibrant it makes my heart swell.


Who knew looking at other people’s gardens could make me feel this way?


Even my coffee was feeling fern-y.


Thank you for tending your gardens, neighbors! 🙂

The day of love

“Do you believe in love.
Do you believe it true?”
~ Huey Lewis And The News 

Believe in love

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.

Love really should be celebrated every day (not just tomorrow), and the couples who do have the best relationships.

However, the most important love one can have is for oneself. Being a lover of life is a key ingredient to that.

This year, Life is my Valentine. I’m so happy with how it has treated me. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had to work hard to be where I’m at, but overall, there is nothing I would trade because it all helped me become the person I am today. A Valentine is supposed to bring out the best in you, isn’t it?

Hearts of Wax

If you are spending the day of romance on your own, make it something lovely for you (such as R.O.C.E.). Honor the person you are, and that celebration of yourself will attract other lovely people into your life. Be your own best friend and companion. Solitude can be a wonderful way to fall in love with your soul.

true love by Maike's Marvels

Above all, never give up on love. It can be found in many forms, and doesn’t have to be manifested in a romantic relationship to exist. Sometimes life can be more fulfilling in solitude than with someone. It may take years of waiting, of trial and error, of having crushes crushed and ideals re-evaluated. But I firmly believe that what is in the heart is meant to manifest. Whatever your heart’s desire is, it will be fulfilled in due time.

I DO believe.

“Frank: What about you? Is there someone else? 
Kathleen Kelly: No. No, but… but there’s the dream of someone else.”
~ Dialogue in You’ve Got Mail

Sassy Aphrodite

“With her, beauty comes.
The winds flee before her and the storm clouds;
sweet flowers embroider the earth;
the waves of the sea laugh;
she moves in radiant light.
Without her there is no joy or loveliness anywhere.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

There she is, in LOVEly company at Dick Blick Art Materials.

You can view these melancholy, humorous, inspirational and beautiful art works until March 18.

love show at Dick Blick Evanston

What I love about the Agora’s Aphrodite statue is that the sculpture has such an aura of confidence and contentment. This is a Goddess who is self-aware. She is proud and knows her place in the world. As the embodiment of love and beauty she channels that love and beauty. She has wonderful curves and embraces her femininity.

Greek mythology portrays its pantheon as very human, prone to mood swings, at times quite selfish and with extreme (often ego-driven) fluctuations in morality and its enforcement (I guess not much has changed with regard to people in power). Aphrodite was no exception.

“In later poems she is usually shown as treacherous and malicious,
exerting a deadly and destructive power over men.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

That is what I like about the statue though. She is so human. Her form may be exquisite, but beauty would not be recognized without contrast, and we often have that contrast residing within ourselves.

I started my Aphrodite with a background of hearts. The wedges of those flower petal stamp pads make fun shapes. The Mini Hearts stamp from Impression Obsession added pattern. The words were written with a fountain pen ink-dispenser.

background of Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

Then I typed words that I associate with love and a happy relationship and printed those out. They are an affirmation of self-love and the growth and joy that comes from being loved by another. I fused them onto the canvas with encaustic medium. I also added some purple I had left from the Swallowtail project.

text for Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

“The Goddess of love and beauty, who beguiled all,
gods and men alike; the laughter-loving goddess,
who laughed sweetly or mockingly at those her wiles had conquered;
the irresistible goddess who stole away even the wits of the wise.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

I used letter stamps to stamp the word aphrodite onto a sheet, along with a butterfly stamp from a bargain bin. Paper scraps were fused with a pink encaustic paint.

exquisite, elegant, extraordinary--Maike's Marvels

Exquisite, elegant and extraordinary are my words for the year.

A friend called me elegant recently, and I realized I needed to hold that thought and embrace it as I move forward. It embodies grace and luxury at the same time.

Exquisite is how I want my art to be perceived, and myself too; why not?

Extraordinary represents every day. I am no longer living a life of conformity, nor am I an ordinary person. I need to embrace that transition and the flux that comes with it.

love is within by Maike's Marvels

Because Aphrodite is so self-contained, and because not everybody (yours truly) has a partner on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to convey that one does not need someone else to have love. “Love is within” is something I hold true.

We project loveability onto others. We seek approval from the community to validate our being. But ultimately true love comes only from oneself. It is a huge burden to make another person the source of one’s self-esteem. The power you give that other person can be abused and mis-used.

Because a Goddess has a higher power, I wanted to give her a bit of an aura. The purple glow was applied with a sponge that had purple ink on it. I then ‘floated’ Sassy Aphrodite onto the collage with mounting tape.

floating aphrodite

The key is to accept oneself as one is. Aphrodite didn’t have a perfect life. She was blamed for many things. She influenced situations for better AND for worse. The love and beauty she doled out didn’t always lead to a happily ever after. There was pain, manipulation and death. But per this representation, and all the other confident hip-jutting statues of her, she owned who she was and didn’t apologize for it.

So stand tall, embrace your beauty. And love who you are.

believe you are special

You too, are exquisite, elegant and extraordinary, and you should celebrate every aspect of your uniqueness.

vibrant hearts

“Voici mon secret.
Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur.
L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

Here is my secret.
It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
 ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince 

Welcome to the month of love. I wasn’t ready to take down all my Christmas lights, so when my friend Cara announced her Hearts of Wax shop I made a purchase right away.

Hearts of Wax back

Cara LOVES Valentine’s day, and used to make lovely favors for her coworkers (I was a happy recipient). Her Valentine’s Day enthusiasm is contagious.

“Give others a piece of your heart,
not a piece of your mind.”

~Barbara Johnson, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy

As a wonderful designer, her packaging had to be just right.

unwrapping Hearts of Wax

I pierced holes with a paper piercer to string the hearts up with Stretch Magic. Made of paper and covered in colored wax, the hearts are beautifully translucent.

Translucent Hearts of Wax

I added the hearts to my lone Christmas light strand, which helps brighten this grey winter. The wandering Scribble Heart is lifted as well.

Hearts of Wax Mobile

It’s such fun to be inspired with other crafters’ creations, especially when they are dear friends. Order your set of hearts today, and tell Cara I sent you. 🙂

“The heart doesn’t speak.
It only feels, and knows, and understands.
And that is enough.”
~Lisa Wingate, Texas Cooking

Hearts of Wax in evening