Archive for the ‘Mosaic Work Update’ Category

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!

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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… 🙂 

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!

 

 

Enough

Posted: November 29, 2017 in Enough
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The past two months have been a whirlwind of tremendous things happening one after the other.  Life is kind of ramping up at the moment for me, but in a good way.  Hope it is the sign of more to come.  🙂

I’ll share with you over the next few blogs all of the great things happening. Today’s is about a piece of mine that was accepted in a juried show!   The show was a special one to get picked for as it was the 1st year of the Canadian Annual Mosaic Exhibition.  It was such an honor to be a part of the inaugural year.  It was held at the Flagship Gallery in Hamilton Ontario during November, and there were more than 30 stunning works in the show.

The piece of mine that was chosen is a micro-mosaic called “Enough”  This technique is a little different than traditional mosaic, all the pieces in her are very tiny and have to be set using tweezers.  They range in size (width-wise) from 0.5mm to about 4mm.  All her glass was melted and pulled to size by me in a flame at GSS Flameworking.

her special murrini

I also created a special murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) in black and white to go in her dress.  The tiny pieces take quite a long while to put together, when most are between 0.5 and 2 mm wide it is time consuming to fill even 1 square inch!

So why is she called “Enough”?

In today’s world we’re constantly connected, bombarded by so many demands on our time, so much negativity, unending terrible news stories in the palm of our hand.

A couple of folks getting up close for a better look at her tiny bits!

A feeling of frustration at this constant connection and negativity inspired to me create an abstract drawing of woman in a beautiful dress looking down with eyes closed, hands to head, having simply had enough of all that was going on around her.  The drawing laid around for months till finally she came to life as a micro-mosaic.

She is smaller (the actual mosaic size of this piece is 5 x 7, overall size 8 x 10) and floats surrounded by a background of swirly darkness representing conflict.

Really came to love her a lot and was so thrilled she was chosen for the show.  Her bits are so tiny, included below are some pictures but for best viewing click to make them larger.  I also made a little time-lapse video of her progression – if you’re interested it is at the bottom of this blog!  Be forewarned though, it was my first time doing this so it jumps a little.  Next time I won’t kick the tripod out of place so much!  😀

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!  😀

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
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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