Ontario Society of Artists 146th Annual Juried Exhibition

The Ontario Society of Artists was having a call for art for their annual juried show.  I figured it was a long-shot for me, but applied anyways and then got the super exciting news that my piece was accepted!

The show is an annual one that has truly run for 146 years, an incredible feat – almost the entire time Canada has existed as Canada.  The organization was founded in 1872 and is Canada’s longest running artists society.  They do a lot of good for supporting professional artists in the province and promoting the arts.

Oh goodness was I ever excited because not only was this just a great show to get into but also because it is being held in downtown Toronto!  My first gallery show in this major city!!!  Toronto isn’t too far from where I live, so we were able to go over in person for the opening reception.  It was a wonderful evening and the place was packed!

The person who hung the show did an amazing job.  They put my piece with 2 other black and white paintings, we made a great trio of achromatic art together.  😀 There were 37 artists accepted into the show, we found out later on close to 600 had applied which blew me away.  There was art from several different mediums, painting of course, some sculpture, mixed media like me, photography – including a really cool one where the photog had printed the photo on gauzy fabric, really amazing paper sculpture and much more.

It was a thrill, an honor, an amazing experience to be a part of this show.  I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and the other opportunities I’ve had recently.  It’s be so great to get out there, be among other wonderful artists, meet awesome people and show my work.

The show is currently on till April 26th, so if you’re in Toronto – be sure and stop by the John B. Aird gallery at 900 Bay Street for a look at a gob of fantastic art!

Advertisements

The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls, NY

Recently, I got to discover a new town with an super cool arts space and want to tell you all about it in case you’re ever in the area it is a must stop by and see!  😀

The Shirt Factory is this amazing huge old building that has a fantastic history.  It is located in Glens Falls, NY just outside the Adirondack Park about 1hr North of Albany.  As a side note – Glens Falls was a lovely town, they have made a real effort to preserve buildings and have a great main street area with shops and restaurants.  There’s a lot to do in the area too.  But back to The Shirt Factory….

The Shirt Factory was in fact a real Shirt Factory.  It is a huge 4 story brick building and was started in the early 1900’s employing many hundred of the townspeople.  The shirts were made under the McMullen label and were incredibly successful.  In the 1930’s, the company went in a new direction – in addition to shirts, they started designing and making dresses for women.  They were very successful with their dresses being featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines.  They even dressed celebrities, making custom pieces for many famous women.  One of their creations is even part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The company went through many changes during the mid-century but kept along making shirts till it finally closed in the late 1990’s.  It lasted as factory for nearly a century, employing many generations of Glens Falls residents.

In 1996, the current owner of the building bought it at auction and fell in love with it.  He chose to preserve and renovate this amazing space with high ceilings and beautiful windows and turned it into artists spaces.  Today the building has 77 unique studios with over 100 artists / artisans.

You can visit this super neat place most days – but if you go Thursday thru Saturday from 12-5, all the shops / studios / galleries on the main 1st floor will be open.  The rest of the studios keep their own hours, but you’re welcome to wander the halls, and if someone has their door open you might be allowed in to visit and see what they’re working on.

One of the cool bits about wandering around the building – they’ve got tons of historical stuff just around.  They have samples of the dresses in cases on the walls.  There are old sewing machines in the hallways that you can touch.  There are old photos of what it looked like, what the workers looked like and stories about their lives on the walls.  One of the ladies in a studio showed me in the floor where there were worn spots and she told me it was where an ironing station had been and those worn bits were from where the worker stood.  Just cool that this place got preserved, saved and given a new life incorporating its’ history and not just gutted or torn down.

So why did I find out about this place?  Well, it turns out, one of the tenants of building is The Shirt Factory Gallery, a beautiful art gallery who accepted one of my pieces into a show they were having.  The Shirt Factory Gallery has had an annual “smalls” show for about 7 or 8 years in a row now.  This year, I applied and was pretty thrilled that my piece Shiro Piegare 8127 got accepted!  We even went down and attended the opening reception party – it was PACKED!!  The party was such fun, it was great to meet and talk with other artists and see all sorts of neat work in the show.  This place is so wonderfully supportive of artists, it’s a great community and I was thrilled to be a part of it for a tiny bit.

It is such a cool side benefit of making art, that you get to find out about these neat places when a piece gets accepted somewhere.  If you’re ever near Glens Falls be sure to stop by and take look at this amazing place!

Achromatically Inclined

Kuro Piegare 8133

From late November to January of this year, I was super fortunate to have had a solo show for my artwork at the Trinity Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

It was an amazing opportunity that came with perfect timing in my life.  The space of the Trinity Gallery is beautiful and big with a lot of walls to fill!  When I first received notice of the opportunity in late December 2017, I was given about a week to come up with my show name and a short blurb of what it would be about.

I knew I wanted to show more than one set of work.  This was my first solo show and I wanted it to have a bit of range that hopefully would draw interest.  Decided that it would have pieces from 3 series in it.

Disk Overload

Data Reliance – This series stems from my time working in technology, my feelings on how it takes over our lives and where we’re moving with it.

Iro Piegare – framed floating sculptures combining Japanese paper folding and Italian mosaic technqiues

Birch Trees at Night – the beautiful Birch captivated me when I first came to Canada and has been a favorite subject of mine for many years.

So here I had 3 series, inspired by different things all in the same show.  How to tie them together?  Well – all 3 of them happen to be done in shades of black, white and grey, occasionally with a tiny pop of color.  I’ve long been a black and white girl, and have written about it here on the blog.  When I stumbled upon “Achromatic” with the definition “possessing no hue:  being or involving black, grey or white”, thought how perfect to describe my art and inclinations and thus Achromatically Inclined became the show name.  😀

View of gallery

10 months of crazy work later, we finally came to the opening of the show.  It was a ton of work to hang and thankfully I had my husband, who was a tremendous help not only in hanging the show but all the steps along the way.  Trinity Gallery is located within an arts centre that has 5 other gallery spaces (along with theaters and art schools) within.  They have Meet the Artist days when the galleries change their shows so it is a fun atmosphere with a lot going on and people going from space to space.  The event was awesome – even made sure my refreshments were achromatic themed! 😀 I was so fortunate to have family travel from out of town to come on this special day as well as having many lovely local friends come too.

There was a lot of great feedback on the work.  I even sold a couple of pieces!  It was so neat to talk to people and see it being well received.  It also was so amazing, such a gift, to allowed in life to see so many of my pieces hanging all in one space (that isn’t my home!).  Overwhelmed with gratefulness is how it felt.

Here’s some pics of the show up and opening day.  If you’d like to see pics of all the pieces on the show there’s a  page on my website that shows what all was included that you can view by clicking here.

Wearable Art – Mosaic Belt

I love the idea of wearable art, it is why I started making mosaic jewelry many years ago.  It’s a fun way to share the art of mosaic with a larger audience and also to wear a piece of unique art on one’s body.

Benz_Black Mosaic BeltLate last summer while working on pieces for my show that was to happen at the end of the year, I started thinking about what is in my closet that I could wear for my opening.  Then started thinking about how it would be really cool to wear mosaic in a larger sense, more than just as a pendant or ring.

I had seen some photos online of an artist (not sure who it was unfortunately) who had created a mosaic dress.  But this dress was a permanent fixture, it had a space for a woman to slide into it and be photographed “wearing” it but she couldn’t actually move around.  I wanted to figure out something I could wear and move in.

Started noodling on ideas and decided to start small and try and construct a belt of mosaic.  I’ve always had a love for anything Japanese and took inspiration from Japanese obi belts.  Thought about how an obi fits all around the body, usually a bit higher up and wide.

Mosaics are heavy and solid, so those are considerations to think about.  This wasn’t going to be a belt that was just wrapped around anywhere.  I had to fit it to my proportions so built a form of my body and then molded my base material on that.  I created 2 solid C shapes, then next had to figure out how they’d attach to one another.  Decided on a system of adjustable leather straps that wove in and out of the belt on the sides, slightly hidden under the arm.

Finally I mosaic’d my base form and chose to use the same palette of glass that I used in some of my actual art mosaics that would be on display at my show.  I’d match the art on the wall!  I wasn’t sure if I’d prefer a black or white version, so made a belt in both colors.  In the end, while wearing a black dress the black version won.  I’m keeping the white version to wear on a lighter color dress in the future.

It was a ton of fun to wear this mosaic belt at a few events.  It tickled me beyond belief that I figured out how to make it work, make it relatively light (it is ~1.25 lbs) and fairly comfortable.  It is 2 solid pieces so not as comfortable as a fabric belt but still comfortable enough to wear for many hours, even while eating dinner.  I’m already dreaming of ideas to create something bigger – corset or bustier type top maybe?

Happy Holidays!

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

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

Taking a breath….

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!

New in my studio – cufflinks & a log!

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.

img_7088-632x800

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.

The eyes of Rodin

Just a quick update on Rodin today.  He’s been a bit slow starting, worked on him everyday this past week but played with colors, set a few bits then would pull them out and change my mind.

His eyes are done at this point and part of a cheek, earlier on he was experiencing what any woman who’s ever used cheap mascara has experienced, raccoon eyes.  😉  They’re still there a tiny bit but it will all blend in once the areas around the eyes are better filled.  At least I’m hoping they will!

No matter how hard I try, I just keep going tiny with the pieces, really really need to break out of this habit then the mosaics would complete a lot faster.  But with bigger pieces it always feels for me like less effect in shading and shaping occur so inevitably I end up going small.  Arrgghh!  Rodin will take some time, I may start a second project just to avoid burn out from only working on one thing.

Wedi Wedi excited!

 

We went to Montreal this past weekend to see some of the Just For Laughs festival.  Unrelated mosaic note here – if you love stand up comedy, or even like it just a little – this is a fantastically fun festival.  Highly recommend it and Montreal is a fun city for a long weekend too.  Anyways – while in Montreal we went and got me a great big piece of Wediboard.  If you keep up with our blog you may remember my excitement at discovering a Canadian distributor who not only wasn’t too far away but less expensive than the US, an unheard of event usually in Canadian life!

So now I’m home with a 3’ x 5’ piece of Wedi and dreaming of what will come out of it. 

Here’s a little lowdown for you on what Wediboard is and why it is great for mosaic.

Wediboard is most often used as an underlayer in bathrooms and kitchens by contractors.  It is made by a German company and has a blue foam core that is then covered in a thin layer of cement and mesh.  This makes it super light weight, waterproof, weatherproof (excellent for outdoor mosaics), rigid, doesn’t need to be sealed.   You can also cut it with a utility knife and don’t need any special equipment to make fun shapes or even plain old squares.

Why is this good for mosaics?
Well, mosaics are heavy.  Having a lightweight base, especially on a larger project is a bonus.
Mosaics are also heavy (did I mention that?) so they can easily warp a surface rendering all your hours and hours of hard work useless as it breaks or cracks your mosaic.
In order to be safe with your mosaic when you use a wood (or MDF) base, it has to be quite thick, often ½” thick or more is recommended.  A ½”+ thick piece of plywood or MDF is heavy in and of itself, lay on a mosaic and dang it can get heavy quick!  Don’t get me wrong, I use wood sometimes for sure but a lighter more easily cut surface at a good price is better.

Wedi, since it is weatherproof can also be used outdoors.  Sometimes we want to mosaic a nice decorative panel for the outdoor patio wall but don’t want to mosaic directly on the wall, Wedi is there and much lighter weight than marine plywood.

“Can’t you use cement panel?” some of you may ask, after all it too is weatherproof, waterproof, probably won’t warp and is thin.  You’re right!  Cement panel  you see at the hardware store is also used as an underlayment in kitchens and baths – and yes you can use it in mosaics for sure.  It is a great surface.  But the Wedi is still lighter, easier to cut and has all the same great properties.

That’s all for the Wedi lesson!  Rodin is getting underway and  pictures will be coming soon…

Who doesn’t love Rodin!

Well, maybe some of you out there don’t love Rodin, but thanks to my High School French Teacher who introduced me to him, I gained a healthy love for his work.  Earlier this year I was in Paris, and finally on this visit I was able to go to the Rodin museum and gardens.  It was spectacular, just loved it, loved seeing the huge Thinker and the Gates of Hell in their giant glory in the garden.   The timing of this visit was great too as a special exhibit of some of his drawings were on display that aren’t usually out.

Anyways – years ago, I saw this pic below of Rodin on the French museums’ website.  It really grabbed me, and I took it to a mosaic portraiture class in 2009 thinking maybe I could mosaic it.  The class ended up using different materials for the portraits, but I kept my Rodin photo for future use.  Finally the time has come and hopefully he’ll turn out well.

He’s going to be put on Wediboard, I’ve already cut out the circle shape, it is 12″ in diameter.  Then Rodin himself will made with Vitreous Glass.  Would love to use Smalti but it is expensive and I can’t afford to use it all the time, so Vitreous Glass it is for Rodin.  Hopefully he’ll approve of the end result.  🙂

Keep checking back in with us to see him come to life!