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New Day Mandala by Nutmeg Designs

New Day Mandala and the Grace of the Sunrise

New Day Mandala (Early Bird and the Night Owl) by Nutmeg Designs
New Day Mandala(Early Bird and the Night Owl) by Nutmeg Designs. Glass on wood, 10 inches, $258.


I love how Stratoz describes our collaboration on this New Day Mandala(Early Bird and the Night Owl):

Orange and Blue are opposites that complement each other in this mandala to greet a new day. As refreshing as a night of rest this glass mosaic is a circle of hope for being renewed with the rising sun. Designed and started by a blue early bird and detailed by an orange night owl. . . “I like the sunrise ’cause it brings a new day, I like a new day, it brings new hope …”(Duke Ellington/Mitchell Parish)  A sign that announces to the world that gravity will not weigh you down, hope is perched on your soul.

I am not a morning person, but the sunrise brings this Kurt Elling version of the jazz standard into my head and heart. Elling interweaves a Rumi poem in Mitchell Parish’s lyrics.  Take a moment to read the poem and listen to this beautiful tune.

“Where Everything Is Music” (trans. Coleman Barks)

“Don’t worry about saving this music / or be scared
if the singing ends
or the piano breaks a string / for we have fallen to a place
where everything is music and singing /
everything is recovered and new / ever new and musical
and even if the whole world’s harp should burn up /
there would still be hidden there
the spirit of song there to linger on /
and even if a candle’s blown out by wind
the fire smolders on in an ember and then sparks again /
the singing is a drop / just a drop in oceans of seas /
grace keeps it moving through bodies like these

and the sound of a life sends an echoing out /
the poem sings willingly in each newborn’s crying shout /
but it’s growing slowly / and keeps many secrets /
stop the words and listen / feel the echo of it starting /
open a space in the center of your beating heart
and let spirits fly in and out . . .”


C is for Collaboration in the Studio at Nutmeg Designs

One Design, Two Paths(Green and Orange) ©Nutmeg Designs
One Design, Two Paths(Green and Orange) ©Nutmeg Designs

My A to Z Challenge is starting with C, but it’s a fine start since Stratoz and I are working on even more collaborating!  We’ve wanted to improvise off of each other, being we love jazz, but are not equipped to actually play it.  Taking riffs on each other’s art is much more our skill set, and this particular piece is based on a Stratoz drawing, where the curving long grout lines are his, as are the orange stained glass pieces, and then I took over and felt inspired to add dichroic glass in shimmery orange-green, green stained glass, blue gold and chartruese gold smalti.

Creative Couple: Joy of Collaboration in the Art Studios of Nutmeg Designs

Stratoz with Stained Glass and Sunflower. Photo by Margaret Almon.
Stratoz with Stained Glass and Sunflower. Photo by Margaret Almon.

It was Stratoz’s birthday, and he asked me to take a photo of him in our front yard, by the brand new Sunflower, holding a sheet of glass destined for a lizard stepping stone for Snowcatcher.  Gardens and glass are two of Stratoz’s favorite things, so this is an apt portrait, and also the final one in his Flickr Project 365, which he started the previous year on his birthday.  The year has been one of growing creativity and more collaboration in our art, with our mosaic house numbers(observe the glimpse of “45” through the porch), and the Fruit of the Spirit commission.

When we met in 1986, Stratoz was already drawing intricate doodles with colored pencils, but starting Nutmeg Designs, and making art that expresses our spirit and brings joy was not what we predicted.  We have both evolved into our “two-studio-one-bedroom-rowhouse” and my heart is happy that we were blessed to celebrate another birthday weekend(my birthday was July 29th, and July 30th is celebrated by annexation.)

Are you part of a creative couple?  Tell me about someone who supports you, inspires you, and is creative with you.  Creativity is not limited to art.  It informs all joyful things.



Lizard by Stratoz, waiting for the earthtone glass
Lizard by Stratoz, waiting for the earthtone glass
Sunflower Mandala Mosaic by Margaret Almon
Sunflower Mandala Mosaic by Margaret Almon