New Work

Mirror, Mirror—Mirror Mirror

Clockwise from top: Blue, Yellow, Turquoise 14" x 17.5; Grays with Blue 18" x 16"; Blue, Purple, Aqua 16" x 21"; Red, Rose, Bronze 21" x 17". Van Gogh and mirror glass.

I've finished those four frames that I had—mosaicked them, installed beveled mirrors, and then framed them in floater frames. I'm satisfied with my efforts.

I photographed them today, and I was sorry that my cool photo studio was not as helpful as I would have liked it to be for these mirrors. The larger mirrors, in particular, were difficult. I did my best, but still had imbalanced lighting and reflection. They were not as sharp as I would like, especially the larger two, and especially the blue of the larger two. These will have to do for now. Maybe when the weather clears up, I will try outside.

I think that most of the difficulty is due to the glass tiles, and certainly the mirror tiles. I still have high hopes for photographing art pieces, and my results with the bottles were overall acceptable. 

Two more mirror frames to go! I had a couple of mirrors stored away, in frames that I did not like, so I removed them from their original decorative frames and decided to go ahead and make new frames for them while I am deep into this decorative phase. These are larger frames with 4" surface to mosaic, versus the 2" of the above frames. Maybe by the time Lucy's knee is healed, I will be finished with these two mirrors. 


Self Portrait

I finished it!

I drug this old project out of the closet almost 2 years ago. Hold on, a bit of history may be in order first. About 7 years ago, I was not even 1/8th of the way through this project before I realized that I was on the wrong track. So I did what any normal person would do in such a situation and I got busy with other things. However, not ready to abandon the original idea, I just put the piece away in a closet.

Self Portrait (2016) 30" x 30" | 76cm x 76cm. Marble, mosaic gold, smalti, Swarovski crystal

A couple+ years ago, I was cleaning my studio and deciding what unfinished projects to give up on and which ones to consider finishing. I decided to give this project another go and rethought it. I came up with a strategy that would better support the original concept, and also give me an opportunity to improve my hammer-cutting skill. I tested out the idea on a small corner and decided that it was a good way to go.

Long story short: Got into a bad place with my work, took sabbatical, sabbatical turned into quasi-sabbatical which allowed finishing old stuff but not trying new stuff, decided to plug away on this project while new studio renovation was underway, halted work on project—then 1/2 finished—for renovation, resumed work a few months ago after moving into new studio, finally finished it! So, I guess you could say that this has been a 10-year project.

Well, of course, I am not quite sure how much I do or don't like it, although I think the side perspective is pretty cool!. By the time I resumed work on it in the new studio, I was wishing that I had decided on turquoise instead of red but, alas, that ship had sailed, so to speak. The main thing, however, is that I finished it! And I have greatly improved my hammer-cutting skill. So, good deal. Very good deal! And my first project finished in my new studio!

I've yet to frame it but here it is. Please forgive the photo quality.



Songs from White Hole, continued

Songs from White Hole #2: Tree Voices   3" x 3" | 8 cm x 8 cm. Marble, stone, mosaic gold

Songs from White Hole #2: Tree Voices 3" x 3" | 8 cm x 8 cm. Marble, stone, mosaic gold

Early in the year, I made about 10 3" x 3" substrates, partly because I knew that I would be doing something with the stones that my cousins collected last August, while we were at the White Hole Resort in Flippin, AR. 

I've been a bit slow to work on the little commemorative pieces, but I've now finished the second little mosaic. I've started the third, but mostly likely will not have it finished until later in June. 

As we would sit on the back porch of one of the cabins, along the river, the trees were full of birds that kept up a constant kind of chattering music. 


Loner — WIP

A couple of posts ago, I told you about my new project that is inspired by a book project. You can find that post here. Here is an in-progress pic of that project.. 

Loner, in progress. 20" x 36" | 51 cm x 91 cm. Vitreous, travertine, marble, obsidian specimen, amazonite

I had not intended to include one of the obsidian specimens that was my brother's. Neither did I intend to have this mosaic be about him. But, that is just the direction that it has gone. 

Obviously, I am trying to make it look like a triptych. I've never tried this before. My plan is to apply some black thin-set around the edge and between the three sections. I'm also getting good practice with sdoppiamento, and cutting marble and travertine into thin squares and rectangles with the hammer.

This is a nice, peaceful project that feels like my brother. 

Songs from White Hole

Songs from White Hole: Echo  . 3" x 3" | 8 cm x 8cm. Marble, smalti, mosaic gold, stone. Hand-formed substrate.

Songs from White Hole: Echo. 3" x 3" | 8 cm x 8cm. Marble, smalti, mosaic gold, stone. Hand-formed substrate.

Last August found me in Flippin, AR, at the White Hole Resort. Yes, I said Flippin. My cousin's family has enjoyed an annual stay at this fishing resort along the White River for many years. In recent years, other family members have started joining in, and it has now become an unofficial family reunion, of sorts. 

Last year was my family's first time there, and it was a rather poignant time. My cousin had died unexpectedly in the spring and his presence was painfully missed. And, though we did not know it, this occasion would be the last time that any of us would see my younger brother who died, also unexpectedly, last October. 

A few of my cousins collected stones that called to them so that I could create something commemorating our time together. Here is the first one in the series. 

Way Back...

Over ten years ago, I found this book by Sarah Kelly.  This was in my early years, when I was still doing a lot of decorative work, and before I had even thought about working with stone.

I really loved the project shown on the pages (below left), created by Juliet Docherty. I don't know why I never tried it. I think I was trying to figure out smalti, or something, and veered away from vitreous glass projects.

Even further back, in about 1996, I found Mosaic Mercantile as a vitreous glass supplier. I called and ordered a catalog and some small mixed sets. No internet ordering — it was all by phone. It was so exciting to receive the shipment of tiles; I thought that they were so beautiful, especially the metallic ones. That Gypsy mix is still my fave! This was before I even thought about trying smalti, much less knew where to buy it.

Over the years, I've continued to buy vitreous glass for various mixed material projects, and I have a lot — a lot — that deserves to be used. Now, after so many years, I am revisiting Juliet Docherty's Decorative Panel project. I think that my Beginner's Mind exercises have given me the freedom to go back in time, more or less, so I've started a new mosaic that is inspired by the above project.

That metallic vitreous is beautiful and I'm using a lot of it. After finishing a lower section, it was so strange to have mosaicked a large, flat area. And the little squares are so... square. I've got to work harder to let them be more loose. 

Beginner's Mind #4

Beginner's Mind #4. 10" x 8" | 25 cm x 20 cm. Smalti, porcelain, mosaic gold, vitreous, other glass

Beginner's Mind #4, detail

Beginner's Mind #4, detail

My favorite of all four exercises, I believe that this is the most successful attempt to get close to a beginner's perspective. My cutting is loose and I worked rather freely. I started this going a different direction than where I ended up. 

Of course, I can't work like a beginner; that ship has sailed. But I was able to allow myself to let things go, to not focus on precise technique, to experiment — especially with this one, and to let go of the outcome. 

I tried to make a space to learn and to enjoy. I've never quite done anything like this one before, having the blues and yellows meet in this extreme zig-zag manner — and I think it works very well. I'm so pleased with myself to have tried something different, very different. 

Now, could a beginner really do something like this? I think so. Certainly, on a bit smaller scale. I was actually surprised by how fast it went and how forgiving it was.

The blues are very nice mixed this way. I failed to capture it, but the blue glitter tile that I used has some pink/red sparks that show in certain light; the iridescent blue, as well, sometimes reflects pinks/purples, which I did capture some of on the full image.

What an interesting couple of weeks or so. Starting out too complex and controlled, I made my way to a place which reflects the spirit of working like a beginner — or, at least, like a student. This was also an enjoyable exercise which has helped me appreciate my skill level, and the fact that there is plenty more to learn, and unlearn.

I'm feeling prepared and excited for my class, and I'm happy to have four different examples for inspiration and instruction. I've also completely nailed down the materials, of which there is a good variety. 

Beginner's Mind #3

Beginner's Mind #3

Beginner's Mind #3, detail. 10" x 8" | 25 cm x 20 cm. Smalti, mosaic gold, vitreous, other glass

I don't have much to say about this one, except that it was a fun, breezy few hours. I'm not usually into very high-contrast, like this blue with this yellow smalti, but this yellow is a little brighter than the one the class will be using. Still, I like the texture and I can imagine what a larger piece in this design would be like.