Neglectful blogger getting back on track!

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!

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Riding the Creative Process Rollercoaster

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!

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!

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.

 

 

It’s official – I’m Canadian!

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

 

Shop Small, Not Mall!

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!

88 New Pieces!

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!

A bookmark, bottle stopper and purse hook walk into a bar…..

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

 

 

 

 

 

Falling off the earth and landing back in a new studio!

Since mid-July I effectively fell off the face of the earth, not just here on the blog but everywhere in my personal life too.  I had little to no contact with most of my friends and family, and no social media.  Even mosaics suffered as I didn’t work on anything.  The reason for all this, a move that was much bigger than anticipated.

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eco-friendly moving!

We moved houses within our same city, shouldn’t be a big deal but it was. From loads of packing – to movers that did not show up on moving day (!!) – to unpacking – to receiving 2 sets of visitors within a few weeks – to, right in the thick of it, receiving notice to come take my citizenship test (major stress 😮 )!

The new house, while lovely, came with many challenging puzzles that needed to be solved for us to be settled.  All this took up too much time and energy and there was nothing left over for mosaic, friends, communicating or anything really.

But I’m now ramping back up!

I’ve got a totally AWESOME(!) new studio in this house (pics below!), it is about ½ of the basement level – but don’t think dark dank basement.  Oh no, this basement has huge windows in it, lots of natural light and enough space to house all the mosaic supplies in one place.  I’ve never had this much space before and am crazy happy.

buddhaOne window looks into the backyard, but has a large dug out kind of rocky “pit” area – not horrible but not too exciting.  I decided to spice it up and built a little wooden platform that now houses a protection Buddha and a few other decorations.  It will be great to have Buddha watching over me as I work.  He’s a nice addition to the waving Pope Francis that sits on the worktable.  Along with Ozwald in a nearby chair – I’m well looked after in this new space!

Now that I’ve landed back on earth in this amazing studio and am ready to work and communicate again, I hope you’ll keep up with me and the new projects.  I’m working now on a new batch of jewelry for the upcoming holiday season then it will be back to some wall pieces and hopefully sculptures too!   Check back soon!

Concreting the Humanoid

1 empty room

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!

pic 2 for blog

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!