Thursday, March 21, 2013
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Fresh from having finished one jungle themed mosaic I decided it would be an easy project to replicate using a wood panel as a substrate this time instead of a mirror.
Rolling out a slab of clay, I cut the animal shapes out with cookie cutters, then sculpted on top of each animal to give them personality and dimension. Here the pieces are laid out in various states of air drying.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Mosaic Diamond Wall Finally grouted!Kaffee Fassette. Photos of his beautiful chunky diamond mosaic pattern make up the liner on the inside cover of his book, Mosaics: Inspirations and Original Projects for Interior and Exterior Design --a favorite on our bookshelf, and one of the few that gets pulled down and thumbed through on a regular basis for instant visual gratification. Oh the eye candy!
Long before I met Jan and we began making our own ceramic pieces, I did a replica of a diamond patterned pillar Kaffee had done for London's Chelsea Garden show using broken tiles and chunks of broken pots. This one sits in our back yard. Hint: if you are planning on mosaicing a bowling ball, be sure to prime it well with Kilnz, adding a bit of fine sand in the mix to give your surface tooth. Otherwise you will be picking up the pieces years later and piecing it back together. Ask me, I know.
|Portion of Hand Wall in progress|
|Up close ungrouted|
|Near finished and still to be grouted.|
Now, I've grouted a number of walls around the studio like this by myself, but this time I expedited the process (and spared my poor neck) by hiring Jeff Silva from Jeff Silva Tile Co, Hollister. Jeff''s the consummate craftsman when it comes to tile. He did the floors, bathroom and kitchen in our Spanish house years ago, and our more recent remodeling project. While still on that job, I was giving him a hard time about how easy he had it in his business when it came to grouting. With honor at stake, and good business sense, Jeff took up the gauntlet and suggested I could always hire him as an assistant, whereupon a wicked little smile turned up on the edges of my mouth. "Great idea, your hired," I said with enthusiasm, while secretly saying to myself, "Aha, this will show him."
And so my new assistant, in his quiet manner took to slathering grout over unruly protuberances and depressions. We passed the time listening to oldies Rock and Roll and for two days worked side by side, top and bottom in order to finish the wall. Second morning on the job, Jeff showed up with a spatula in hand, donated by his wife, Cindy. I thought this was rather creative on his part, until he reluctantly admitted to discussing the "challenges" of this job with his wife who promptly pulled out a spatula from her kitchen drawer. Leave it to a woman.
Have to say, Jeff got darn proficient with that spatula. I tried but could never quite get the hang of it. So I stuck with the trusty Isaiah Zager method of scooping up grout with a sponge and pressing it into the crevices. Takes a few sponges to get through the wall this size, but whatever works best I say. Not sure Jeff will be going into the 3D mosaic business anytime soon, but he was paid for a good two day's labor and I plan to ask him back to assist me with the next mural. Cindy needs to come and see the wall. I owe her a new spatula.
|Side entrance Mi Tesserae Mosaic Studio|
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Made this piece for my girlfriend Geri's daughter as a baby shower gift. Was having a fabulous time making it until time to grout. Used antique white which would have gone with the baby's white furniture. Looked horrible! Excavated it. Grouted it in Alabaster which I thought would be the better color. Wrong! Excavated it again and used good old Delorean gray. Bingo. Whole exercise was a terrible nightmare, but proved to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that E600 glue can stand any endurance test! To make the jungle animals I use cookie cutters I've cut out of flat clay that I then sculpt and give two dimension to. Mirror was given to Dr. Ale Rincon at her baby shower, and now resides in baby Oscar's room.
Architecture is Austin's art form, but clearly all those art lessons I paid for when he was a child paid off. He can still pick up a piece of chalk and deliver. Austin added another tree in the corner of the room for me so I could put up the owl that his older brother Evan made when both boys came by for a visit early this summer. It is a rarity to get both boys home at the same time, and a treat to get them to play with me in the studio. Requires a bit of arm twisting to actually get them to join me, which is otherwise known as making them suffer for my art, but there was a lot of laughter in all that suffering. Now, in between the many projects, I am busy making the ceramic pieces to fill in my small woodland forest and will eventually mosaic the entire wall in some sort of forest mural.
Have added bluejays and a small fox so far.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
2010 was not my year for blogging. Too busy juggling balls as construction manager on major home improvement projects. No sooner had we finished erecting a Craftsmen style guest cottage on our lower property, than we turned to remodeling the 74 year old house it faces. This rambling structure which includes my studio space, was originally an old barn that over the years had become another incarnation of the Winchester Mystery house. As the project unfolded in true domino effect (as most good remodeling endeavors go) even a portion of the studio got a face lift. We demolished the old fiberglass greenhouse in preference for a real room with high beamed ceilings dotted by three skylights and open windows all around. Cabinets from the old house got repurposed in the studio and a bank of new cabinets installed ringing the windows. End result- more storage space than a deluxe kitchen, which didn't take long at all to fill to over flowing with our collection of odds and ends.
My Colorado parents, approaching their 8th decade of life, bravely gave up their beautiful home, saying goodbye to my brother and family, my mother's many organizations, friends and church family to migrate our snowless climate a year ago this month. Ramon and I sleep in our home on the top of the hill, but it's a pretty communal setting with my parents now down at the south forty. That's where I am usually to be found. But then there is still much to be done, and a physical magic to the place that is compelling. Even the undertaker who came by recently to drop off my sweet Aunt Dorothy's ashes, and stop for a drink of tea with Mom wanted to take photos. I'm pretty convinced it has something to do with the ancient oak that envelopes our heads. All those gnarly twisted branches calling up the druids and their poetic mysteries. Certainly some creative energy oversees this place we are caretaking in the stream of time.
Meanwhile...16 months have passed. I have finished mosaicing the wall outside my studio and the diamond wall next to it. Both waiting to be grouted. Not a quick endeavor when working vertically on a large canvas in 2D mosaic. This is where having a cadre of assistants would come in handy. But alas, it is me with the pink platex gloves, the cellulose sponge and the dental tools for the precise archeological excavation of the many textured handmade tiles. As a girl who never works linearly, this isn't the only project that requires my attention. There is a mason bottle wall structure to be finished and a Craftsman style fountain which likewise needs some embellishment.
Need a string of warm days ahead of me to work outside.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Returned from Serbia just in time to finish this mosaic for my father's 80th birthday party that got postponed til June. Panel is 4 feet long and made to hang above his bed. Comprised of handmade 2-D ceramic leaves, ceramic tile and sici tile. Framed by Mission Gallery in San Juan Bautista.
Attempted another leaf panel for my brother''s bathroom for his birthday in July. This one less than successful so it sits in the studio as part of my artistic exercise collection. Problem: not enough variety in color and pieces too far apart. Bland and blah. And darn if I still don't owe my brother a birthday present.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Next to the door, going into the old house, is a portion of wall we had left covered in hardibacker for a furture mural. Keeping with the ocean theme of the existing mural in the studio, Jan projected this mermaid on the wall and colored her in with chalk. Then began the delicious collection of baubles and beads. Collecting a veritable "Pirates of the Carribean" treasure chest of goodies to mosaic with is Jan's forte. Problem arose when we discussed how to mosiac our mermaid's body parts. Wouldn't it be nice to make them in 2-D clay? Yes of course, but while Jan and I like to sculpt neither one of us has any experience sculpting the human body.
What to do?Enter our 26 year old friend, Nora Schwaller, who is finishing her BFA in Ceramics at San Jose State. Nora, aka "Bird Girl" (self explanatory when you view her body of artwork) can sculpt the human body, no problemo! See below. Nora's not bad when it comes to birds either:)
This is Nora hard at work in the SJSU studio with her Bird Woman still in progress. Legs still need to be sculpted.
Sooooooooooooo.....We bribed Nora with a play day in our studio and a few munchies. She graciously showed up prepared to give us lessons in coil building. Funny, we never got to the lessons. No, we twisted Nora's arm to help us with our new mural and watched with rapture as she sculpted the arms and hands for Jan's Mermaid.
Arms will go here.
And look like this...Impressive work in one afternoon, yes, yes, yes! It pays to have talented friends in the sculpting department.