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!

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.

Brenda Schweder Day

Right after fair season ended, it was time for a fun day. Now That’s A Jig! inventor Brenda Schweder had ordered an Ugly Sweater Angel via Instagram, which was a fun challenge.

I used some of my Belgian felt pieces as embellishments, picked some ‘ugly’ paper, and then ‘uglified’ it more by creating as much glittery pattern as possible on the body and wings.

Then when I told her I was about to ship it, she said she would come pick it up instead, with video equipment in tow. So I had to clean my desk!

Brenda arrived and the lights were set up.

I asked Brenda to bring an extra 1″ square peg for my mini-book projects. With the variety of pegs and extender packs Brenda has available, the NTaJ! possibilities are endless, especially with all the demonstrations she gives to inspire handufacturers.

We had a lovely morning chatting while I demonstrated how to wax a rainbow onto the wire bird Brenda had brought.

FridayMyDay Fieldtrip to Maike Vw's!Rollin'! . . .

Posted by Brenda Meintz Schweder on Friday, December 16, 2016

You can find the tutorial on making the wire part of the bird here:

HolidayBird Ornament Tutorial: Part II (The BirdFrame)Rollin'! . . .

Posted by Brenda Schweder Jewelry on Monday, October 17, 2016

A live watcher won the final piece. I am actually polling what kinds of birds are popular for a murmuration project.

Then my traveling Angel said goodbye to Ugly Sweater Angel.

We went for lunch and then I introduced Brenda to the merchants of the Main-Dempster Mile, which was a blast. I think she might return to Evanston, possibly before going to Rockford. 😉

A few days later Brenda mentioned a Craftsy Tutorial, and I signed up for one of hers too, of course.

I also want to re-read this article and jig that necklace up.

I am certain that 2017 will bring more NtaJ! shenanigans along with more Brenda fun!

Now That’s a Jig! news and product updates are available here, and you can take NTaJ! classes at June’s Bead & Button Show.

Book Ornaments

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

newminibooks

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.

printingpaper

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.

2ndjigorder

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.

doublejigged

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.

dickensianbook

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

bookjig

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

bookmakingpages

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.

pagewaxing

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

adheringpages

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

esther2-4book

O Holy Night lent itself for a mini songbook.

silennightbookphotoshoot

An O Tannenbaum score helped me tweak that design.

otannenbaumbook

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.

inventoryupdate

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.

malleryfoolsgoldaddict

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

vadermask

Making Mini-books

During my play date with Brenda Schweder I specifically focused on her angled gadgets, since sharp corners are not my forte.

TableView

I took home the Square NTaJ Accessory Peg Pak Mix.

NTaJSquarePegs

Higher gauge wire is easier to manipulate, but my affinity for 16 gauge steel remains strong.

SquarePegging

As I fiddled with the multiple squares a book shape emerged.

Nekkidbooks

At home I played some more.

Copperfielding

Sadly the book lovers guide paper is too thick for this design, but it was fun to consider.

BookLovers

Cutting, waxing, inserting and sizing the paper is quite time consuming.

David CopperfieldMM

Each type of paper reacts differently to the wax and to the steel wire structure.

Cuttingpages

So these will be higher-priced pendants or ornaments.

MiniJournalM

For now, Angel is enjoying her temporary library of a Paris travel guide, a David Copperfield review, a coloring book and a journal.

AngelLibrary

You may see some other bookish designs as I rip up books and work with scraps.

BookishOrnaments

I am happy to take commissions.

CopperfieldFinished

I also want to remake this pendant.

WritePendant

Speaking of reading material, one of my creations is featured in a book. You can order Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew right now.

Incite 4 cover

Reading is good for you!

ShadowCopperfield

Jigging with Brenda

Recently I took a mini-roadtrip to Waukesha to visit Brenda Schweder in her studio. I have been intrigued by her Now That’s a Pliers! since she introduced them, but wanted to take them for a spin before committing to another tool investment.

NtAJPlaytime

She showed me her fabulous studio space that has various sections to run the different functions of her business and craft. I also delivered the angel that she had reverse-engineered for me, in Now That’s A Jig! colors.

BrendasAngel

Then she demonstrated the Pliers and I got to play with them a little bit.

NTAPPlaytime

Soon I realized that the Now That’s a Jig! was the better tool for my purposes, and I started playing with the variety of pegs Brenda had on hand.

NTAJBangleStacker

She gave me tips and recommendations, and I got to peruse her plethora of demonstration pieces. You can see her tutorials on YouTube.

Inspiration

Soon I had created a shopping pile, and I went home with a variety of tools, inspiration, and design ideas.

NTAJLoot

At home I implemented the DoubleDekr peg for earrings and a bangle.

doubleDekrSpiral

I’ll still need gloves, but this will be easier than the uneven paintbrush handle I’ve been using.

CrystalBangle

I played with the infinity design of the 3/8″ pegs some more.

InfinityMakingNtAJ

The results are on the NtAJ Facebook page. I like how these turned out.

InfinityCombo

I made earrings out of the pieces that were too short.

PurpleEarringsNtAJ

Pretty cool.

purple earrings

Brenda publishes in various magazines, and is in the latest issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry.

WireMagazine

A smaller frosty design was born.

LiterateInfinity

So many more ideas percolating!

NewDesigns

These aren’t loaded into the Shop yet but feel free to message me if you are interested in purchasing one of my creations.

PlayatHome

Making Angels

Angel is literally making new friends.

angelfriends

When I signed up for Bead & Button workshops there was a reverse engineering option but due to lack of registration the workshop was dropped.

repairprep

Instead, Brenda Schweder offered to help me reverse engineer my angel ornaments remotely, and I sent one in.

sendingoffangel

Soon I received an email with the required Now That’s A Jig! Parts, and I ordered the pegs to supplement my StartrKit.

angeljig

I got my very own angel design template in the mail, and decided to test the design prior to working on a commission. Getting the violin clef right took some effort after being out of practice for 6 months.

violinclefpractice

Then I set about picking out pink paper for the memorial angels. I traced a musical score onto the handmade paper.

charcoalscore

Then I added a sparkle bead.

sparklebeadangel

I picked out outfits for the other angels and waxed them up.

angeloutfits

The delicate hearts are so sweet.

dressingangels

Soon they were all dressed and cooling off.

coolingoff

You’ll see them at the upcoming Main-Dempster Sidewalk Sale.

angelsinlight

I’ll be taking up See Jane Sparkle’s Sidewalk between 10 and 4 July 19-31 with new wares.

13524370_268752346815006_2762526471572183465_n

Turquoise Frosty got a new outfit too, in hopes of it making him more attractive at the holiday fairs.

frostynewlook

Come October I’ll be jigging up a whole collection for the holiday season! Any color requests?

angeldelivery

Jigging at the Bead & Button Show

Two years ago I visited the Bead & Button Show for the first time and was overwhelmed.

BeadFrosty

It is amazing how a convention center can have a block worth of bead booths with all of them offering different wares.

moreisles

The plethora of colors and sparkles resulted in me only buying a few strands, since I couldn’t remember what I had at home.

rowsofbeads

This year I checked my color inventory ahead of time.

BeadInventoryBefore

Two friends had gifted me a lot of beads, so I had quite some notes to take.

BeadNotes

I also wanted to learn how to operate my jig better, so I signed up for a few of Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s A Jig! Sessions.

JigStarterKit

I use the jig for my frosties, which morphed into the dot show pieces. I also started experimenting with butterflies and dragonflies for the Swarm Show.

JIggingDotsBfly

I knew I could learn more tricks by getting some hands-on demos from the Jig designer herself.

NtaJcomponents

On June 8 I learned how to make stick figure necklaces with lovely beads by Diane Hawkey.

facebeads

It was so hard to pick out faces. I’m glad we got to choose three.

MaikesStickmanJig

Brenda introduced us to the gadget that helps make collars.

collarbenders

I finished putting my people together at home.

stickmanHomework

I reviewed my swag bag and started plotting the map.

swagbag

Bead & Button has various calls for art prior to the show, and the beaded artistry was amazing.

beaddreamsbouquets

The display of buttons was amazing also, and I coveted these museum pieces.

ButtonExpo

Crowns of beads and wirework and lots of whimsy.

beaddreams

I drove back to Milwaukee on Saturday morning and tried to be methodical in going aisle by aisle.

beadbooths

I did get distracted here and there, but since I had marked my must-see booths in advance, I was able to focus my purchases for day 1.

crystals

These handcrafted Peruvian critters were impossible to resist.

critterbeadsfromPeru

There were tassels that reminded me of See Jane Sparkle.

sparkletassels

Crystals everywhere.

ssilversparkle

Beads in all sizes and shapes.

bargainskulls

What’s better than beads? Beaded beads!

beadedbeads

Smartly, the convention center kept the snackbar open on the shopping floor, and had a cocktail bar to boot.

lunchbreak

Fortified, I continued to browse and note what was where.

BeadShowBooth

I compared prices on pearls and druzy agate and had lovely conversations with vendors.

TAPearls

Although I had not planned to shop on day 1, some beads were impossible to resist and I brought some treasure into the hotel with me.

Day1Loot

I took a lovely stroll of the riverwalk and enjoyed a restful night before the workshop the next day.

roundsgalore

On Sunday I participated in the Jig StartrWorkshop-Xpress to learn what all my pegs and rounds could do.

sundayxpress

Now That’s A Jig! Was designed by Brenda Schweder as a collaboration with Swanstrom in 2012.

StickManClassKit

I had met Brenda in 2011 and took a bangle class with her then.

BrendaSchwederDesignsManquin

We reconnected at Ayla’s Highland Park Bead Bazaar in 2014 and I ordered a jig shortly after.

ChainlinkDemo

We were given a lovely template to learn different connecting pieces that could form a bracelet and help kickstart a variety of ideas.

LinkPatternPak

You can also make jumprings on the jig.

jumpringcoiling

Brenda’s technique is different from mine, so it was good to see how she works and learn how to maximize the Swivelok.

SchwederDemonstrates

I was too busy admiring all her beautiful pieces and learning more tips and tricks to really focus on finishing the bracelet links, but we got take the template home so I can finish making links later.

BrendaSchwederDesigns

Later this summer I’ll do a studio visit to learn how to operate Now That’s a Pliers!

NtaP

This year Brenda launched PatternPaks to help people set up the jig with a published design.

LinkPatternPak

After class I went up to the booth to check out additional PatternPaks, and settled on the RainChain template for which I already have all the rounds.

NtAJBooth

Then I reviewed my shopping list to determine what beads I needed to take home.

czechbeadpiles

Of course my self-imposed ban on blue beads didn’t last, but they are all unique finds I know I wouldn’t be able to source as easily here.

SandySchorFtWorth

I decided to indulge in cheese fries before the ride home.

cheesefries

It was a lovely day of sifting through colors and sparkles, and being inspired by the wide variety of beads that exist.

BeadsGalore

The gulls decorated my car as it stood overnight.

seagullgrafitti

I am already at work designing beads for people who made special requests, and look forward to sharing additional designs at the upcoming Evanston Sidewalk Sale.

BeadsfromtheShow

But first, the beads had to be inventoried.

BBLoot

I can see how malas and rosaries can help quiet the mind, because there is something zen about counting beads on a string.

countingpearlsMore photos to come soon!

Preparing for the DOT Show

I’ve been toggling between doilies and dots this past month.

Studiotime

After my show opening at Creative Coworking I launched into dot-making for the next exhibit. The DOT Show has been in the making for about a year.

bigroundred

It is an exhibition of 14 FUSEDChicago members at the Chicago Arts District in Pilsen.

postcardstash

The show was installed this weekend and officially opens May 13 with a reception in ShowPOD7, from 6 to 10 pm at 1834 S. Halsted in Chicago.

MakingBlackWhiteDots

Each of the 7 windows included in this unique exhibition will have its own composition, yet, through the connecting form of the dot, they will visually link to the other 6 windows.

tableview

I put all the rounds on my Now That’s A Jig! to play with.

BigDotJigging

But putting the rounds up against the wall put things in perspective. It is quite a leap to go from Frosties to larger installation art.

snowmanscale

I used bottles as mandrels to go bigger.

largermandrels

The larger pieces are hard to keep stable without a frame or substrate.

bigdots

Thankfully a brainstorm with Carol Myers had me running to Michaels to pick up wreath holders, and those offered a nice framing device for my larger pieces.

MichaelsLoot

Curated by FUSEDChicago members VA de Pintor, Elyse Martin, and Linda Sorkin-Eisenberg, this exhibition supports FUSEDChicago’s mission to educate and promote encaustic art, which is an ancient art form.

NakedDots

It is the process of painting by fusing layers of pigmented wax. The flexibility of this medium affords many interesting results. Surfaces can be smooth or highly texturized. Layers of the wax can be sculpted or embedded or simply scraped away.

dottedpaper

In my case, encaustic medium is fused to the wire.

MakingOfPurpleRound

Artists included in this exhibit:

firstfew

  • showPOD1  Sue Cahill & Marian Ostrowski

coilingaway

  • showPOD2  Carol Hamilton & Maike van Wijk

coiling

  • showPOD3  Linda Sorkin-Eisenberg & Carol L. Myers

CoilyDoilies

  • showPOD4  Alicia Forestall-Boehm & Amy Van Winkle

polkadots

  • showPOD5  Michele Thrane & Pat Lagger

usingupsteel

  • showPOD6  Joan Moriarty & Karen Tichy

testhanging

  • showPOD7  Kathy Blankley Roman & Jenny Learner

Purples

I scoped out the venue and was glad to be paired with the prolific Carol Hamilton, who sent me the dimensions of her pieces while I was still putting together the Creative Coworking squares.

Partners

This coming weekend I’ll learn how to solder which will hopefully inspire better ways to create these larger pieces that everyone loves.

reddots

ShowPOD is a program of Chicago Arts District. showPOD is a high exposure exhibition space, compact, dynamic, unmanned, and designed to support concepts of art experimentation and installation.

colormatching

Developed by the Chicago Arts District, showPOD creates an instant art experience in the non-traditional space and format of 24/7/365 exposure to art installation.

DotShowCard

showPOD by design can be viewed by anyone at anytime during the life of its installation, allowing a rich public art experience that breaks down the traditional limits of gallery space or museum.

DottiePod2

FUSEDChicago is an organization of Midwest artists who share an interest in encaustic, a method of making art using pigmented wax fused to a surface by heat.

layingout

Come out on Friday and see how this turned out!

Jigging a Daisy

In 2011 I learned to make wrangled bangles with Brenda Schweder.

TCCEWrangledBangleworkshop

Little did I know that intro to wire class would lead to a whole new career!

BSchwederBangle

Wrangled Bangle by Brenda Schweder in 2011

At the time I considered myself a paper collage artist, and encaustics were just beginning to show up on my radar.

WrangledBangleWorkshop

The bangles workshop was just to pass the time at the Creative Connection Event, but I did like the results.

MaikesWranglesTCCE

Fast forward a few years and I am now the owner of Brenda’s Now That’s a Jig!

StartrKit

I added a round peg combo pack to my order so I could use the Jig for my Frosties.

FrostyNowThatsAJig

Then as I was fooling around with a daisy I realized that might be a jiggable item as well.

handwrangleddaisy

So I laid the hand-wrangled version on the jig and started spacing out pegs. Then the bending began.

jigging

2 petals formed.

NTaJ

And then I kept looping around the pegs and created a replica of the daisy.

daisymaking

The center wasn’t stable, so I wrapped more wire around it to secure the shape. I bent the petals for dimension and adhered the wire to the encaustic substrate with a mini-iron.

daisydaylight

Then I had to conduct an overnight hang test to make sure the wire would stay on.

daisyhangtest

Now you can see this piece at Creative Coworking through the end of the month.

hexaptych

I’m looking forward to taking Brenda’s Now That’s a Pliers! Class at the Bead & Button Show.

Collaborate2014

Collaborate Project by Brenda Schweder in 2014

Her creations are so inspiring!

SchwederJewelry

Steel wire jewelry by Brenda Schweder in 2011