November 15, 2008

California Dreamin'

- Materials = salvaged glazed ceramic tile; Mexican smalti, natural stone; metallic glazed ceramic tile; on 1/4" environmental MDF; partially grouted with sanded grout.
Size = 8" x 8"

I guess it's true what they can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl. I spent a major portion of my life in California and consider it one of my "home bases" so I visit friends and old haunts there whenever I get the chance. It's true that it's changed a lot since the years that I lived there, but it still has some lovely scenic places and a landscape that talks so sweetly to me. The rolling hills, rambling oaks and fields full of wildflowers never cease to thrill me. My favorite of those flowers is the California Poppy — also the official state flower. There is just something so cheery in seeing one or two of those bright orange flowers poking up amongst the weeds along the road sides and it is absolutely breathtaking to see an entire field carpeted in them. This piece is dear to my heart because it captures a bit of the magic I feel for California and because it is a gift for some very dear people who first gave me California.

September 14, 2008

Fascination With Flatware Fast Becoming a Fetish...

Work in Progess - ENCHANTED FOREST - "Owed" to Surrealism created from scrap stained glass, salvaged stainless steel knife handles, ball chain, millefiore, on 1/2" environmental MDF

While trolling through the trash, digging deep in dumpsters and rummaging around in recycle yards, I encounter an amazing array of discarded items. Some are definitely one-of-a-kind, while others are one, or two — or ten — among millions. Stainless steel flatware pieces are among the latter.

Glass, china and tile have always had an allure for me, but in recent years I have developed an affinity for flatware. It comes in such a diversity of shapes, sizes, patterns and finishes that I take true delight in discovering the "new" and finding a few more of the familiar to carry back to my studio. To me, each of these pieces of sturdy stainless steel is a small work of art in and of itself and representative of a certain time and period in our cultural heritage. That's why I love to incorporate them into my work.

I also like they way they feel in my hands when I am cutting, buffing, bending and polishing them — they are smooth, solid and balanced. Metal feels different than glass, tile, stone and china and I like the contrast it brings to my work. I also like to think I am preserving a little something while giving these beautiful and once utilitarian discards new life as I send them dancing through a millefiore forest, tuck them into a snowy china field and suspend them in a misty glass night. And, it's a great way to feed my flatware fetish!

August 7, 2008

SEABA Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont on September 5th & 6th - The Little State of Vermont's BIG visual Arts Festival and Celebration!

An official Juror's Selection at the SEABA Art Hop Juried Show:

STEELING A WINTER'S NIGHT - From the Vermont Place Settings Series - Pique Assiette and Mixed Media Mosaic Landscape (direct method) created from salvaged boken ceramic pieces, hand cut dishware, scrap stained glass, rescued stainless steel flatware knife handle and soup spoon, discarded broken drinking glass with iridiscent coating; framed in salvaged aluminum channel and scrap wood molding

CHLOROPHYLIA - A Green Piece (Shown here as a Work In Progress)
Pique Assiette, Tempered Glass and Mixed Media Mosaic Vessel (direct method, glass on glass) created from recycled slumped glass; tempered glass from car windshield salvaged at auto wrecking yard; reclaimed vintage dishware, rescued broken antique china with 22K gold trim; scrap stained glass; found vintage jewelry brooch; freshwater pearls; iridized glass paint; sanded and non-sanded grout

April 4, 2008

Working Backwards Works For Me

ON THE ROAD BACK TO KANSAS WITH A CUP HALF-FULL OF AHS... Mixed Media Mosaic and Pique Assiette Art Piece and Kitchen Organizer with stainless steel hooks for keys or towels, half-cup pocket for pens or cell phone, and magnetic message board. Created from recycled, reclaimed and salvaged dishware, flatware, ceramic spoon rest, old pie pan, scrap stained glass and hand-painted glass gems by craftystitchingcreations (turned into magnets).

I suppose I’m a bit backwards when it comes to my mosaic art. I start with the materials that I find and let them suggest a concept to create — rather than coming up with a concept then finding the materials to express it. This is my own process and the discipline I enforce on myself, to use at least 75% recycled, reclaimed and salvaged materials in every piece, is also my own. No one is making me do it this way, except myself, and while I see some rationale to my method (as well as some madness!) sometimes I do wonder why I do it the way I do.

TWILIGHT IN TAHITI - 14" x 14" created from recycled and retooled aluminum dish, vintage Nippon Lustreware china, broken dishware, scrap stained glass, iridescent glass chips, iridescent glass seed beads, charcoal grout

I love art of a
ll kinds and spend as much time as I can indulging myself in art in galleries, in magazines, in books, in shops and on-line — way too much time on-line! I see these brilliant, engaging and fascinating concepts, visions and viewpoints other artists manage to convey with a myriad of materials and methods, and I think to myself if only… I let myself buy a few new sheets of glass, a few boxes of new smalti, a few boxes of new tiles — and a few bits of lots of other new stuff that catches my fancy, then I, too, could start with a concept instead of just starting with stuff. Then I spend a few minutes thinking of all the ideas, concepts and visions I’ve had that I would like to translate and express in my art and I am overwhelmed. It would take me several lifetimes and many versions of each concept because as I consider all the options available with the endless choices of new materials, I realize I’m not sure where to start.

It probably stems from some unresolved childhood trauma, but I remember so many instances when I was given a brand new box of paints and a clean white canvas, or an unopened carton of pastels and a blank piece of paper, all of which thrilled me to no end, only to wind up sitting and staring at the empty paper and the endless array of color choices, unable to summon the one idea that was worthy of those marvelous new materials and that one piece of brand new paper. In the end, I always found something to fill the page with, but I was rarely satisfied with my efforts because I never seemed to be able to quite capture what I saw in my head.

With my mosaics, it’s totally different. I find the stuff first (or it finds me!) and it all seems to come together so much more easily because the stuff has a life of its own. It talks to me — sometimes right from the moment I see it I know what it wants to be turned into and sometimes not until I have collected other stuff do I realize that it is absolutely meant to be with stuff I already have. There are no blank papers here, no unused palettes of colors. This stuff has already been used and all it needs is a little creative recombination work to shine again.

When I work this way, there is no hesitation, no uncertainty — just a new adventure for me, and the stuff that comes my way. So for me, working backwards works!

February 24, 2008

There's No Tool Like an Old Tool

Work In Progress - FALLING TO PIECES IN VERMONT from the Vermont Place Settings Series - Pique Assiette mosaic from recycled dishware on "green" MDF board. Some of the tesserae (grass and tree leaves) have been cut, placed and glued. Still n
eeds to be finished, grouted, sealed and framed.

I have a life long love affair with tools and technology. I grow truly excited by any and all contraptions — large and small, simple and complex, old and new, fancy or mundane — that promise to do something, (anything really!) that will make my work better, my day easier or my life simpler. And while I do find myself instantly attracted to tools and technology out of hope that they will deliver on the promises they make, honestly, I’m into them for the novelty, the curiosity and the wonder of it all.

A Few Good Tools -
Cutting (rather than breaking) old dishes into tesserae requires (from right to left) gloves, goggles, tile nippers, my favorite leponittes and p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e. (Wearing shoes is always good, too!)

Whether it’s old tools at garage sales and flea markets that perform some function no longer a priority in today’s society, or old technology discovered in the back rooms of thrift stores and found discarded at the dumps because it has been replaced by something a million times faster, or the very newest, latest and hottest techno-tool trends, I want it — or at least the chance to play with it.

I find the tools and technology beautiful to behold, fascinating to contemplate and wondrous to feel in my hands. I not only want to own them all, I want to use them all; try them out, stretch their boundaries, take them apart and see how they work — then leave my husband to put the peices back together again... I derive hours of entertainment and frustration from this preoccupation because the reality is, that as fascinating as new technology is, I really do quite well with my work, and usually in my life, with what I already have — a few very simple tools that work remarkably well and some moderately current technology that, as it tends to find some balance point between causing me utter frustration and providing me with complete bliss, I continue to use rather than replace.

What I have always known about m
y work, regardless of the latest techno trends, is that my most useful tools are my hands. Simple, (and rather small in my case!), multi-jointed, five-fingered hands with clever little opposable thumbs and calluses tough enough to stop a leponitte blade. It’s true my hands are growing ever so slightly clumsier as I age, and lately I have noticed they are occasionally sore in the mornings after I’ve spent the previous day cutting up tiles and tesserae. However, they are the most amazing and fascinating piece of technology I have access to, as well as my most valued, most favored and most often used tool — and one look at them will prove it!

WORK IN PROGRESS - (detail) FALLING TO PIECES IN VERMONT from the Vermont Place Settings Series

Despite the fact that I have several pair of work gloves, various nippers, tweezers, probes, sponges, scrapers, etc. , and that I do actually understand all the safety ramifications, when it comes to getting my work just the way I want it, I seem to need to feel my way. So, I strip off my gloves, set aside the nippers, tweezers, probes and files, drop the sponges and dig right in with bare hands and naked fingers. This is, of course, why my hands look like they’ve been through several medieval wars. They are covered in scars, often full of glass chips (it’s hard to feel them with all those calluses) and the nail beds are perpetually stained by whatever color of grout I used on my last project. The point is, I have the tools, the technology and (presumably) the intelligence to use them safely, but I just don’t. I like the feel of my fingers on my art work and to me it's just not my art without that part.