Have you ever not realized how much your brain needed something to shake it up?  I’d not realized how in need my brain was of something completely different till recently when we went on a big trip.

I’m not good at being “in the moment”, my brain is always moving, usually bouncing around future and past thoughts more than present thoughts.  It is hard to not think of things elsewhere from where you are, whether it is a worry, a project, a conversation you recall out of nowhere.

We took a trip this spring that I was looking forward to (we’d been planning it for 2 years) but didn’t realize how much it would impact me.  We were to visit China (Beijing, Guilin & Shanghai), the husband had lived there in his 20s and wanted me to experience it a bit, and after China a stop in Kyoto Japan (my choice due to a long love of most things Japanese) for cherry blossom season.

China was our first stop.  I knew Facebook was banned there, but forgot about Google being banned – and thus my email, which is a gmail account.  Immediately, I had no contact with anyone back home and decided to take that opportunity and run with it by not going online to read daily North American news.  It was a complete disconnect from all things tech and news from everything at home – which was wonderful.

Not that I had the time for tech and news anyways!  I was blown away by China.  Beijing and Shanghai were wonderfully fascinating places to visit.  We saw some amazing sights (the Great Wall, Hutongs in Bejing, the Marriage Market and Propaganda Museum in Shanghai) and learned so many interesting bits about life from various guides.  But my new love on this planet is the Guilin area of China.

I’d long wanted to see the mountains around the Li river and we spent several glorious days there with a suburb guide.  We climbed up peaks in the dark to watch the sun rise over the mountains, we rode on small rafts on the river surrounded by gorgeous vistas, went to ancient villages and met the most amazing people who let us take their photos and told us about their lives.  I can’t even being to describe without writing a novel how many things I learned, how much I cherish the experiences we had, how wonderful and warm the people were.  My brain never once thought about anything back home (except checking in on the beloved dog) the entire time we were here – every day was simply amazing.  I hope with all the hope in my body that I get to return to the Guilin area one day.

We had a week+ in China and on our plane ride to Japan both remarked how wonderful it had been and that we could have happily gone home at that point and counted it as the best trip ever.  But we got one other week in Japan which was spent in Kyoto – I’ll share more about that with you in the next blog post.

So I’m home now, with a rested brain that is humming with Chinese and Japanese inspired ideas.  🙂 It will be fun to see what all comes out of it (kind of want to try and learn some basic Mandarin now).  The 2 weeks of being so stimulated with everything new and interesting that it didn’t allow my brain to be anything other than “in the moment” has sort of held.  I’m doing much better at being in the now and looking forward to the rest of the year in a much more relaxed mode.  Think my brain was really in the need of learning and seeing some new exciting completely different bits.  Before this entry gets any longer, will end with a bunch of favorite photos from the China portion of the trip, and a wish that you too get to experience a brain shake up (in a good way) soon.  🙂

Thar she blows!

Posted: March 21, 2017 in Lampwork
Tags: , ,
me-blowing-432x576

me blowing on the pipe

While I’m busy working on new mosaics to blog about in the future, I’d like to share a bit of my other glass journey, flameworking.  Started flameworking at the wonderful GSS Studio in late 2015.  You can read about my initial foray in this old blog post -> here.

Early last year I learned a new skill at the studio – glass blowing!

This is glass blowing on small scale, not big vases or cups, but beads or little forms.  To do this, you use small hand held metal pipes, get a blob of glass molten in the flame and stick it to the end of the pipe then blow on the opposite (this part is important 😉 ) end.

img_7705-640x313

grabber tool and 2 pipes with ruler as size references

Sounds simple, but it’s hard to get an initial bubble of air into a blob of glass.  It feels as if you’re blowing your lungs out sometimes and nothing is happening!  You can help your initial bubble along by holding your pipe certain ways and also using your tongue to stop up the air in the pipe which forces it to expand into the glass.  But, once your bubble gets going it’s really easy to then blow too much – or hold the air in the pipe a bit long and it expands too quick – then POP!!  Your glass bubble blows up and out and all over the place in tiny little shards.  Sadly, this has happened more than once to me but now with practice it is a lot less.  🙂img_7674-516x640

After learning round bubbles, I’ve tried making different shapes or opening the bubbles up and sculpting them to make some fun forms.

Don’t know what I’ll do with what I’ve made so far – some have turned into necklaces and the rest are just some pretty baubles resting in a clear glass container.  I’ve been playing around with some ideas for incorporating them into the mosaics – but not sure yet how that will play out.  For now, this small scale glass blowing is just a bit of super fun stuff to play with and relax.  Some pics of the creations so far are below.  🙂

Getting ready to go on a little adventure, so will be MIA for a bit but will return soon with fun pictures to share!

I’ve always had an attraction to black and white, in all areas, fashion – art – photos – movies – pets.

dogs BandW

A few years ago my Mom bought me this Stephen Huneck print because of my strong attraction to black and/or black and white animals.  Nearly all of my pets growing up (and currently too) fit this color pallet.

My wardrobe is chock full of  “calypso black” and “carnival grey” as the husband jokingly likes to call it.  Goes great with my Morticia-like white skin.

**side secret – I actually love colorful clothes, but inherited a dribble tendency from my Dad and Grandmom.  Darker clothes help conceal a wayward dribble – if I wore light colors, you’d be more likely to notice that wet spot where I tried to clean off some of my morning coffee! 😀

I didn’t blog much last year for several reasons, but one reason was that I was working out a few new creative directions and wrangling with some technical problems they were bringing up.  A lot of those problems have been resolved and I’m getting started now on building some mosaics.

Choosing the color pallet for the new mosaics was one of the first steps.  While I do love the shimmer and bling of colored gold smalti, my old love of black and white has won out.  Here’s one of my worktables full of the new materials that will be used in the upcoming mosaics!black-adn-white-materials I might throw in a tiny bit of color here and there just for some jazz, but maybe not.  Black and white has an elegant simplicity that is tough to beat.

So it seems 2017 will keep me in my very black and white world!  Hope you’ll continue on this year’s journey with me (can’t believe it is mid-March already!) and soon hope to show you some of the new mosaics!  😀

 

Happy Holidays & New Year Wishes!!

Posted: December 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

option-2-964x1024It’s good for my holiday spirit each year to take a moment and work on something a bit fun and holiday themed.  2016’s holiday mosaic is a little star ornament of blue mirror with some black line accents.  Our household moose sculpture (a must for all Canadians!) helped hold it for a picture. 😀

It’s been quiet on the blog while I’ve been working out the kinks for some new projects.  Hopefully that quiet will change as 2017 looks promising for new work to share with you soon.

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays (for whichever one you celebrate) and may you have an amazingly wonderful New Year!!

What do cufflinks & a log have to do with each other?  Nothing, except they’re both recently related to my mosaics. 🙂

jc626-1-blue-cream-square-mosaic-cufflinks-mercedes-mosaics-800x600Usually in November, I’m showing new jewelry created in time for the holidays.  This year though, I’ve put jewelry making on pause to focus on developing larger art pieces.

However – I really missed making those little jewels and decided to add a few pairs of cufflinks to the shop.  I did a mix of regular and micro-mosaic styles.  I definitely see my jewelry style moving more and more towards micro-mosaic.  It is really fun working with such jc630-1-blue-yellow-white-circle-micromosaic-cufflinks-mercedes-mosaics-800x600tiny pieces and I love the extra connection that I get by pulling my own glass in a flame and making murrini.  Pics of all the new cufflinks are below.

Now, about that log…

We’ve all had those special things that thrill us to no end yet causes others to shake their heads in bewilderment.  The acquisition of a log was one of those things for me this fall.

img_7088-632x800

hammer & hardie

One of the tool sets in mosaic that many people use is called the hammer and hardie.  It is a traditional tool set that has been used since ancient times.  The hardie looks a bit like a chisel and needs to be placed into something (usually a piece of wood) in order to use it.  Once the hardie is installed, you then put the bit of glass or stone on top of it and give it a tap with the hammer to break your material.

My hardie currently rests in a piece of wood that is great to work at while sitting.  But, I’ve begun working more and more while standing and needed something taller.  This put me on the hunt for a log just the right height to make a standing hardie.

m-and-log-1smOne lucky afternoon the perfect log was found after I combed through a downed pile.  It was slated to be tossed in a bonfire and had in-fact been partially burnt already.  I pulled it out, cut it to the right length and dragged it home.  It had to be de-barked and still needs some sanding after it dries a little more, but soon I’ll be standing and chopping away!

m-and-log-2smIt even has a cute little knob on the side that makes for a perfect place to grab while moving it around.  I was so tickled by finally finding the right log and rescuing it from just being burnt up.  The internal wood is really quite beautiful and it is nice to be able to give it another life as one of my tools.

Members of my household did indeed give me a bit of a head-shake about the log, especially as I was working hard to de-bark it!  But even though my extreme level of enthusiasm was not shared, they were able to appreciate how happy this acquisition made me.

Enough blogging for today – below are pics of all the new cufflinks, they make great holiday gifts (hint, hint 😀 ) and all are available for purchase in our shop by clicking here.

Winter cold made me slow and not terribly productive.  Summer warmth and sun have given energy but made me not want to sit behind the computer.  Both things have made me hugely neglectful of this blog!

wm detail (457x640)

black & white mosaic with wires in progress

Hoping to rectify this and get back to regular updates and regularly reading all my other favorite blogs.  Connecting with and being inspired by others is my favorite part of blogging – the summer sun this year has just been a stronger pull!

So, what’s happened with all that sun-inspired energy?  Well, recently finished 2 mosaics that I’ll show you soon.  One is a black & white piece that I just adore, the other is a cream/copper with tons of shimmery goodness. 🙂

I recently taught a couple of sessions of mosaic at a day camp for kids!  There were about 26 kids a session, aged 7-12 with some social skill challenges.  This was a bit daunting as I don’t have much experience with kids (don’t have any / never around any).  I was worried if I’d do ok with them.  But the kids were awesome and it was both totally exhausting and totally exhilarating!  So much fun to help them make a cool project and see them happy with the results.  Even one kid who at first told me it was “boring” ended up doing the most creative stuff and had a great time.  Think he just need to get past the hump of starting ( I can relate! ).  It was wonderful to get their little hugs and thank yous after the class was over.

bronze detail (464x640)

shimmery bronze in progress

I’ve also been keeping up with lampworking, making neat stuff with glass melting it in a flame.  The past few months I’ve learned new techniques and improved my skills a lot.  I’m now trying to create sculptural glass forms that can be incorporated into mosaics, not quite there yet but think something neat will come of it.

Lastly – tossed the mosaic plan for 2 collections that I’d laid out for the year.  I’d completed 1 of each when the husband had a thought.  He knew I had other ideas floating around and suggested making summer all about just exploring those.  He’d thought it could potentially be very neat, maybe better than planned stuff.  At first I resisted – but then went for it and have gone down a bunch of paths that led to tons of new ideas.  Fun but also kind of hard to wrangle a million ideas down to a reasonable bite to chew off. 🙂

Hope the past few months have been as lovely and creative for you as they’ve been for me.  Looking forward to catching up on all your blogs and hope to update you soon with pics of new work and other ramblings!

creative process smIt’s been a bit of a slow go since February.  Some of it I blame on winter.  Even though I’ve been in Canada (from Florida) 5 winters now, still find it a bit hard to be so shut in.  Not having open windows and lots of hours of sun makes it hard to get up and go. Hopefully spring will come soon, though as I’m writing this, it is snowing. o_O

The other part of slowness I’m blaming on riding the creative process roller coaster.  It wasn’t a lack of creativity – in fact, I had a project to work on that’s been planned for quite some time and was really excited about it.

Why the slowness then?  Since we moved last summer,  I’d not worked on a larger wall mosaic at all till now.  Instead focusing on jewelry for the holidays and then more for Valentine’s Day.

When it came time to get back into creating a new bigger wall project I had so much anxiety just starting.  Really liked the design I had and wanted to do it right yet started questioning all the plans that I’d had for it and fell into analysis paralysis.  Then, once I got going,  I went into the up and down rollercoaster ride of:  this is going great!  this is awful!  maybe it’s ok….  wow – I’m crap what was I thinking!

This up and down happens to me on nearly every project.  Except for jewelry.  Guess because they’re small and over with in a short amount of time that it doesn’t allow for that roller coaster of feelings to come.  It just had been awhile since I’d experienced this ride and and this time it really slowed me down productivity wise.

I used to think it was just me who had this awful ride on projects.  Then awhile ago someone posted online this funny “Creativity Process” list in the pic above. 🙂 It was such a perfect description that I printed it out, framed it and put it on the wall right next to my worktable.  This way – when I’m in the “This is shit, I am shit” part of the process it gives a little levity and reminder that probably it will work out in the end!

As fellow creatives, I’m curious – do you go through this ride when creating your projects?  Does it ever slow you down and if so, have you developed any tricks to get around it?

Wonderful Serendipity!

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Lampwork
Tags: , , , ,
melting glass in the flame!

melting glass in the flame!

A bit of serendipity last fall brought me to the exciting world of lampworking and I’ve delved into it with glee ever since!

In the midst of working on new mosaic jewelry, I went to visit a supply store I’d never been to in search of new chain.  While I didn’t find what I was looking for, noticed they shared an interior window with the shop next door.  I could see a big workbench and flames, it was intriguing and decided to check it out.

Upon walking into The Glass Shoppe Studio I noticed they glass rods!  I use rods in the jewelry but always have to order them.  While most of the rods were a bit too big for my work, I got talking with the lovely Grace & Laura and learned that this studio was for Lampworking and they made glass beads by melting the rods in a torch flame.

Told them I make mosaics and they let me dig through a pile of rod scraps that might work for me.  I discovered a multi colored thin rod of glass – perfect for my jewelry type mosaics!  I was so excited – can you teach me how to do this? – I asked.  The answer was yes, with an Intro to Beadmaking course.  Even if beads weren’t my thing – it would teach all the basics of working with molten glass.

I took the course and fell in love.  I absolutely adore making the beads, even though I have no clue what to do with them! (pics below)  It is an engrossing experience working with the flame to melt the glass and control it into a form you want.  Also as a wonderful bonus, got to meet many great new people and make new friends!

getting a big glob of glass ready to squish in to a flat shape

getting a big glob of glass ready to squish in to a flat shape

As promised, I did learn the multi (or solid) colored thin rod and now don’t need to order them!  Next up, learning how to create my own patterned murrini to put into mosaic jewelry and make future collections extra special.  I’ve also been exploring ways to work the glass and make some interesting inclusions that could go into the wall and sculptural mosaics.

Life can surprise us in so many ways – it is wonderful when it brings you towards something you didn’t even know you wanted and gives you so much new joy!  I’m incredibly thankful for this bit of serendipity that brought me not only to lampworking but especially to The Glass Shoppe Studio here in Ottawa, and led me to meet Grace, Laura and other great new friends.  Going into the studio and have “torch time” a bit each week is my new place of happy!

Hot for Hearts!

Posted: January 19, 2016 in Jewelery
Tags: , , , , ,

A little blog break & now back at it with the first post of the new year!  Hope 2016 has started off well for all of you!

JP612 (1) White Red Dot MicroMosaic Heart Pendant Mercedes Mosaics (800x791)

JP612 – White with Red Micromosaic Heart

Had planned to start on larger size projects after the holidays – but kind of couldn’t get off my jewelry kick.  Found a few great heart shaped pendant bezels in sizes ranging from mini – standard – long – super large and decided to make up a little collection out in time for Valentine’s Day!

Some have traditional patterns, flower designs and such, others a little different.  I tried to make designs that you could wear around Valentine’s Day but that weren’t strictly for it.  Something you could wear any day of the year.

JP568 pink spike micrmosaic heart pendant mercedes mosaics (800x791)

JP568 – First Date Heart

Then there is the “first date heart” as the husband calls it.  It is pink & white with silver spikes.  He joked that it is perfect to wear on a first date – because it says you’re feminine…but with an edge.  No push-overs here!  😀

Joking aside – here’s all the pendants in the collections!  They’re all currently available in our shop.  Our prices are in Canadian $ – so if you’re in the US, you get quite a good discount with the current exchange rate (about 30%).  This morning $ 1 CDN = 0.68 ¢ USD.

 

 

MyPhoto01 resized2Usually this time of year I make a new holiday themed mosaic but this year it just didn’t happen.

So instead, I’ll share with you of one of the other great loves of my life and hope it gives you a smile.  Ozwald – the ruler of our house – in his annual visit with Santa picture.

May you all have a lovely Christmas – or if Christmas isn’t your thing, then a lovely holiday that you celebrate – and the brightest of wishes for a Happy New Year!

See you (or read you 😉 ) in 2016!