Learning something new!

It’s good to flex the brain and learn a new skill every now and again, bonus if it turns out you love it and have a ton of fun!  🙂

There’s a project I want to do in the future – with mosaics – and I was told I’d likely need to use a bandsaw to accomplish it.  I don’t have one of those and hadn’t used one before – but noticed a local shop ( KJP Select Hardwoods ) was offering a class on how to make a bandsaw box.

Fine woodworking never grabbed my attention in the past.  I’m more a functional wood stick-it-together-er type, not a maker of pretty wood things.  I didn’t really care about making a box – even though it was cool looking in the promo picture.  But figured the class would give me a chance to try a bandsaw, learn a bit and see if it was a tool I’d be comfortable using in the future.

Class day arrived and turned out we were only 2 students – both women, how neat is that!  We had a super awesome teacher and with just 2 of us in the class we had the time to each make 2 boxes.

Turns out the bandsaw is way safer than I’d realized and is really neat to use!  I absolutely loved making the boxes.  They were each made from a single block of wood.  It was such fun to cut them out, piece them together, see them come to life and the beauty of the grain when you put on a bit of wax at the end.  I’m hooked.  Not just on the bandsaw and it’s wonderful versatility but also on making these beautiful little boxes.  Maybe some fine woodworking projects will be in my future after all.  😀

If you’re ever in the Ottawa, ON area, check out KJP Select Hardwoods.  They’re great people and offer a ton of cool classes.  They were amazing to me, not just in the class, but also in helping me figure out options for my future project.  They gave me a ton of great tips and things to try that will make what I want to accomplish much better.  My teacher for the class was Louis Boucher, super nice and a wonderful skilled instructor.  He made everything easy to understand and created a great safe working environment.  He teaches many places around the Ottawa area and has a couple of videos on YouTube about him (click here to see)

Here’s some pics from the fun day!  Hope you all get a chance to learn something new soon too!  😀

 

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Society of Canadian Artists 51st Int’l Open Juried Exhibition

Was lucky to get another excuse to take a weekend get-away this summer – got into a show in Toronto!  The Society of Canadian Artists 51st International Open Juried Exhibition accepted one of my pieces.  It was quite thrilling to be in this show as I thought it would be a really long shot for me.  Turns out in the end I was one of only a few non-painting / non-drawing pieces – so kind of extra cool!

The show is in Toronto (till August 26th if you’re visiting there) at The Papermill Gallery (67 Pottery Road).  It is located on the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site which is beautifully set in a park.  It has two historic millers’ homes, one of them housing the Papermill Theater and Gallery.

On the drop off day – I strapped my piece to my back and trekked there on the train.  It is quite a process building a box that will securely house my non-flat kind of fragile pieces but I’m starting to get pretty good at building them.  Spent the afternoon after the drop off walking about 7 kilometers back to the train station through parks, along the Don River and exploring the Distillery District (such fun!).

We went back for the opening night and spent a couple days enjoying the city.  During that visit I explored Kensington Market, Queen Street West, Chinatown, Graffiti Alley and made a visit to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) where I got to see several China related exhibits that were fascinating.  One of my favorite parts of this visit other than the show – discovering Soma Chocolatemaker.  Oh goodness, they’re amazing – check them out in person in Toronto or visit somachocolate.com

It’s been a great year so far for me with art – a real thrill and honor to get accepted into shows.  It’s also allowed me and my husband some fun little trips and let me discover more in cities I didn’t know much about.  Really truly thankful for it all.  Here’s some photos from this show / trip, hope you enjoy!  😀

A little luck…

I started studying Chinese a little more than a year ago.  One of my favorite parts to learn is the characters.  A lot of folks will start with just learning the pinyin but the characters fascinate me.  It gives me a serious thrill when I can identify one on a sign – so far it’s never more than one but hey you gotta start somewhere!

I like the history of how the characters formed and how you can see how the character for mouth looks like an open mouth 口 or how the character for person looks like a person walking 人. Or even the crazy complicated ones that don’t look like what they are, they’re just beautiful to look at, like 发现 🙂 They’re like little bits of art to me.

One of my favorite characters has become the character for Jí 吉.  I originally came to Jí 吉 when I was searching for a character that I could make in murrini that meant luck and could be used as a charm that was to be a gift for people we visited in China.  I wanted to be sure I didn’t mis-step even though I found the character and its definition in a reputable dictionary. I did a double check with a Chinese friend of a friend in Singapore to make sure it was an appropriate character and would be well received as a gift.  They assured me it did mean luck and general well being and that it was a lovely character and any Chinese person would be happy to receive it.

So off I went with the Jí 吉.  I made the murrini out of it (glass rod with a pattern inside) but it didn’t turn out quite as great as I wanted and I abandoned the idea of making the charms.

But the Jí 吉 still suck with me.  I really loved it and loved the shape.  After I returned from China and found out I got into the miniature show, decided maybe I could make a micro-mosaic pendant for myself to wear to the show.  I decided on Jí 吉 !

Then, the news came that a good friend of mine who is Chinese was scheduled to have a very very serious surgery that will require months of recovery where she won’t be too mobile.  I wanted to do something for her, so decided to make her a little good luck micro-mosaic charm of Jí 吉 that she could keep nearby.

Both turned out great.  My friend was really thrilled with her charm and hopefully it will bring her good luck during the recovery.  I happily wore the necklace to the opening of the miniatures show and think it will become one of my favorite pieces of jewelry to wear for quite some time.

Here’s the final results of both the pendant and the smaller charm.

Internationale d’art miniature in Levis, QC

Earlier this year we came across a call for a show with an interesting twist.  The Internationale d’art miniature 10th edition, where everything in the show had to be miniature size with strict rules on dimensions of the art (max size 12 sq inches).

Decided it would be fun to see what I could do with such a small parameter and got to working on a couple of micro-mosaics.  I really love creating the micro-mosaics, they’re challenging and eye-fatiguing but just love it.  The pieces that make up the mosaic are very small glass threads that range in size from about 0.5mm to 4 mm wide, with most of the pieces in the 0.5 – 2mm wide range.  In order to get glass this small or in colors I want, I take a larger piece and heat it in torch flame sometimes mixing colors together to achieve a new color.  When it is soft enough I grab a bit and pull to get a thin thread of glass in the size that I want.  Then I cut that down into tiny bits to make up the micro-mosaic.  This extra bit of connection to actually creating the material that is used in the mosaic – not just cutting up pre-made or pre-sourced stuff – it really does something for me, gives me an extra link to the piece, think it is one of the reasons I love doing the micro-mosaics so much.

I worked on 2 designs to submit – a silhouette of woman in black & white with color on her dress, the other a mini-version of a larger mosaic I made years ago – the view of a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) from behind showing the nape of her neck.

It was a fun challenge to undertake.  Figured even if I didn’t get into the show, it was ok as it was good learning to make them.  Luckily though – both pieces got in!  I was so thrilled!!

The show is amazing!  It is being held just across the water from Quebec City in Lévis, QC.  We made a weekend trip out of it and went for opening day.  The show has 350 pieces by artists from 23 countries!  It is wall art and sculptural – everything under 12 sq inches.  No photography or digital stuff allowed, all had to be hand created.  It was totally fascinating to see what other artists do and the incredible details they can create in such teeny tiny spaces.  The opening day was a full house, tons of people all vying to get up close to each piece.  They even provided hand held magnifying glasses to use when looking at the super tiny bits.

It has been just so exciting to be included in the show and have discovered this whole world of miniature expositions.  Maybe it will become a new direction for me.  😀

If you’re up near Quebec City this summer – take the ferry across the water to Lévis and go see the show, it won’t disappoint!  It’s on till September 1st and held at Centre d’exposition Louise-Carrier, 33 rue Wolfe in Lévis and is open every day of the week. More info click here

For my 2 pieces in case you’re curious of the size – the lady in silhouette is named “Delphine” and she measures in at 3.3″w x 2.5″h while the “Maiko (apprentice Geisha)” is 2.5” w x 3.3” h they’re each set on a 6” x 7” background.

Here’s some pics of the show on opening day and our visit to the area…

Murrini Monday roundup January – June

Murrini Monday originally started as my 2018 New Year’s resolution to create and post a new murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) each week and post it every Monday over on my Instagram account.

I’m still continuing Murrini Monday though not every single week anymore.  Working on more complex designs (still easy ones too) and they take longer to create.

Here’s the result of Murrini Monday for this year so far, January – June.  Some fun ones in here, a self portrait, a design inspired by the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a funny face that was a total failure and some cool new eyes.  🙂

Guangxi / Guizhou China – Places

Last post was all about People from my recent trip in Southern China.  This one is pics about places.

There have only been a couple times in my life where I was somewhere and had the feeling that if I never left that would be ok.  The area around Guilin in Guangxi in southern China is one of the places.  For me – the karst landscape is unendingly beautiful.  I could look at it forever and never get bored.  I’m fascinated by the weird shapes of the mountains and the natural beauty of the area.  On top of that, the people are great and the weather suits me!  😀

I was fortunate many years ago to visit it for the first time but only for 2 days.  This time, my husband planned a trip that allowed us almost a week in the area so we could soak up as much scenery as possible.  It still is my favorite place, but we also visited many other beautiful spots on this trip.  Rice terraces, mountain villages, big cities and more.  It was a visual treat each day.  Here’s some pics, hope you enjoy and next blog we’ll get back to art!

 

Guangxi / Guizhou China – People

Been a quiet the past couple of months here on the blog, but for good reason.  In April, took a trip to southern China and it’s taken a bit to catch up.

The areas we visited were the Guangxi autonomous region near Guilin and eastern / central parts of the province of Guizhou.  We were amazingly fortunate and had great guides to help us many places but most of all had the wonderful experience of meeting many many local people.

We met people from 5 different ethnic minorities often living in very remote areas.  We were invited into many homes and got to see their way of life.  Even more luck – several times we were invited to stay for meals!  Everyone treated us so well and not just the folks visited, but everyone around towns, in cities, everyone.  The people of China in our experiences are so amazingly wonderful, so warm, so helpful.

I’ve started learning Mandarin and though that wasn’t the dialect spoken many places we went – folks I was trying to communicate with were super great and helped me along.  We had a lot of fun with shop owners – one in particular who put me in a few traditional dresses and then wanted to take my picture. 😀 And a couple of ladies who were super tickled to help my husband find a shirt one evening.  All sans English, all super fun experiences with smiles and laughing from all parties.

I could write a novel about how much I love the people there, but still feel like that wouldn’t be enough.  I’m eternally grateful for the experience of having gone and am very thankful for my husband opening this door for me in the first place many years ago.  Hope very much someday to return to this ever fascinating place.

Here’s some pics of people on our trip.  Next blog, pics of places, after that, back to art!! 😀

 

Ontario Society of Artists 146th Annual Juried Exhibition

The Ontario Society of Artists was having a call for art for their annual juried show.  I figured it was a long-shot for me, but applied anyways and then got the super exciting news that my piece was accepted!

The show is an annual one that has truly run for 146 years, an incredible feat – almost the entire time Canada has existed as Canada.  The organization was founded in 1872 and is Canada’s longest running artists society.  They do a lot of good for supporting professional artists in the province and promoting the arts.

Oh goodness was I ever excited because not only was this just a great show to get into but also because it is being held in downtown Toronto!  My first gallery show in this major city!!!  Toronto isn’t too far from where I live, so we were able to go over in person for the opening reception.  It was a wonderful evening and the place was packed!

The person who hung the show did an amazing job.  They put my piece with 2 other black and white paintings, we made a great trio of achromatic art together.  😀 There were 37 artists accepted into the show, we found out later on close to 600 had applied which blew me away.  There was art from several different mediums, painting of course, some sculpture, mixed media like me, photography – including a really cool one where the photog had printed the photo on gauzy fabric, really amazing paper sculpture and much more.

It was a thrill, an honor, an amazing experience to be a part of this show.  I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and the other opportunities I’ve had recently.  It’s be so great to get out there, be among other wonderful artists, meet awesome people and show my work.

The show is currently on till April 26th, so if you’re in Toronto – be sure and stop by the John B. Aird gallery at 900 Bay Street for a look at a gob of fantastic art!

The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls, NY

Recently, I got to discover a new town with an super cool arts space and want to tell you all about it in case you’re ever in the area it is a must stop by and see!  😀

The Shirt Factory is this amazing huge old building that has a fantastic history.  It is located in Glens Falls, NY just outside the Adirondack Park about 1hr North of Albany.  As a side note – Glens Falls was a lovely town, they have made a real effort to preserve buildings and have a great main street area with shops and restaurants.  There’s a lot to do in the area too.  But back to The Shirt Factory….

The Shirt Factory was in fact a real Shirt Factory.  It is a huge 4 story brick building and was started in the early 1900’s employing many hundred of the townspeople.  The shirts were made under the McMullen label and were incredibly successful.  In the 1930’s, the company went in a new direction – in addition to shirts, they started designing and making dresses for women.  They were very successful with their dresses being featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines.  They even dressed celebrities, making custom pieces for many famous women.  One of their creations is even part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The company went through many changes during the mid-century but kept along making shirts till it finally closed in the late 1990’s.  It lasted as factory for nearly a century, employing many generations of Glens Falls residents.

In 1996, the current owner of the building bought it at auction and fell in love with it.  He chose to preserve and renovate this amazing space with high ceilings and beautiful windows and turned it into artists spaces.  Today the building has 77 unique studios with over 100 artists / artisans.

You can visit this super neat place most days – but if you go Thursday thru Saturday from 12-5, all the shops / studios / galleries on the main 1st floor will be open.  The rest of the studios keep their own hours, but you’re welcome to wander the halls, and if someone has their door open you might be allowed in to visit and see what they’re working on.

One of the cool bits about wandering around the building – they’ve got tons of historical stuff just around.  They have samples of the dresses in cases on the walls.  There are old sewing machines in the hallways that you can touch.  There are old photos of what it looked like, what the workers looked like and stories about their lives on the walls.  One of the ladies in a studio showed me in the floor where there were worn spots and she told me it was where an ironing station had been and those worn bits were from where the worker stood.  Just cool that this place got preserved, saved and given a new life incorporating its’ history and not just gutted or torn down.

So why did I find out about this place?  Well, it turns out, one of the tenants of building is The Shirt Factory Gallery, a beautiful art gallery who accepted one of my pieces into a show they were having.  The Shirt Factory Gallery has had an annual “smalls” show for about 7 or 8 years in a row now.  This year, I applied and was pretty thrilled that my piece Shiro Piegare 8127 got accepted!  We even went down and attended the opening reception party – it was PACKED!!  The party was such fun, it was great to meet and talk with other artists and see all sorts of neat work in the show.  This place is so wonderfully supportive of artists, it’s a great community and I was thrilled to be a part of it for a tiny bit.

It is such a cool side benefit of making art, that you get to find out about these neat places when a piece gets accepted somewhere.  If you’re ever near Glens Falls be sure to stop by and take look at this amazing place!

Cube & CAME

Still catching up posts from some events at the end of the year!  This past November I was lucky enough to have a piece of my work accepted into 2 group shows. One in my town of Ottawa at the Cube gallery – my favorite gallery in the city – and one in Montreal as a part of the Canadian Annual Mosaic Exposition.

Kuro Piegare 8126

The Cube gallery show was the Great BIG smalls XIV show, an annual showing of art all 12″ x 12″ in size or smaller. My contribution to the show was Kuro Piegare 8126, a 10″ x 10″ framed floating mosaic sculpture. It was such a cool show with over 50 artists and 200 works. The opening night party was packed and super fun, the best part being when I arrived my piece had already sold! It was pretty neat as most of the show consisted of paintings and mine was one of the few pieces that was not.

The Canadian Annual Mosaic Exposition (CAME) was held this year in Montreal. There is a lot of great mosaic talent in Canada and in the Quebec province in particular so competition this year was particularly high. Was so thrilled to have my piece Dispersion Northern Lights chosen to be a part of this wonderful show. Montreal is only 2hrs from where I live, so we traveled over for the opening night. It was a super fun evening of dinner and an absolutely packed party at the gallery. The Quebec folks really came out in support of mosaics and many artists from outside of Quebec traveled to be there in person. It was great to meet many new people and also see friends from before.

Dispersion Northern Lights


Being in these 2 group shows was the icing on the cake of an already fantastic year of work for me. I feel very grateful and lucky!