Category Archives: Polymer Clay

2013 wrap up

2013. Done. It’s been a busy one, a sad one but at the same time a freeing, fruitful and happy one both in body of work and emotional path walking. Perhaps bittersweet is an appropriate description?

For those of you who follow me on Wastebook, you’ll know that I led another community mosaic project at Chapman Primary. It involved creating three mosaic panels with themes that were chosen by the school community: History, Sustainability and School Values. I was also given drawings and sketches that the kids themselves drew to include in the designs. What resulted were three amazing mosaics that ALL 400 odd students and staff at the school participated in – not kidding! Preschoolers made their own tiles that were fired in the school’s kilns and embedded in concrete at the edge of a garden bed that looks out onto the three mosaics.





Chapman Now - school values

Chapman Now – school values

It was a really great project, one that I am super proud of and, again, I worked with some wonderful people.

I had three artists come visit throughout the year: Carol Shelkin, Susan Crocenzi and Marian Shapiro. All offering something completely different and quite distinct to their own styles. All the classes sold out so it was a testament to good ol’ Canberra!! Thank you! Though I should mention that many students did come from interstate – some as far as Western Australia!!! Goes to show that Mosaic Art is indeed a growing and burgeoning medium here in Australia. So great to be a part of that movement.

Carol Shelkin's class

Carol Shelkin’s class

Susan Crocenzi's class

Susan Crocenzi’s class

Marian Shapiro's class

Marian Shapiro’s class

I mentioned this year was a sad one. It was fraught with health problems with my Dad and sadly he passed away in September. There is nothing quite like the grief of losing a loved one. He was very present in my life, stepping in to look after my children when necessary and generally helping me out so he played a large role in all our lives. I don’t miss the hours of waiting in the Emergency Departments, the ongoing discussions with nurses and doctors trying to get information that sometimes I don’t think they even knew. I do however miss our lunches and dinners, miss his phone calls and miss driving in the car with him (the cranky old bugger!!). I’m grateful of my time with him. I didn’t take that for granted in those last few years even though no one could have possibly predicted that he would be gone so quickly. I’m grateful that he is no longer suffering. Grateful that he was a role model to my children – the only real man in my life and theirs. I know that all three will carry that in them to adulthood and I find absolute comfort in that. He was a good man, a family man, served for his country and was loved by many. At the end of the day, what more of a legacy would you want to leave?! We gave him a good send off, one that I think he would have been really touched by actually! People came from all walks of his life – friends from his watering hole to old RAAF mates to judges from the Supreme and Magistrates Court. That was Dad though. He could get along with anyone.  I have in mind a memory mosaic with some of his personal artefacts that I came across after he passed. I also have a mural planned on my home. Right after he passed away I got right into creating photo transfers on tile and figured out how to create them for outdoor use. It ended up being a coping mechanism for me and in doing it I actually also found a voice for something I’d been trying to express for a while. Was a cathartic experience and I’m looking forward to including the tiles in my work. Also looking forward to perhaps investing in a kiln… but that’s a complete aside.

Photo Transfers

Photo Transfers

Mosaic w/ photo transfer tile

Mosaic w/ photo transfer tile

I’ve also been setting about, slowly adding to the mosaic murals on my home. I now know pretty much all the designs and where they will go. At the moment it all boils down to time to fabricate and I’ve been so exhausted that I can’t really look at fabricating the way I used to. So it’s a little at a time. In fact I set about with this mural differently to the way that I normally do: I decided to fabricate a few sections and install then grout as I go as space has become a bit of a premium here in my humble abode. It’s worked out well actually. There’s really not much more to do on this one. In fact it’s been about a year since I designed this. I came up with this design whilst with my Dad on one of his many trips to hospital. So there is something very special here for me. It also includes my daughter’s loveflies. I had never really thought about it but turns out that all the murals on my home (when I get to finishing them) will actually hold a lot of significance from my life. It wasn’t a conscious approach, but I realised how true this is whilst working on this.

Nocturnal Hideout Hollow - WIP

Nocturnal Hideout Hollow – WIP

Nocturnal Hideout Hollow - WIP

Nocturnal Hideout Hollow – WIP

Also worked on a commission for a client in Sydney redoing a mosaic that I made back in 2008. It was good redoing this one as I was able to make it better. Experience does that 🙂

Sacred Compass Redux

Sacred Compass Redux

I also contributed to a small community project for a fellow mosaic artist, Caitlin Hughes, who lost everything in the bushfires up in the Blue Mountains. Marian Shapiro and Kim Hallam were the co conspirators and organised for a handful of us to create a 20x20cm piece to be included into a larger quilt style mosaic. We were asked to create a piece that contained a heart of any size and a blue border. This was all done on the sly and Caitlin was surprised with it one day before a class she was to teach I believe. My contribution that I named Bloom Where you are Planted (which has become a bit of a mantra for me):

Bloom here You Are Planted

Bloom here You Are Planted

And the finished mosaic quilt:

The Caitlin Project - Mosaic Heart Quilt

The Caitlin Project – Mosaic Heart Quilt

I also set up a GoFund me campaign to which you can still contribute! The wider community so far contributed 99% of the goal. I was rather taken aback to be perfectly honest. There are great people in this world and to be part of such a great mosaic community fills me with great joy! Thank you all!!!

I managed to get to the MAANZ symposium in August as well. It was great being able to catch up with some old friends, see their work and meet a few new people (one of whom is an artist I’ve long had a crush on, Carrie Reichardt).

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Last but not least, here is a snapshot of my 2014 schedule. Some new classes and a mural class!!! I’m even going to open up a Canberra Mosaic Tour. We have some fantastic mosaics in this town and I know where they all are!! Head over to my website to click on the name of the class you are interested in for a description.

February 22-23:           Intro to Mosaics
March 29-30:                 Exterior & garden mosaics
May 17:                               Photo transfers on tile
June 14-15:                      Glass on Glass mosaics: stained glass window mosaics
July 19-20:                       Intro to Mosaics
August 9:                          Magic Mushrooms
September 13:               Mosaic cutting techniques and design basics
October 11 – 18:           Going large: creating a mosaic mural
October 19:                      Canberra Mosaic Tour

There’s other super exciting news in the works too and I will definitely write about it all in 2014!

To those of you in my life who have made 2013 an EMPOWERING one (and I know you all know who you are), thank you. You’ve come into my life this year or have been around for a while.  2013 has been the year that I’ve finally realised (thanks to you) things about myself that I didn’t realise I possessed. Walking that path has been difficult post abusive marriage, I’m not lying, but 5 years later I’m stronger than I ever have been both physically and emotionally.

I can honestly look back on this year and be proud of what I’ve achieved both on a personal front and a professional one.

Peace, love and harmony for 2014.



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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Building, Canberra, Carol Shelkin, Classes, Community Projects, Female, Finished pieces, Kim Grant, Melbourne, Mosaic, Murals, My Home, My projects, Polymer Clay, Public Art, Round the World, Schools, Susan Crocenzi, Tempered Glass, Wall Hanging, Works in Progress

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

Government House Open Day

Government House Open Day and Art Exhibition

I’ll be exhibiting and selling some of my work at the Government House Open Day next Sunday March 1st. If you are in the area, stop on by. It should be a good day!

I’ll have alot of my “fine art” pieces on display, as well as selling smaller pieces. I also have a shipment of one of a kind polymer clay jewellery by esteemed Californina artist, Susan Crocenzi. Come along, peruse, be inspired and support a good cause (proceeds from the event support the Smith Family).

Hope to see you there!


Filed under Art, Artists, Australia, Canberra, Events, Exhibitions, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Polymer Clay, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi

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!


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

Crossroads – the arrival

Slow day at work today… Catching up on emails and organising a trip to the US when I get an email from Susan saying the mosaic arrived at my house!!! (We made a trade, remember?!). Thinking to myself how hilarious that she would know this before me, the realisation that it was here, actually here started to dawn on me. I immediately left work. I only had an hour to go – the post office was going to close and it would take me a good 30 minutes to get home, pick up the postie’s card and drive to the post office to get it.

So off I went. Weaving in and out of traffic trying to go as fast as I could (I drive a Volvo station wagon!!!). Getting more and more excited… I finally arrived and picked up this ha-uge box. It only just fit into the back of my car. Quick, get the boys. Quick pick up Molly… Get home, where’s the scissors? Dang this thing has been packed well… Liam was snapping away the whole time (thanks sweet-art). Me behaving like a manic.

It’s here. It’s gorgeous. I love it. Thank you Susan… It’s just perfect. Molly was mesmerised, the boys were impressed. Now I need to do it justice and find the right spot to hang it in.

Pictures say a thousand words (that I don’t have)

It's arrived!!!

{please don't cut through something I'm not supposed to!}

Getting closer...

This thing's HUGE!!!

The BIG Reveal

Opening it all up...

Ooh! Aah!

Crossroads by S. Crocenzi

Molly mesmerised by Crossroads...

Crossroads by S. Crocenzi

Crossroads, originally uploaded by sucra88


Filed under Art, Artists, Australia, Beads, Canberra, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Glass, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Polymer Clay, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi, Tempered Glass, Trades, Travel, Uncategorized, USA, Wall Hanging

Susan Crocenzi + New Website

Well I have just finished making a website for a Mosaic Artist/Flickr Friend, who was also featured in the Artist Watch Series – Susan Crocenzi. So fun to make and always get a good chuckle that we can be on other sides of the World and still make this happen (yes, I still am very enamoured by the internet and don’t take it for granted!!!).

I love her work so we’ve done a trade on this and I can’t waaaaiiiiiit to see what she has made me. All I do know is that it is a wall hanging. I did request round… I’m completely in love with her polymer clay tiles and she posted a WIP of the piece, aptly titled Crossroads. Here it is, aren’t the polymer clay tiles ammmmaaaazing!?

Crossroads WIP by Susan Crocenzi
WIP Crossroads originally uploaded by sucra88

Here’s what I did for her…  Check it out!!!


It kinda turned out a little similar to mine, but I’m still patting myself on the back 🙂 I don’t mind and I don’t think Susan minds… I think she’s happy! Are you happy Susan?!! lol 😉

Was a lot of fun to make. I’m no website design genius because I am self taught. This was the first mosaic site I made, other than my own. It was so great to see her pieces in this context, piecing it all together, making her already dramatic looking pieces, moreso!

Anyway, you all should go look at her website. Her work is gorgeous – did I say that already?!


Filed under Art, Artists, Australia, Events, Flickr, Kim Grant, Lifestyle, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Polymer Clay, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi, Trades, Uncategorized, USA, Website

Artist Watch: Susan Crocenzi

I’ve decided to start a series of other mosaic artists that inspire me. I thought I’d start with Susan Crocenzi, aka sucra88. I found her through Flickr (good ol’ flickr!!!) and instantly fell in love with what I saw. It was an extreme ooh & aah session (and a few laughing moments) going through her photostream. I really like what she does. It’s very different, I think, to what I’ve been seeing lately and also I look at it and DON’T think: “I could do that”, so of course it’s very inspiring! Plus, she’s really nice and very funny and very interesting!!!

Susan seems to work alot with tempered glass, something I havn’t yet quite got my head around. I’ve used it in Kashmir before, with an indian silk underneath but it just didn’t quite have the same effect.

Susan’s love and study of art began early. She won a haiku contest about bunnies in fourth grade and years later managed to have three art classes her senior year of high school.

After graduating from Chico State in 1987, she spent the next thirteen years teaching middle school English. Being a teacher was the most difficult, joyous and significant accomplishment of her life.

She left teaching in 2002 and has been immersed in mosaics ever since, often pondering how middle schoolers and tesserae (the little bits of material that make up mosaics) have a lot in common:

  • There are a lot of them scrunched into a very small space.
  • They’re lovely, each in his/her/its own way.
  • Tesserae don’t love you like kids do.
  • On the other hand, tesserae don’t follow you around the classroom, pulling at the hem of your shirt, begging repeatedly, “Ms. Cro, Ms. Cro! Will you read your bunny haiku again, Ms. Cro? The bunnies! Hey! Ms. Cro, will you read your haiku? It’s so funny! Huh? I can’t believe that thing won a prize, Ms. Cro. Please? Come on!”

Now she lives and creates in a (very quiet) cabin in the woods of the California Sierra Foothills. As a kayaker, hiker, and gardener, her work is most influenced by nature, as well as poetry, and others’ mosaics.

Susan has studied under several esteemed mosaic artists including Laurel True, Ellen Blakeley, Sonia King, and Jenny Iams-McGuire. She has studied the mosaics of many countries, including Turkey, Spain, and Mexico. She is a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, and Mosaic Artists Online.

Anyway, I think I’ll let her work speak for themselves…

Arcetri originally uploaded by sucra88 – I think this one, so far, is my all time favourite. I love this one!!!


Andrea originally uploaded by sucra88

Twilight on Mill Creek Lane
Twilight on Mill Creek originally uploaded by sucra88

Electric Kool-Aid
Electric Kool-Aid originally uploaded by sucra88

Shabby Chic/Victorian Yard Art Flower
Shabby Chic/Victorian Yard Art Flower originally uploaded by sucra88

originally uploaded by sucra88

And the artiste in question, sitting atop the stairway in Sunset Heights in San Francisco:

Susan being all inspired and thoughtful and happy and stuff
Susan being all inspired and thoughtful and happy and stuff originally uploaded by sucra88

Aren’t these stairs amazing?! They were made by Colette Crutcher & Aileen Barr a few years back now. Check out more pics in Susan’s staircase set.

I think Susan is an artist to watch! I’m looking forward to doing a swap with her soon! 🙂

If you are interested in purchasing any of her beautiful artworks, email her on sucra88 [at]



Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Garden Mosaics, Inspiration, Mosaic, Polymer Clay, Rant, Round the World, Susan Crocenzi, Tempered Glass, Uncategorized, USA, Wall Hanging