Category Archives: Melbourne

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.

Sustainability

Sustainability

History

History

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.

xx

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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

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

Celestial Horizon – a mosaic floor installation

I’ve just returned from a fantastic trip to Melbourne, visiting my sis and her new baby. A little while ago, my plan was to make a mosaic for her on a deck that her hubby built. Time passed and I never got around to doing it… As it was the first trip down there in 2 years for me, I decided what the heck, might aswell just do it! Now or never… So I grabbed some mesh, some tools and some tile the night before and had a great holiday, just me and the kids 🙂

I managed to get the entire installation done in about 3 days… if you add up all the hours spent. The mosaic feature itself took 5 days, working on it at nights and then the installation took another day, then one more grouting. So all in all I was a Mo-machine! I deviated slightly from my more usual anal self – smashed the tile as opposed to cutting it, though some of it was cut. We went to the hardware store for some extra colours and anything else I didn’t bring and I set about getting it done.

I was very pleased with it, given the time pressure. Stayed on for one more day just to get the grouting done because we had a lazy day on Monday… took the kids to watch a movie, I went shopping at IKEA – again, lol!

Anyway, the idea to make a feature surrounded with tile that they already had, was made some time ago. I liked the idea of a circle. We decided on the extra swirl off of the main circle at the time. I wanted it to have a bit of a retro feel too. I don’t know if I necessarily achieved it, but am certainly happy with the outcome nonetheless. This has been another project where it just took on a life of its own. I really like working like this and actually work better… It always ends up much more interesting. My sis is also an incredible artist, so I was trying to prod her out of breastfeeding stares and get her to give me some of her ideas too, something that she’d like to see every morning… 😉 We mothers all know how much mothering is artistically draining…

The deck itself was made from cement sheeting with a waterproofing membrane rolled on. All I had to do was clean it. The pre-existing tile was charcoal and I think were some kind of roofing tile. 8mm thick, so quite thick and some kind of textured, unglazed ceramic. I think I am swearing off that stuff. I hate grouting it and every time I have used it, I’m always swearing at it! Vinegar to the rescue once again… The grout haze on that stuff is awful!

Anyway, because the tile was so thick I had to lay a fairly thick adhesive bed down for the mosaic feature. Also had to pop off all the glass gems so they wouldn’t get lost once grouted and so that you couldn’t see the mesh underneath. Not very attractive! This project is my first mesh project and actually my first intentional at least mosaic floor installation. The mesh is a great way to work! Will do lots more with it in the future. Goodness knows I have a whole heap because I bought a whole roll of it last year. The stuff is soooo much more expensive in Australia. Yes, I’m whingeing about the large cost differences between the exact same materials that are available in places like the US. Since everyone kept telling me when the Aussie dollar was not so crash hot that it was due to the currency conversion, now that the US dollar has taken a serious nosedive (thankyou Mr Bush) I wonder why it is that everything here still remains to be inexhaustibly dear!? I believe it’s due to 3 party mongering… Anyway, I found a supplier in Sydney who gave me a good deal and she’s lovely to boot!!!

Back to the mosaic… So yes, stayed down there for just under 2 weeks and manged to get the mosaic completely finished by the 9th day. I think I’ve worked on picture frames that took me longer than that!!! lol…

As for the name for some reason “H” kept throwing itself at me. Horizon it was since there are many definitions of the word that I liked, in particular “the limit of a person’s mental perception“.

If you’re interested in seeing more WIP pics, then please check out my Flickr site.

Day 1
In the beginning, I just drew a very vague pic. You can see that by the end of it, it changed a fair bit.

Day 2

Adding the main swirl vine because I am such a Swirl Ho after all 🙂Day 5
Ready for installation!

Tiles for the background
Dirty tile for the background. This was a redback spider farm!!!

Before...
Before…

Celestial Horizon Done #1
And after!!!! Yay 🙂 I’m happy because my Sis and her Hubby are happy with it. It’s always nice to give that to someone else. They’ve still got a lot of work to do on their home, and they’ve already done sooooo much – seriously it’s unbelievable. They’re also doing it all themselves and live on a really steep incline. So my hat goes off to them both for getting it all done while also having a family. It’s no easy quest.

Celestial Horizon

The entire deck measures 1.85m x 3.65m or 6′ x 12′.

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Building, Design Concepts, Finished pieces, Flickr, Floor, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kim Grant, Melbourne, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Ornamental, Retro, Round the World, Travel, Uncategorized, Works in Progress