Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Playing With Smalti

What did we do for fun this past weekend? Drive to our favorite of all places, the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland, and take a class in Italian Smalti from director, Laurel True. Here she is instructing a student in the fine art of using a hammer and hardie to chip the tiny smalti glass pieces. Takes some getting used to. Laurel, as always, is a dynamite instructor (wonderful spirit and lots of laughs) and a fabulous artist. Just getting to see what she's up to is worth the trip alone!

Enjoyed getting to see the Pet Portraiture Exhibit, and the latest mural made by her Mural Making Intensive Class on the wall of Kefa Coffee, a local business just down the street. (See Kim Grant's detailed post about making this mural at : http://www.kimgrantmosaics.wordpress.com/

As far as Smalti goes, it's is a gorgeous medium. Jan and I might even finish the projects we started in class, next year sometime;) Do suspect that having a background in painting greatly adds to the end result. Check out these painter/smalti artists: Lynne Chinn http://lcmosaics.com/ and Lilian Broca http://lilianbroca.com/

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Paths are Made by Dreaming

Master bedroom and bath freshly painted,
new linens on the bed,

Pique assiette headboard completed.

along with new TV chest.

The Fairy mirror up in bathroom.

Daughter happy!

Mother giving up the room makeover business

and any future projects with a week's deadline!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Do You Believe in Fairies?

Goodness knows I do, and could use a bit of their magic to finish putting together the surprise makeover of my daughter's bedroom this weekend. (An early birthday present. She gets home from vacation on Monday.) Dusted off the fairy mirror I started for her birthday last year (and never finished to my satisfaction), and gave it a quick face lift by adding a ceramic bow, butterfly and a few other little pieces. Hurray, check that off the unfinished projects list. This year's birthday challenge makes the fairy mirror look like a piece of cake.Will this overly ambitious mosaicing mom be able to pull it off in time? Pressure's on!
Only a few things left to do in the next two days. Like paint her bedroom and bathroom a soft mint green--I do the trim work and edges, Ramon rolls the walls. Put the new ceramic handles on her chest of drawers that her father so kindly painted white for me last weekend. Finish mosacing the little panels on the chest her TV will sit on, and grout it. And last but not least, grout and give a final coat of paint to her new queen sized pique assiette headboard; iron the bed ruffle and linens and put it all together before she walks in the door. Whew! Where's the room makeover team from HGTV when you need them? Marisa will be thrilled to see that I snuck in her little white ceramic kitty. When it got broken, I promised her, not too worry, I'd recycle it for her one day. Voila!
Can you imagine how fun it will be to grout this? --Julie

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing on the Walls

One of our many larger than life projects around the studio is the outside wall to our garden atruim. This is an area that generally gets worked on when one is tired of other projects and decides to go outside and throw a few tiles up, so progress is slow. What makes it an enjoyable enterprise however, is getting to mosaic in an "everything but the kitchen sink" fashion, with an eye towards predominately woodsy colors. Working on this wall can be happily attended to without too much forethought.
The wall which runs perpendicular to this one, (sneak peek above) is a formal mural of a tropical nature. Stay posted for updates on that endeavor...

There are days mosaicing takes a back seat to a "play in the clay day." This means putting on our aprons and kindergarten hats, rolling out a slab of clay, taking out the the rubber stamps and cookie cutters and just plain having fun making whatever strikes our fancy to be fired in the kiln and put in the wall. Occasionally, literary inspiration will strike.
Why not? Words and sayings add visual interest and inspiration, and are easy to create using the endless variety of alphabet stamps on the market. We have found the ones that work the best in clay are sold at Michaels and are marketed as stamps for concrete. They are made of hard blue plastic and can be pressed deep into the clay. Concrete alphabet stamps show up in ceramic tiles particularly well no matter what glaze you are using. Here are examples of the concrete alphabet stamps used in tiles which replicate the word groupings used in stepping stones originally created by Frank Lloyd Wright.Rubber stamps are also functional, but typically more successful in polymer clay. In ceramic clay, the text is not always readily apparent because the stamp is more superficial in nature. Examples of rubber alphabet stamps in clay can be seen below in this box of tiles. Tiles read: Dreamspace and A Work of Art.
Not wanting to give up on all our lovely rubber stamps, we discovered a way to deal with this problem by first rubbing black glaze into the bisqued tile words and then wiping off any of the excess glaze on the surface of the tile, and then coming back and glazing the whole tile with a solid color.
Here is an example of this technique using a small rubber stamp, where the text has been high-lighting with black glaze: the first stanza of the W. B. Yeats poem, Lake Isle of Innisfree. Much more readable.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A New Toy Arrives in the Mail

Look what the postman delivered. What a beauty. Just what every girl dreams of... a North Star slab roller! Throw away the giant rolling pin--though it was great upper body exercise making slabs the old fashioned way. We've gone high tech now with an early birthday present from Julie's parents. Thank you! Thank you! Just in time to roll out perfect slabs of clay for the sculpting class we will be taking over the next 6 weeks at UC Berkeley's Art Studio. ( Are we a little spoiled?)