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Sunflower Mandala by Margaret Almon

Sunflower Love and Mosaic Mandalas

Sunflower Mandala by Margaret Almon
Sunflower Mandala by Margaret Almon, glass, dichroic and smalti on slate, 5″

I planted a sunflower seed when I was 8 years old, along the side of our house.  I was enchanted that the black and white streaked shell could be opened like a gate by the green sprout within.  My father went on a sabbatical when the sunflower was still shorter than me, and we moved to Texas for the year.  I came across letters from Mrs. Firth, our next door neighbor.  I was worried about my sunflower, and had written to her, and she reassured me that it was fine. The growing plant is a wonder.

One evening I went with Stratoz when he needed to water his school garden, and there was a sunflower taller than he was.  I took some pictures of it in full stature.

Stratoz and the Giant Sunflower. Photo by Margaret Almon.
Stratoz and the Giant Sunflower. Photo by Margaret Almon.

One of the first mandalas I ever made in mosaic was a sunflower, and to discover there were orange ones was a bonus.  I return to sunflowers again, and admire their beautiful faces.

Sunflower Mandala in Nutmeg Designs Etsy Shop

More Orange Goodness at my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.

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

Remembrance Day in Canada in the 1970’s: Poppies and Neil Young

Red Blanket Flower Mandala by Margaret Almon
Red Blanket Flower Mandala by Margaret Almon, glass mosaic on wood, 8 inches.

Growing up in Canada, November 11th was Remembrance Day, and we would have assembly in school, with a moment of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve their country during times of war, conflict and peace.   Growing up in the 1970’s made for some unusual assemblies.   I remember both being chosen to recite John McCrae’s In Flanders’ Fields.  McCrae was as a physician in WWI and wrote this poem about the red poppies that sprang up in the many fields in Flanders where soldiers were buried.  For a moving reimagining of these fields, read Maureen Doallas’s poem What Girls in a Poppy Field Know, from her blog Writing Without Paper.

«In Flanders' Fields» - published & illustrated in 1918 via stoixeia on Flickr.
«In Flanders’ Fields» – published & illustrated in 1918, written by John McCrae via stoixeia on Flickr.

I also remember my grade 5 class sang Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush at assembly in 1977.  We practiced for several weeks in the music room, which was a series of carpet covered steps, auditorium style, no chairs or desks, descending the lowest level, where the piano and our teacher would stand.  We learned the song from listening to a recording of Neil Young, and I picked up on the mournful nature of the lyrics, especially this stanza:

I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky.
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high.
I was thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
Thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.

I don’t recall what my teacher said about why we were singing this song on Remembrance Day, but looking back, the image of being in a burned out basement, and hoping for a replacement seems apt for evoking the desolation of war.  I didn’t literally know what it meant to “get high”, but I understood the longing timbre in Young’s voice.  I remembered this assembly when hearing Neil Young interviewed on Fresh Air about his new album Americana, and how American folk songs and protest songs ended up in schools cleaned up and deprived of some of their power.  Young is Canadian, but drawn to these American tunes.  I wonder what he’d think of one his songs in a school assembly.

Here’s a great version by Thom Yorke of Radiohead:

Galaxy Art Show and Sale 2012: Benefit for NOVA of Bucks County, October 25-28, 2012

Blue Path Spiral Mandala by Margaret Almon.
Blue Path Spiral Mandala by Margaret Almon.


For the first time I will be participating in the Galaxy 2012 Art Show and Sale to benefit the Network of Victim Assistance(NOVA), Bucks County.  A portion of the proceeds goes to the important work NOVA, which supports, counsels and empowers victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes in Bucks County and works to prevent and eliminate violence in society through advocacy, training, community education and prevention programs.

The Blue Path Spiral Mandala is one of the works I am including in the show, and resonates the vision of NOVA of a society free of violence, one that empowers individuals and promotes respect for the privacy, diversity and dignity of all people.  May we all find the blue path that spirals into our hearts and brings us peace.

Galaxy 2012 – 19th Annual Art Show and Sale to Benefit Network of Victim Assistance

 Thurs. Oct. 25 through Sun. Oct. 28

VIP Preview Party: Thurs. Oct. 25 – 5:00 to 8:00 pm, ticket needed – $35 per person

Fri. Oct. 26 – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sat. Oct. 27 – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sun. Oct. 28 -10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Place: Bucks County Courthouse 3rd floor Rotunda, 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901

Special Jazz Event on Sunday October 28th:

Jazz and Mimosas featuring the Delaware Valley Saxophone Quartet
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.



Bringing Beauty to Life: A Sunporch of Mandalas

Nutmeg Designs Art for a Client's Sunporch
Nutmeg Designs Art for a Client’s Sunporch

1. Rainbow in Bloom Mandala by Margaret Almon, 2. Crab Nebula Mandala by Wayne Stratz, 3. Red Orange Flower Mandala by Margaret Almon, 4. Red Tailed Rainbow Mandala by Margaret Almon, 5. Doodling with Scraps of Faithfulness by Wayne Stratz, 6. Helix Nebula Mandala by Margaret Almon, 7. Rainbow Starflower by Nutmeg Designs, 8. Shore Spiral by Margaret Almon, 9. Wernersville Wave Mandala by Wayne Stratz

In Spring of 2011, Stratoz thought we sold four mandalas, but it turned out the client wanted to hang them outside, and the ones she selected were not weatherproof, so she asked if we could make other ones for her that would be safe outdoors.  In the Fall of 2012, we received an order for four more mandalas, and querying the client, discovered they were also for the bluestone wall along her sunporch, and made her another twin set.  She told us our work brings beauty into her life, and we are more than glad to be able to do that.  Stratoz’s suncatcher made it into the group as well, to hang at the end of the porch, already set for the outdoors.  And finally, one of my Marzanne collaborations with Suzanne Halstead went to this client as well(for inside of course. . .)  A fine collection of orange, highlighted with blue and the rainbow.

Orange Nautilus by Margaret Almon and Suzanne Halstead
Orange Nautilus by Margaret Almon and Suzanne Halstead

Commission your mandala

Sophia Spiral by Wayne Stratz

A Sophia Spiral Mandala by Wayne Stratz: Growing into the Spiral of Ourselves

Sophia Spiral by Wayne Stratz
Sophia Spiral stained glass by Wayne Stratz.


Stratoz took this photo of one of his Sophia Spiral’s hanging in his studio window, late afternoon, with the sun glowing through the center of Youghiogheny glass.  Stained glass quickens with the light, and can catch us by surprise with colors we never saw before.  I’ll let Stratoz describe what goes into a Sophia Spiral Mandala:

I call the piece, A Sophia Spiral Mandala, which doesn’t just happen to have 21 pieces of glass. It has 21 pieces of glass because the design came to be after spending time with Sophia and a passage (The Book of Wisdom, chapter 7) that includes her 21 attributes:
22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd, 
 irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.
This week I decided to make a new mandala for our craft shows. I cut out four pieces of five types of blue green glass and than pulled out the Youghiogeny glass for the 21st. As I was writing a blurb to describe the mandala, it occurred to me what that 21st piece is. As we grow to know God in all images, we spiral into ourselves, and what we find is our true self. And there is nothing I can put in that location better than a piece of amazing glass from western Pennsylvania.

Stratoz from his blog post Sophia in Silence, Glass, Scripture and Hymn


In Stratozpheres Etsy Shop, you will find 21 coloring pages, named after the attributes of Sophia.

More orange goodness on my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.





Spiral Mosaic Mandala by Margaret Almon

In Honor of an Ordination: A Spiral Mosaic Mandala in Abalone and Violet

Deborah Darlington Purple Spiral Mandala by Margaret Almon
Violet Spiral Mandala in Honor of the Ordination of Deborah Darlington. Mosaic by Margaret Almon.

The Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal in Lansdale commissioned me to make a mosaic in honor of a special member’s ordination: The Rev. Dr. Deborah Darlington, celebrating one  year as an ordained Interfaith Minister.  I know Deborah through Stratoz, who is also a member of Holy Trinity and Chief Social Media Dude for the congregation.

Deborah is a woman of many talents, as described at her site, TheSpaceForGrace, celebrant of marriages and commitment ceremonies, spiritual director and coach, and as Chief Inspiration Officer of InspirationInProgress, consulting with companies in the healthcare and hospitality industries to inspire service excellence.

It was a pleasure to create something inspired by Deborah’s spirit, in her favorite color, in the form of a mandala, which is a sacred circle in many traditions.

Commission Margaret