Archive for the ‘Mosaic Work Update’ Category

The whole reason I got into working with molten glass at GSS Studio was to learn how to make my own murrini (or millefiori ) and to pull glass into stringers in the colors and sizes I wanted for micro-mosaic pieces.

starting a murrini

the start, 2 layers of glass so far!

So what are murrini anyways?  Most likely, you know what it is – or you know it by the name millefiori.  It is slices of glass, cut from a rod that has a pattern in the cross section.  It is most famously made on the island of Murano outside of Venice Italy.  Often you see it in jewelry or on decorative vases or paperweights. The pattern can be anything – when it is a flower based pattern it is called millefiori (a thousand petals) other patterns are called murrini, though many would use the term millefiori loosely for any pattern as it is the more well known name.

Murrini are complex to make, involving many layers of molten glass being put together and shaped, then heated up till red hot and finally pulling the hot blob by hand into a long rod.  You have to be careful to not twist or turn the blob of molten hot glass when pulling or you risk messing up the pattern created inside!  After the rod has cooled, it is cut into slices revealing the pattern in the cross-section.

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rod just after it has pulled

I buy commercial murrini made in Italy and use it in my micro-mosaic jewelry.  So why would I want to learn to make it?

While I love the murini I can buy, I just thought it would be so cool to create unique patterns myself.  Then if I’m using my handmade murrini in my handmade micro-mosaic jewelry designs, it makes the piece of jewelry that much more unique, that much more “one-of-a-kind”.  Truly, no one else in the world will have anything like it.

Most of my murrini patterns so far are abstract (my ultimate love) or geometrical.  There will be more complex designs as time goes on but so far it’s a good start!  Here’s some pics below – look for some of these in this year’s holiday collection of jewelry coming soon!  😀

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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!  😀

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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.

 

 

My holiday gift came early this year!  On December 9th, I received my Canadian Citizenship. 😀 glovesNot only did I receive my citizenship – but I was insanely lucky (and honored) to have been 1 of only 50 new citizens invited to attend a very special ceremony hosted by Canada’s Governor General at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

For non-Canadians, the Governor General is the representative of the Queen in Canada and carries out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties.  Our current Governor General is the His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.  Rideau Hall is his residence, the largest official residence in Canada.

my micromosaic maple leaf pinI wanted to show my pride for becoming Canadian, so made a micro-mosaic pin of a Maple Leaf.  It’s small, 20mm x 20mm, with individual pieces just 0.5mm to 2mm!

The first part of the day was in the Tent Room where we had round table discussions on citizenship.  It was neat to meet other people and hear their stories.

the Governor General with my card!! photo by Kevin Burns

the Governor General with my card!! photo by Kevin Burns

The best moment was when the Governor General arrived, he went through the room stopping to talk.  Amazingly, he came right by me to say hello!  My (odd) hair probably caught his attention first- but my absolutely lovely mother-in-law leaned over and told him to look at my pin because I’d made it.  We had a nice chat and when I told him I was trying to do mosaic as a living – he asked for my business card!!  I was so nervous I grabbed a wad of them and handed him a bunch. :? It was like a dream to talk with him, he was so great!

I really had my mother-in-law to thank for the whole exchange.  I’m not good at self promotion, it was all due to her that he looked at my pin and found out I’d made it, I’m lucky to have her in my life!

We took our Oath in the ballroom with an orchestra and singer.  Also in attendance were the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General, & John Ralston Saul.  It was incredibly emotional – I’m not an outward emotional type but got choked up & nearly teary.  Several other people around me were wiping their eyes as well.

yay for cake!

Once we all received our citizenship certificates it was time for food and fun!  We had a reception with cake, beverages and photo ops.  We were given a tour of Rideau Hall, even into in the green houses.  In all, we were there 5 hours!  My face was sore from smiling so much.

It’s easy to look back on life and make connections – but somehow I think I was always meant to be Canadian.  I grew up near Seattle and we got Canadian TV.  I watched (the original) Degrassi High and related to the kids on that show more than the USA tv shows.  We often visited BC growing up and as an adult I worked for a Canadian company where I first met my future husband.  Though if you’d told me at the time I was to marry him 14 years later I’d have never believed it.  He often tells me Canada is more suited to my personality.  He might be right, my Dad used to get mad at me for apologizing and saying “sorry” all the time.  😉

I’m well aware that my journey to this great country was a smooth and easy one.  I wasn’t fleeing any war or horror – it was only love that brought me here (or could have possibly gotten me to trade Florida heat for -30 c winters!).  But it doesn’t make my journey any less, I am so beyond proud to be Canadian and thrilled to know I can stay forever.  It is the best gift I could have received!

A bunch of pics from our day are below – there is a really cool one of me and the GG on his site, can’t post it here but you can go to this link – it is the 3rd pic in!  https://www.gg.ca/gallery.aspx?ID=11391

 

winner - shop small not mall b
It is Small Business Saturday here in North America.   The day after crazy Black Friday sales at every major retailer that unofficially signal the start of holiday shopping.

I’ve always been a hunter of unique gifts.  Those one-of-a-kind, no one else will have it, super special items.  Well they’re not found in the pile of mass produced stuff at a mall – only your local (or online!) small businesses have that.

So today, after your Friday full of big retailer shopping  – go shop the small businesses you know.  Find that unique one-of-kind gift for the special people in your life and support the little guys who create those pieces!

As a small suggestion 😉 head over to our site  http://www.mercedesmosaics.com  we’ve got a great selection of one-of-a-kind Pendants, Rings, Purse Hooks and Cufflinks that make beautiful gifts.

If you’re a USA based shopper, your dollar goes further with us as $1 CAD = $0.75 USD, it is like an instant discount!

JP564 - Blue Flowers MicroMosaic Pendant

JP564 – Blue Flowers MicroMosaic Pendant

They’re small but they still count!

The last few weeks I’ve not come up much for air – it’s been a time of intense work to get a new collection of jewelry done / photographed / uploaded to the website all in time for the holidays.

This year’s collection includes 49 new Pendants – 22 new Rings – and a limited run of 17 Purse Hooks.  Wanted to add Bottle Stoppers, but deadlines & supply delivery didn’t match up – something for next year!

JR584 - Blue & Gold Ring

JR584 – Blue & Gold Ring

In addition to a classic mosaic look, many pieces are micro-mosaic.  What is that?  It is mosaic using very tiny pieces, often little rod shapes, to create a picture or design.  It was a jewelry style popular during the Grand Tour of Europe period (17th – 19th centuries) yet those usually depicted popular landmarks.  The rods in my pieces range mostly between 0.5mm – 2mm wide, interspersed with larger fun patterened millefiori.  It’s been a neat new kind of mosaic to create and I’m excited to do more.

JH515 (1) Black White MicroMosaic Purse Hook Mercedes Mosaics (800x599)

JH515 – Black & White MicroMosaic Purse Hook

For the purse hooks, decided to just do a limited edition run.  I never used one before, but have started now and quite like it!  Not only does it keep your purse up off the gross germ-y floor but apparently it is also good Feng Shui!  There is a saying that “A purse on the floor is money out the door!”  Putting it on the floor brings bad luck money-wise as it shows disrespect to your wealth.  An interesting tidbit to learn!

Pictured below are a few of my favorite pieces from this collection.  All the new pieces (and then some!) are for sale at http://www.mercedesmosaics.com & make excellent unique one-of-a-kind holiday gifts!

Ok – it’s no joke, I kind of need your help in the form of your opinion (it’s easy, you just vote in the poll below anonymously).  The studio is a mess right now working on some new accessories ahead of the holidays.  Normally – I just make jewelry like mosaic’d pendants, rings and cufflinks.  But, this year I picked up 3 other options to test out: a bookmark, a bottle stopper and a purse hook.  Each one has a recessed area to put a small mosaic.

Here they are in the pic below – I’m trying to decide which of them might be a good new offering but my libra indecision brain is having a hard time.  Frankly – because I like them all and have someone in my life for whom each one would make a perfect gift.

I’d love to solicit your opinion!  Vote in the poll for the ones you think are a good to add as a new sales offering (you can vote for more than one) and my libra brain will rest easy knowing it has some help on the way.  🙂

bookmark_stopper_hook

 

 

 

 

 

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Empty Mosaic Room

We are moving soon – so all my mosaic supplies have been packed up.  😦 It’s frustrating, especially now that most of the packing is done and we are just waiting till the actual move date.

I needed something to work on – so decided it was time to put concrete on a “humanoid” sculpture I’d made in a class with Sherri Warner Hunter in 2014.  You can see his initial creation in this old post or if you’re interested in a class on how to create these kind of armatures, check out Sherri’s site!

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pre-concrete on left – 1st coat in progress on right

 

Pre-concrete, he was a metal armature of rebar and wire mesh.  The concrete will be the layer to support future mosaic work.  During the first coat, I had to be careful not to squish it through the mesh but lay it on with just enough pressure so it stays.

After coat 1 dried, some parts reminded me of dried cactus wood!  As a kid I remember collecting cactus wood on trips to California, my humanoid’s arm in this stage brought up those old memories.  😀

arm cactus fb

1st concrete coat arm on left – dried cactus wood on right

 

Why a humanoid?
I started out with this sculpture wanting an abstract kneeling man – not a true to life man.  After I got his basic structure down and started wrapping him in wire mesh, decided he would be a “humanoid” alien.  Perhaps having come to this earth – but not doing well in our atmosphere – falling to his knees – outstretching his arms for help.

Pics below are of him after his 2nd coat of concrete.  I sculpted in some bits of basic face structure as well.  Eventually he’ll be mosaic’d – but that will be a project for a later date.  Was happy to get him fully coated before we moved, but he’s much heavier now – so perhaps that wasn’t the best plan after all!  Oh well, good thing we have strong movers coming to help!