Posts Tagged ‘Art’

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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Remixin’ it up!

Posted: September 28, 2017 in Mosaic General
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In Ottawa each year there is a neat festival called Remixed.  It is held in Chinatown and pairs local businesses with artists for 1 month.  The idea is to “remix” the businesses and neighborhood.  Bring art into groceries, restaurants and shops where you might not expect to see it and draw in art lovers to some of these same shops they might not know about.

It’s a fun and different vibe with businesses all along the main drag of Chinatown participating.  On opening day there is a big festival atmosphere.  All the artists sit with their installation in the business they’re paired with as visitors walk around stopping at each location to collect a stamp for a chance to win a prize.  There’s fun stuff happening outside too, along the route you’ll find various performers, demonstrations, or large scale artists working.

Art House Cafe building

The festival is a juried entry and this year I was lucky enough to be one of the artists chosen!  😀  In another but of luck, I got paired with The Art House Cafe, a great business that opened this year in Ottawa and is a hub for artists and art lovers alike.

Three of my mosaics went up on their wall and will stay there for a month.  During the opening day I had a 2hr time slot to do demos.  It was a hot day but that didn’t stop a steady stream of folks from visiting.  I’d taken a project to work on during down time but didn’t have any so only stuck a few bits on!

Roman-Byzantine-Modern Mosaic styles

For the demo, I’d set up a little “history of mosaic” table showing different styles of mosaic ranging from Roman to Byzantine to Modern.  There was also a table with examples of materials and backings you can use, some fun tools and several books with amazing mosaic pictures.

As an interactive bit for visitors, I offered to let them try out cutting a some glass with the traditional tools of the hammer and hardie.  The hammer is heavy and it shocked everyone who picked it up, but they all did great making a cut and had fun.

It was a great day, so much fun to share my love of mosaic and my art with others.  I am so happy to have been a part of this wonderful event.  If you’re in the Ottawa area visiting, the art is up throughout Chinatown till October 16.   Find a map of all the locations on chinatownremixed.ca

 

 

Thar she blows!

Posted: March 21, 2017 in Lampwork
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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.

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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!  😀

 

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!

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
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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
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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