Our visit to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ was on the way to deliver the Art Deco mirror to a client. Stratoz had drafted the design and cut out the black stained glass pieces, gluing them to the mirror frame. I then had the mirror in my studio for several months, waiting while I created house number commissions.
Collaborative pieces remind me of jazz improvisation ~ the listening between musicians. What I heard in the smooth black glass, was a desire for silver contrast, for textures and speckling and mottling. The focal point arch at the top spoke in white gold nails ~ offcuts that are considered seconds by the factory, but which had the right shape to fan out.
Our client had cleared a space for the mirror, got the nail ready for hanging, and she showed us the gray violet wall, and the vase of white peacock feathers adjacent, echoing the shape of the white gold. Another conversation begins.
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It was a day of spirals, with two cool ones at the sculpture park.
On July 25 & 26th, 2015, I will have my work at the Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair at the Chase Center in Wilmington, DE. I am shepherding my mosaics out of the studio and down the stairs for staging on the dining room table. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book on habits, Better than Before, and she describes people as tending to be “openers” or “finishers.” Usually, I am an opener. I like to check out large piles of library books, buy new art supplies, start new projects. I used to feel obligated to finish every book I checked out, but after discovering the Reader’s Bill of Rights in Library School, (what Rubin would call a Secret of Adulthood), I now leave a book undone on occasion.
Stratoz gently advised that I not start any new mosaics the week before the show. He is wise, though I did find a way to remake a commissioned project, under the guise that it wasn’t “new.” Otherwise, I do enjoy a burst of finishing the week before a craft show ~ a reminder of the wonder of creation.
Are you an opener or a finisher?
One of the pleasures of having an Open Studio is that people get to see an abundance of work on the walls, be surrounded by it, and have creative ideas percolating. A visitor saw my Log Cabin Quilt Panel(below) and asked if I could make a mirror with the same motif. With Stratoz’s trusty drafting skills, he drew a series of squares around the perimeter.
These glass tiles are from Italy, with swirled and mottled color. My work table was a mountain of glass as I sorted tiles by hue and intensity. These tiles teach me to look closely, to appreciate differences that at not discernible at first.
It’s awesome when clients commission something inspired by my previous work, and taking it even further. This mirror is 20 inches across, and I started gradating the colors in June, and worked on it a bit at a time, for Christmas delivery. When I got to orange, I had this vision of it taking over half the mirror, but I pulled myself back. More photos to come.
With my square mirrors, I imagine I am walking the middle path; I am centered between my edges. Establishing the edge provides security that it will all fit. If I let the glue dry before moving onward, then I don’t have to worry about nudging a piece out of alignment. With this one, I chose the outer tiles first, with their creamy tangerine smoothness. They are made from recycled broken bottles and windshields. They are orange, through and through. Then the innermost tiles, smalto from Italy, with a creamsicle swirl. Then I anchor the corners before traveling that middle path, less orderly than the edges, but still more linear than some of my other work.
When I first took a mosaic class and began a project making coasters, I started in the middle and didn’t give myself enough room for the edges. Not every project requires an edge or an anchor, but I am grateful for learning when to make it easier on myself. This happens in my life as well as in my art.
Umber is an earthtone, an earth pigment. It’s odd how I can hear the names of “raw umber” and “burnt umber” and not realize it meant that one was in its “raw” state, and the other heated, to make a deeper tone. The outer tiles are Cinca unglazed ceramic from Portugal, and seem formed right out of the earth.
I attended the opening for an exhibit of fine craft, which featured three of my large mosaic mirrors. My Ochre Round Mosaic Mirror was awarded Best Design by juror Nick Mohler of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, and here are some words Nick wrote about it:
I am hypnotized by this piece. My eye flutters between the various heights and depths of the glass, the contrast between the grout line and glass shards. I get stuck wondering how each piece of glass was cracked. The yellows and oranges around the mirror pull my eye around. No matter where I look I eventually have my gaze return to that sunburst design around the inner edge of the mirror.
I asked to keep the little slip of paper with these words. There is a special pleasure in winning an award for something I enjoyed making. In jr. high, I won the Adele Swenson Award for excellence in Home Economics, but sewing sent me into a state of frustration. In my late 20’s I won a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for my poetry, and although my poems were incredibly important to me, I couldn’t say I enjoyed the process of writing them.
In the past, an opening would’ve filled me with dread. I was shy and often felt like a scared rabbit at social events. So it was also a pleasure to enjoy the opening, and meet some of the other artists, including Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, known online, but now in person. I suspect Wendy feels the same way about metal that I feel about glass, and one of her wall pieces, Gust, won Best Style. She kept her slip of paper as well. My mirrors are placed next to a fabulous piece of rag rug furniture by Cathy Hetznecker, and we both agreed that they look like they were meant to be together.
Other artists included, Debbie Burkert of Boyertown, basketweaving; Lyn Camella of Boyertown; Carrie J. Keplinger of Boyertown, fiber craft; Maxine Rhoads of Sinking Spring; Heidi M. Schweitzer of Shillington; Brad Smith of Worcester, woodworking; Bonnie L. Watton of Schwenksville; and Bonnie Wren of Boyertown.
Crafted: The Fine Art of Craft was at Studio B in Boyertown on September 16th-October 15th, 2011, part of the celebration of American Craft Week, October 7-16, 2011.