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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 . . .”

 

The Nutmeg Designs YouTube Channel: Mosaics and Stained Glass in Motion

In our partnership of marriage and craft, it is good that one of us has some geek talent, and that Stratoz puts it to such good use.  Over Memorial Day weekend he took on iMovie and made 4 videos about our art, and created the Nutmeg Designs YouTube Channel.  I admire Stratoz’s ability to learn by doing, to fully immerse himself in the process.  He’s already thinking in video, imagining what would be brought to life with motion, sound, and jazz.  My friend the “Grout Monster“, Joanne Leva, came over for a grout session, and here are the results of Stratoz’s handiwork(as well as Joanne’s and my hands!)

The latest Nutmeg Designs Production is a cool stop-motion-like chronicle of one of Stratoz’s mosaics. Yes, he mosaics. He is multi-talented! At first, I felt a twinge of protectiveness of my identity as the Mosaic Artist, but it’s fascinating to watch people at craft shows, as they hone in on the ones he’s made, and say that they are definitely made by someone else. His style is all his own, and I love how they incarnate his doodling designs. I do get covetous of his ease of grouting, with the sleek surfaces and larger pieces! Check out his Kurt Elling Sings Joe Jackson as a Mandala Comes into Being:

Learning by Going Where I Have to Go: The Slow Process of Getting Going

Tower of Mosaic Books
Tower of Mosaic Books.

In 2005, I spent some time with Master Career counselor Damona Sain, as I was feeling restless in my librarian world.  Every inventory I took said art, art, art, and librarian was not coming up, and in fact may have been on the “make me loopy” list.  I was making collages at my dining room table, and loving the world of color and pattern, but I assumed that I wasn’t an “artist”.  But I started listening to the voice that said “you can make art,” and when I discovered mosaic, I knew this was my medium.  The challenge was the kernel of truth in my librarian self, my attraction to research.  I read 20+ books on making mosaics.  The photo of the tower of books only represents books I own, not the ones I checked out of the library!

I read until I thought I would burst if I didn’t make a mosaic soon, but I was still in a holding pattern, wondering if I should read one more book.  This limbo was an uncomfortable place, as I searched for everything on “doing” but remained in my head.  Making the leap was the scariest part, but once I landed, I was on holy ground, feeling truly like myself.  I loved the poem The Waking by Theodore Roethke when I was in high school, which captures the paradox of learning by going where we have to go:

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Aptly, my first step was making pebble mosaic stepping stones, for the house Stratoz and I had just bought.  I was in heaven, sorting pebbles, seeing the subtle gradations of color.

 

Pebble Mosaic in Progress
Pebble Mosaic in Progress. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Pebble Mosaic Stepping Stones by Margaret Almon
Pebble Mosaic Stepping Stones by Margaret Almon.
Big Pebble Spiral Stepping Stone by Margaret Almon.
Big Pebble Spiral Stepping Stone by Margaret Almon.

What was a first step that you took toward learning by going where I have to go?

 

I’ll leave you with Kurt Elling’s lovely jazz interpretation of Roethke’s poem.