Thursday, May 16, 2019

rolling with it

Whew!  It has been a busy year so far.  Almost all of the six Lower Dauphin mosaics for the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute are done.  All three pictured below were dreams come true.  I thought there was a chance that I would get to do the tree one in a school someday but to do a pineapple and a wave in a Pennsylvania school was a stretch.  I believe you can click on the pineapple to see some details.  The teachers that I have been working with for these three have given me feedback and I think I am probably the luckiest woman alive.
In the wave and pineapple, there was one group of kids and their teacher that worked on making tiles.  They handed the tiles off to another group of kids with a different teacher to assemble the tiles and finish the mosaic.

I just wish you could see this in person.  I bet this is going to make some kids at PPI really happy.  It's kinda crazy how it works in schools.  The entire day is made up of 40 minute periods.  So whatever is going on, changes hands every 40 minutes.  Insane! 

The trees were done by middle school peeps.  I cannot be prouder of these guys.  Normally if we fuse and mosaic in the same residency, it is a four week process.  These guys did it in two.  The photo below is ALL the kids involved.  They were small groups of 4-15 kids at a time.  Their tiles were just as cool as the high school kids' tiles. 

So now I am back in my shop, just in the layout stage of a new mosaic of my own.  All I know for sure is that it is about a beetle and synchronicity.  Life is good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

geology rocks!

"geology rocks (Alex's fault)" is a 36 x 20 inch mosaic I have been working on between residencies.  I was commissioned to make art for a geologist.  You're pretty sharp if you guessed that his name is Alex. This project was a dream job in so many ways. For starters, I know almost nothing about geology except that I am fascinated by beautiful rocks.  I think mostly why I loved this is because I had to do research to think of what I was going to do.  It is hard to create when the person commissioning gets so specific that there is little room for imagination.  This client was the total opposite; appreciative and open for anything so it was a joy the whole way through.  I was dealing with a sick Mama during the fabrication of this and mosaicking certainly helped me get through.
If I sketch anything, I rarely show that before the work is finished because my drawings are so bad.  Sure, I could do a better drawing but it might take longer than the mosaic.  This is actually one of my better ones.  Most of them are of pen on napkin caliber.  Plus, I know I will change my mind 800 times.  I don't want to be committed.
The geode wasn't the first idea but it was the first part done.  I thought purple would be the most believable but I didn't like it when it was finished.  In blue, I had more shades to work with so I could make the center darker, giving it the appearance of more depth than it actually has.  Instead of leveling like I always do, the geode is actually recessed 1/4 inch.
I wanted a layer of "broken plates" to be like pottery and human garbage like stuff found in ancient Rome,  I couldn't decide what floral or paisley to make.  I knew I wanted to put something in it so that someone observant would know it wasn't really recycled plates.  Trilobites popped in my head one day.  I love that part and made it my signature in here.

Trilobites sandblasted into that luscious caramel color.  There's two burnt into the frame too.  The yellow is mirror and it's propped to reflect differently.  It is all the same color but looks different because of the angles.
I had a human skelly but after the mosaic progressed, I didn't like it any more.  I wasn't trying to keep things proportional but the human just didn't look right to me.
The columnar basalt was the first thing I was sure would go in the mix.  The front section is all propped so they are all kind of like steps.  Hard to see in a photo.  I love that part.  And if a mosaic has a water feature... I'm all about that.  Besides, it was just more reason to add blue.  The coloring on this really appeals to me.  I generally steer away from orange but I think it helps this mosaic a lot.  Let's face it, the mosaic is a picture of dirt and rocks.  It needs all the color it can get.
People ask how I get the drips on the glass.  As you can see from above photos, the drips do not go over the glass.  The drips go on first and I mosaic background around them.  The "ammonites" are iridescent and there is a layer of Oreo crust in the earths core that I have managed to replicate exactly as it appears thousands of feet below the surface we walk on.  Ah ha ha.  Life is good.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

full steam ahead

Last post I said I'd be full steam ahead in the new year and that started on January 2.  I am working on the biggest, most collaborative project that I've ever been a part of.  Just like most artists I know, I want to do every inch of my work MY WAY.  That's not what happens in a collaboration. 

I guess there were about 75 kids and each got their own patch of color to work on and do whatever they wanted.
Here are two of the 6 mosaics that I am obligated to produce for this project.  These took two weeks and there are six more weeks spread out through May.  I am working with all seven Lower Dauphin schools, and five of them are grade schools!  The resulting mosaics will find their home in the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Harrisburg.  All six mosaics will be on the adolescent floor of this hospital.  We are hoping to help provide a more nurturing environment for patients and the people caring for them.  Does something this big have it's twists and turns?  Oh, you bet.  But even though I don't enjoy certain aspects of a collaboration, I have to admit that those things make me more bad ass and capable of the next cool thing.  Thanks Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for what you've done to make this happen.

AND, I just realized that I didn't mention the video someone made for me.  Olivia Pfeffer did a fantastic job and I highly recommend her.  You can see the video here on YouTube.

Friday, December 21, 2018

everybody has their "stuff"

I had a bunch of wood leftovers from a clean up project.  

This is a wood mosaic that I made for a Christmas present.  It was fun but wood is definitely NOT my medium.  I don't have a good photo of this till it gets delivered and installed.  That saw blade is from the sawmill that my stepdad had.  My brother and I worked with him sawing logs as teenagers.
This huge slab of oak was one of the trees on our property.  The log was so big that the blade of the mill wasn't able to get through it in the first pass.  My stepdad had to use a chainsaw to finish the first cut.  I'm not sure what he had intended  for this three inch thick board, but it laid there for about 40 years.  The wheels were from the carriage that ran the logs past the blade.  I left the chainsaw marks and sanded just enough to feel nice. This bench is quite heavy.
These warped oak boards were meant to be bridge planks and the wheels were also from the sawmill.  The boards weren't cut on that sawmill but they were just as rough. We're planning a fire pit for a spring project and this will be seating for that area.  All right, full steam ahead in glass starting the new year.  

Friday, April 27, 2018

how can it get any better?

The best part of residencies is that I get to talk to kids.  I try to show them that even though making money is an important part of the equation, it is not the only part and definitely not the most important part.  Making rainbows is high on everyone's list, right? 😋
After the huge library project that we completed in March, this North Schuylkill residency was set up to be far easier.
  There's ALWAYS surprises that come up but besides that, I made a stupid blunder.  On the first day, I decided to expand the project because the kids had gotten so much done... BUT I DIDN'T RE-MEASURE.  We got two days worth of glass onto the addition and realized we would have to trim it.  I have to admit- the difficulties make these projects even more fun. 

 The face was the most intense part.  Yes, students cut the lashes!  
 We used a good bit of mirror amongst the rainbow, creating movement as you walked past.
 These seventh grade hams were my youngest group working on the mosaic.
Initially, the design was going to be the word, "imagine."  I love this so much more and hated leaving it.  After ten days vacation, I will be in my shop with my dog and MY hands on the glass.  This is the ONLY thing better than a residency... FOR ME.  Yes, making money is important, but it pales in comparison to the above.  Luckily, one doesn't have to choose.

Thank you, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Monday, April 16, 2018

ahhh, a break for me

So far, 2018 has been blessing after blessing.  Every residency becomes my new favorite.  They also keep getting impossibly more fun.  I've already finished three this year and each have their unbelievable challenges that surprisingly make me appreciate them even more. 

The above photos are from the first residency I did this year.  I posted a photo of the whole shebang in my previous post.  The project was 6 feet tall x ten feet wide.  This school had just gotten a glass saw and many of the students had worked with glass in previous projects I had done there.  So we decided to do something I never do in schools.  We used contrasting grout.  That means that the joints would be extremely visible and we had to take extra care to make sure they were beautiful and intentional.  I am laughing now about how ridiculously unrealistic my expectations were but we pulled it off, even with a day to spare.  Notice some of the white background tiles were star shaped!


My last project (above) was to be hung outside which means that there are many extra  considerations, the biggest being the adhesive.  A full quarter of the time we spent on the project was devoted to making the mosaic weather ready!  If that wasn't enough challenge, just imagine letting the project open to anyone in the community that wanted to help.  Above is a photo of my momma working on the mosaic.  Next weekend I am hoping to have a free day to go to the Juniata County Library to see the project hanging.

In between those two, I worked in Lewisburg on a project that only had two hours in their day to work on it.  They had a LOT of kids at a time so it had to be big enough to spread them all out.  The challenge was just getting it all done. 

In most residencies, I have between 4 and 20 kids at a time.  An average class is 15 at a time.  I've had a few classes over 20 but they are not that productive.  So the challenge in the project I am working on now is that there are some classes as big as 36!   We're talking total mayhem.  Just weaving through bodies to cross the room is a feat.  On the first day, we decided to make the project bigger because kids were so gung-ho.  Regardless, we are finishing up tomorrow, THREE DAYS AHEAD of schedule.  The plan is to have it hung before I leave the school, Friday.  And yes, it will be my new favorite.  The mosaic is a person with the top of their head cut off and color is floating out.  Photos soon!

There is no way to describe the high that comes from these projects.  The teachers I work with have been unbelievable and it seems to me like they enjoy these as much as I do.  The only thing that could possibly be any better is me and Bonz working by ourselves next week in my shop.  I started a project before Christmas and it is calling me.  How can life get any better.