Category Archives: Ornamental

Artist in Residence at IMA!!

After the conference it was onwards and upwards to the Bay Area – my former stomping ground and one place I keep going back to. I always feel like I come home when I go there…

Laurel True was kind enough to let me do a stint at Artist in Residence at the Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA).  When I inquired about perhaps helping out with something at IMA, I wasn’t expecting an ‘Artist in Residence’ tag at all, but was more than happy with it 🙂  Laurel had mentioned the kitchen backsplash which piqued my interest,  amongst many other possibilities. I was worried that time pressures and other personal pressures may prevent me from finishing it, so I left myself open to anything. I had mentioned it to Susan Crocenzi – looking to collaborate with her cuz I thought it would just be fun! When I arrived and went over, I thought to myself the backsplash would be the perfect thing to do. Yet again proof of working well under pressure 😉 With no design ideas in mind and no inkling, at that time, that I would be surrounded by fellow artists a la  Linda Martin, Kelley Knickerbocker and Rachel Rodi [who are waaaay awesome!!! ;)] to help finish the installation I set about doing the kitchen backsplash direct (knowing that I had 4, maybe 5 days to get it all done)! – simply because I had no design in mind and worked it as I went. I knew that if I sat down and drew stuff out, it would not get finished.

Susan came in on the last day (all the way from Nevada City!) and added her tempered glass and polymer clay accents, all of which I think make the installation! Some of the polymer clay pieces she had made many moons ago and they just fit with the theme – colours, shapes… it was just perfect! Like it was meant to be somethin’… We finished just in the knick o’ time.

I have to say designing this was a little scary… 1 because I had no ideas, 2 because it’s in Laurel’s business, 3 because that business is IMA and 4 because how many mosaic artists go through there every year?! Laurel was way cool about it though and just let me go for it. I very much appreciate her support. I figured that she wouldn’t mind a walk on the wild side and wouldn’t necessarily need/want/prefer a traditional backsplash, so I went with something else and I think it fits with the spirit of IMA…

By day 2 I was starting to get just a tad panicked that I wasn’t going to be able to finish what I’d started! I was leaving to go back to Australia and not quite like I could pop in at any time… Mentioned as much on either Flickr or Facebook (don’t remember which) and Lovely Linda came to the rescue!!! She drove up from Santa Cruz to help me on the Saturday. How cool is that?! Kelley was there, having driven down from Seattle the day before, hanging her art for a show she’s got going on (go see it if you are close by – her work is amazing!!!!). We roped her in at some point in the day and when Rachel finished teaching her class… well we just had that glint in our eyes and she couldn’t say no 😉

Last day of installation and the name for the piece hadn’t even cropped up… Susan and I decided to call it Reach.

Have I mentioned how FUN it is working with fellow mosaic artists?!!! Spreadin’ the love is good in numbers!

Me and the Lovely Linda
Me and Linda Martin

Kelley, Rachel and Linda
The Gang – Kelley Knickerbocker, Rachel Rodi and Linda Martin

Crocenzi waving her magic TG wand
The LOVELY Susan Crocenzi

Photo by Gib Robinson

Reach - glowing
Reach, *glowing*

Susan Crocenzi's Polymer Clay and Tempered Glass Creations
Detail of Susan’s work

Photo by Gib Robinson

Photo by Gib Robinson



Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Backsplash, California, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Events, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Inspiration, Institute of Mosaic Art, Kelley Knickerbocker, Kim Grant, Laurel True, Lifestyle, Linda Martin, Meeeting of the Minds, Misc. Design Concepts, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Murals, My projects, Oakland, Ornamental, Polymer Clay, Public Art, Rachel Rodi, Rant, Round the World, San Francisco, Schools, Susan Crocenzi, Tempered Glass, Travel, Uncategorized, USA

Artist Watch: Suzanne Steeves

I had originally meant to post this before SAMA and for some weird reason my email dumped Suzanne’s response to me in my spam… grrrr! So apologies to you Suzanne, for not having gotten this up sooner… *sigh*

Suzanne Steeves was born in New York to Canadian parents. She had a fabulous career in television overseeing the launch of a couple of specialty channels, running entertainment production, heading up sports. “Very rewarding and endlessly all-consuming.”  Suzanne met her ‘soul mate’ ten years ago –  husband Aiken. “We left our full time careers behind, and ran off to Bora Bora to get married.”

As a child, Suzanne was constantly drawing, painting and actually did her first mosaic at age ten. “It was a gift for my grandmother. A picture made from all different types of seeds: pumpkin, poppy, sesame etc. My grandmother kept it hanging on her wall until she left this world.”

After the demise of her first marriage, Suzanne became a single parent with a demanding career and had little time to pursue her passion – art. “I did paint, but sporadically. Now I am making up for lost time. Initially I picked up my paint brushes and went back to oils. I had always loved mosaic but had never really considered it … until one day I happened to see a used mannequin with a uniquely beautiful shape. I immediately envisioned Eden Rocks. The idea of telling the story of the Garden of Eden – on Eve herself…” Suzanne claims it to be a ridiculous choice for a first project (scoff!) but considers herself an over achiever. “After starting her I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the next several months reading everything I could get my hands on. I completed her last year and haven’t looked back.”

When describing her love for the medium, Suzanne states: “I can’t begin to describe the pleasure I find in working in mosaics. I love everything about it. The possibilities are limitless. I would need dozens of lifetimes to even begin to tackle every project I have wandering around in my head! When I’m in the zone it is my meditation.”

Suzanne left the city behind and now lives with Aiken and their two dogs on 100 acres north of Toronto. She has two beautiful grown children, a son Stefan and daughter Sasha and a wonderful stepson, Taylor.

Eden Rocks

Eden Rocks

Polar Prayer

Polar Prayer

Bird in the Hot Sun

Bird in the  Hot Sun

The Wave

The Wave

Finally meet Suzanne, pictured with her daughter…

Suzanne Steeves


Filed under Animals, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Fused glass, Inspiration, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Nature, Ornamental, Suzanne Steeves, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Art is Better than Therapy

Lots going on this side of the World, in my little ol’ life. Some positive change which is great, but change can be exhausting even when welcome! Needless to say life has simply gotten in the way of this blog… I miss it, so here I am.

Since last I wrote I have installed a ~5 sq metre mural at my daughter’s preschool. Something I had been thinking about for a long while and was unsure was ever going to happen. I talked it over with a good friend of mine who convinced me to do so. I am so very glad of it too. Between the time that I agreed to the time it was done, was only a few weeks. It was the first community project I have ever been a part of and also the first time to lead a large project with volunteers. It was looking a little worrying there for a little while, thinking that I had noone to help out but people pulled through and new friendships forged  (new addictions too)… The original idea was to come into the preschool, sit down with the kids in small groups and make a mosaic from one of their pictures with them. I was inadvertently offered a full time job that I wasn’t expecting and so that idea kinda went out the window!! Nevertheless I pushed ahead by taking some pictures that the kids drew and mosaicing them myself. The inspiration was simply the drawing of a 4 year old child. Clean, simple and without too much detail. I love a child’s approach to most anything. Honest, innocent and arguably without detail but in saying that I don’t think that children miss the detail. To me, their approach is fresh and I always find myself drawn to it.

In any case the whole project was very satisfying and I feel very happy indeed about the whole affair. It got a little write up in a local newspaper that I was also pleased with, so it was a really nice end to the whole thing. I have managed to do 2 large installations this year. Hard work, but I really think this is where it is for me. Definitely more to come…

Preschool Mural done!!!

Preschool Media

I’m also in the midst of doing the Christmas Art Markets at the Old Bus Depot Markets. Quite different this year, in that there was a very steady stream of people instead of a mad rush. I actually thought I wasn’t doing as well as last year, perhaps a sign of the times, but upon counting the sales at the end of last weekend I actually did better than last year. That was comforting. I think I know what sells and so therefore it is just easier to know what to make. I also upped my prices on a few things and introduced smaller pieces, at a smaller price but without compromising my artistic integrity.

Other major news is that I am headed to San Diego next year for the SAMA conference. Very exciting indeed… My first time, I hope not my last 🙂 I am really looking forward to meeting everyone I have come to know on the internet, meet those I am yet to know, be inspired, inspired, inspired and learn aplenty. Of course a little side trip/holiday is also in the works. Life is too short to constantly say NO!

A little earlier on, I  finished a pair of ballet slippers that got shuttled away to Texas, USA. I was very happy with the way they turned out, falling within the description of what the client specified so happy all around I believe. I was quite stoked by that commission too as it would never have come my way had it not been for the internet.

Odette - Boots' Boots

I also got around to installing a commissioned number plaque. That was a bit of a trip. The client had bought it as a surprise for his girlfriend, as they had purchased their first home together (1, 2, 3: Awwwwwwwwwwww…) and when she opened it she apparently said something like ‘ who made this? Kim Grant?!’. I kinda momentarily let it go to my head and was a celebrity for that split second, lol! 😉


So what’s on the cards for the future? One more day for the markets, then Xmas and all that it entails (can’t wait, family time!!!). I’ll be hopefully starting on the install of the mermaid mural which I am really looking forward to. The prep on that wall may take some time though, not something I particularly look forward to. Then it will be time to finish off a few projects I started for myself and start a few others. Trades that are on the cards, a swirl for Lin Schorr‘s project, a new(ish) website… too much to do frankly and never enough time but art is better than therapy. Amen!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Thanks for being such wonderful readers…


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Ballet Pointes, Building, Canberra, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Emerging, Events, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Flowers, Kids, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Meeeting of the Minds, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Ornamental, Public Art, Rant, Round the World, Schools, Shoes, Signage, Sunflower, Travel, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging, Workshops

Artist Watch: Linda Hooper

On to the next artist!! Meet Linda Hooper aka lyndalu_fla. I came across her lovely, lovely pots one day. They’re big and impressive! Then I noticed her mushrooms. Well… I have a bit of a thing for mushrooms so this was right up my alley and the tingles began! Here is her story…

Linda has been mosaicing for 4 years and believes that the wonderfully colourful mosaics in Mexico is what originally inspired her to start. Like most of us, she has always had her hand in something creative: sewing, crochet, cross stitch, decoupage, beaded jewellery, to name but a few. “Watching all the craft, gardening and home improvement shows on HGTV gave me the interest and the courage to try all types of things. I was inspired to take a Woodworking class and fell in love with working with wood – making all kinds of small decorative items, mainly with a scroll saw. I thought that was going to be my big passion, but then I got into mosaics, and discovered that THIS was definitely my big passion.”

Linda promptly read every mosaic book she could get her hands on at her local library, and then bought those she felt were valuable reference material. She realised that pique assiette was her “thang” and that it also gave her the excuse to peruse the thrift stores that much more. “I love the hunt and I love finding bargains. It’s really insane how much “stuff” I have collected for mosaics – both tesserae and substrates. My work area is in the garage, and my poor car no longer fits in there.”

I’m sitting here chuckling to myself while I write this just because I think at some point we all get taken aback by the hook! It’s quite a powerful sensation and the realisation that life has, from this moment on changed can be a little startling, as Linda mentions: “I still can’t believe how quickly mosaics became an obsession. I saw every object as something to mosaic, and even dreamed about mosaics! The first couple of years, I worked strictly with broken china, and then I started working with some vitreous tiles, and more recently have been working with stained glass and tempered glass.”

Her love is garden art and so everything she has created has been done for the garden. She has also been working with concrete, making or modifying bases for mosaic. Lucky Linda attended the SAMA conference earlier this year and took Sherri Warner Hunter‘s class – making lightweight mosaic bases out of polystyrene.

The sharing, camaraderie, support and inspiration she has received from Flickr pals and those from the Mosaic and Stained Glass Forum are an enjoyment to her and spur her on to keep creating! “What an amazing and talented group of people! I was so happy to discover that I was not alone in my obsession – and that I wasn’t crazy after all – or at least if I am, I’m in good company!!!!”. lol!!! 😉

Linda resides in Cape Coral, FL USA where she has lived for the last 8 years.

And finally meet the artist!


Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Birdbath, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Linda Hooper, Mosaic, Nature, Ornamental, Uncategorized

Artist Watch: Leena Nio

Leena Nio, aka neanio, has lived in Paris now for over 20 years. Whilst on holiday at her parent’s house in Finland 4 years ago she came across an article about French artist, Virginie Loy, teaching mosaic workshops in Finland. “Hmm, I thought, that’s something I could try- so as soon as I got back to Paris I bought a book on how to do mosaics.”

Ever since winning an art competition (with a picture very similar to her flower fields of today)and a trip to Canada at the tender age of 13, Leena has always loved the arts. She had a long period of making jewellery but felt she had gone as far as she could with her jewellery making. As it happens she lives a 10 minute walk away from one of the best mosaic supply stores in France… “They were very helpful in telling me how to use tools and about the materials. And of course every church and many houses or even streets in Paris have exemples of mosaics.”

After experimenting by herself for a couple of years with flower pots and trays etc, Leena felt she needed to learn new techniques, so again, right next door, she found a wonderful teacher called Claire Guerin, who won the biggest mosaic competition in France back in 2006. “From then on, I feel like I have been able to progress heaps. I can’t seem to stop making mosaics almost every day – that’s what I was warned about in my mosaics store – they said “ careful, once you start doing mosaics it becomes a passion”.”

Lately there has been a growing interest in her work both in France and in Finland. Her next exhibition will be in August and hopefully another in Paris either in October or in November. “I just finished an outside terrace which was a first for me, artistically it’s a success, as Claire would say, but evening up the surface is still difficult for me (all pieces were of different thicknesses).”

For the future, Leena hopes for an agent who could take care of selling her work and interfacing with clients so she could leave her day job and keep creating the images that invade her mind. 😉 Meanwhile, “I guess I just muddle along hoping my work gets somehow noticed for its quality and imagination.” Artists that inspire her include Sonia King, Irina Charny and Claire Guerin, but she admires any piece of work that comes from anybody as long as it’s got a play of colour and style that she relates to.

Finally meet Leena:


Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Leena Nio, Mosaic, Ornamental, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Artist Watch: Janine Irisarri

I came across Janine’s work on one of the many mosaic forums I’m a part of. Her work is gorgeous, as is Janine… Here is her story…

Janine’s path to Mosaic Art was not without a detour or two along the way. Two major curves in the road were a career in foreign language education (specifically teaching Spanish) and raising two children in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

Although Janine had had no formal art training, she always had a deep desire to create. During the 80’s when her kids were young, she became involved with folk art painting on wood and quickly became an expert at wielding a jig saw to cut forms suitable for the desired paintings. “Could there be a connection here with cutting shapes?”, she asks.

The motivation to pursue some sort of art was cultivated further by her children. Both son and daughter took several art classes in high school. “Their work”, she says “as any mother would say, was phenomenal! I figure…, they have my genes…I must have some artistic ability too!” So in 2004, Janine retired from teaching, children were graduated and on their own. She was ready to embrace art and unleash her creativity!

Janine began her artistic endeavors, full speed ahead, with a variety of drawing classes, design classes, and watercolour classes at several of the local art centers. All have been an integral part in her artistic journey.

“Early on I realized that the key to all art is the ability to draw. Therefore I have really dedicated myself to drawing.”

It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that one of her drawing friends told her about a mosaic class that was being offered. “I decided to try something ‘different’. I became instantly hooked! I was captivated by the color and reflective qualities of the glass that we were using. Furthermore, I was and am intrigued by the use of shapes…… somehow reminiscent of my jigsaw-wielding days!”

Janine further states: “Mosaic art has become a way to breathe life and color into my drawings. I found early on that mosaic art is quite forgiving….. quite like drawing…… don’t like the line you drew, erase it. Don’t like the shape you cut….. cut another.” {Hmmm… wish it were so easy for me 😉 }

Janine is stimulated by the challenges that are presented in mosaic art…..what shapes to use; how to create colour gradation with glass; how to create texture in the work; and one of the most important to her: how to simplify. “The challenges are endless. I often find, perhaps in a concert, or even in a conversation, that my mind drifts to the details of the mosaic I’m working on…. trying to solve a problem with shape, color, or pattern.”

Janine mentions how fortunate she has been to have had some great teachers along the way…. teachers that have really helped her to see with new eyes. “I still am taking classes or workshops to develop my skills in drawing and mosaic. My newest endeavour with mosaics will be in September when I will take a mosaic sculpture class. Going from 2D to 3D , yet another challenge!”

I find this story so inspiring… let’s have a peek at her incredibly detail-oriented art now, shall we?!

Finally, meet the Artiste in question, Janine:

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Filed under Animals, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Birds, Female, Flowers, Furnishings, Glass on Glass, Janine Irisarri, Mosaic, Ornamental, Table, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Breathing Life into Inanimate Objects

I must say I love doing it!

My studio has been a bustling place to be these last couple of days. I taught a friend how to make a mosaic (she is, for the record, totally besotted and has already scoped out her studio in her garage!!! Yay) and then a little 4 year old came over (one of my daughter’s womb buddies) and made a stepping stone. She rocked that mosaic!!! We were done in an hour and she was asking me what we could do next 😉 My kinda gal!

I finished, 100%, my commission-du-jour, Sir Elton. He’s not only grouted, but signed, sealed and on his way to be delivered. It’s rather exciting and then not so… The departure is all too sudden. I know, daft really. After all they are just inanimate objects. Why should I get so attached?! I never feel like I do until I have to say goodbye. So Sir Elton is packed in a box, surrounded by a some kind of foam, that was liquid so it could dry into his shape and mould him all the way to Seoul, Korea. He’s the one on the right 😉

Chicky Babes

Sir Elton

Called on the paparazzi for these pictures (by my sister Lee Grant). After all who knows when we’ll get Liberace and Sir Elton together again?! 😉 I have plans for perhaps extending the series even further 🙂 Why not?! I might as well now and from this day forth be known as “The Chicken Lady”. {teehee…} I’m very pleased how he turned out. Let’s all hope that he makes it over in one piece…

Next on my hit list is the next commission – a big fish, another 3D sculpture. I’m excited about this one. Stuck a few tiles on him today and he’s come alive already. It’s exciting to watch. His tail is broken so I’m going to have to make and attach a new section on. I’m thinking mesh + thinset + *maybe* (if it’s necessary) some polystyrene… A bit of Darjit would be useful! Still need to follow up on that workshop. It’d be fun to do. There was talk about a workshop being held down my way… I have considered organising a one here, maybe even at the Art School at Uni. I think there’d be plenty of people interested. Just another thing to do really and fairly low on my list of priorities, I might add. Almost did one while I was over in San Francisco, as there was a course right after the mural workshop I participated in at IMA. Oh if I didn’t have a life and all I had to do was travel, make mosaics and meet lotsa cool, talented artists! 🙂 Hmmm… actually now that I see it in writing, it’s what I do, just part time! That makes me feel better, I think… I think I just implied to myself that I have no life. Hmmm, time to get some sleep I think. 😉

So on that note: Voila! Here is one of my WIPs (I’m actually working on 4 different projects right now, that’s a little psychotic is it not?!). I think he’s going to be loads of fun!


Next in line...


Filed under Animals, Art, Artists, Australia, Birds, California, Canberra, Chickens, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Garden Mosaics, Institute of Mosaic Art, Kim Grant, Lifestyle, Mosaic, My projects, Nature, Oakland, Ornamental, Round the World, San Francisco, Schools, Sculpture, Seoul, South Korea, Studio, Travel, Uncategorized, USA, Works in Progress, Workshops