Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Photo credit: Carla Stanford Mitchell

This is the view from a friend's porch on New Year's Day, 2018. Western North Carolina was gifted a bitter cold and icy start to the year. There are several ways one could look at that - either 2018 will be an utter bitch, or the year is taking a tip from Mother Nature and freezing out the vermin. Let's hope for the latter!

Holidays always interfere with work in the studio, however, I have managed a little bit of work on little bits of mosaic.

 I did finish the pears (titled Harvest), and got most of the glass done on the poppy (titled, unimaginatively, Poppy). These are both 5" x 7", and I have one more to start in that size, which is a Carolina Wren. We have lots of those darling little birds that hop around on our deck and tease the cats. As sweet as they look, when they open their mouths you feel as if you have just been cussed out by the neighborhood crank. My kind of bird!

Hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve. Here's to a wonderful, art-filled 2018!

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Finessing the grout

It's no surprise that I am never satisfied with a single color of grout, but I find that I nearly always want more subtlety in the grout changes and shades of a single color after I get close to being done with it.

So what's a girl to do? I have developed a number of techniques that help me do what I call "finessing the grout".

Here's a little taste of what that involves.

This is a small piece (5" x 7") that relies heavily on the grout changes, because the size of the piece prevents me from getting a lot of gradual color changes in the glass pieces. As small as the glass tesserae are, they are not all that small in relation to the overall size of the piece.

Because of the center being grouted in shades darker than the background, as soon as the pears and leaves were done, I grouted them. Then I applied the background. At this point I decided to adjust the shading on the pears before grouting the background. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a wash of acrylic paint onto the areas you want to shade. However, because the grout had been curing for several days, I know from experience that an acrylic wash will turn out looking grainy if applied now. When the grout is fresh you can use that technique (within reason) and the paint pigments seem to soak in and stay put better. My best option was to mix up another shade of grout and go over the parts I wanted shaded. Before I could do that, I needed to remove a small amount of the grout from the area to give some room for the new grout to settle into. Grout, after all, is a space filler and NOT an adhesive.

I then mixed up the grout shade I wanted, and instead of applying it with my regular tool, I used a very small stiff brush. This not only gives me more control, it allows me to fade out the changes nicely.

Blurry pic, sorry.

I used the brush to scrub the grout in there and then wiped the area with a paper towel.

Sometimes, there will still be an area that needs a fine line to delineate areas, and in this case, it was between the pears. I used thinned acrylic paint applied with a very fine liner brush. Again, this was an option because it was applied on top of fresh grout.

Then onto the background, which is two colors - plain white and a pale blue, applied quickly so it could be blended together while wet. And that's how we get to the picture at the top!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

It's a Learning Curve

I have never liked working small, but I have been pushing myself to do it more in the last couple of years, and ...

I still don't like it. But I don't like it less than I used to.

Not diggin' this one, and can't really say why, so I guess this is what it is. I finished the glass today, and will grout it tomorrow, and possibly start the marble background. I wanted to use the travertine marble (which I think is drool-worthy), but it's too dark to give good contrast with the pears, so I have settled on Giallo.

After this I have two more small ones I hope to finish before the first of the year, then on to a commission. :)

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Um...Yeah. No.

So. I have discovered that Litovi is not for me.

Yeah, I know - how on earth did I only put down about 6 pieces of glass in a month? I've been busy, ok? lol

Anyway, when the Litovi showed up I was very surprised at how thick it is. I was aware that it would need to be cut with hammer and hardie first, and then could be cut with compound nippers. However, this stuff is so thick that I actually had a little trouble getting it to break with the hammer! I also got jagged, uneven cuts, as you can see, and then the nippers didn't work as well as I might have liked. I'm also not super excited about the colors.


Problem is, I don't know what other options I will have. I guess I'll just have to use glass for the cockscombs. I have red unglazed porcelain, but next to the Litovi it looks brown.

I think this one is getting shelved for awhile. I hate to do that, because I already have one on the shelf (a grapevine) but I am going to make a few small things for some quick gratification. And because starting on Feb. 1, I will be exhibiting in the Kress Emporium in downtown Asheville, NC and the space will be tight.

Also, I will be working on a commission beginning the first of the year, so that will have to be my focus. 

I'll just let the concept of this one percolate in my subconscious for awhile and see what I can come up with.

Suggestions welcome.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nine years is a long time

I just realized that I have had this little blog for nine years now. It has suffered extended periods of neglect while I flirted with other social media platforms (you really must believe me when I say I am not that fickle in my offline life), but it has persevered, and I am back with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, hoping it will forgive my transgressions.

I deleted my Twitter account, because after about the same amount of time, I couldn't figure out why I should be on there. Twitter moves at the speed of light, and I....well, I don't.

Facebook was my go-to for several years, but now it has become a "pay to play" platform. (Posts on my business page will only reach 2 - 6%, on average, of the 3,249 people who have Liked the page unless I "boost" my posts with cold hard cash.) I can't really afford not to use the Facebook page because of the search engine presence it contributes, but it becomes less useful as a way of connecting with people who are interested in my art.

So here I am, reevaluating the slow, verbose blog. The outlet that lets me - no, expects me - to run off at the mouth. And I have decided that all things considered, I like it that way.

I have spent the last few months collecting photos of vignettes that are inspiring, and will perhaps one day become a mosaic. Here are just a few:

I hope you'll follow along with the blog if you have an interest in my art. You can use a blog reader app like Feedly or Panda, or just enter your email in the box in the column on the right and each post will be delivered to your email inbox. If you're worried about too much email from me, see paragraph one above...

And y'know, there is a comment option on this blog - we can still talk and discuss things, just like we used to on Facebook. Ah, good times...

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Critter Chronicles, vol. 1… which I discover I cannot draw a chicken.

My next mosaic is a composite of three photos I took at a farm in Maine on our vacation last month. Blossom is a sweet little ewe that followed me around the pasture and let me pet her and scratch her behind the ears. She shared the pasture with several chickens, who were much less interested in my attentions.
I have never professed to draw particularly well, but I find that I can make needed adjustments when applying the glass. In most cases…
I'm not so sure there will be much help for those chickens.
One and a half four-inch tall chickens = one and a half hours of drawing and erasing. Mostly erasing. One still looks a lot like the damn Kellogg's Corn Flakes rooster. Oh well.
In case you wonder what the squiggly lines above the animals is supposed to be - that is just so I don't get confused later as to which parts are pickets on the fence, and which are the spaces between.
My thought is to make this mosaic entirely of stone except for the ewe’s eye (a spot of iridescent glass to grab you, eh?), but I got hung up on the planning for those damn chickens – there is no readily available “cockscomb red” stone. So I am venturing into the realm of Litovi.
From the website:
Litovi MosaicStone is a new high tech material that brings together the glamour of marble with the rich color range of smalti. It is resistant to all conditions and can be used in both interior and exterior applications.  Developed in France by mosaic artists for mosaic artists.
This material seems to bring vivid colors to the palette that are otherwise unavailable unless you use glass. I will use some red shades for the cockscombs, and a bit of rich browns to mix in with the brown stone in the fence and tree trunks.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

So much new, so much to do!!

Well I am just overwhelmed! And I know, I say that like it’s a new thing, but apparently I just can’t keep up with life, and that’s all there is to it.

You may be aware that I moved in April – both my house and my studio. It was a sad thing to leave the River Arts District – I met so many fascinating and lovely people there. But it was the right thing to do. I now have my studio in my home Studio view 1again, and although that makes it more difficult to show my art to you, I have a lovely, comfortable space for it. The light is good, the space is a loft with a balcony that opens onto the lower level, and it’s wonderfully convenient.Studio view 2






I will have to get some shelves for the glass – the old shelving is too tall for the slanted ceiling!

And now that I am semi-settled into the new studio, I have been busy arranging opportunities for you to see my art:

  • Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy Auction – Saturday, August 27 is the 16th annual Conservation Celebration at Grand Highlands at Bearwallow Mountain Lodge. I have donated a mosaic for the silent auction. As a long time supporter of The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups, my heart is fully into this opportunity to help them out. See their website for more information about the event.
  • ArtCurious Gallery – Thursday, September 1 will be the Grand Opening of the ArtCurious Gallery in Johnson City, TN. Located on Boones Creek Rd just south of the trestle bridge (the former Boones Creek Pottery Gallery), I am honored to be included in the list of artists showing here. Come to the Grand Opening on September 1 from 5 – 8 pm – I’ll be there!
  • WNC Open Studios Tour – October 1 – 16. This is a brand new event, modeled after the Open Studios Tour in Devon, UK. Its format is different from other open studio events, in that it has a lengthy 16-day event schedule and a wide geographical range of studio locations. (Although the home page of the website says it covers Bumcombe, Polk and Transylvania counties, it is actually larger than that. I am in Madison county, and I understand that at least one artist is in the Spartanburg vicinity.) This is to create a more leisurely, in-depth connection with the artists and to provide an opportunity to discover unfamiliar mountain communities. My studio will be open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this time from 10 – 5. See their website for the list of talented artists and to plan your tour!

Although I am struggling to keep up with organizing a new home, a part time job, out-of-town guests and art making, I am finding a bit of time to work on a new piece. This is called Dalliance, in part because it slightly resembles a dahlia, and also because I am toying with this process of making a piece that has no real-life inspiration. I have no photos of flowers similar to this, the shape is not based on any particular flower, and the colors are not very realistic. It reminds me by turns of a dahlia, an impatien, and a rugosa rose.
Whatever. I like it.

Dalliance WIP

P.S. – OMG! I forgot to mention the CMA Summit Exhibition!!!

See? I told you I just can’t keep up.

This is by far the best and most prestigious of the exhibition opportunities. I have been extremely honored two years in a row with a place in this exhibition. I am very unhappy to have to tell you that the organizers have decided that this will be the last of its kind. If you can possibly get to Ashland, OR during the exhibition (September 17 through October 16, 2016) DO IT!! Just look at the list of luminaries who will exhibit there with me, from 8 different countries. I will be sending Tamworth Nocturne.

Tamworth Nocturne

Friday, July 15, 2016

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Wow, I've been gone from here a long time! Life has brought me a lot of things to engulf all my spare time in the last few months, so I have just been waiting, more or less patiently, to come up for air.

Since I last checked in here, I started a part time job (which I love, by the way) and bought a house. There is so much to do to get settled in a new home, especially when you have grand plans for the yard! I started a native stone patio for the back, with stone sourced from our own property. Of course, the mosaic artist in me won't settle for something regular (or even flat!). That will be finished by the fall, at least, hopefully sooner.

In the meantime, I started a new mosaic (pics to come), and will be taking my mosaics to a new gallery next month! (Exciting, huh?!?) The gallery is called ArtCurious, and will be housed in a beautiful old house on Boones Creek Rd in Jonesborough, TN. You may recognize it - it previously housed a gallery of artful pottery near the old trestle bridge. The official opening is September 1, but I'll have more information as the time gets closer.

But that's not all! In October I will be participating in the WNC Open Studios tour. It's modeled after an open studio tour held annually in Devon, UK. The studios will be open between October 1 and October 16, with each studio setting the particular hours they are available. Please visit their website to see the wonderful company I will be in and plan your visit!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Happy Labor Day!


I’m pretty pleased with how the sky is coming along, although in this photo, the medium blues on the left are washed out by the lamp on that side of the table. I guess I was tired, I didn’t notice that in the photo until I got home.

The sky is taking longer than you might think. A) I have fewer days to spend in the studio now, and B) trying to keep a horizontal aspect to the sky without making it look like lots of straight lines, while also trying to shift colors on the diagonal is requiring a lot of trial and error. Lots of error, in fact.

I think next time I’m in the studio I’ll turn it upside down and go at the sky that way. It should help me disengage enough to make it go faster. Or that’s the theory, anyway!

So now I’m off to enjoy the company of family. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Progress report

I was intent on finishing the tree today, but my back said “nuh-uh”.



IMG_1016_thumb[7]It doesn’t show in the picture, but the part of the tree that is above the line of the mountain is a very deep green stained glass, and below it is black. It might be my imagination, but I got out the magnifying glass and thought I could see a tiny bit of color in the tree tops that had sky as background in this photo:

I don’t know whether or not you’ll be able to see a difference in it once the mountains and sky go in.

And I have to say I think I’m in love. This little owl makes me smile every time I look at it.




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