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Ombre Orange in the Studio for a Colorful House Number

Orange Ombre House Number by Nutmeg Designs
At the Corner of Orange and Gold. Orange Ombre House Number by Nutmeg Designs.

Kindred Spirits in orange-love requested an ombre background to their 3901 house number.  Stratoz was telling me about studies of how the brain edits the world for us, filling in the gaps, making senses synchronous.  Seeing is an action.  I have gotten better at imagining how a mosaic will look once grouted, how the colors will flow.  When I first started grouting the uncertainty was intense. What will happen once I slather the glass with grout?  Will the design emerge or will it be fragmented?  Ombre reminds me of Impressionist painting, where the artists let the eye blend the dots and strokes of color.

Orange Ombre House Number by Nutmeg Designs
Orange Ombre House Number by Nutmeg Designs.


Commission your house number.

Transforming Rolls of Adding Machine Paper into Vibrant Color: Sculpture by Jae Ko

Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink(Close View)
Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink(Close View). Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ. Photo by Wayne Stratz(2015).
Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink(Detail)
Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink(Detail). Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ. Photo by Wayne Stratz (2015).
Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink
Jae Ko: JK 437 Red and Orange, 2013; rolled paper, colored ink. Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ. Photo by Wayne Stratz (2015).



To make her mark she was searching for a material never before used. In grad school she had worked on rice paper, and made installations and books. “I didn’t want to use something you could get in an art supply store. I was experimenting. I would try and try until I could get a conversation going with the material. I would talk with the paper and it would talk back to me.”

That was when she started working with rolls of adding machine paper and cash register tape. She began with small spools, working flat, trying new things. Putting the paper in water, she discovered, expands it and creates new shapes. She added sumi ink to the pool of water, and the results looked like car tires. She was drawing not on paper, but with paper.  WHYY Newsworks.

I love what sculptor Jae Ko did next ~ when the amount of water she was using became too much for her studio, she went to the ocean to see what the tides would do with paper.  Stratoz and I saw her exhibition at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ, which will be there until February 7, 2016.

JK 437 Red and Orange was several feet tall, and bursting with ombre. Color gradation is one of my passions in the studio.  I found Jae Ko’s use of the tightly wound rolls of adding machine paper resonant with the closet of arcane office supplies I inherited when I took a job as a hospital librarian in the late 1990’s, and admire her transformation that goes beyond the “I should do something with that.”  Art as an alchemical process.

Getting Ready for Wilmington: Orange Ombre Mirror

Orange Ombre Mirror by Margaret Almon
Orange Ombre Mirror. Glass, gold smalti, dichroic, ceramic mosaic on wood, 8×10 inches, ©2015 Margaret Almon.

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?

Harmonious House Number by Nutmeg Designs

Bursting with Orange and Ones: Harmonious House Number

Harmonious House Number by Nutmeg Designs
Harmonious House Number in Warm Colors by Nutmeg Designs. Glass on slate, 12×8 inches.

I am grateful there are people who desire red, orange and yellow house numbers.  This one went to Berkeley, CA.  Their number is gifted with the numeral one in three out of four of the digits.  Ones are both simple to surround in glass, and difficult to join up with neighboring numbers.  The clients queried us because they had a vision for spacing the ones, so they weren’t as gawky and lonely, and I appreciated this concern.  It can seem as if ones and fives are numbers from different planets.

Commission your house number at Nutmeg Designs.

Lalique Perfume Bottle: Bouchon Mures at the Corning Museum of Glass

Perfume Bottle Bouchon mures (Berry Stopper) 1920 Rene Lalique
Perfume Bottle Bouchon Mures (Berry Stopper), 1920, Rene Lalique. Corning Museum of Glass. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Lalique takes the form of a bottle stopper and lets it unfurl into branches heavy with fruit.  I imagine the rounded topography of the berries, the bead-like drupelets.  I wondered if there was an ombre berry like the ones in Lalique’s imagination, and found salmonberries.  Sometimes when I eat raw berries my lips swell like drupelets, but in cooked in a pie I am ready to take them on.

More Lalique goodness:

Lalique Squirrel

Lalique Goldfish

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.