Category Archives: Workshops

Grabbing Life by the Cojones

2013 y’all! I still feel like I’m in the 90s. Or maybe I’ve finally arrived at “that” time in my life – being stuck in a particular time warp.

Quick catch up! I miss this place. Where once upon a time I blogged every other day or week, it has seriously fallen off  my radar. But, this year is looking to be ah-mazing! After a particularly difficult 2012 where I fell into a bit of a funk and didn’t know how to get out, things bubbled up and I found the courage to make many a change and potential difference in my life and that of my kids’. Even if these changes are not supported, not successful, I’ll know that they have made a positive difference and that’s all that counts. Turns out that taking out the trash is a very cathartic experience, especially when the trash was just someone else’s crap that they dumped in my backyard. We are all in such a good place. Finally!

So what has 2013 got in store for me?! Well good question, but here are some of the things I am super excited about it:

  • I have an intern/assistant for my personal projects!! Still in discussion phase, but looking good! 🙂
  • Teaching online. Yes!
  • Visiting artists! Yes!
  • A new community project with students at Chapman Primary School – Yeah!
  • Nearly coming to an end of the community project with the Queanbeyan council and there has been discussion of possible further projects with them. Yes!
  • Mosaic Symposium in Melbourne August 23 – 25

Last year I asked one of my repeat students if she’d be interested in assisting me in some of my personal projects. I’m hopeful this will work out as she’s truly lovely and I really like the way she works. There will be an introduction soon! I’ve been re-working an old design, getting what was in my head out on paper, based on my sister’s mermaids. Just a couple more elements to add and she should be ready to go – though the enlarging on this one will be interesting… It’s a big’un.

Teaching online? Mmhmm! This has been running through my head for some time now and out of the blue one of my first clients who commissioned me to make Odette, got in touch to ask if I’d be interested. So the rundown is this – AU$75/hr. I use either Skype or Facetime. I will cater the lesson plan to your needs/your project and also generalise the information where appropriate so that you can feel confident that what you are creating will last in the area that you live. I am not one of those teachers who tells you what products to buy and then leaves it at that. I get into the details of what to look for in a product and why so that no matter where you are in the world, no matter what the climate is, you have the know-how to source what you need for the project at hand. I feel this is a much more empowering method of teaching and learning. I also include class notes as a pdf. Interested? Email me!

VISITING ARTISTS! Wow, I have THREE (3) confirmed visiting artists this year!!! I know, I’m so excited. Canberra, we are so lucky. Really!! All three artists have very different styles so I think they complement each other well. In addition, all three have been teaching and creating mosaics for a number of years and are well respected in the mosaic world (and further afar too as a matter of fact!)

Susan Crocenzi will be teaching her popular class “TEMPERED, TRANSPARENT & TEXTURED GLASS AND POLYMER CLAY TILES” August 30, 31 and September 1. Susan hails from Northern California in the USA. If you have ever been to one of my classes you will recognise one of the below pieces, Crossroads, which she made for me back in 2008. It sits on my wall in my living room. Hard to miss really and always admired. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! I don’t know when or if she’ll ever be back! Places are limited. Besides, the reunion of Susan and Crossroads will be a thing to behold!

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Also on my list of Visiting Artists this year is Marian Shapiro! She had such a great time last time she was here that she has agreed to come back!! This time Marian is going to demistify “WORKING WITH SMALTI”. I. Can’t. Wait. Because yes, I’ll admit I am a little skeered of the stuff!! This class will be held November 8 – 10 and students will need to come armed with about 1.5 kgs of smalti to create either an indoor or outdoor wall hanging. Smalti Australia has agreed to a discount for all registered participants! If you happened to take Marian’s class in 2011, Creating 3D Susbtrates for Mosaic, you are welcome to mosaic one of your substrates in this class!! Great opportunity to complete a project! Let’s face it, we all have unfinished projects…

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I’m happy to be able to announce that I’ve just secured a third visiting artist. Timing is of the essence on this one as Carol Shelkin will be in the country from  the East Coast in the USA around the same time as Susan. I know, hard on your wallets people, but seriously these are two AH-mazing artists who won’t be making their way back to Australia any time soon!!! Christmas must come early and you don’t want to miss the partay. They each have their own style, their own teaching methods, their own everything. It’s, simply put, not to be missed. Carol’s class is titled “MAKE YOUR OWN MOSAIC WORKSHOP!” She will teach the use of modern mosaic techniques to understand structure, cross contour, highlights, colour, gradation, value, composition, design and types of shadows in realism using Stained Glass. Students will learn how to mix glass values and colors to define planes, and how to use colour most effectively with artist tricks. If your interest lies in creating realism in mosaics, then there’s no one better to learn from in the contemporary mosaics field today. Carol’s class is slated for August 18 & 19 (a Sunday and a Monday). So… think about putting in for leave now! 🙂

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Check out my website for full details on the Visiting Artists Series and check back for Carol’s workshop – my copy of Dreamweaver has just gone bust so I’m unable to update it immediately!

Community projects? Yep – They’re continuing! 🙂 I’ve just been commissioned by Chapman Primary School to work with staff and students there to create three murals that will be permanently installed out the front of the school. The murals are all in celebration of Canberra’s centenary. Exciting stuff! Themes for the three of them have been decided upon. It’s now a matter of designing, enlarging and coding the murals for a term 2 start (no biggie!!). Deadline is the beginning of term 4 with an unveiling in Week 2 of that term as this is Children’s week. We even have rosters ready to go for all students in all years and when they will work on the mosaics. I love how organised this school is.

We’ve just completed the seventh panel for the Crawford st precinct. Pretty satisfying! The kids and staff at the Axis Youth Centre made their panel, mostly independently of me. They should be really proud of themselves! I think they did a great job. I’ve also just got the Landcare group started with theirs. Their theme is River Life. I’m looking forward to how this will turn out! A few finishing touches on the design for the HOME in Queanbeyan panel and the design will be hopefully OK’d by them! Last but not least is a playgroup of 3-5 year olds! Design yet to be determined, but as the playgroup is for Indigenous children it will  involve Indigenous elements. 🙂 Almost there!

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The Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand (MAANZ) is hosting another Symposium, this time located in Melbourne. I will be there. Keynote speaker is UK craftivist, Carrie Reichardt (not Dusciana Bravura as previously advertised by MAANZ). Carrie is AWESOME!!! It’s going to be pretty bloody amazing! I was lucky enough to grab one of Carrie’s flying eyeball mosaics last year. Proudly hanging out the front of my home waiting to be included into a larger mosaic.

Grab life by the cojones! That’s the theme for my year! Life is too short.

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Canberra, Carrie Reichardt, Community Projects, Events, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Marian Shapiro, Melbourne, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Public Art, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi, Symposium, Workshops

Crystal Thomas Mosaics’ e-Tutorials

I mentioned in an earlier post that Crystal Thomas allowed me the use of two exercises from one of her e-Tutes for the class I taught in Grafton. I’ll make note that I did specifically ask her for this along with a payment to do so (ie: I didn’t just use them) and I thought it was worth writing a blog specifically on these e-Tutes as I found them so very helpful.

Crystal currently has three tutorials:

  1. A Mosaic Flower Tutorial (Check out her flowers, they are done in a layered style and are just beautiful – I own one!!) US$14!!!
  2. An Andamento and Keystoning workshop (SUPER cool and excellently (is that a word?) explained with a ton of exercises, including the “answers” to those exercises – you simply cannot do without this one!! It will change the way you work for the better!) US$18!!!
  3. Mosaic Skulls 101 (Cyrstal’s mosaic skulls are one of a kind) – US$12.50!!!

You are also able to purchase the Andamento and Keystoning workshop with Crystal’s Top Five Tips. I think it’s great to get tips from different artists. It’s always interesting to know how certain people like to work. Crystal is not currently offering any teaching, either as a group or individually, but does plan to do so again in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime spend next to nothing (seriously all these tutorials are worth more than this!!) and purchase all three tutorials.

detail of 3 Poppies, © Crystal Thomas 2010

“Luis” – Talavera skull, © Crystal Thomas 2009

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Filed under Art, Artists, Classes, Crystal Thomas, Flowers, Inspiration, Mosaic, Nature, Ornamental, Technique, Uncategorized, Workshops

Mural WIP and other shenanigans

So I finally got around to transferring a design for a mural the other night. I have motivation AND I have energy. It is such a welcome return. Love what Spring can do… I sketched out a design three years ago and it got shelved due to other commitments, lack of sleep etc… For me, the hardest part of anything is the design and for large scale stuff transferring the design and all the prep involved beforehand. One part of me wants to get it all exact and be overly prepared, the other just wants to get a wriggle on. Anyway, the hard part is done and I can’t wait to get a start on it. The mural will be about 2.3m W x 1.6m H. It’s going to be located on my home, in an area that has come to be known as the Secret Hideout. I have a gorgeous Japanese maple that grows out front, perfect for climbing and of course come Spring and Summer no one need know if you are in that tree, watching the world go by! It’ll be great because the tree loses its leaves in Autumn (when it becomes our Not-so-Secret-Hideout). I kinda wanted a feeling of entering another hidden world… I think it’ll be a lot of fun. The first of four murals intended on my home that I already have designed. I’m sure more will probably come, but I need to start somewhere (says my more patient self). Next up after this one will be another mermaid…

Tomorrow I leave for warmer Newcastle, en route to Grafton to teach a six day workshop as part of the Grafton Artsfest. This is their last year in operation so I’m happy to be a part of it again this year. The workshop I am teaching is called Mosaic Sampler: getting back to basics. It should be a good week, with lots of information and hopefully lots of mosaic making using different techniques… I am overfull, so I’m really pleased that the class has been a popular attraction. My car will be chockablock full of all sorts of things. My tile guy has been awesome as far as providing everything I need. Pretty sure the only thing he hasn’t provided is the kitchen sink, though I’m sure he could work with me even on that one!! Looking forward to warm weather as it is still touch and go here in Canberra but I’ll miss the Jacarandas that begin to  flower a week or so after the festival. I love Jacarandas – one of my favourite trees! I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple exercises from one of  Crystal Thomas‘ eTutorials included as part of the week which I think will greatly assist in cutting and setting tile. If you havn’t already seen her eTutes, I strongly encourage you to take a look at her site and buy some! They are very, very affordable and are a wealth of information. It’ll change the way you work – for the better! Thanks again Crystal! Mwah.

I met with the primary school that contacted me the other week. What a great meeting – the principal, teachers and parents totally got what community means and what art teaches our new generation. The principal made a note of saying that she didn’t want any of the students (~460)  to have token involvement. That did it for me right there. Respectful, kind people. My heart beats a little more solidly knowing there are good people in the world who truly do care for our youngsters without letting their egos get in the way. I havn’t been asked to provide permits that don’t exist, nor a bunch of other unnecessary  paraphernalia. I hope I’m successful with the proposal I have put forward as it seems like it would be a wonderful relationship. The theme of the project was already agreed upon (macro garden) and I’ve already actually created a design for the feature wall that will also allow for each child’s addition in and around the main mural!! So exciting… but I need to pace myself 🙂

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Australia, Building, Community Projects, Events, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Round the World, Schools, Travel, Works in Progress, Workshops

Mosaic Mirror Workshop in Canberra Australia

If you’re interested in learning how to create a mosaic mirror from scratch using predominantly glass tesserae (vitreous glass, stained glass, glass gems etc) then I will be running a workshop in November. Dates are Saturday 20 November (10:30 – 4:30pm) and Sunday 21 November (10:30 – 4pm).

You will learn how to cut out your final shape using a jigsaw and learn how to cut different kinds of glass and assemble the mosaic. The class is catered to creating a piece with an approximate dimension of 40cm square. Get creative, though, and think about making a mirror where the mirror itself is off centre, use strips of mirror instead of a block piece etc… Get funky and deviate from the normal square/rectangular mirror! There is no grouting in this class so if you have not grouted before I do recommend signing up to my Grout Clinic.

Cost is $185 + a $45 materials fee. Check my website for more details and if you want to sign up then email me!

Examples of Mosaic Mirrors follow.

By Sue Edkins of Mostly Mosaics in the UK.

by Carl and Sue Bryant of Showcase Mosaics.

Bubbles designed by Calligaris.

Queen of Hearts Mosaic Mirror by Erin Haworth.

Star Mirror 5 by Erin Haworth.

Fire in Bloom by Crystal Thomas.

 

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Filed under Australia, Canberra, Events, Furnishings, Glass, Mirrors, Mosaic Materials, Round the World, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging, Workshops

Student Spotlight: Robyn Fetter

One of the great things about teaching mosaic workshops is that I get to meet some really wonderful people, all from different walks of life but we all converge over two days to explore mosaics. I feel so lucky! Really. So I decided that I would start a new series to spotlight some of my students.

My first post in this series is to introduce you to Robyn Fetter, who came to mosaics late in life. She always had a latent interest in the art form but no time to indulge in it, or as she says no confidence to tackle it.

The catalyst came with the drought. Robyn is a passionate gardener and they have a lot of lawn. In common with a lot of other people living in drought stricken Australia she wasted a year or two grieving for lush green lawn before it dawned on her that the devastation could actually be viewed as a creative opportunity. “If we have to reduce the area of grass, paving is one of the most visually pleasing ways of doing it, and mosaic pictures and patterns set into the paving would be essential to break up the expanse. At any rate, this is how I presented the idea to my husband.”

Robyn started by enrolling in an 8-week evening course in very basic mosaics. It begged more questions than it answered, but she found it tremendously exciting. It was taught in part by Tina van Raay, another local mosaic artist. Robyn says, “It was at this stage that I started haunting the tile shops and happened to be there one day when a station wagon pulled up with the Kim Grant Mosaics sign on the side. Kim was scavenging for tiles with a girl I used to work with, who introduced us, and ensured that I got one of Kim’s business cards. When I saw her website I knew that sooner or later I would have to attend some of her classes because this was my idea of how mosaics ought to be – precise enough to give you confidence that this lady is completely in control of her medium, but also quirky and whimsical. I was keen to avoid the ‘smash ‘em up and slap ‘em down’ school of mosaics with acres of grout.”

Robyn also started amassing books about mosaics and found Teresa Mills very helpful for a beginner. “She gives precise, detailed instructions that encourage careful cutting and placing, and this is what I was concentrating on in my first project – the geometric design. I freely admit it’s very anal and unexciting, but I was struggling to get the shapes and measurements right – with variable success, but at least it was a start.”

With the penguins, another Teresa Mills project, Robyn felt relaxed enough to play with the design and insert her own creativity with the sky and water.

“You will be wondering what these works have to do with enhancing the paving in our garden. I’m intending for these practice efforts to hang on the fence, which also badly needs beautifying, and have made a start on decorative paving stones to be inserted in paving in the garden. Baby steps at the moment, but I have big plans.” 🙂 I never fail to get excited on hearing some one with “big plans”!!

Robyn also knits, sews, crochets and embroiders. “All these things, including mosaic, and particularly gardening are, in my case at least, compensating activities for not being able to draw or paint. I am passionate about them all and would find life very grey without them.”

She is indeed very passionate and I look forward to seeing all her future mosaics!

Thanks so much to Robyn for letting me profile her!! I will say it wasn’t without a little encouragement as she felt her mosaics were not ready. I disagree! They’re as fabulous as she is.

And finally, meet Robyn.

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Filed under Art, Australia, Canberra, Garden Mosaics, Mosaic, Student Spotlight, Uncategorized, Workshops

Another Mural Under the Belt, Spring Class Schedule & Tempered Glass Class

I’m done, I’m really, really done!

Mermaid Mural - Done!

Well, I kind of cheated and decided against doing the fish… for now. She looks complete without it and I am swimming in other mosaic ideas and wanting to get a start 🙂 Am really happy with her, and though no name has come to mind, I know it will come, perhaps one day. In the meantime it is Mermaid & Octopus (!). How creative of me.

So I am releasing dates for an early Spring schedule, as I have had a number of enquiries.

  • Exterior Mosaic Basics – the last weekend of August, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30
  • Tempered Glass Mosaics – Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September
  • Interior Mosaic Basics – Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 September

Just to give a brief explanation of the tempered glass (TG) class as most people are perhaps unaware of the term here in Australia and for the most part are unaware of its use in mosaic. I believe we call it safety glass, for the most part. It is the kind of glass most commonly used in shop windows and, here at least, occasionally used for (the expensive) shower screens. When it breaks, it crumbles instead of breaking into sharp shards hence the safety aspect to it. For a concise definition of this kind of glass check out this manufacturer’s website.  Of course, as mosaic artists, we use it broken. Great for memento mosaics, it also has other broader decorative uses too. Come check out the class and make a mosaic slightly left of centre! Pre treatment, broken tempered glass looks like this:

Tempered Glass Mania

Post treatment, here are some examples of its use in mosaics from mosaic artists on Flickr. You can see more in the Tempered Glass Mosaics Group. (All mosaic works are copyright to the artists and like everything not to be used without express written permission. Please be inspired rather than copying).

Ilana
Ilana by Susan Crocenzi

Knot a Swirl
Knot a Swirl by Lin Schorr

Unrequited Love
Unrequited Love by Stacy Alexander

Diversion
Diversion by Crystal Thomas

Latte Heart Valentine
Latte Heart Valentine by Lori Desormeaux

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Copyright, Events, Finished pieces, Flickr, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Murals, My projects, Portraiture, Tempered Glass, Uncategorized, Workshops

What a Week Can Do

I took the last week off from work and it’s been a productive one! I LOVE being productive… So often I’m busy and I have nothing to show for it. Hate that! I repainted some walls in my house (feature walls – what *was* I thinking?!!!), cleaned my studio and home (really!! have been on a major chuck-everything-I don’t-use frenzy. Getting rid of junk is good for the soul), caught up with friends I havn’t seen in a while, had pyjama days, went on long walks in the beautiful weather we’ve been having, almost finished with the mermaid installation and taught a mosaic class this weekend. I’m jazzed! Feeling utterly refreshed, more organised, less stressed!! Finishing things is good.

The workshop was fun. There were 4 women all up, only one with mosaic experience and she was here to learn about creating tempered glass mosaics, which she’d not done before. It was really a very pleasurable moment to experience their delight in what they made and I now have four enthusiasts to add to my {imaginary} mosaic posse {for when I need help on my future installations that are just in my head presently} 🙂 Fun to watch them ogling over all the mosaics I have in my home from other artists too… 🙂 I feel very blessed, for want of another word… Sharing is good.

Exterior Mosaics + TG students!!

The octopus now has 8 legs 😉 I managed to get the last three legs on the other day but let me tell you, for something I would have thought was fairly minor, it was certainly a learning experience. Firstly I did it early in the morning and it was freezing. I don’t “do” cold as it is, but when my fingers and toes are numb I start to fall apart. OK, so that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean! I also didn’t bring any tools, extra tile, nothing. So I will from now on bring everything as if it is a huge, complex installation. Lastly, I took the mesh piece out of my car and left it outside under a carport while I drove my Dad to the doctor. I was gone no more than an hour. When I went to lift the mesh piece up to stick to the wall, most of the tile literally dropped to the ground. So, even in the slightest bit of moisture, mesh pieces aren’t going to hold (is there an emoticon with rolling eyeballs? If so, insert that here). Just cleaning up to do now: sanding and painting… *sigh*

8 legged octopus :)

I even managed to get my puzzle piece done for Lin Schorr… Her community project is well under way. Have a look at all the submissions so far. Looking forward to seeing Lin collating all the pieces and doing her magic waving of the wand.

Amnesia

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Filed under Events, Flickr, My projects, Rant, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging, Workshops