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Word for 2018: Tend

Word of 2018: Tend
Word of 2018: Tend

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.

Nutmeg Designs Create Sign in Mosaic
Word of the Year 2016: Create, by Nutmeg Designs. Glass on slate, 12×6 inches.

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.

Up in Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs
Up in Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs, glass on slate, 8×8 inches.

What is your word of 2018? Why did you choose it?

Wear the Rainbow: From Capes to Pendants at Denise Shardlow’s Open Studio on August 18th, 2017

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.

Purple Cape from Denise Shardlow
Purple Cape in Melton Wool from Denise Shardlow

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.

Open Studio Facebook Page

Margaret’s Fundraiser for her 50th: The Stained Glass Project for Philadelphia High School Students

Stained Glass Project
Fundraiser for The Stained Glass Project: Windows that Open Doors in Philadelphia.


Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. (Howard Thurman)

On July 29th, 2017, I celebrate my 50th birthday.


To mark this occasion, I want to raise $1000 for The Stained Glass Project(SGP) in the month of July.


Making glass art transformed my life, and I want to pass that gift of transformation onward.


Artmaking has enlivened me, as has the sustaining love people have shown me in my life.


The Stained Glass Project is a manifestation of other artists, Paula Mandel and Joan Myerson Shrager, who took the enlivening power of art and the power of love in action, and started this extraordinary program in 2007 for Philadelphia public high school students to make stained glass and gift it to schools around the world.


In an overcrowded room, teens, many who never took an art class, create serious minded artwork, often for the first time. Students are surprised by their own creativity. In many cases it is their first experience allowing independent decision-making and self-expression through art. . .Each semester there is an amazing collaboration between volunteer adult mentors, who devote about three hours every week, and the teen stained glass artists. This time is often the only one where students can have a sustained one-to-one relationship with an adult. The SGP is a diverse group of Muslims, Christians, Jews, old, young, varying economic backgrounds, artists, designers and students working with sharp-edged glass, blue-flamed torches and protective goggles to create original stained glass artwork that becomes a part of the lives of children throughout the United States and the world. This SGP cultural community that has developed has been life changing for all. (The Stained Glass Project FB page)

Over the next weeks, I will be sharing stories and work from the Stained Glass Project on my GoFundMe page. You can make a difference by donating $5.00 or more by July 31st, 2017.


The words of Howard Thurman circulate throughout inspirational quote pages, and looking for the source, I discovered it is from the introduction of a 1995 book by theologian Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads. Bailie was interviewing seeking the advice of Howard Thurman and talking to him at some length about what needed to be done in the world, and Thurman interrupted him with, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have alive.”

Thank you to Unitarian minister Chip Roush sharing the source, and the important context of this quote. Dr. Howard Thurman was an African-American mystic and theologian, spiritual advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, and co-founder in 1944,  of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, the nation’s first intentionally interracial, interdenominational church.


Read about how I first stumbled across a display of work by students from the SGP in 2010 when I missed my train and walked to Love Park, and found an exhibit of their stained glass windows at the Welcome Center. The windows were for a school in South Africa.

The Shared World: Naomi Shihab Nye and Tasting Inclusion

Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye
Excerpt from Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye from her book Honeybee.

Getting ready for our Nutmeg Designs 2017 Open Studio and Food Drive for Manna on Main Street, I thought of this poem, Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Nye tells the story of being at the airport and hearing an announcement asking if anyone spoke Arabic, and she goes to Gate A-4 where a woman in Palestinian dress is crumpled on the floor. Nye talks with her, and we are all transported to the shared sacrament of mamool cookies that the woman pulls from her bag.

Our show is an occasion to bring food for Manna on Main Street, which began with the vision, “That everyone one might be fed,” for those simply in need of a good meal and company. Our visitors brought an estimated 450 food items, and heartened me with their generosity.

Take a minute to listen to Naomi Shihab Nye read the whole poem. It is wonderful. This is the world I want to live in, the one where hearts open rather than break.


Margaret Taylor Burroughs(1915-2010): Printmaker and Community Maker

Margaret Burroughs Portrait in Mosaic by Thomas Hill via Sumi-I on Flickr
Margaret Burroughs Portrait in Mosaic by Thomas Hill via Sumi-l on Flickr

Margaret Taylor Burroughs(1915-2010), was a founder of  the DuSable Museum of African American History, as well as the South Side Community Arts Center(SSCA) in Chicago when only 23 years old.  There were no galleries in  downtown Chicago for African-Americans to exhibit their art, or gather together in the 1930’s. With the New Deal, Roosevelt’s WPA Arts Project provided funding to open the SSCA. In an echo of 2017, Burroughs writes:

As we progressed further into 1943, it became more and more evident that the art center would no longer receive WPA funds to pay for its salaries or operations. Reactionary congressmen wiped out all of the social and culture programs. Efforts were made to build a membership which would contribute annually to the center’s support. Pauline Kigh Reed organized a committee of 100 women to help to raise funds.(Chicago’s South Side Arts Center: A Personal Recollection)

Burroughs was a printmaker, and one of her color prints caught my eye.

Margaret Burroughs, Spirals
Margaret Burroughs (American, 1917-2010)
Spirals, 1985
Koehnline Museum of Art
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Harlan J. Berk, 2013.55

Her black and white linocuts have the bold power of contrast, and in Sleeping Boy, I see an echo of a spiral as well.

Sleeping Boy by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs (American, 1917- 2010)
Sleeping Boy, 1990s
Koehnline Museum of Art.
Gift of Dr. Margaret Burroughs, 2008.15

In the serendipity that comes with researching Margarets for Margaret Mondays, I discovered a mosaic portrait of Burroughs by Thomas Miller(1920-2012), graphic designer and visual artist. The DuSable Museum commissioned Miller to do portraits of the founders, in a unique style:

The founders’ murals are Miller’s magnum opus, and beautifully demonstrate the creativity that is typical of his work. Unlike traditional mosaic that is made with earthenware or glass tile, these are made from thousands of pieces of plastic that were harvested from plastic egg crate light diffusers which were then individually colored and arranged to create the images in the series. “Anybody can do an oil painting,” he said during an interview, “but to take a face and do it with squares is hard. They have to be turned at an angle to catch the light”. (Interview with Lauren Fitzpatrick)

He was fascinated by art from a young age, and read all he could at libraries. After serving in the Army in WWII, he enrolled in a Commercial Art Program at the Ray Vogue School of Art in Chicago. Finding a graphic design firm that would hire an African-American was hard. One agency said they would offer him a job if he worked behind a screen. He declined the offer. Morton Goldsholl hired him the 1950’s, and he went on to do the logo rebrand of 7 Up in 1975.  Check it out. I like how it resembles a mosaic.


You are required to make something beautiful: A Conversation with Shawna Lemay

Luminous Beauty by Nutmeg Designs
Luminous Beauty by Nutmeg Designs. Glass and Mother of Pearl on wood, 12×6 inches. $215.

Author Shawna Lemay invited me into conversation about beauty on her blog Transactions With Beauty. I was curious where the title Transactions with Beauty originated, and then I read the quote on Shawna’s About page. The phrase comes from Rumi, the 13th Century Muslim poet from Persia.

I feel an affinity for Shawna. She is from my hometown of Edmonton, AB, a poet, art lover and photographer, and in search of beauty. You are required to make something beautiful.

I repeat, you are required to make something beautiful. Even if it’s a single line in your diary, a photograph, a row of knitting, or an arrangement of flowers on the windowsill. Clarice Lispector writes in her book, A Breath of Life, “Sometimes writing a single line is enough to save your own heart.” And what’s interesting is that reading her line has the same effect, as in, it has the power to save the reader’s heart, to save mine. For who can read what is so simple and true without feeling as though one’s own heart has been saved? (Shawna Lemay)

I started the conversation with Shawna’s questions, finding what I had written about beauty on my blog to have something on the page rather than the uncertainty of where to begin. I discovered that seeking beauty is a thread throughout my writing. As I continued to consider Shawna’s questions, I slowly eased out the copied text and into my answers. Beauty is not always immediately apparent. Sometimes it is revealed bit by bit.

Read the interview here: Margaret Almon – A Mosaic is a Conversation.

Luminous Beauty on Etsy for purchase

5 Women Artists Friday: Halstead, Marks, Reynal, Tuwaletstiwa, and Meière

Sun Trees by Suzanne Halstead and Margaret Almon
Sun Trees, oil pastel by Suzanne Halstead and glass mosaic frame by Margaret Almon


Part 3 of 5 Women Artists to Discover:

  1. Suzanne Halstead, Interview Part 1 and Part 2.  One of the first people to encourage me in making art. She introduced me to drawing mandalas, and playing with materials, and colors. I love her Sun Trees oil pastel above, and have it in my studio.

2. A Margaret of Many Names: Grete Marks(1899-1990) Labeled degenerate by the Nazi’s because she was Jewish, and forced to give up her pottery factory in 1934 Germany, and fled to England where she continued to create ceramics that still look futuristic.

3. Jeanne Reynal(1903-1983): Abstract Expressionist Mosaic Artist.

ruah. to spit. by Judy Tuwaletsiwa
ruah. to spit. by Judy Tuwaletsiwa(American, b.1941), fused glass, pigment, kaolin, canvas, adhesive. Corning Museum of Glass. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

4. Judy Tuwaletstiwa(1941-): Weaver, Painter and Glass Artist. Check out her exercise for thinking with your hands.

Hildreth Meiere Smalti
Hildreth Meiere Smalt sample boardi. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

5. Hildreth Meière(1892-1961): The Mosaic Artist who inspired me to make mosaics.

5 Women Artists Friday: Polony-Mountain, Honda, Tafoya, af Klint, and Driscoll

Music(1961) by Gabriela Polony-Mountain, Regina Quick Center for the Arts. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Music(1961) by Gabriela Polony-Mountain, Regina Quick Center for the Arts. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Who are your favorite women artists?  The National Museum of Women in the Arts is doing their challenge for March, Can You Name Five Women Artists?  In the second in my series, here are 5 more for you to enjoy:

1. Gabriella Polony-Mountain(1918-) Mosaic Artist and Renaissance Woman.  Her mosaic Music is pictured above.

Margaret Honda, Film (Künstlerhaus Bremen) | 2016 | © Künstlerhaus Bremen
Margaret Honda: An Answer to Sculptures, Film (Künstlerhaus Bremen) | 2016 | © Künstlerhaus Bremen

2. Margaret Honda(1961-) Color Shifting Art

Margaret Tafoya
Margaret Tafoya from Pottery by American Indian Women by Susan Peterson.

3. Margaret Tafoya(1904-2001) Clothing Her Children with Clay. Tewa potter from New Mexico.

Hilma af Klint: Group IX/UW, No. 25, The Dove, No. 1, 1915, 151 × 114.5 cm, Oil on canvas. Foto: Henrik Grundsted. Courtesy: Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk.
Hilma af Klint: Group IX/UW, No. 25, The Dove, No. 1, 1915, 151 × 114.5 cm, Oil on canvas. Foto: Henrik Grundsted. Courtesy: Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk.

4. Hilma af Klint(1862-1944) Swedish Spiritual Art with Rainbows. She was the first woman allowed to go to art school in Sweden.

5. Clara Driscoll(1861-1944) Designer of many of Tiffany’s Lamps

Spring into Color: Holi Festival

The Holi Festival by onthegotours
The Holi Festival by onthegotours via Flickr

Color has its own festival in India, Holi, celebrated by Hindus as the end of winter, the triumph of good over evil.  One of my favorite people on Instagram is Bhavna from Just a Girl from Aamchi Mumbai.  She writes the exuberance of throwing color at aunts and uncles and other children of the neighborhood, and how wanting some of that where she lives now in Australia.  Go check out her blog for the recipe for pannacotta with raspberry sauce and garnished with flowers that she made to satisfy her desire for color amongst the gray days.

Dyeing eggs was a Spring tradition I loved as a girl, though it hardly felt like Spring, the bright colors in contrast to the lingering winter of my Canadian home.  My mother filled mugs with hot water and white vinegar and drops of food coloring.  My sister and I would dip the eggs balanced on spoons, and I was mesmerized by dipping an egg into yellow and then into red and coming out orange. I remember taking some sort of intelligence test in school, and one of the questions was how to know if an egg was rotten.  I knew the answer because of watching a dozen eggs boiling for Easter, and my mother scooping out the one that floated.  I was happy I knew the answer but the strangeness of this being on the test stayed with me.  What if I hadn’t been there to watch the boiling eggs?

5 Women Artists Friday: Hicks, Bailly, Carr, Mirkil and Osborne

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is doing their name #5womenartists challenge for 2017. For Women’s History Month, here is my first installment of 5.

  1. Sheila Hicks(1934-), American: Fabulous Fiber Art
Sheila Hicks Silk Rainforest
Silk Rainforest by Sheila Hicks at Renwick Museum, Washington, DC. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

2. Alice Bailly(1872-1938), Swiss: Bold Painter

Alice Bailly Self Portrait
Alice Bailly Self-Portrait 1917. Photo by Wayne Stratz. National Museum of Women in the Arts.

3. Emily Carr(1871-1945), Canadian: From the Forest

Emily Carr House Posts
Emily Carr, House Posts, Tsatsinuchomi, B.C., 1912
watercolour and graphite on paper
55.4 cm x 76.6 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Purchased 1928

4. Helen Mirkil, American: Philadelphia Painter of Ecstatic Landscape

Erosion. Helen Mirkil.
Erosion. Helen Mirkil.

5.  Elizabeth Osborne, American: Philadelphia Painter of Veils of Color

Elizabeth Osborne Detail of Equinox II
Equinox II by Elizabeth Osborne, James Michener Museum of Art. Photo by Wayne Stratz.