Category Archives: Furnishings

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

Artist Watch: Francesca De Lorme

Things have been busy on my end and I’ve become somewhat slow in almost everything “extra-curricular”, though I daresay it’s only going to get worse as I delve into full time work 😦 I think that = Death to Mo! I certainly hope not, perhaps it will simply mean prioritising what I do work on…

Anyway, let’s get straight back into meeting fellow mosaic artists, shall we? Please meet Francesca De Lorme aka Studio Fresca on Flickr. Reading through her bio is like reading a fine novel! Not only can she make beautiful art, she can write – I daresay I think she can do everything 😉 Francesca only recently caught my eye and it was initially because of her really well thought out and articulate comments she left for others. Then when I clicked into her photostream… *sigh*!

Francesca comes from a family of several generations of scientists and teachers who have a strong appreciation of the arts and crafts, but who viewed these endeavours primarily as worthy hobbies and entertaining pastimes rather than as a career path — so of course she became a scientist and a teacher, and not an artist! She has always dabbled in arts and crafts — everything from metal work to fiber art, from ceramics to watercolours, from hot glass to mosaics. “Just prior to becoming enamoured with mosaics, I was learning the art of hot glass casting at Kauai Recycling for the Arts, where we melted down discarded glass bottles, windows and jars and turned them into functional and fine art items.”

Francesca’s introduction to mosaics was in her Kindergarten year in California – there was a large mosaic (floor to ceiling) on the wall in the front foyer of her school. It depicted a lovely traditional village scene and it greeted her every day when she went to school. “I loved that mosaic for its peaceful depiction of community, for all its hundreds of colorful, shiny tiles (like little treasures!) and because we were allowed to touch it as much and as often as we wished. I touched it lavishly and liberally every morning when I arrived at school and it seemed like all the magic that mosaic contained just flowed into me through my fingertips. It became my own special talisman and I have been in love with mosaics ever since.”

She has been making mosaics on a part-time basis for around 3 years. Her mosaics are one-of-a-kind and completely hand-made utilising both traditional, and modern tools, techniques and materials. She says of her style: “(It) is probably best described as “eclectic in the extreme”, which works for me given that I am using found objects and since I never know quite what I will find in the dumpsters, at the salvage yards or in the thrift stores, it is hard for me to develop a specific style.” Francesca focuses on creating mosaics that are functional as she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy unique & beautiful objects in their homes, work places and communities. “It gives me great pleasure to think of someone not only looking at work I have created, but to consider that they might find it useful, too.”

Francesca has imposed upon herself a rule whereby she uses a minimum of 75% recycled, reused and salvaged materials in all her pieces. That’s a great rule!!! Maybe even something for the Mosaic Challenge Group someday…

“I sometimes wonder just why I happened to become so enamoured with mosaics because the truth is they are messy, difficult, time consuming, frustrating — and sometimes even painful — to make… But the absolute truth is that it is also exciting, fascinating, playful, absorbing, and infinitely rewarding, so regardless of the challenges involved, I absolutely love being a mosaicist because there are so many great things to love about this particular medium.”

She enjoys the connection to those artists who have gone before us as she uses her hands and simple cutting tools. She enjoys existing amongst fellow artisans. She enjoys the kinesthetic pleasure she gets from the solidity of the materials, the endless range of textures, the various options of opus patterns of the tesserae, and the three-dimensionality of many of the final pieces that just beg for a little tactile sensory input, in addition to all that visual: “There is something extra cool to me about an art form that encourages “touching” as well as looking.”

She enjoys playing with the positive and negative spaces: “The artistic concept of “positive/negative” space is particularly strong in mosaics and I like being able to incorporate it into my design to define shapes, lines and spaces, set an overall tone to the piece, or create a flow by using spaces that are bold, or subtle, or in juxtaposition with one another.”

Finally,  a big reason she finds mosaics so enjoyable is that they really require both left and right brain attention, as well as full body engagement, (involving heart, head and hands!): ” I am creating a vision I see in my head by physically shaping and fitting a variety of pieces together — sort of like a puzzle — in a form of visual problem solving. So, I get to create “art”, but I also get to play with all these fabulous puzzle pieces made of stone, tile, glass, rocks, metal and other wonderful materials that are shiny, glossy, rough, smooth and colorful…”

Francesca has had quite an assortment of careers in her lifetime. She started by studying Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara and worked with Radiation Analysis in the Environmental Sciences division at the infamous Livermore Lawrence Laboratory in California. Eventually Francesca ended up in teaching — including several rewarding and challenging years working with “juvenile delinquents”, which then led to counselling. From there she somehow found herself working in journalism, which was a natural segue into graphic design – she owned a small graphic design and communications company and still likes to take on part-time projects in graphic arts. “Now I’m studying for yet another career change (in health and patient advocacy) and hope to work with marginalized populations and community programs once I complete my research and clinical practice.” On top of all of this she is also working with her mother creating clothing from recycled materials and salvaged neckties. “I get to do the designing and she does some re-designing and the actual sewing.”

Francesca was born (literally and proverbially) with a restless heart. “I have a cardiac condition that causes frequent arrhythmia (which keeps life interesting…) and I have a need to go “walkabout” on a regular basis. Luckily I found, and have been married to my husband, Dave, (a long-board surfing air traffic controller who is perfectly happy living life as a nomad) for 30 years. We have been fortunate to travel in about 30 countries in those 30 years and we were blessed with a (now grown) daughter who has not one iota of interest in rambling around the world and is quite happy to be living on her own where she can stay put.” Funny how that happens 🙂

Depending on the year, the season, her school schedule, her husband’s job contracts, the weather, and their mood, they can be found living in their homestead in Vermont (which they designed and built themselves out of about 60% recycled materials), working on the island of Kauai (where Francesca can mosaic outdoors all year long!) or travelling around somewhere in the world where they can visit galleries, coffee shops and junk yards. However, she can most frequently be found under the influence of expensive tea and cheap chocolate!

You can check out more of her work and musings on her website.


A work in progress

One of Francesca’s current projects is a mural in the cafe of a high school in Vermont. Each student has a 1 foot square “canvas” (with a black tiled border) in which to create their own composition. I look forward to seeing this project evolve!

Finally meet Francesca, pictured with her husband and daughter:

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Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Community Projects, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Francesca De Lorme, Furnishings, Kids, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Recycled, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Artist Watch: Crystal Thomas

The next artist-in-waiting is Crystal Thomas. I met Crystal on Flickr and she promptly showed up in other mosaic forums. I am currently in love with her mosaics 🙂 She does exactly what I want to do: subdued, elegant and sophisticated work!!

Crystal’s story into her life of mosaics began much like mine did. She never considered herself to be artistic “I don’t draw, paint, or sculpt”, yet there was still a part of her that felt the need to create. She, like me, was drawn to a book on mosaics while at the bookstore one day. For her it happened back in 1998 and she has been creating ever since.

What started as a hobby craft soon led to more complex designs and challenges. She slowly began to realize that this was becoming a form of art for her, and about the same time, she noticed that mosaics seemed to be growing noticeably more popular as an art form in and of itself.

In 2002, Crystal went on a mosaic tour led by Gina Hubler which included a pilgrimage of sorts to the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna where Crystal had the privilege of reproducing an ancient mosaic in marble and smalti. “Now I’d seen many of the world’s great mosaics and worked with modern masters, and I was undeniably hooked!”. The tour included a 3 day workshop at the the Art School, instructed by Luciana Notturni. “Our experience was a bit unusual, I think, because there were only two of us on this particular tour (me and my mom!), and therefore only two of us in the workshop. Needless to say, we got a lot of personal attention, and it was a fabulous experience. I believe our lessons were not in the main school, but in a smaller workshop, where we were actually working alongside some of the professional mosaicists who were working on “real” restorations. I would absolutely recommend a workshop with Luciana!!!”.

The tour has changed somewhat since Crystal went, but she did go on to say how wonderful it was – “…a wonderfully balanced trip full of visits to some of the world’s most amazing mosaics and master studios, hands-on work, sightseeing, and of course good food and wine. Seeing those ancient mosaics and meeting Italian masters was a humbling experience…”. Sounds like sooo much fun! Crystal did not, apparently, come home from her experience there and immediately start creating her own masterpieces our of smalti with her newly acquired hammer and hardie! Rather, she has barely touched smalti since the trip. Her time in Ravenna unexpectedly inspired her to more of the modern mosaic frames and mirrors that were on display in the store at the Art School. The designs were mostly geometric patterns and made of a variety of glass and millefiori (think Laurel Skye). She arrived home and went on to make mirrors and frames for the next few years. For pics of this tour head to Crystal’s Flickr set.

Currently, her focus is art panels and three-dimensional forms. “The supply of new ideas and mosaic techniques to master seems infinite, and I constantly learn from other artists who are generous enough to share their wisdom, passion, and methods. Many of my pieces are inspired by the colors, textures, and images that I observe every day – I see mosaic potential in nearly everything.”

Last year Crystal had 26 frames up for sale on her Etsy site. One day she was contacted by a couple in Texas, totally out of the blue, who had just moved there to follow their dream of opening a retail art store. They bought ten of her pieces, and shortly thereafter bought the rest! A couple months later, they called her with an idea and this is how Crystal’s Skulls Series was born. “You’re going to think this is crazy, but people here in Texas really like their cow skulls. We were wondering if you would like to mosaic a couple.” A couple turned into five, and she may yet do more. “I’ve been amazed at how such an unusual “substrate” could provide so much opportunity for both technical learning and creative expression!”.

When not mosaicing, Crystal does freelance technical writing & editing and spends time with her husband and preschool-age son – her real work right now! “When he enters public school, I hope to have more room to grow artistically, but for now it’s a fine balance.” Hear, hear…

And finally meet Crystal, pictured here with her piece she made on her trip to Italy!

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Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Crystal Thomas, Emerging, Europe, Female, Flickr, Frames, Furnishings, Italy, Mirrors, Mosaic, Mosaic Art School, Ravenna, Round the World, Schools, Travel, 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

Making Mosaics and Lasting Friendships

Well as most of you probably are aware I have become quite friendly with Susan Crocenzi having made a website for her and in return I lovingly welcomed Crossroads into my life. When I was in the USandA I went and visited her in her neck of the woods. How could I not?! The drive up was lovely and I was cursing myself for not hiring the GPS for the extra $14.99 per day cos I kept getting lost?! Mapquest had me all over the place, lol! Finally made it though and she was busy teaching Donna, aka CaDonna, who came to know of Susan through another online forum… They’d been making a polymer clay and tempered glass piece which they’d just finished as I turned up 🙂

Now I will admit to being a tad worried that we might not get along, that it would all be a stereotypical weird online friendship thing and it SOOOO was not. I felt like we’d known each other for a long time. Phew, cos she opened her home to me and was so very hospitable and I stayed for the whole weekend, even got to meet her family. I’m sure you felt the same, a little… huh, Susan?! 🙂

We had planned on trying to go for a hike, there was even mention of going kayaking on the Yuba, which sounded wonderful! There just wasn’t going to be any time though (I was only there for 2.5 days) and I do plan to take her up on the offer another time. Some of the pics I’ve seen of her beautiful surrounds was just mind blowing. Northern CA is just simply beautiful!!! From her studio you could hear the wind in the trees, the river running, birds singing and the air was fresh! It was really just lovely. I could totally see why she lived there. My ideal spot to live is in the mountains overlooking the ocean… Still searching for it. 🙂 In CA, Santa Cruz came very close for me. The Santa Cruz mountains are just… I don’t have words to describe it frankly…

When I asked Susan if there was anything she wanted from Australia, she said the only thing she wanted was a mosaic I’d made. Well, not having all that much left I did have Flutterby which now resides with her 🙂 and I’m so glad it does. I in turn got Big Love… Just what I needed! I own 5 Crocenzi originals now 😉 One would think I’m a fan of her work or something!

Susan was also gracious enough to let me sit in on her 1st class. I think it’s the beginning of a new career for her… Having been a teacher for the last 15 or so years, she’s a natural at it and her classes are fun. Guaranteed you’ll come away from one, or two (?) classes with a piece you’ll love. I know it has made me look at the potential of my mosaics in a different light, which came at a very necessary time as I was feeling rather blah about everything for a while. The combination of the mural intensive, Susan’s tempered glass class and me having just gone on a *major* de-cluttering of my house has got me all enthused again. Nothing like getting rid of crap. It literally clutters your soul and it is so therapeutic to chuck.

Anyway, it was a really fun get-together. Donna is way cool too and her piece she made was gorgeous. Thanks Susan! Thank whatever and whoever for the internet is all I have to say for giving me such great friends, who I can now count as “real life” friends, not just e-friends… 😉
Susan, Donna and me
Susan, Donna & I surrounded by those big gorgeous trees

Me and Donna
Me and Donna

Cabin in the mountains


Aspire, my tempered glass piece I made in Susan’s class 🙂

Big Love
Susan’s trade for Flutterby. I love this piece! It just sparkles and now adorns my love wall…


Donna’s tempered glass and polymer clay piece, Wild Hearts.

April was the month of hearts for me. Everywhere I turned there was one… I had to purchase Laurel True‘s graffiti tag when I saw it:
Laurel True's graffiti tag
It’s about all I could afford, lol!

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Filed under Art, Artists, California, Female, Flickr, Furnishings, Inspiration, Kim Grant, Laurel True, Mirrors, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Polymer Clay, Rant, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi, Technique, Tempered Glass, Trades, Travel, Uncategorized, USA, Wall Hanging

Artist Watch: Wendy Tanner

Meet Wendy Tanner (flickr ID the same). I was attracted to Wendy immediately for three reasons: she has cool mosaics, she’s Australian and she travels… alot! Her travels have taken her to parts of the World that I long to see… Afghanistan being one that comes to mind. What I also love is that she photographs mosaic everywhere she goes. Kinda like me I s’pose… She also just has the passion and feels the need to record it all. For someone like myself, it’s very exciting!!! You must go check out her photos. Incredibly interesting…

Wendy’s creative career began with stained glass, but the dilemma of all those off-cuts of glass led her into mosaics. (Like all good mosaicists …. she never throws ANYTHING away!!) Her first mosaic course was with Christine Stewart, an acclaimed artist who lives locally in Wendy’s area of Northern NSW, Australia. A phenomenally beautiful part of the country I might add…

Overseas travel opened her eyes to mosaics using so many other kinds of materials. She saw the magnificent mosaics on St Marks Basilica in Venice and was also lucky enough to stumble upon the Orsoni Factory. She was thoroughly enchanted by Gaudi’s mosaics in Barcelona and the pebble mosaics in the Alhambra in Granada.

In November 2004, Wendy attended the International Association of Contemporary Mosaics biennial conference in Melbourne …and was inspired by so many wonderful mosaic artists from all over the world. Since then she has attended several other workshops with Australian glass and mosaic artists.

Wendy works with many different materials – and especially likes to use recycled or found objects. Her preference lies in making functional objects like tables and mirrors, but she is also exploring decorative and artistic mosaics, and 3D sculptural forms.

Wendy has taught several mosaic classes through the local Adult Education Centre, and has also taught several workshops with school children and teachers at three local schools. They created large scale murals, which brighten up the school grounds considerably. She loves the fact that anyone can make mosaics – no matter their age or ability.

Wendy reveals “My workshop is a total disaster. Since doing a course making a 3D mosaic mirror with Sandy Robertson of Brisbane, I can’t stop collecting crockery etc… My latest experiments are using broken Polish blown glass, which my neighbours import. (They import it whole, of course, but there are breakages along the way…oh…what a pity!!). I am firing little pieces in my newly acquired second hand kiln – and love it!! I love the internet too – the way so many mosaic artists share their art and knowledge through blogs and groups, and flickr. If I wanted to, I could spend all my time on my computer and never get any time to do my mosaics!!”

You can find Wendy’s online space here and more of her mosaics on her Flickr site. Her work has, more recently, been selected for the new mosaic magazine, Mosaic Art Now and is currently on exhibition at the Nexus Gallery.

Here are some pics of the artiste in question ( couldn’t choose just one cos I LOVE all of them!!!). Look at that school mural and all of her travels!!!

Wendy in Barcelona’s Parc Guell, a place that, like Wendy says, is “about as close as a mosaic artist can get to heaven.” No kidding!!!

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Australia, Building, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Furnishings, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Murals, Nature, Round the World, Schools, Sculpture, Table, Uncategorized, Wendy Tanner

Sacred Compass

Well I got to finishing the table/wall hanging (?). I prefer it as a wall hanging I think. Went with a chocolate grout and I think it turned out pretty well. Sometimes it’s nice to just not be stressed about getting something “perfect” – what is that anyway!!!? So I feel like it’s a good mosaic-start to the year! I ended up going with a dark brown background, originally was going to do a light brown. I wasn’t sure once I finished it, but now that it’s been a few days I’m happy with the choice. Am not 100% with the name. Titles for my pieces used to come sooo easily. Now I seem to not be able to listen as intently. Anyway, I looked at this and saw “directions”, a compass… Somewhat metaphoric perhaps to where I am in Life right now.

Sacred Compass

Sacred Compass - detail

I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to photograph my mosaic… I know everyone says don’t use a flash and just use natural light. This one is in natural light, no flash. But on most of my other pieces I’ve always used a flash and actually think I get truer colours with the flash… Otherwise it tends to look very flat and blah… It’d be nice to have the bright studio lights all set up. I should really pester my sister who is a photographer to get her to take photos for me…

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Filed under Art, Artists, Australia, Canberra, Emerging, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Glass, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Ornamental, Porcelain tile, Rant, Round the World, Table, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging