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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raj Mahal

I finished my fanciful Russian (or Indian) domed building. I wish the picture could show how sparkly and beautiful it is. I submitted it to the Artists of Step One group here in Santa Barbara, and it will be hanging in Gallery Ten-Twenty-Nine for First Thursday festivities. First Thursday, June 2nd, is an award winning program highlighting Santa Barbara downtown arts, culture and entertainment on the first Thursday of every month.

Click here to read about First Thursday 

1029 State Street
(805) 866-0192

Taste of Summer: a feast of paintings, collage and photography incorporating varied media to "kick it up a notch!" Featuring the artists of Step One, a local artists group with a mission to advocate, innovate and educate. Come and join us for an artist reception where the artists will be present to talk about their work and answer questions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gary's Crows

My dear friend Gary is celebrating his birthday this week, and we had a surprise birthday party for him at his house last evening! His blog is where he posts pictures of all the birds and wildlife that venture in front of his live camera.

Last week he posted this picture of a crow that had been eating (too much) bird seed at his platform feeder. So I made him a birthday rock with a crow in his favorite colors; blue and green. A black crow mosaic would have been pretty boring.

Check out his blog of really great pictures of birds, rabbits, coyotes, skunks and much more.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Meruliporia incrassata (commonly known as poria) in the Cottage

Poria Incrassata blooms

This is what the "House Eating Fungus" Meruliporia Incrassata looks like. This is the bloom, and it is quite beautiful. It happens in November and then I know I'm in trouble. So my wonderful carpenter Jim came and replaced the roof and half the front and side walls of the cottage. The fungus had eaten all the wood into a pulpy mass. .

Jim tearing out wall 

Tearing the potting bench off the back wall

Bee man cutting hole to find bee hive

Hole cut in wood and small comb uncovered
Bee episode

And this is the same back wall that Jim replaced back in November. The bees found a little hole next to a pipe and decided to move in to make their hive.

Here is a picture of the wall after Todd the Bee Man cut out the 15" hole. And Jim returned yesterday and patched up the holes and repainted. I couldn't even tell anything had been done when he showed it to me. I'll go out later and take a picture of the perfectly redone wall.

Cock-a-doodle Do is grouted

And he looks pretty good.  The colors of the tiles all match his plumes, and he's ready to sit in the garden.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready to grout

Well, I finished gluing two more pieces, and they are ready to grout. The first is the shiny Russian building with lots of mirror and glitter tile. The second is the gingham table. I seem to be keeping up with my goal of at least one mosaic a week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Bee Man cometh!

Todd Bebb, the Bee Man, came yesterday to collect and save my swarm of bees. He fired up his smoker first and then blew smoke into the hole to make the bees hungry and more docile. Check out the plumes of smoke in the picture near the top.

Then he used his bee vac to vacuum them into the box. Although they came flying into the box, no one seemed to be hurt, and they were all soon buzzing around. Finally he put on his bee suit and cut out a large hole to expose the hive. Fortunately, there was only a small comb. Then he searched in the box to find the queen but never could locate her. He said she may have been eaten by a bird while doing her mating ritual high in the sky. That might also explain why the swarm wasn't larger. Todd took them home to add them to the one hive he has.

Bees being vacuumed into the box
Cutting out a large piece of the wall to locate the hive
The hive - not what I imagined but good that there is no honey yet to drip into the walls.
If you need to remove bees safely and humanely from your home or yard, I highly recommend Todd. If the bees have been there long enough, you might even score some honey! Todd's website is

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring has arrived

Spring has arrived in Santa Barbara. This is a picture of my front yard. I now have my mosaics to add to the mix.

And today the bee man is coming to vacuum the bees from the cottage.  He's coming early so the bees will still be asleep. I wonder if he wears a bee suit. He needs to cut a hole in the wall to find the hive. It should be very interesting to watch...from a safe distance.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Perhaps a few years down the road I'll have all the possible faux pas out of the way and can do something right the first time. The center of this mosaic is made with tempered glass, and my intention was to color it with varied colors to move from the red to gold in the rest of the piece.

However, the red I chose was way too red, and the blue was too pale, and, and... I'm going to try repainting the red but I think once this type of "paint" is on, it's too late.

But this is how I learn, and it's still a pretty piece. Sometimes I find that someone will absolutely love a mosaic piece I've made although I see flaws everywhere. Thank goodness we all like something different!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cock-a-doodle Do

My friend Jennifer gave me some tiles and plates she found. This rooster was the centerpiece of one of the plates, so I decided to use my ring saw to cut it out. Then I found this stepping stone out in the yard and decided to throw together a quick mosaic while working in the yard, dodging bees and repotting begonias. I used GE Silicone II so it should be fine outdoors. And tomorrow I'll grout it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kitties and the Gopher!

Well, more exciting wildlife news at my house. Prancer caught this gopher in the backyard. I found him watching it amble around above ground. Then the gopher started digging a new hole, and soon he was underground again. Then Biscotti joined in the action. Gophers look very scary when they bare their two big front teeth. And they make a chattering noise to scare away predators. The kitties are giving him a wide berth.

Bee update

It's early morning, and the bees are all asleep. I guess they've filled up the inside of the wall, and now there is always a swarm-like cluster of them on the outside wall.

I'm having a hard time getting a bee person out to save the bees. They aren't aggressive, and I walk by them without incident. But since I'm allergic to them, I'd like to relocate them to some nice meadow where they can gather pollen in peace.

Watering Can is Finished!

The watering can commission is finished.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art Smalti Workshop

My friend Tami Macala of the Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art is offering a unique Smalti workshop taught by well known Santa Barbara mosaic artist Betsy Gallery. Read all about it here, or click on the link at the bottom of this post for more information. I will be attending the class and am looking forward to learning about Smalti from an expert.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fanciful Russian Mosaic Building

No one ever said I was a neat worker. A workshop teacher once said my workstation looked like a mosaic bomb exploded.

This Russian building is patterned after one of the beautiful mosaics on the side of the Institute of Mosaic Art's building in Oakland, CA. The whole building is covered with giant, whimsical mosaics made with glass and ceramic tile. The picture of the building below gives you an idea of the size of the art when you notice the windows in the picture.

I am using Hardibacker as the substrate with Lexel as the adhesive so it can be hung outdoors.

IMA Building covered with giant mosaic flowers

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Advantages to having a lovely garden

So have you ever tried to take a picture of a mirror and got a great shot of yourself taking the picture? Well, the nice thing about having a pretty garden is that you can get the right angle when taking the picture and end up with something like this! This is another mosaic piece with a beveled mirror that I recently finished and took it out on the front porch to take a picture. It almost looks like a painting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Calico kitty painted!

Here is the kitty again. I didn't like the charcoal grout, so I painted the grout a lighter color. This is a technique I learned in Ellen Blakeley's tempered glass class last month at the Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA) in Oakland. I mixed gel medium with tints and added gold metallic powder. Then I painted it over the grout, waited a minute and wiped it off.

Looks much better now!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Picotee Tuberous Begonia

This started as a floor tile that I was going to cover with tempered glass. A friend showed me the method her brother uses to put d-ring hangers on the tile. You can see the screw head on the upper right. So I painted the tile with the blue and green paints, but when I put the tempered glass over it, I could still see the cross hatch pattern of the tile.

So next I decided to try a tuberous Begonia. It certainly looks odd now, but I'm hoping it will all come together when I grout it. I want to put a brick-like pattern in the background, but I haven't been able to find any brick-colored stained glass. I'll keep plowing along with the flower and hope for the best.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bees swarming!

Well, this is a little off the mosaic topic, but I have a swarm of bees under one of my potting benches. They have found a little hole in the wall of my studio and have made themselves at home. They are honeybees and don't seem aggressive at all. I have been walking back and forth in front of them during the day, but this is what happens when everyone comes home with pollen on their feet. There's a traffic jam getting back into the nest..

So I've called a local bee man who plans to bring his "bee vacuum" to kindly remove them from the nest. It won't hurt them, and he will then relocate them to a hive he brings with him.

The only slightly scary thing for me is that, although I was never allergic to bees before, last year when I tried to save one that had fallen into the pool, he decided to bite me. By the time I got home, everything had started swelling. I went to my neighbors' house across the street, and they called the paramedics. So I am being cautious about these little fellows.

Calico Kitty is grouted!

Calico Kitty is grouted in Charcoal. Only one piece fell off during grouting, so I just glued it back in and grouted over the piece. However, I think I might like the way he looked before grouting better. The lighter brown color of the MDF piece was a pretty good match. So I may go back and recolor the grout to make it a bit lighter. Oh, the woes of picking a grout color. It can make such a difference in the piece!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watering Can

Well, it's close to being finished. The other side is done, and I need to do the top. Because it's for a landscaper, I decided to put the mirrored flower in. Hopefully by the end of the week it will be done, and I can deliver it to the client.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Calico Kitty

My friend Mike says I should rename my blog Joooles Design Kitty Adventures. I do seem to have an inordinate number of kitty cats. Must be because they make me smile!

This was a base I found at a thrift store, and decided to make a fat little kitty with a Cheshire tail. Now to pick a grout color ... aarrrghh! I'm thinking charcoal.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Plates, plates, plates!

Yesterday was a good day at the Ventura thrift stores. Their prices are much lower than Santa Barbara's prices (surprise!). So while I was down in Old Town Ventura having lunch with Doug and my brother, I visited all the thrift stores and came home with some wonderful, inexpensive plates for mosaicing. Time to make more pique assiette pieces.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Doug's birthday lunch

Today is our friend Doug's 58th birthday, and we're at Anacapa Brewery in Ventura having lunch and brews.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blue Gingham Mosaic Table

I have always been drawn to blue gingham tablecloths.  I even have one decorated with kitties. So when I saw an example of a gingham mosaic table in a book, I had to try it. What I found is that it's very hard to keep a straight line when laying down a row of tesserae. So then I started drawing each line before gluing. It's not perfect but it spruced up this low table that I found at a thrift store. Now to pick a grout color and finish it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

House Number Commission

Today I'm finishing gluing the stained glass on a house number commission. I'm using Lexel so it will need a few extra days to cure. Then I think I'll grout it in a dark brown or maybe charcoal to make the numbers pop.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lorenzo has been given to his owner

Lorenzo is finished. I gave him to his owner yesterday, and she was very pleased although also very sad. Pets provide so much joy but there is always that awareness that we will outlive them and have to suffer through their loss.

I lost both my 18-year-old cats in the last year. Bootsie died of heart failure and Orange Boy died of something that was never determined. But 18 years of joy is certainly worth the pain. And now I have two new brothers, Biscotti and Prancer Dancer, who run to see me when I come home and follow me around when I'm here so life is good again!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Well, I made a lot of progress yesterday though it doesn't look much better. I screwed all the Michael's boxes together, changed the shelf heights to accomodate them and then cleaned and cut all the stained glass pieces and put them in the boxes by color. I only have eight cuts on my hands!

My next project is to organize all the grout and the tile. What I'd really like to do is work on a mosaic! Lorenzo the cat is finished, and I am delivering him to his owner today.