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International Colour Day

International Colour Day: Celebrating the Equinox in a New Way

International Colour Day
Light and Dark in Balance. Logo by Hosanna Yau.

 

Thanks to Instagram I discovered International Colour Day, which was created in by the AIC ~ International Colour Association.  I am still charmed by color spelled with a “u” since I grew up in Canada, and it took me awhile to unlearn the spelling when I moved to the United States.

The AIC chose the Spring Equinox to celebrate color because of the equal balance of light and dark, day and night.  Color draws me into the studio, and is the fuel for my art.  I watch how people respond to my work, how color can draw them like a magnet.  The blue-green people are particularly sensitive to those tones, lit up from within, as are the lovers of the spectrum of visible light.

Rainbow Panel Mosaic by Margaret Almon. Glass on wood, 4x18 inches.
Rainbow Panel Mosaic by Margaret Almon.

 

For my celebration, check out my Color Wheel Pinterest Board.

Happy Boxing Day: History Hidden in the Snow

 

Midas in a Box

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Canada. The 26th of December was the day of let-down after the fervor of Christmas, but I did like the sound of the phrase Boxing Day. The origin of the holiday was murky in my mind as a child, though I remember the part about British gentlefolk giving their servants the day off and boxes of gifts. Cats understand Boxing Day instinctively, and only require the box, with nothing but themselves in it.

I didn’t realize that the 26th is also the feast day of St. Stephen, who gave alms to the poor, and makes Boxing Day part of a much older tradition. I wonder about the history embedded in our lives that we do not notice, a deep well of unheard stories. The carol Good King Wenceslas is also connected to this day, and I never noticed that Christmas is not mentioned. My favorite lines:

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,

When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even

The rhythm in these words pleased me as a child, the emphasis for each of deep, crisp, even. That king Wenceslas was actually a Duke, retroactively named a King by Emperor Otto is another bit of history buried in the snow. The Good King sees a poor man out in the snow, and gives him food and fuel. Fr. James Martin talks of the version by The Roches, and the pause they take before the final line, “Ye who now shall bless the poor shall yourself find blessing.”

The word “alms” intrigued me because it reminds me of my last name, Almon. Alms comes in part from the Greek “eleemon” meaning compassionate.

For an unusual version of the carol, I found this one sung by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, illustrated by DC comics. Look for the shadow of Batman at the end. http://youtu.be/A47qu7deSyY

 

Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs

Green Tree of Grace and Widest River of Despair: Muriel Rukeyser on War

Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs
Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs based on a drawing by our client, glass, millefiori, gold smalti on slate, 10×14 inches.

 

 

Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser

We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.

The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children: 
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace.  Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world.  One life, or the faring stars.

See more at poets.org

Originally published by New Directions Press in 1949.

 

Remembrance Day in Canada in the 1970’s

R is For Muriel Rukeyser: To Reach Beyond Ourselves

River of Life Cross by Margaret Almon

Bright True Red: Image in Both Poetry and Mosaic

 

River of Life Cross by Margaret Almon
River of Life Cross by Margaret Almon. Glass, gold smalti, millefiori on slate, 6×8 inches.

Looking through my poems from another lifetime ago, I found Cherry Tree Sonnet, which would have slid easily into the 40 Below Anthology.  My poems often came to me in an image, and my mosaics spring from the same source.  H.D. and her Imagist poetry made wonderful sense to me.

Cherry Tree Sonnet

My mother made jam from Nanking cherries.

The tree was wedged in by the garage,

gasoline smell of this half-shelter which ferried

the car to rest and the warmth of wattage

coursing through the planked walls to run

the block heater, so the engine would start at 40 below.

My mother stood by the window, knowing the sun

through jam jars on our table could show

 

Jesus’ heart.  Mary bore him in the half-shelter of a stable—

I knew making Nanking jam was keeping

a tree that was rare, lone, delectable,

that these preserves woke a tongue that had been sleeping,

and took on its witness of bright true red,

first fruit growing out of my mouth, that birthing shed.

~ Margaret Almon

(reprinted courtesy of West Branch)

 

Commission a Mosaic Cross that speaks to your heart.

 

The 40 Below Anthology: Sharing Stories of Edmonton Winters

H is for HD: Poet Hilda Doolittle

My Snow Man March 8, 1975 in Edmonton, AB

The 40 Below Anthology: Sharing Stories of Edmonton Winters and my 1975 Snowman Captured on Film

 

My Snow Man March 8, 1975 in Edmonton, AB
My Snow Man March 7, 1975 in Edmonton, AB

 

My copy of 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology arrived this week.  I was excited to see my name in the table of contents and look forward to reading many accounts of Edmonton winters.  I took this photo of a snow man(as I referred to him) with my mother’s Brownie camera in 1975 when I was 8 years old.  I don’t remember the actual making of this snow man, but I remember the photo.  I built with snow sticky enough to mold the form, the kind you can roll a snowball on the ground into a a larger and larger sphere. I wonder what the buttons and eyes are made of.  The one arm looks suspiciously like a kitchen utensil, and the perhaps a doll’s toque on top, with a pompom.  His expression is stoic(perhaps he predicted his fate).   He stands near my favorite weeping birch tree with the white bark that I could peel off in scrolls and imagine writing novels on.

Snow Man Diary
Snow Man Diary

My third grade teacher had us write a journal, and I discovered this entry when going through my old papers in the attic.  Someone had knocked down my snow man.  I don’t remember that either.  I was comforting myself with the photo I had taken of it, and the possibility of rebuilding.  My teacher was concerned whether it would be warm enough.  On a whim, I looked up the weather for that date on the Government Canada climate website, and March 8th was about 14 degrees Fahrenheit.  March 7th was just at freezing and it snowed.   My teacher asked if I used water in my craft of snow man making, and I had an unequivocal no.  Perhaps my Texan parents didn’t have the technique to pass on to me.  I don’t know if I rebuilt, but looking at the data, I would say no.

Check out the 40 Below book trailer, with its own theme song.

 

 Through a Brownie Camera

Halloween and Rediscovering The Marvelous Land of Oz and General Jinjur and her Splendid Colors

General Jinjur from The Marvelous Land of Oz, John R. Neill illustrator
General Jinjur from The Marvelous Land of Oz, John R. Neill illustrator

 

Halloween put me in mind of my favorite pumpkin, Jack Pumpkinhead from The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by John R. Neill.  My father taught a University class of Children’s Literature, and the volumes from the reading list had a magic allure.   Flipping through my father’s annotated copy, the illustration of General Jinjur caught my eye.  The shades of blue-green, the yellow boots and General Jinjur’s splendid skirt.

Tip was so anxious to rejoin his man Jack and the Saw-Horse that he walked a full half the distance to the Emerald City without stopping to rest. Then he discovered that he was hungry and the crackers and cheese he had provided for the Journey had all been eaten.

While wondering what he should do in this emergency he came upon a girl sitting by the roadside. She wore a costume that struck the boy as being remarkably brilliant: her silken waist being of emerald green and her skirt of four distinct colors — blue in front, yellow at the left side, red at the back and purple at the right side. Fastening the waist in front were four buttons — the top one blue, the next yellow, a third red and the last purple.

The convergence of colors in the skirt reminds me of gradating color in my mosaics, and the scene of an entire army of girls converging on the Emerald City, with difference variations of the colors in their skirts.  They are an Army of Revolt, marching to overthrow the city, and Tip is baffled that they have no weapons, but then he realizes each girl has two long glittering knitting needles stuck in her hair. The Guardian of the Gate tells the girls to go home to their mothers to milk the cows and bake the bread, and queried, “Don’t you know it’s a dangerous thing to conquer a city?”  They took the knitting needles out of their buns,  and just enough jabbing to get the key away from the Guardian, and overthrow the city.

Dressing as General Jinjur would make a most excellent Halloween costume, and as a knitter, I would be ready to be in her army.  My memories of Halloween in Edmonton involve constructing costumes that could incorporate a winter coat.

W is for Wernersville, PA and the Jesuit Center, A to Z Challenge 2013

Hildreth Meiere Mosaic of Crucifixion in the Chapel at Wernersville Jesuit Spiritual Center.
Hildreth Meiere Mosaic of Crucifixion in the Chapel at Wernersville Jesuit Spiritual Center. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

 

W is for Wernersville, PA and the Jesuit Center.  When I was introduced to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises at the University of Scranton, little did I know that Stratoz be the one most touched by them.  My spiritual director, when I told her I was moving to Lansdale, had said “Wernersville.  That is where you need to go.”  I did, and was entranced by the art that is an integral part of the Jesuit Center, especially the mosaics by Hildreth Meiere in the chapel.

Stained Glass Window at Wernersville, from the floor of the hallway. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Stained Glass Window at Wernersville, from the floor of the hallway. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz was intrigued by the Jesuit Center’s silent retreats, and although he hadn’t done the Spiritual Exercises in Scranton, he went on a silent retreat and was refreshed, and has kept going over the years.  He has designed much artwork there.

Standing within a Tree at Wernersville. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Standing within a Tree at Wernersville. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

He is well acquainted with the trees.

Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersville, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersville, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

I discovered that my studio is my place of reflection, so I haven’t been to Wernersville in awhile, but I see the effect it has on Stratoz, and I remember how Hildreth Meiere’s mosaic sparked my love of mosaic, and it is close to my heart.

Wernersville Sunset
Wernersville Sunset. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The Spiritual Exercises are prayer and meditation with these characteristics according to IgnatianSpirituality.com:

These include a sense of collaboration with God’s action in the world, spiritual discernment in decision making, generosity of response to God’s invitation, fraternity and companionship in service, and a disposition to find God in all things. Spiritual integration is a prominent theme of the Exercises: integration of contemplation and action, prayer and service, and emotions and reason.

 

Stratoz on Wernersville

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

 

Making Chemistry Enticing with the Illustrations of Edward Youmans

Edward Youmans
Chemistry of Combustion and Illumination, Edward Youmans

I first saw these chemistry illustrations via Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings, How Chemistry Works: Gorgeous Vintage Science Diagrams, 1854, by Edward Youmans.  My mosaic eye was immediately drawn to the modular construction of the flame in Chemistry of Combusion and Illumination.

Isomerism, Edward Youmans.
Isomerism, Edward Youmans.

The quilt-like arrangements of Isomerism intrigued me as well.  And of course, the decomposition of light resonates with my love of color gradation.

Decomposition of Light, Edward Youmans.
Decomposition of Light, Edward Youmans.

Edward Livingston Youmans(1821-1887), went through many travails with his eyesight, and for many years, his sister Eliza Ann Youmans acted as his proxy in the chemistry lab, through her persistence in finding teachers who would take a woman student.  Edward was enchanted by science, though chemistry was a challenge because of difficulty of visualizing the processes, and as his sister relates in Popular Science Monthly(the magazine he founded with his brother):

When he reflected that chemistry was fast becoming a popular branch of education, and that, so far as its processes were concerned, the youths who were studying it might be classed, along with himself, as blind, their situation naturally interested him. Occupied with this subject, there one day arose in his mind a scheme for picturing atoms and their combinations that would bring the eye of the student into more effectual service. . . Atoms of the different elements were shown by diagrams of different colors, the relative sizes of which expressed their combining ratios, and the compounds exhibited the exact numbers of the respective atoms that unite to form them. . . He thought that chemistry could be made enticing as well as intelligible to learners who had not the help of experiments in its pursuit.

What a startling image of “bringing the eye of the student into more effectual service,” and the enticement of beautifully colored diagrams(as the subtitle of the book states.)  After Edward married in 1861, Eliza Ann Youmans went on to write several books on botany, including The First Book of Botany: Designed to Cultivate the Observing Powers of Children(1870).  Among other topics for Popular Science Monthly, she wrote about optics, Darwin, and lace making.

Chemical Atlas; or The Chemistry of Familiar Objects

Red-Tailed Rainbow by Margaret Almon.

Friday Five: What Makes You Smile?

I am playing the Friday Five at the RevGals.  This week’s question is What Makes You Smile?

Stratoz at the Rochester Jazz Festival
Stratoz at the Rochester Jazz Festival

 

1.  Listening to live jazz with Stratoz.

It’s coming up on 10 years since we started enjoying jazz music, and it has brought us many smiles, especially since the musicians are usually smiling themselves.

 

Bingham's Homemade Pies, Lenox, PA
Bingham’s Homemade Pies, Lenox, PA

 

2.  Pie.  From Bingham’s Homemade Pies(which is on the way to the Rochester Jazz Fest, fortunately) to Pie Night with our friends at the home of Good Food, Happy Man, pie makes me smile, especially when in good company.  I had my first black walnut tart this year.

 

Red-Tailed Rainbow by Margaret Almon.
Red-Tailed Rainbow by Margaret Almon.

3.  The Color Wheel.  As evidence of how much the transitions between colors makes me smile, check out my Color Wheel Pinterest Board.

 

The West Main Diner, Lansdale, PA
The West Main Diner, Lansdale, PA

 

4.  The West Main Diner.  Stratoz and I call this our World Headquarters for Nutmeg Designs.  The friendly service and good food is always worth a smile, and helps the business meetings run smoothly.

 

5.  The Grout Monster.  My friend Joanne, who delights in grouting, and helps me when there are too many mosaics to grout alone.

 

What makes you smile?

 

Related Posts:

Nutmeg Designs Mosaics and Icelandic Jazz of Sunna Gunnlaugs

Color Wheel Love

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Where is its home?

Today I am playing the RevGal Friday Five: Where is its home?

Tell us your favorite homes for five things, the places that you can always and reliably find them. 

The idea of items having “homes” has taken awhile for me to catch onto.  In my house, it seemed only special things had homes.  The Christmas decorations were in an odd closet that was positioned over the stairs, and only my younger sister was small enough and brave enough to climb onto the railing and launch herself up into the storage area.  My parents shared the spare bedroom as a sewing room for my mother and an office for my father to write poetry, and the sewing machine with all the sewing notions and fabric lived there, as did the typewriter and university letterhead.  When I left my home, I carried a sense that everything ordinary went in piles on whatever surfaces were available.

My first clear appreciation of homes for things came when I started making mosaics.  I have a whole room for my studio in our house, and I have a regenerative cycle where I fill up the drafting table with all the tools and dishes of glass for a project, and then as I finish a project, I take time to put things back home so I can start again.

1)My nippers and other tools reside in a wooden box by the drafting table.

Margaret Almon's Studio with a view to Wayne Stratz's Studio
Margaret Almon’s Studio with a view to Wayne Stratz’s Studio.  Photo by Allison Puketza of 4A Photography.

2)Then I put the containers of glass and tile back into my Tower of Tesserae.

My Tower of Tesserae
My Tower of Tesserae(aka Ikea closet organizer)

3)When my sister moved to South Africa, I was reunited with my dresser from childhood, and I store substrates from slate to olive wood crosses to picture frames in the drawers.

Dresser of Substrates
Dresser of Substrates

4)My intention is to put items that I need to grout on top of the dresser, but sometimes they expand to other surfaces if I’ve put off grouting a bit too long.

Ready to Grout
Ready to Grout

5)The really little pieces of glass go into tins organized by color.  The rogue bits end up in all parts of the house, hence our motto at Nutmeg Designs, “No Bare Feet.”

In the Studio with Bits of Glass
In the Studio with Bits of Glass

 

More Studio Photos:

Say Grout

Art Studio Portraits by Allison Puketza