One of my favorite materials is gold smalti: a chunk of glass plus a thin layer of gold and an even thinner layer of glass on top. This luscious dish of smalti was made by the Orsoni Factory in Italy, and I buy it by the ounce, even though I covet it by the ton. Someone asked me if this is the gold used in the ceiling of San Marco in Venice. I looked it up, and Orsoni has since its beginning in 1888, manufactured mosaics for the renovation of the Basilica. It supplied more than 1,000 ancient 24K gold plates that decorate the 8,000 square meters of the structure.
When I discovered dichroic glass and it was love at first sight! The name means “two colors” — layers of coating on the glass allows it to change hue depending the light. Originally created for the aerospace industry, fortunately it was recognized for its beauty and companies now sell it to artists. This new Moonflower Mandala Pendant shimmers between green and violet.
Our first collaboration with Suzi Beber was translating her Tree of Life drawing into glass mosaic, from Suzi’s series : “. . . one of a kind, and are only the size of a hockey trading card. Each represents a precious person or pet whose life has been touched by cancer. “Cancer Breaks” are miniature worlds done in pen and ink and are sacred spaces where hope is the medicine and love is the cure for cancer.”
Suzi wanted us to include the blue she loves, and for which her foundation The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund, is named, “Long live Blue Skies, where Hope is a kite, and dreams really do come true.”
Read more about Suzi’s support of the human-animal bond.
This bird is winging its way to Canada! A creative and compassionate client, Suzi Beber of Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund, commissioned us to create a mosaic interpretation of her drawing. This is from Suzi’s series of Cancer Breaks: “. . . one of a kind, and are only the size of a hockey trading card. Each represents a precious person or pet whose life has been touched by cancer. “Cancer Breaks” are miniature worlds done in pen and ink and are sacred spaces where hope is the medicine and love is the cure for cancer.”
Stratoz did the initial bird pieces and left spaces open for me to create texture and sparkle. HMB Studios beads and Italian millefiori beads helped capture the intricate details in Suzi’s work. It is an honor to be entrusted with someone’s creative expression, and an expansion of my own imagination.
Tree of Life Collaboration with Suzi Beber
As I get ready for our Third Annual Nutmeg Designs Open Studio and Food Drive for Manna, I am thankful for the generosity of our friends, fans and clients in bringing food donations. Last year visitors brought 450 pounds of food!
I have been in the studio putting generosity of color and sparkle into new pendants for the Open Studio. This trio started with some straight lines in the pendant on the right and moved into a bit of wonkiness with the middle and left ones. Quilters have “wonky blocks” with slant lines or askew.
Come join us for a generous dose of beauty!
April 22, 1993: Mosaic Browser Lights Up Web With Color, Creativity.
Quite a title from a Wired Article. I was a graduate student in Library Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when the NCSA(also at UIUC) Mosaic browser was added to the computer lab. I remember looking up chocolate, and a photo appearing of cacao pods, in color, inline on the same page. The links to other pages were in underlined in light blue. You could just click on them instead of typing things into the command line.
I didn’t understand how profoundly this would change my experience as a librarian. Web pages aspired to look like magazine or book pages and they eventually did. When I graduated, the Mosaic Browser was not yet everywhere. As a librarian, I was the mediator, the travel agent of information, because library patrons couldn’t get to all of it themselves. Slowly the browsers encompassed more and more of my job.
And in 2003, I discovered another form of Mosaic: the art form, while on a silent retreat at the Wernersville Jesuit Center, in the chapel with a mosaic mural designed by Hildreth Meière. As I learned to make mosaics, and started Nutmeg Designs in 2007, the Mosaic Browser had ceded to Google, and my librarian job ceded as well in 2010.
Mosaic is everywhere as a metaphor, as a name for companies, software, apps, training programs. Canada, where I grew up, favors the Cultural Mosaic metaphor vs the US Melting Pot metaphor. Stratoz teaches science and horticulture, so he knows about the mosaic virus causing a mottled pattern on plants. It can be frustrating to have a focus on mosaic art and wade through the 69 million results on Google, though I did come across Mosaic Records, restorer of jazz albums, which reminds me of the serendipity that comes with web browsing.
The Mosaic Records Jazz Gazette clued me into another anniversary this month, the 75th of the premiere of Duke Ellington’s Black Brown and Beige jazz symphony. Take a jazz break with Come Sunday from the 1958 recording with Mahalia Jackson, and then a coloring break with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications 30th Anniversary Coloring Book.
My #oneword for 2018 is Tend: to pay attention, direct energies, to stretch toward my life and take care of the things that matter. Stratoz kindly colored the background orange for me. I have it in my studio where I can see it every time I walk by.
Choosing a word as a touchstone for the year began for me in 2016, when someone commissioned Nutmeg Designs to make a mosaic sign of the word Create because it was her word of the year. I realized this was a word that inspired me as well, because when I am creating, rather than consuming, I am rejuvenated.
The word I chose for 2017 was Up. I had made a sign with that particular word because of my experience with Alexander Technique lessons and the concept of feet rooted on the ground, and the head up, as if with the help of invisible threads. I also was inspired by all the aspects of up: Show up. Speak up. Stand up. Rest up. Get up.
What is your word of 2018? Why did you choose it?
Nutmeg Designs will be back in Lancaster for the first time since 2009, when we did the previous incarnation of the Pennsylvania Guild November fine craft show. The Artisan Fair, November 11th & 12th 2017, picks up the tradition via the Lancaster Designer Craftsmen, and the sheer beauty of the craft represented will make it a delight to visit and shop.
The show is an expo of American-made fine craft and fine art featuring over 100 local and national fine artists and craftspeople, who make functional pottery, handmade jewelry, designer clothing, glass art, woodworking, and more. We will be in booth #153 with mosaics and stained glass. Please stop by!
Spooky Nook Complex in Manheim is a state-of-the-art facility boasting easy road access off route 283.
Admission $5.00/Free Parking
For your GPS or other electronic map software use address:
Manheim, PA 17545
Nutmeg Designs Booth 153
Fashion Designer/Fiber Artist Denise Shardlow has invited Nutmeg Designs to be the feature artist at her Open Studio in Elkins Park. I will be there with mosaic pendants and a selection of other mosaics, and suncatchers by Stratoz. Her studio is an immersion in color with poppy red walls and anyone with an earthy orange living room is a Color Soul Sister! Denise has been busy making capes in a rainbow of colors out of scraps of melton wool.
Mark your calendars for Friday Evening August 18th, 2017 from 5:30-9:00. There will be wine from ONE Hope Wine with samples of their wines and a mission to benefit charities.
310 Sterling Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027
See Denise’s ERNSTdottir site for directions.