Sunday, December 26, 2010

Useful Objects, Part 2

I've been pondering for a long time how to make tiles out of some of my mosaic images. I thought it would be both an interesting project and maybe, over time, a marketing idea. My original plan was to have the images printed onto glazed ceramic tile, but after scouring the Web, I realized that I would have to leave that to the professionals. 

In the course of my search, however, I found a site called Above the Mark, which is a site that sells rubber stamp dies and other products, but also kindly offers complete instructions on how to transfer images onto tumbled marble tiles. It's time-consuming but fairly easy, using acrylic medium and laser copies. I've made several so far, and I love the antiqued look that results - as if the tiles had been dug up from an archeological site. I can enhance that effect by tinting the medium so the edges are a bit browner. I've stuck small felt circles on the back so they can be used as coasters (these are 4-inch square tiles). They make wonderful and personal gifts. I plan to experiment with larger tiles to offer as trivets. They can also be hung on the wall; one recipient of a Christmas-gift tile coaster is planning to do just that.    

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fun With Tape

A few years ago, on a lark, I entered -- and won! -- a local duct tape art contest. My entry was a barn owl, wings spread, clutching a mouse in its talons. The title: "Dinner's Ready!"  It won first prize. I was, naturally, completely thrilled, since it was the first time I had entered and won anything in an art show, so it gave me a big confidence boost in the first years of developing my art career as close to a full-time pursuit.

My mother loved the picture I sent her so much, I made a copy for her for Christmas that year, and added a wire so she could hang it from a rafter in her kitchen. The next year, I made her a cardinal in flight, which is now hanging next to the owl. This year, I am continuing the tradition with this ivory-billed woodpecker. I personally believe that the ivory bill is still out there, hiding in the swamps of the South, and will rise again when its numbers have increased to safe levels. In my mind, at least, it is still alive and free.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Useful Objects

A shop owner once told me that people are more likely to buy a piece of art if it has another function, such as a mirror or a plate. I don't mind creating useful art - sometimes creating useful things makes it possible to have the time to create art that is just art - art for art's sake. It would be ideal if all art was considered useful; one could argue that good art is always useful because it makes people think, or feel, something new - even if it's just a new feeling of delightful surprise. Goodness knows, we could all use a bit more delight in life.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010


As you know, I love 3-D mosaic creations. I also love cake! So when I saw this masterpiece, I just had to contact the artist and get her permission to share her work. She is Sylvana Baracchini, and she creates mosaics in Hingham, Mass. Her website is Mixed Media Madness. 

What I like about this piece is the whimsy factor. She calls it her Mad Hatter cake, and it won a "Best Sculpture" award at an art competition in Quincy. Did you notice the light bulbs used as petals on the top, right next to the porcelain roses? I think the colors are perfect, and the icing details are just right. 

Only problem: With this type of cake, you can have it, but you can't eat it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Summer School" - Take Two

The subheading for this post is "The Customer is Always Right." I made this piece for clients who had seen the green and blue "Summer School" that I made a couple of months ago and wanted something like it but in a different color scheme, for an alcove in their home. They wanted to match their decor in mostly browns. I started with more pastels than brown, thinking it would be livelier, but the feedback I got was that they wanted less pastel - especially no pink, and no bright yellow or orange. At first I was not so happy with that directive, because when I think of fish, I think of bright colors, but then I found some beautiful caramel colors of glass, and some pale orange, and an off-white, as well as a rich honey brown and vibrant rust, and as the piece began to take shape, I realized they were right; there are so many variations to the base colors that the finished piece is as lively as if the fish were swimming right there on the wall! So the moral of this story is Listen to the Client and Everything Should Turn Out Right!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creative Shards

I just had to share with you this very creative mosaic by my friend and mosaic artist Margo Barber. She often says to never throw anything out because it just might find its way into a mosaic, and here's proof! The way the tiger's head is incorporated into the side of the pot makes it seem as if he is ready to leap out of the pot. Seeing this makes me feel a lot better about the many buckets of broken dishes and vases and figurines and miscellaneous ceramic things stowed away in a corner of my studio (people always save them for me). Someday they will find their way into a garden ornament...

Monday, November 8, 2010


"The goose thought, on reflection, that in his next life he'd prefer to be a flamingo."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Hoopoe

... is about 10 to 12 inches long - about the size of a crow - and has a slightly curved beak and that wonderful crown, which it usually wears laid back but whips up when excited. I saw one in Kashmir one summer; first you would hear the "hoop-hoop-hoop" call, and then it would swoop down onto the front lawn to search for insects or lizards. When it flies, the black and white on its wings flashes. 

This mosaic dyptych is now showing at the new Bolivar Art Gallery in Sarasota, at 506 S. Pineapple in the Burns Square area. The gallery is open First Friday evenings for the monthly Art Walks; also Tuesday through Thursday 11-5 and Friday/Saturday 11-6. I had a tough time finding small raised letters to incorporate into my mosaics; the H, P and E in this mosaic are from a child's alphabet learning kit, but they are actually a little larger than I really wanted; the Os are brown jade rings. The craft stores have mostly tiles with letters on them, like Scrabble tiles; if anyone knows where to find raised letters, I'd be very grateful to hear about it!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

To Grout or Not to Grout

This is a partial view of one of my first mosaic projects - a wall panel that was about a foot wide and five feet high. The client wanted me to incorporate pieces from a box of costume jewelry and odds and ends that she had collected over the years. It was an intriguing project, because it evolved in a very organic and unplanned way. That process often works best for me, because when the finished forms are spontaneous, they have a freer look and feeling than when I plan something out in detail. 

When I started out, I did not intend to grout, because of all the unusual shapes and forms that would make grouting very difficult. The piece includes sea glass, marbles, costume jewelry, and special pieces such as the glass bird in the lower left, and the glass leaf in the upper right, as well as tile and mirror in various shapes and configurations. The face is built up with mortar so it has some dimension. But when I was finished, I realized that the piece lacked cohesion, so I ended up "grouting" with paint - in this case a golden yellow color; I used a thin brush and - over many hours! - painted between each piece. (Since then, when I'm not sure at the beginning of the project whether I will grout or not, I paint the backing board first!) 

Grout can make or break a mosaic work; and the color can either enhance or fight with the finished work. Usually a medium gray is a good choice, because it fades to the background. I use black if I want the mosaic to really stand out, and sometimes other colors if I want the grout to contribute to the final effect. Grout can be mixed with pigments to make any color you want.  I recently learned of a good tip for deciding which grout color to use; it came from a fellow member of SAMA, the Society of American Mosaic Artists. Many of the books say to do test pieces, but if that's too much time and trouble (and it usually is for me, being someone who likes to work quickly), you can simply sprinkle a little powdered grout of different colors over your finished piece, and you will immediately see which color is going to work best.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Circles and Squares - installed!

 This morning I installed the mosaic piece to cover an electrical panel in my client's hallway. It turned out even better than I imagined. As you can see, the hall has a handy bump-out right below the panel, so no one will accidentally bump against it (I have no idea what it's really for!). The installation is not quite perfect, because the wall has a slight bow to it, so the piece does not sit perfectly flat against the wall. Nothing I can do about it, so I won't worry, but I do like to have things turn out as perfectly as humanly possible! 

Below is a close-up. I love how the circles show up now that it's grouted. The grout color is called "Harvest Yellow," and it turned out to be pretty darn close to the wall color, a Benjamin Moore color called Wheatfields. Normally I prefer darker grouts, but in this case, I wanted to match the wall color as much as possible. There is so much light in the apartment that it shows off very well.

I did enjoy doing this piece, but I will also be very happy to move on to the next project.   

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mosaic for Charity

Last weekend I completed this mosaic to contribute to a project being organized by Eve Lynch of Kraken Mosaics in Fort Myers.  She put out a call for contributions of mosaics to include as part of the outdoor environment for the J.H. Messina Children's Center in Fort Myers. My inspiration was a particular species of crane - the black-crowned - but after finishing it I realized that it also could have come right out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Mosaics for charity is, of course, not a new concept. I recently learned of a nonprofit called Piece by Piece, which teaches disadvantaged adults to create mosaic works of art to sell for extra money. Their slogan is "Recycled art for a new cycle of life." They make the analogy that life itself is a process of putting together bits and pieces to make a whole person. The organization is headquartered in Long Beach, California, and some of the works being created are extraordinarily beautiful.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This is another of the small pieces produced from shelving remnants - first in a series of "flower portraits." It's about 7 inches square. I experimented in this one with combining stained glass - in the bud, stem and leaves - with glazed ceramic tiles in the background. I think it gives a starker, yet effective, background, and shaping the tiles to follow the line of the rounded bud - the Italians call this "andamento" - makes it seem to jump off the page. I plan a series of these, and a local gallery has expressed interest in showing them. 

My inspiration for the flowers was looking through a stack of drawings I did many years ago when I was on a watercolor kick. In college I had concentrated in Drawing, so in a lot of works I combined pure line with partial bursts of intense color, in either colored pencil or paint. This is the peony sketch that inspired the mosaic.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Wedding Present

A friend's daughter is getting married this weekend, and I wanted to do something special instead of simply checking something off the registry list (besides, I could afford probably one teacup, which wouldn't be very useful!). This small mosaic is about 7 inches square, and it's inspired by the couple's china pattern, a Jasper Conran design called "Chinoiserie." I printed out a few notecards to match, and tied everything up with a blue bow.

I've always felt that handmade presents are so much nicer than store-bought things anyway. It's like giving a bit of yourself along with the object, and strengthens the bonds of blood and friendship. Parents know this; witness the hordes of refrigerators across the world plastered with little ones' paintings and drawings! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Baobab Tree

The Baobab Tree is a gallery in the Village of the Arts, in Bradenton. A couple of years ago, when I was looking around for venues where I could display my mosaics, I looked at all the galleries in the Village and thought the Baobab would be a good fit because it carries such an eclectic mix of styles and media. I approached the owners, Chris and Gordon Turner, and they have been kind enough to show a few of my pieces every season. They have also become good friends. This year, they are showing several of my Avian Portraits, including the Toucan pictured here.

Chris and Gordon travel every summer and bring back artwork from Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, and other exotic destinations, as well as from their artist friends in the Northeast, where they hail from originally. Both have taught art and continue to produce it; Chris is an accomplished painter in acrylic and watercolor, and Gordon creates charming fish and other sculptures using weathered wood and found objects. The gallery shows their work as well as local and not-so-local artists.

The Baobab Tree is open on the First Friday of the month and the first Saturday, and other times by appointment. The gallery is located at 1113 12th St. in Bradenton, telephone 914-447-3795. The next First Friday opening is October 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. Please visit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Circles and Squares

Here's a progress report on my current commission -- a mosaic piece to cover an electrical panel. This is the bottom half (it's about 20 by 40 inches total) -- and there is a close-up on the right. You can see how the circles will be highlighted after I grout it. I'm really enjoying using all the different sizes and colors, but it's a painstaking process. I found some beautiful glass 2" squares at a remainder tile store in St. Pete, called Tons of Tile -- a great source for odds and ends. The glass pieces that were too clear I painted on the underside with glass paint. You can see two of them in the bottom center and upper left in the top photo; they were a very light beige which I painted on the back with bright yellow, which gives them a lovely golden glow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Pineapple - Complete

Finally the mosaic pineapple, which I wrote about last month, is complete and installed in my friend's driveway. The installation took several days, because the hole it was going in was deeper than the mosaic. First I had to put down a layer of mortar using a 1/8" notched trowel. The next day, when it was dry, I put another layer over that and smoothed it flat. The third day I could install the pineapple, which I had glued to fiberglass mesh, on a final layer of mortar made with the notched trowel. On the fourth day, I grouted, and the fifth day, this morning, I applied a spray sealer. I constructed a makeshift canopy from sawhorses, a tarp, and bungee cords, since it is our rainy season, to keep the rain off while the piece dried.  It is a very nice surprise now to walk in the gate and see the pineapple, a traditional sign of welcome. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Avian Portraits

Introducing three bird portraits just completed: Loon, Woodpecker, and Crane. Each is about 7 1/2 inches square. I've been poring over my one small bird book and browsing images online to find likely subjects -- the possibilities are endless! I've done nine birds so far, and I have about 15 more small boards to work with from my salvaged shelves.  I'm using stained glass, and finishing the edges with black tiles. I hope to place a few at the Baobab Tree and Parkland galleries this fall.

One of the birds, a parrot, is on its way to New York; every year I contribute a small work to an auction that benefits the World Wildlife Fund, hosted by Humanscale, a company that makes ergonomic and eco-friendly office furniture and accessories. They have been hosting this annual auction of wildlife-themed artwork, which they call "Faces in the Wild," every year since 2000. Last year they raised $42,000 for WWF.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Commission

This is the sketch for a new commission. The clients have a fairly modern condo right on the beach (I mosaicked three walls in their master bath with a wave design -- pictures on website). They have beautiful contemporary furnishings, but the electrical panel in the middle of the hallway is an eyesore, so they've commissioned me to create something to hide it. Because the panel sticks out from the wall about an inch and a half, I'm having a carpenter build a frame first. He'll attach a piano hinge on the right side and a magnetic closure on the left side. I've ordered an amber-colored square glass knob that will go with my design to attach over the magnet for ease of opening. The wall color is a rich mustard color, so my design will incorporate a mixture of tiles in yellows, golds, beiges, and browns, in all different sizes, from 2" down to 3/8". I've got some glass gems for sparkle and some millefiori rectangles for fun. It will be a contemporary look that will be intriguing to look at as well as functional.  I'll mosaic the sides as well as the front panel; the whole thing will be about 39" high and 19" wide. I'm looking forward to getting started!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Work in Progress

For several months I've had a stack of small boards lying around, supposedly to make shelves with. But not being a particularly handy person, I finally realized that the boards would never make themselves into shelves, so I decided to cut them up and make small mosaic "gems" with them. Each piece is about 7" square. You can see my process in the picture - sketches on paper, then transferred onto the boards (there's a toucan in front ready to be mosaicked) and a couple of the finished squares toward the top (not yet grouted). I'm working in stained glass, which I'm enjoying more the more I work with it. The colors are brilliant, and it's easy to cut tiny pieces that stay flat in place (with tile, sometimes a small piece can be hard to place flat due to the ridges on the back of the tile). I have a couple of dozen of these small squares, and look forward to creating a variety of mosaic gems. I'm starting out with a series of birds, and we'll just have to see what comes next. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Summer School"

I just completed this mosaic, called "Summer School," to enter in a competition sponsored by the online mosaic community Contemporary Mosaic Art (CMA). The assigned theme is "camouflage." I used all scraps in my green and blue boxes cut into squares for this piece. The tiny eyes are purple millefiori. It was really fun to do, and I could easily see this design in a backsplash or filling a wall niche. The finished size is 24" x 24". 

CMA is a wonderful community that always inspires me. It includes forums to share projects or get help with mosaic questions, and they create a new "slide show" every few weeks to showcase members' artwork.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Work of Art" Didn't Work for Me

First, the good news: I'm happy that Abdi won. I think he has the greatest breadth of vision and technical facility of all the contestants, and I wish him all the best. 

Having said that, I really think that this series failed as a competition that tried to cast itself in the same mold as Project Runway, Top Chef, and Top Design. In my view, art is not suitable for this format, because it is such a subjective art form. All of us can envision wearing an outfit we see on the runway, tasting a dish, or living in a professionally designed room, and we live with our wardrobes, our food, and our house decorations every day - but how many of us think about or create art every day? Also, not only can we envision wearing the outfit or eating the food, but we can easily follow along with the judges when they say technical skill is well done or lacking; when a dress is well constructed, say, or a dish shows different harmonious flavors. I feel as if I am learning something about dressmaking and cooking every time I watch those shows, even though I will most likely never sew a dress or make a roulade. 

I wanted to learn something from "Work of Art," too. Perhaps it might have succeeded better if it had taught us more about some of the techniques the artists were using, such as screen printing or photo manipulation or sculpture armatures. We all like to see how something is done (witness the popularity of the many "how it's made" shows), even if we never intend to do it ourselves; one of the fascinations for me with Project Runway and Top Chef is seeing how the outfits and the dishes come together, and learning new terms, such as "chiffonade." It does not take away from the mystery; in fact, it increases my admiration for the people who are skilled in these fields.

With no explanation of technique in "Work of Art," and its seemingly overarching focus on "concept," we were left with judging the challenge projects only subjectively - as to how they made us feel (if they made us feel anything).  It's not that I believe I have to like everything I see to appreciate it, but art is such a slippery experience, a few footholds from the experts would have been welcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gecko Redux

Here's "Flotsam Gecko," brand spankin' new on my work table, ready for delivery to its owner. I didn't have all the same tiles that I used for the first incarnation, and so he turned out a little brighter than the first, but I like the result, and he will show up really nicely on the side of the owner's house. He'll be facing the road visible to all passersby! I ended up using a Liquid Nails product--a clear adhesive/sealant that says "fiberglass" on the tube as one of its recommended uses. Since I also roughed up the surface and reinforced the inside of the mold, I'm pretty confident that everything will stick. The grout is sealed twice, and I also added a coat of Clear Coat spray for extra protection. Good luck Mr. Gecko!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Inspiration Fridge

I like to be reminded, often, of the artists I admire and learn from. My fridge features a rotating display of my favorite inspirations. You can see that those who have a way with color are high on my list. Betty Bolivar, whose card on the top middle features one of her unique portraits, is always fresh and inspiring. Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson, whose peacock is middle-right, creates luminous color in her collages. Tom Stephens, just above the water dispenser, is a Sarasota artist who builds layers of texture and color in paintings that I always find engrossing -- they are almost like mosaics with blobs of pigment.  

One of the markers I use to judge artwork is the fact that you never get tired of looking at good art. Naturally I see my fridge many times during the day, and I always get inspired by what I see -- it's almost like taking a class every time I walk into my kitchen.  What inspires you?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pineapple - Phase 2

Here is the almost-complete pineapple. I just have to do the background, which will be three shades of purple. I'll start with a light violet next to the pineapple and progressively get darker out to the borders. Then I'll need to take it to my friend's house and make an exact template for the size of the hole it's going in. I'm going to have to add something in the bottom of the space, because the surrounding concrete veneer is about 3/8 inch thick, and the mosaic at this point is only about 1/8. I'm leaning toward putting down a couple of layers of mortar - I plan to consult with a friend who is a professional tile installer.

I had fun with the oranges and yellows in the pineapple, laying them in a pattern that makes the fruit look 3-D, in a sort of abstract way. The planes of the tiles (I left a lot of them square) remind me a little bit of how a geodesic dome creates a round shape with lots of flat planes. The leaves were harder - lots and lots of special cuts - but I'm happy with the result.

Fellow mosaic artist and blogger Eve Lynch (see link to her blog on the right) commented that the idea of filling holes with mosaic reminded her of a British artist, Jimmy South, who installs mosaics in potholes around London in guerilla fashion. Great idea! What a nice surprise to be stuck in traffic, look down and see a work of art in the road. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pineapple - Phase I

This is a mosaic in progress for a friend's driveway. In one section, she has a thin - about 1/4 inch - stamped concrete "veneer" in a brick design. Water has seeped underneath, leaving a section about 4 feet square that came loose from the thicker concrete pad underneath. I'm creating this pineapple in matte glass tile to go in that section. I'm adhering it to mesh, in oranges and yellows; the background will be shades of purple and violet (my friend likes color.) When it's done, I'll use something strong and waterproof to adhere it to the driveway pad, and grout in place. The second picture shows my cat, Furbaby, who always wants to be where the action is.

One of my very first mosaic commissions was for another friend whose new house had settled, making cracks in several places in the large floor tile. Since it is almost impossible to match new tile exactly with something that has already been installed, she had the idea of little mosaic scenes for each part. We brought in a handyman with one of those hand-held tile saws, and her made random shapes in each area around the cracks. He then cut pieces of luon (very thin plywood) for me to work with. I glued the designs directly onto the luon, fixed them into each cut-out and grouted in place. The second picture shows one of these mosaics. There are about 7 or 8 throughout the house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Conceptual or ... ?

For the past week or so I've been thinking about the judging on the TV show "Work of Art." So far, I have to say that I've agreed with the judges' decision about the overall winner, but their unfailing praise of pieces that are purely conceptual leaves me a little cold. Does no one value beauty or well-executed technique any more? In my mind, good art has several aspects to it besides concept.

I've run into this question when I've tried to write an "artist statement," which almost every exhibition requires. Does anyone read those? It often seems a waste of time, and so many of them read as if they were a strain to write. It's as if your work doesn't have value unless it has some philosophical or mystical basis. Maybe it takes more years than I have under my belt to develop that sensibility; at this moment, I just like to create things that are beautiful or interesting to look at, or which solve some design problem, or which express some particular feeling. That's about as conceptual as I'm going to get - at least for now. What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thanks, Mom

My mother was cleaning out some boxes recently and found these buttons - an early "mosaic" project that I had completely forgotten about. I must have been in junior high or high school, and I think I was intending to make these into jewelry; some of them have brooch pins glued to the back. 

It made me remember how sweet it was to grow up in a house where creativity was encouraged and there were always art materials to experiment with (my mother taught elementary art). All kids should have that kind of opportunity.

These also reminded me of a mosaic form called "micromosaic": exquisite creations using tiny pieces of enamel, glass, semiprecious stones, and found objects. The art form dates back centuries, but there are many artists doing it today. I know a mosaic artist in Atlanta, Janice Schmidt, who creates beautiful one-of-a-kind belt buckles in micromosaic. I'm working a lot larger now in mosaic, but I sure appreciate the patience and steady hand that this type of artwork requires.

Thanks to all the Moms out there who save everything! Some day it may spark a happy memory.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thoughts on Independence

July 4th is always a special day for me, not only because it's our national holiday, but also because it's my birthday too. I've read a lot about our founding fathers, and continue to be amazed that such an extraordinary group of people lived on this Earth at one time and managed to agree with each other enough to put together the framework for this wonderful country of ours that has endured - through thick and thin - for 234 years with freedoms intact.

I am especially thankful whenever I think about how we are at liberty to create any kind of "art" that we feel like. If you watched last week's episode of "Work of Art," you might have shared my reactions: I don't enjoy "shock art," but I sure appreciate the fact that those artists can create it without fear of being hauled off to prison or worse to satisfy the blindered views of some totalitarian rulers. Sure, our institutions of government and politics have great faults, but repression of freedom of expression is not one of them. Cue the fireworks.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Know Your Substrate!

I mosaicked this gecko as part of the 2010 Geckofest for Bradenton, Florida. Every two years local artists are invited to paint or decorate a gecko (they are 6-foot fiberglass forms) to be auctioned off for charity. They are mounted in various spots about town for several months before the auction; mine is shown (in happier times) on the side of the South Florida Museum where it lived last fall. Its feet are painted, but the rest is shells, glass gems, and blue/green/white tiles of various sizes. It's name is "Flotsam Gecko."

Unfortunately, this spring, after the gecko was purchased at the auction, tiles started falling off! I repaired small portions twice, but last month, after it happened again, I brought it back to my studio to completely redo. This was my first time working on fiberglass. I had used exterior thin-set, which usually sticks to anything like a rock, but apparently it is not suitable for fiberglass. I'm currently in the process of completely redoing the job, having learned a valuable lesson about substrates. I'm now only using adhesives that are meant for fiberglass, so they have some flexibility. I also reinforced the form on the inside with spray foam; I think part of the problem is that the form was not completely stable and rigid, so it's more likely to crack a rigid adhesive like thin-set. Finally, I roughed up the surface with sandpaper, a wire brush, and a nail. Live and learn!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wait and See

Here is the complete "Four Seasons" mosaic. I won't be able to install it for a few months--the remodelers are just getting started at my client's home--but I'll take an "official" photo when I do.

I met with the client's designer, Pam Holladay of Siebert Architects, to help choose the border tile. Both the client and I had thought that the border should contrast with the light travertine that will surround it, so I ordered several samples ranging from mahogany to golden brown, and, almost as an afterthought, the ginger-colored glass tile that I ended up using. I find that when I have a choice to make, the answer almost always shows itself if I just "stand back" and watch and listen, whether it's in the studio or in life. In this case, as soon as I saw this light ginger glass tile between the mosaic and the travertine sample, I knew it was the one, and so did Pam. It's almost like a taste sense when it is right. It feels satisfying and complete. It's a message of intuition, always there ready to let me know what direction to take.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Four Seasons

The client for this piece wanted a narrow frieze to go over a fireplace in her bedroom. The surround will be a soft beige-colored travertine."The Four Seasons" was my client's desire, as she really loves her northern home and the change of seasons. This picture shows the work in progress. I did a detailed painting for approval, which is on the bottom. I secured a piece of parchment paper over it (I've also used plastic wrap), then fiberglass mesh onto which I glue the glass. I'm using stained glass exclusively, which is a new medium for me -- in the past I've used mostly glass tile, with maybe a few pieces of stained glass here and there. In this case, the design was so intricate that it would be too hard to cut the small pieces of tile to fit. Besides, there is such richness and subtle variations of color with stained glass, it really lends itself better to the overall design. Randy LaSalle Fox, another local mosaic artist, introduced me to this beautiful medium.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Hello

Today is Sunday, the cat is napping and it's too hot to work in the garden, so here I am. This is the first post for a blog about mosaic and art and anything else that I feel like writing about.

My thanks to my friend Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson, a wonderful collage artist, who inspired me to start blogging! Her blog is called "Paper Paintings". I love her use of vibrant colors, and she creates lots of birds in her paintings, which is a subject I love as well.

The pictures show a sculpture that I've just started. The form was given to me by another friend, Margo Barber, the founder of the Manatee Mosaic Group, which I joined a few months ago. We spend a very happy day once a month inspiring each other with our current mosaic projects at a lovely retreat center in the woods. Margo brought me this duck form after hearing me tell how I like to work on 3-D mosaics. I decided that if I were a plain duck, I'd like to be decorated with something really fancy, so I've started mosaicking flamingoes all over it. I'm using pink glass tiles in 3 or 4 shades, cut into small pieces. The picture shows a start; I'll post more as I continue working on it.