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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ellen Blakeley and Tempered Glass Mosaics

Ellen Blakeley and Julie

I spent the weekend in Oakland at the Institute of Mosaic Art attending a wonderful two-day class by Ellen Blakeley.  I finished three tempered glass mosaics and learned much more about grouting with many colors in one piece. Below is the purple and blue piece I made to match my shirt and the Hardenbergia on the left. The circle has papers underneath the tempered glass, and the one on the bottom had a design on the wood that I mosaiced over. 

Purple and blue mosaic to match my shirt!
Tempered glass with different colors of grout
And the good thing is that I bought two of the flower rectangles below (at a thrift store) so I can make another one using better tools that I have here at home. Like my ring saw or my Beetles and Bits system for cutting pieces in any shape. At Ellen's suggestion I cut out plate glass to put over the flowers but the glass cutter that was available was not very flexible (to me, at least). So next time I'll cut out pieces that fit the flower and leaves better. 

I'm also going to add to the grout color by using her fantastic method for changing color after you've grouted. I learned it in her first class and have used it on other mosaics, but it was good to have a refresher course to remember how you're really suppose to do it!!!

Ellen is a wonderful hands-on teacher who is always willing to share her ideas and techniques with the class. We used epoxy to glue the pieces of tempered glass to the base. What a sticky mess that was! But I suppose you get better at it after some practice. I did spend quite a bit of time with a razor blade scraping off the epoxy residue on the top of the glass. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cats and Suns

This stripey cat was started at Martin Cheek's fusion workshop here at the Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art. I've finished the gluing and now I'll grout. It's a silly piece, the kind I like a lot. His ears are a bit big but I think it gives him character.

Another thing I notice is that I really like cats, flowers and suns in my mosaics. The piece below was started in the SAMA class about using power tools with your mosaics. I cut the yellow cat out with the power wet saw and decided right away that I would keep on using my ring saws. The saw in the class was large, noisy, expensive and required setup and takedown after each use. And it didn't really cut any faster than the ring saw. But I had a very nice time in the class. I sat next to a really fun person. We shared tools and decided we were going to try to knock the pieces out during the class. I came pretty close. I just needed to finish up the sky when I got home. And there's still grout, of course

This last piece is a Miltonia Orchid. I was going to submit it to the art portion of the Orchid Show here in Santa Barbara but, alas!, it didn't turn out as I'd hoped. The pink in the middle of the flower didn't really show up so I decided to paint the grout in those areas. Well, I forgot to add a key ingredient, gel medium, and painted it bright PINK. Fortunately I was able to tone the pink down with some Pearlx but it was too late to submit to the orchid show.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Learning Moments

Ungrouted Flower
So here is another of those aha! moments. Above is the ungrouted flower/sunburst mosaic I posted the other day. I wanted an old-fashioned look on the frame so I first painted the frame with a burgundy paint. When that was dry, I added a coat of the green. Then I smudged some of the green paint off so the burgundy would show. I thought it looked great.

So yesterday I grouted the piece. First I put masking tape over the frame to protect it and then grouted. When I removed the masking tape, it pulled some more of the green paint off and made an even better looking frame! Now I had painted this at least a month ago so I'm surprised at what happened but I certainly like the new look. Sooooo....I learn something new nearly every time I make a new mosaic! That's half the fun!!!

Grouted flower with new look on the frame

Friday, March 9, 2012

SAMA and New Works

Well, I'm back from the fabulous Society of Mosaic Artists (SAMA) convention, and it was wonderful. What wasn't wonderful, however, were the tornadoes they had in Kentucky while we were there. On Friday, the loud speakers went off in the Hyatt hotel saying that the tornadoes were close by and we were to go down to the severe weather shelter. Fortunately, they passed us by but an awful lot of devasting damage was done in other parts of Kentucky. I did hang around outside for a while just because we don't really have weather like that in California. There was a lot of thunder and lightning and down pouring rain. Finally one of the hotel people told me I should probably go inside to the shelter area.

Just like last year, I came away feeling totally inadequate. The caliber of the artists is just amazing. But I took some workshops and felt that I learned a lot. And I met a lot of really wonderful people. 

I also spent a bit of time working at the Mosaic Marathon. Christine Braillier designed a gorgeous triptych of flowers, birds and sky and many volunteers spent time gluing Mexican smalti to her design. I really enjoyed working on it. The camaraderie among the workers was very special. The pieces were finished on time, grouted and installed at the Nest, a shelter for women and children in Lexington, Kentucky.  Great job, Christine! 
Mosaic Marathon
Mosaic marathon bird

Oh, and you know me well enough by now to know that I love a good margarita. I left the hotel one day searching for a good spot to eat and came across a wonderful restaurant that specialized in margaritas. I also found three other conventioneers at the same restaurant so I joined them. When they brought my drink, it had a half lime shaped into lips. So of course I had to try them on.

Now I'm back in Santa Barbara and have been working on a few new pieces. The apple was a trivet I got at a thrift store. The sunburst below is a piece of Wedi board I had that I cut to fit into this pretty frame that I painted so I matched the colors of the glass to the frame. You can't really see the pretty iridized pink & white glass I used for the background but it looks perfect with the piece. 

My show at the Good Cup Coffeehouse is going very well, so I need to make new pieces to replace those I've sold.