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.

Bucktown Show Recap

My last show for the season was the Bucktown Holiday ArtShow.

As always, this show was a lot of fun and featured many creative artists.

I enjoyed making new friends and catching up with the regulars.

Day One was filled with visiting friends and some new admirers.

I enjoyed watching what people gravitated to in my booth.

I enjoyed lunch from the Yum Dum foodtruck outside.

The silent auction was in full swing in all rooms.


Chicago Cubs Pride was on display in many booths.

I was happy to see rainbow angels flutter off again.

Soon it was time to close up.

It snowed lightly on the way home.

The next morning I was greeted by a murmuration.

I unveiled my booth and rearranged my pieces.

It was my last time trimming trees for the year.

More customers streamed in.

Even our organizers and volunteers shopped.

These faux leather trees by MoHop are on my wishlist for next year.

I parted with some of my personal favorite angels.

Dragonflies also fluttered away.

I might see some of these adornments around town again.

A good day called for a reward.

Then came time for teardown.

I said bye to bobblehead frosty.

Another snowy evening for a beautiful winter wonderland.

Here’s to next year!

Book Ornaments

I started making mini-books in August, and worked on getting more ideas out of my head and into wire this week.


Based on the square peg measurements I created snippets of text in my computer and printed that out on tissue paper to fit in the various designs I have in my head.


I made lots of angels last week, but had many ideas for other pieces in the process that I couldn’t get to because the angel setup is a bit complex. So I ordered an extra Now That’s A Jig! jig bed from Brenda Schweder to be able to wire wrap in stereo.


I still only have two hands, but at least I can work on Frosties or other designs on the fly without having to undo the angel jig setup during production season.


Before I set up the Frosty production jig, I wanted to make a Dickensian book ornament. The Christmas Carol has a preface that lent itself to 1-inch snippets.


Of course as I got inspired I couldn’t just bend one mini-book.


Soon I was going through my stash to convert holiday songs into mini songbooks as well.


Getting the pages adhered is painstaking, during which I am learning about how to wrap the wire differently and the number of pages that work best as I go.


Soon I developed a rhythm toggling between books as each needed to cool for cutting and re-adhering.


A Bible scrap from the book of Esther became a mini-bible storybook.


O Holy Night lent itself for a mini songbook.


An O Tannenbaum score helped me tweak that design.


When they were finished I did a quick photoshoot and inventoried and tagged the pieces so they’re ready for the Wilder Mansion’s Holiday Fair November 4 and 5.


It was a bookish weekend too, with me missing a significant Cubs win in favor of catching up on Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold characters. Her series might convince me to get an eBook reader soon, since I am almost through the library’s paper copies.


It’s on to Frosties next, and you’ll see these pieces on my shop page after November 6.


Bucktown Holiday ArtShow

I’m busy preparing for the Bucktown Holiday Fair this coming weekend.


The fun begins at noon and goes until 5 p.m. December 13 and 14.


More than 100 artists will exhibit and I enjoyed the creativity last year’s show featured.


There is a silent auction, a raffle, and delicious food and drink will be offered.


The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow is at the Holstein Fieldhouse at 2200 N Oakley Avenue in Chicago.


You can get a free ticket here.


If Bucktown isn’t on your holiday shopping route, check out my pieces at Aurora Rose Boutique in downtown Lemont (open til midnight on Friday, December 12!) or Evanston’s Dragonfly on Chicago Avenue by Dempster.


The Evanston Art Center also hosts a variety of my pieces through December 22.


I am also on Etsy 24/7.


Ornaments Galore

Holiday season is official now, and I am busy making custom orders.


I am also replenishing the angel and frosty supplies of ornaments that found new homes Thanksgiving week.


My inventory numbers broke the 100 mark recently.


On Friday I will have my entire inventory at the ADA Holiday Fair from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. in the ADA building’s lobby.


Saturday you will find me at the Waukegan West class of 1990 fundraiser from 2 to 6 p.m.


The Evanston Art Center’s 12th Annual Winter Arts & Crafts EXPO is hosting jewelry and ornaments until December 22.


Aurora Rose will be hosting these ornaments in their shop at 111 Stephen Street in Lemont.


Dragonfly boutique at 1309 Chicago Avenue in Evanston also has a few frosties, cages, angels and my jewelry in stock.


You can message me via Facebook for your selection or special order.


Etsy will gradually update between holiday fairs.


My last fair for the year will be the Bucktown Holiday Fair December 13 & 14.


Jigging Frosties

My offline life is speeding up so the online blog is getting off-schedule. Here’s a peek at what pulls me away from the computer these days.


In mid-October I was able to purchase Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s A Jig Starter Kit, which I eagerly anticipated.


I consulted with Brenda via email on the various Rounds she had, and ordered the Big Rounds set for my Frosty the Snowman Holiday Ornaments.


I joyfully set up the jig on a sunny day.


Then I dove in with the frosty-making.


Once I had added an ‘allowance’ for the wire, twisting the strips was easy-peasy.


Having the option of making various sizes of Frosties is great.


It beats using the household mandrels I used last year, and makes the process much faster.


I still do some hand-bending after the base is completed.


Then I heat up the griddle for their adornments.


Sometimes a bit of smashing is required to flatten the snowmen out again.


I tried setting up the jig for trees and angels too but that requires a little more finessing (more pegs in particular).


Productivity is booming for the holiday season!


You’ll see my frosties, angels and other holiday ornaments on Etsy, at Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont, Dragonfly Boutique in Evanston, The Evanston Art Center’s EXPO, the Waukegan West class of 1990 fundraiser and the Bucktown Holiday Fair.


Necklace pendants, earrings and key chains are also in the works.


Feeling Ornamental

It’s a bit early for Advent, but I am having a blast caroling and making holiday ornaments for December.


Making snowmen has taught me all the lyrics to Frosty the Snowman.


Meanwhile angelic songs are humming in my brain as well.


’Tis the season to be jolly, two months ahead of schedule. Snow arrived early, too, but it will hopefully hold off after last week’s fluke. Technically I should have started Christmas preparations in June, but it’s my first year in retail world so I am still learning the ropes.


Peaceful Parlour was first to light a fire under me when they requested that I bring in ornaments in October. This is the selection I brought in, though some pieces may have already been adopted.


Located at 212 S. Third Street in Geneva, Illinois, Peaceful Parlour is Chicagoland’s most expansive Eco-Chic Boutique. The future-friendly store carries a wide variety of herbal remedies and offers a numerous hand-blended teas designed to enhance wellness and positive energy. The kid’s playroom offers a variety of earth-friendly, no-batteries-required toys that kids can experiment with while parents peruse the rest of the store.


Peaceful Parlour’s focus is to find products with environmental and community benefits, supporting local artists, small businesses, fair trade and women co-op groups around the world. These products include household items such as recycled-glass water bottles, cork bowls; gardening accessories; personal adornments such as scarves, hats, jewelry and purses; and home decorative items including lamps, paintings and chimes. With its focus on positive energy flow, Peaceful Parlour also offers incense, purifying sprays and other meditative tools.


The woman-owned store hosts a variety of pop-up events, including a psychic medium, meet the artisan, outdoor music in the summer and tie-ins to Geneva’s special holiday festivities. The store will hold hourly ‘Blue Light Specials‘ on Small Business Saturday (November 30).  Geneva’s Christmas Walk and House Tour on Dec 6th and Dec 7th marks the arrival of Santa Lucia  and the mayor is presented with the first candy cane of the season on Friday night. Stores stay open late and Peaceful Parlour will be serving some organic herbal teas and homemade cookies. A guy’s night out is planned on December 17th at which they can shop for their ladies (Peaceful Parlour will have them fill out a wish list in advance).


The Evanston Art Center’s Winter EXPO, opening on November 23, will have select pieces on display as well.


So while I am ambivalent about jumping on the Christmas-before-December retail bandwagon, I do need to sell and promote my wares. So peruse my Holiday collection at Peaceful Parlour in Geneva and at Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont.


You can order your custom ornaments or pendants via e-mail. This set just got shipped overseas. Overseas orders need to be in by November 20 in order to arrive by Christmas, or they might get stuck in customs until the New Year.


I can make angels, snowmen and trees in any color combination, and incorporating the carols you favor. Wire cages get quirky at times, so those will be a blend of your choices and the wire’s personality. Since these will all be made by hand, my last day of taking custom holiday orders is December 9. Local and Etsy orders should be made by December 18 to ensure on-time Christmas delivery.


The three pieces below will be up for dibs on Facebook before they go to Etsy (trees may be a one-season-only offer, they’re complicated!):