The last day of 2018 seems appropriate for posting the last of the Murrini Monday round up postings!  Murrini Monday was my 2018 resolution.  For it, I created a new murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) each week and posted it every Monday over on my Instagram account.   For those that don’t follow over there, every 3 months I post a round up here.

Murrini Monday has been awesome, the goal for me in making the resolution was to set a regular appointment to go get on the torch, create designs and to hopefully improve my skills.  Posting gave me accountability.  It accomplished that and more, gave me new goals and a new love for this form of glass art.  Here’s the final 3 months of this year-long project!  There’s some fun ones in here, my favorites – Salvador Dali’s face, 3 faces of Brrrr (the grey faces, supposed to be  guy that is cold) and the red and white dove for Christmas.  Decided to end with doing the thing I enjoyed making most this year, eyes.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and prosperous 2019!!

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Each year in December I like to make a holiday themed mosaic.  This year, while trying to decide what to do, I stumbled on this amazing little wood bezel that had been floating around the workroom for a long while.  Decided to use it and make a little micro-mosaic tree.  The tiny bits of glass measure between 0.5 – 4mm wide with the total size of the piece being 2.2 cm x 4 cm.  Originally I was going to put a pin on the back and make it into a broach, but the husband had a better suggestion.  He said I should turn it into an ornament for the big tree and each year going forward create a new micro-mosaic ornament.  In 20 years time, we’ll have a tree full of micro-mosaics!

Wishing you all a holiday filled with joy and a wonderful new year in 2019!!  😀

Whew!

That’s how I feel today, the first of November, like I can finally sit back and take a breath.

It has been crazy quiet here on the blog this year and in most other aspects of my life as well.  No trips, no visitors, no going off with friends or long talks on the phone, not many dates with the husband – the reason, an insane amount of work!  But exciting work – it has been a thrilling if stressful 11 months and with the work finally finished I’m coming up for air.

Ever since I started in mosaics I knew it was what I wanted to do full time if I could, it took me a long while to get brave enough to put my art out there in the world and about 1 year ago I started applying to juried shows.  It was very fortunate that at the end of last year I received notice of acceptance to a dual show with another artist (this past spring’s Duplexity) but also a solo show for this coming November / December.

The gallery for my upcoming solo show is a beautiful space with a lot of walls to cover.  Both shows were going to be a huge undertaking, not only with planning what to go in them but also execution.  Mosaics are a slower process than other kinds of art – at least for me – and materials (the kind I use) not readily available at local art stores.  But since mid-December last year till October this year, I managed to create 26 new works and really flesh out 2 series ideas that I’d had for quite some time.

I loved working so intensely every day.  There were moments of frustration – as there always are  – and it was stressful for sure, but I would do it all again in heartbeat.  It could have gone either way, it might have totally burned me out on mosaics and creating art, but it didn’t – instead it makes me yearn to do more.  There are too many ideas in my head now, too much work that I want to do, too many designs created but not yet made.  My husband keeps telling me that I need to take a break now and just relax and do nothing for awhile, but think that will be very hard.  I liked the work, liked the crazy pace, liked having the really big goal and really liked seeing it all come together and come to life.

It also was a super learning experience.  I learned all about putting shows together, the marketing, how to hang things, etc..  I re-branded myself and created a new website focusing just on my art – with my jewelry becoming a separate entity.  I had failures happen during the year with some of the projects, but couldn’t wallow and had to find a solution quickly as there was no time to waste.  As a result my work is better.  My sculpture structures stronger, my techniques improved.  The husband helps me frame things and set them up, he’s developed faster better techniques for doing that too!

As a major bonus to all this – I was recently accepted into 2 group shows in addition to my solo show.  This means during the month of November my work will be in 3 galleries at the same time!  Don’t know if this will ever happen again so I am relishing in this very awesome feeling right now.

I’m so grateful for these opportunities.  Every single day, I say a mental thank you to the universe for allowing this to happen and allowing me to be in the position to do it with a family that is supportive.  Hope very much that more opportunities will come.

Will be writing more here on the blog now that time allows and catching up with reading your blogs as well.  😀

Not showing any completed bits of my new work today, just snippets.  You’ll have to stay tuned, I’ll show it later this month after the show officially opens on November 22.  😀

screen shot from my website, so thankful to get to list 3 upcoming shows!

3/4 of the way through the year and my 2018 resolution to create a new murrini each week is still going strong!  It has been a crazy busy year with so much going on (except blog writing :-S ) but I’ve still stuck to my appointment each week to get on the torch and work at improving my murrini making skills.  Each Monday over on my Instagram account I post a new murrini each week.  For those that don’t follow over there, this is 3 months all one shot!

The summer was a fun one for murrini.  I really want to try making faces, so started this set off with a theme month of eyes for “Jul-eye”.  😀  One of the eyes was inspired by a flower sculpture in the Kenzo world commercial that won an award at the Cannes Lions last year.  Another eye is that of a famous person – hopefully by the end of the year I’ll show you who (in murrini of course).   There’s a murrini of a couple of Chinese characters that represent my new Chinese name.  Started taking Chinese lessons in the midst of this crazy year and discovered my real name doesn’t translate well into Chinese.  So my teacher helped me picked a name ( Little or small (Xiǎo ), Red (Hóng))  I have a small patch of red in my hair, so this name suits me well.  A few other random designs as well and finishing up with my first put together face.  I’m so happy with it, but was sad to see a giant chunk crack off in the kiln.  Was going to fuse it back together but now I kind of like the chunk standing up on its’ own, it makes a funny little face statue!

Here they all are, the past 3 months worth of Murrini Monday….

We’re now more than halfway through the year and I’m still sticking with my resolution to create a new murrini each week!  It’s the longest I’ve ever stuck with a resolution, perhaps because this one is fun it sticks better.  😀

Each Monday over on my Instagram account I post a new murrini each week.  For those that don’t follow over there, this is 3 months all one shot!

This past three months saw a month of space inspired murrini, a set of 3 hexagons that were inspired by a painting a friend posted on Facebook, a very special red and white murrini that was made into a pendant as a retirement gift, my first attempt at an eye (that I thought I royally screwed up but it actually turned out!) and other random designs.

Hope you like seeing them and hopefully it looks like I’m improving!

It’s been quiet here on the blog this year because several things have been happening to keep me busy with mosaic work and leave little energy for much else.  But that’s a good thing, it always was my hope to one day be this busy with work that needed to be done rather than just done for my own self.

Installing frames

The first of these great things that have kept me so busy was getting accepted to dual show in a gallery with another artist.  It was really an honor to be chosen and the jury paired me with another local artist who is a painter.  She had created a series of paintings that had a “mosaic” type feel to them.  We were a great pairing together even though in different mediums our pieces were complementary to each other. 

We decided to name our show Duplexity.  While the look of our respective collections went together, our themes or inspiration behind the works were quite different.  We decided to pick a name based on the idea of two of us rather than try to merge very different inspiration points together.  Hunting for a fun, memorable word took some work, but alas Duplexity was found and it was perfect as it had a meaning of double or twofold.    

The gallery where we were shown was in the offices of the AOE Arts Council (soon to be renamed the Ottawa Arts Network).  This organization is amazing, their entire aim is to be of service to the Ottawa arts community and to support the growth of emerging artists especially.  They were absolutely great and so welcoming to both of us and our show,.

Loaded car on the way to the show!

This show was a huge deal for me as I needed to produce enough work to fill half of a fairly large space.  In the end I created 10 new pieces for the show as well as bringing in 4 previous works.  It was a huge undertaking as mosaics can be (for me sometimes) a slower process.  Also if you mess up there is no easy undoing what you’ve done, you can’t simply paint over a mistake and start over.  Once those bits are set in cement it is set!

It was also a huge deal as it was the first time I was learning about what else you need to put together for a show.  I learned so much about creating all the documents necessary for the show, promoting, coordinating it all, putting together things to make for a fun Meet the Artist afternoon event and more.  As a great bonus, I even sold some work which was really the icing on the cake!

All in all, it was a great first experience putting together a larger exhibition that will serve me well in the future.  Especially given that I am now hard at work for my first solo (!!!) show in a gallery later this year… 🙂 

On New Year’s Day I made a post with a resolution to create a new murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) each week this year.  From the looks of it on the blog here, I’ve not been successful, but in fact I have!  I’ve been posting them each week on my Instagram account and decided to post them here on the blog in 3 month increments.  They’re not really worthy of a whole blog post on their own each week, so figured for over here this was a better format.

I’m still learning, so there are some winners and some stinkers in the mix, hopefully by the end of the year we’ll see progress in my skills.  Below is the batch from January – March, during this time we had a month of all hearts in celebration of February and some skills tests, like trying to see if I could create a triangle and pull it while keeping the triangle shape.

Hope to be posting here more regularly soon.  There’s been a lot going on in addition to coming up with new murrini to make each week.  I’ve been busy in my studio getting ready for a dual exhibition with another artist coming in May!  Hope to have more on that to share soon!  In the mean time, here’s 3 months worth of murrini!  😀

The last couple of months of 2017 and first couple of 2018 have been a whirlwind.  Just starting now to surface for a bit of air!  Big things have been happening one after the other and I haven’t had a chance to write about them all here on the blog, so am catching up now because they’ve been too good not to share.

The best thing that happened in all of 2017 for me – was an opportunity to go be an Instructors Assistant for Sherri Warner Hunter at a Concrete Sculpture class held at the Arrowmont school in Gatlainburg, Tennessee at the end of October/early November for 2 weeks.

I was floored when Sherri wrote and asked if I’d be interested.  At first, I thought the email wasn’t real and had to read it a couple of times – I couldn’t believe she’d thought of me and was so ecstatic.  I’d taken a course from her in concrete sculpture many years ago (you can read about it here) and always admired her and her work so much.  From her course, I’d learned a ton about sculpture and how to properly structure an armature.  It gave me such a wonderful foundation to move forward in my own work creating 3-D sculpture bases to mosaic.  That and it is just feels kind of kick-ass to bend re-bar.  😀

Decided to drive to Gatlainburg from my home in Ottawa Canada.  It was great timing for fall colors.  I’d never been to Gatlainburg before and was excited to see it and the Smokey Mountains.

More exciting though was discovering the Arrowmont school.  This school is astonishing.  Visit it at arromont.org, if you have any interest in art, craft and learning this is the place to be.  The staff are so warm and welcoming, they bring in world-class instructors, feed you tons of fantastic food and are tireless promoters of the value of arts and crafts.  Go to their site, look up their classes – you will be amazed.  I fell in love with this place.

I was nervous about being an assistant and hoped I’d be good.  Wanted to do a good job for Sherri and for our class of 10 students.  We had a class of all women which was kind of cool!  They were all so amazing, came from different backgrounds and were truly delightful to get to know.  Sherri is a phenomenal teacher and I learned a ton watching her teach and seeing how she is with the students.  It was a great opportunity for me to not be on the learning end in terms of the sculpture – but to get to learn and observe from a teaching perspective.

When the time came for me to help students it was so great!  I love love loved helping them!  I loved seeing them learn, seeing them create and watching their ideas come to life.  It was great to see their confidence build and help them be successful.  They all created such different sculptures and each and every one of them was fantastic.  It was truly a room filled with talent and I’m sure they will all continue to do great work going forward if they choose – which I hope they will all continue with it.

There were a few other workshops going on at the same time as we were there, a paper making course, water color, photography, wood marquetry and a pottery class right next door.  There was so much talent around the whole time, it was inspiring to see what the other courses worked on.  Fun for us – the pottery class had a huge kiln outside our studio and they did a soda spraying technique which caused big flames to come out of the kiln.  It was tremendously cool to watch!

As a bonus for me – when we had slow time or on the weekend I was able to work on concrete sculpture projects for myself.  It was great to be able to use the facilities and Sherri’s awesome tools, as well – having a block of time just do work on sculpture and get messy without the responsibilities of home was incredibly freeing.  I got going crazy on the weekend and carved a bunch of styrofoam like mad and created way more than I’d intended.  But sometimes inspiration (or insanity) takes over.

I could write a novel about everything that happened and how wonderful it was.  Believe me, writing just this abbreviated version has been a challenge but don’t want to make an endless blog.  Wish I could express how much I cherished this opportunity, how thankful I am to have had it, but it feels like nothing I could say expresses it enough.  I thank Sherri Warner Hunter to the moon and back for this.  She’s amazing and generous with her time and knowledge – if you’re interested at all in sculpture – consider taking a course from her, you will learn so much!  She’s here on wordpress – you can find more info on her workshops at:  https://swhartstudioinc.wordpress.com/workshops-events/

If you’re interested in any other kind of arts & craft, look up Arrowmont’s schedule for 2018.  They’ve got a drool-worthy list of workshops available.  Wish I could live there and take a gob of courses myself!

 

 

Happy New Year!!  😀

Most of us make some sort of resolution each year, usually things that aren’t terribly fun and often abandoned after a few weeks.  This year, my resolution is a little challenge that will hopefully be fun, not quickly abandoned and also improve my skills.  It will be to create a new murrini (or millefiori) and post it each Monday.  I’m going to post these sometimes here but each week for sure over on my new Instagram account (@studioambenz) under #murrinimonday.

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the logo

For the first week of the year – this murrini comes with a bit of a story.  I actually created it last year (had to if it was going to come on Jan 1!).  It is a bit special as the pattern is actually my logo.

Since starting in mosaics, I’ve always signed the back of my art with my name and a piece of murrini, but it was commercially made murrini and the pattern wasn’t anything special or related to me.

I wanted to make my logo in murrini and start using that in my signature instead.  The design is a stylized frog foot – (read why by clicking here)– doesn’t look too hard on paper but try building that from nothing with molten glass! o_O

You have to slowly build up the design.  A bit of black glass for the middle, then add a toe, fill in some green. All the while keeping it warm enough so it won’t blow up but not too much that it melts out of shape!  It is an intense amount of very focused work.

It took 2.5 hrs to create the design and the blob of glass was HUGE!  When you’re doing murrini you’re holding your blob in a flame and constantly rotating it, kind of like a rotisserie chicken.  As the blob gets bigger, it can get quite heavy, it is hard work on the shoulders and neck, especially after 2.5 hours of constant movement!

The I day made it, there were several people in the studio.  My blob got way bigger than originally intended and drew a bit of attention (I’m not good with attention….).  It was so big another person helped me hold one end when it came time to pull as there was going to be more glass than the width of my arms!  We pulled, I cut it so it would fit in the kiln to cool down and in that one cut could see it looked good.  I was so worn out and shaky after the intense 2.5 hrs that I had to sit down and rest before getting in my car to go home.

Wish me luck in my attempt to stick with the resolution and create 52 murrini this year!  Hopefully the end of the year will show 52 interesting patterns and some improved skills.

Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful, healthy prosperous 2018 and success in any resolutions you choose to undertake!  😀

Each December, I like to create a mosaic that is holiday related and post it here.  This year a little micro-mosaic was planned but the past couple of months have too busy and time got away from me.  So instead I’ll share a photo that will hopefully bring you a holiday smile 🙂  my studio mate Ozwald at his annual visit with Santa.

Wishing you all a holiday filled with happiness!