Friday, August 31, 2007

An Exhibition Coming Together

We spent Tuesday configuring the movable walls in the museum and Wednesday figuring out where we wanted to put each piece. We did hang Adam & Eve (by Shawn Newton) as a symbolic gesture. They had to be first, after all.

Now, it's Thursday morning. The blank walls are begging to be adorned with mosaic art.

Anne Hyland came to hang her "Garden of Delights." This piece is on 24 panels - each a square foot. Anne spent the better part of an hour and a half measuring and marking where each panel goes. Once the wall was measured, the hanging was relatively simple.

Margaret Ryan and her husband, Lawrence Paolella, planning something. Michael O'Connell is in the background hanging Lori Bradley's Forest Floor.

Michael and Lawrence working on Forest Floor.

Katherine Jaggie came in to help. Here she's hanging our wall of ladies: "Graces of Central Park" by Lynn Moor, "Venus" by Celoni Espinola, and "Carmen" by Gretchen McPherson.

After hanging her enormous piece, "Cycles", Leslie Wallace-Coon takes on a smaller and more manageable "Full Moon Gazer" by Margaret Ryan.

The walls are filling up. In the foreground are Jessica Regelson's Calypso, Thallo, and Europa". Next to these is Linda Dadak's "Iris".

"Che" (by Celoni Espinola) having a conversation with Ann Hyland's "Self Portrait".

More walls and a pedestal adorned with art. Lorie Reilly's globe, "The Brooding Jewel". Ora Avni's "Together Apart" is in the center of the photo.

The photographers - and proud curators - photographing each other.

At the end of the day with all the mosaics hung, we put together a list of everything else to do ... but that's for another day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The answer revealed

There people took the bait. All had the correct answer:

Jackie Iskander : Jennifer appears to be working barefoot... wouldn't try that with glass... she sure looks comfy...

Lillian Sizemore : The Benefit to working with stone? answer: that you can work barefoot without slicing your feet to shreds

Alissa Turtletaub : I was reading your blog and I thought I'd take a stab at your challenge question regarding the photo of Jennifer Blakebrough-Raeburn. Is that she is working barefoot with no fear of glass shards?
* * *
Yes, yes, and yes. It's been a year since I've worked exclusively with stone, and I haven't cut my fingers once. I can also walk around the house barefoot again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jennifer Blakebrough-Raeburn : Mosaic Rocker!

Here is Jennifer Blakebrough-Raeburn, hammer in hand, chipping away at marble while dressed in her fashionable Mosaic Rocks! t-shirt.

Jennifer is a great stone enthusiast. She is currently working on a mosaic of a red-wing blackbird. The bird has a history, starting in smalti but them metamorphosing into marble while still maintaining a touch of smalti. I've seen the beginnings of the mosaic and can't wait to see the finished piece.

This is a very important photo - Study it carefully!!!!

Jennifer is demonstrating one of the most important - if not THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFIT for working with stone. Can you figure out what it is? If so, email me.

I'll collect any speculations over the next day or so and publish them before revealing this very important benefit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Old Testament by Jackie Iskander

Yesterday I posted a "random" act of mosaic. Today's posting is a "deliberate" act of mosaic.

This is Old Testament by Jackie Iskander. Up till now, Jackie hasn't worked much with natural stone even though she's been purchasing all sorts of rocks, gemstones, and marble from Mosaic Rocks for some time. This is her first inspiration which includes an ammonite fossil, marble, smalti, coco geode, pyrite, sodalite, turquoise, faceted garnet, and amazonite. It is 14 1/2" x 5 1/2". (I did not reduce this photo - so if you click on it, you will see an enlarged version.)

You may remember Jackie's work from the SAMA exhibition in Mesa. She had the treasure chest and the vase in the show.

I greatly admire Jackie's sense of design and color. I particularly admire the precision in her cutting. You can easily tell from looking at her work that every piece in the mosaic, no matter how insignificant, is deliberately cut to fit exactly in its place. This type of precision and attention is what separates good mosaic artists from the great. And Jackie is one of the greats.

Check out her website.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

RAM: Random Acts of Mosaic

Julie Richey sent this photo of an impromptu mosaic created on the shores of Lake Michigan.

"We created this two weeks ago in Door County, WI on the shores of Lake Michigan. It took us two attempts. The first one I had to leave half-finished, and my attempts at public art puzzle cooperation were dashed when someone jumped on it. The second attempt, we finished in two hours and it lasted at least a whole day. I didn't have the heart to go back and check again I think we definitely need more RAM: Random Acts of Mosaic."

They have sandcastle competions - why not mosaic competitions. Perhaps we should find some rocky beaches throughout the country (world?) and organize a day of beach mosaics.

A few years ago when Michael & I were traveling in the Languedoc region of France we found this RAM in a dry riverbed near Minerve.

The Colors of Calcite

YowZZa! Take a look at the colors of these stones.

We recently picked up these pieces of calcite and added them to the Mosaic Rocks store. They are probably the most consistent and rich colors of calcite that I've ever seen. The orange stones look like you can pick them up and eat them.

Extra bonus - the green and blue stones are small and ready to be used or nipped further into smaller pieces. (The orange stones are somewhat chunky and still need to be cleaved.)

Extra extra bonus - we got a great price for these stones and were able to lower the price on half-pound bags.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stacy Schlegel - Mosaic Rocker!

I'm not that familiar with Stacy's work. I hope we will see more in the future. This piece looks like great fun. It's hard to tell from this reduced photo, but Stacy has a great eye for combining and laying different materials for the background of this mosaic. The order of the background is broken by the gold frame around the bird, set at an angle on the substrate which makes it all the more interesting. I can't wait to see this piece finished.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More Progress on the Mosaic Kits

I finished the fist of the Roman Mosaic patterns. The color blending and andamento turned out quite well.

So onto the next design. This is the top middle design in the Roman pattern list (scroll down to see the 9 designs).

Things started out quite well. Again, the color blending in the inner arches worked well going from Gold Travertine to Yellow Cream to Crema Marfil.

But things fell apart when I tried to fill in the space between the arches and the inner square. I should have measured the distance between the arch and the square better. Instead I glued the square first, then discovered that the space was too big for two rows of stone but too small for three. It took a while to figure out how to best to the andamento and I'm still not sure if I got it correct. You can see one approach in the bottom center and a different approach in the left center sections of the circle.

One way or another, the execution is a disaster. I will throw this out and start again.

My original thinking was that this would be an easy design for someone who is relatively new to mosaics (not necessarily at the beginning level, however), but I'm not so sure about this. Cutting and laying those central white stones takes technique - unless I find an easier way to do it that looks good and is consistent with Roman design patterns.

So, giving up on the circle, I started working on the floral design. This is coming along well and in some respects is easier to do than the circle, although the pieces are fairly small.

The green marble is not easy to work with. This is the Green Jade tile. It's a beautiful color, but like all green marbles, it's difficult to cut and nearly impossible to shape into a specific size or angled cut. I found that the best way to do the leaves was to cut many small (i.e. tiny) pieces of green tile first and then build the design with the squares. You can easily make an arch with anything that's small enough.

The background of the piece will be white. I chose light brown for the star to keep an earth-tone color palette, and I didn't want a sharp contrast between the star and the background. Hopefully this will draw more attention to the flowers and not to the star.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lynn Adamo : Rock Star

I just added Lynn Adamo to the Rock Star Gallery. Her mosaics are relatively small, but they are incredibly powerful. I really like this mosaic (called "Untitled") for its combination of contrasting materials and subtle range of colors. Lynn is a master at making something which is quite complex look so simple.
Check out Lynn's website.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Working on Mosaic Kits

With all that's going on these days between the New England mosaic exhibition, work on the SAMA website, and hauling around our new shipment of stone mosaic tiles, there's no time for mosaic making.

Fortunately, another project has forced its way up to the top of the queue. Michael and I are teaching a class in marble mosaics in a few weeks at the Chicago Mosaic School. We will talk about Roman mosaic traditions, design patterns, and techniques. Then have participants work on their own mosaic using our the stone mosaic tiles (which are fabulous, I must say).

Our plan is to provide patterns for 5-10 designs from which participants can choose. But we first want to create the mosaics ourselves to work through any issues in advance. This means that I need to walk away from the computer and actually make mosaics for a change. Yippie!

For the patterns, I borrowed from Lynn Moor an incredible book that catalogues Roman mosaic geometric design patters titled: Le Decor Geometrique de la Mosaique Romaine. The book (Vol 1 of a two volume set) has hundreds of pen & ink reproductions of Roman patterns. It's quite humbling.

I selected these patterns to start with:

Most are fairly advanced - but there are a few which will be appropriate for a beginning mosaicist. These will eventually become Mosaic Kits which will be added to our collection in the Mosaic Rocks shop.

I am working on the pattern in the upper left. Michael just started working on the one in the lower left.

Here's the progress so far.

We're working on an 11" x 11" MDF board. (11 inches is a good size- not for any artistic reasons, however. It fits into a USPS flat rate box.) I traced the pattern onto the board and sealed the board with a wash of Weldbond and water.

I'm using the stone mosaic tiles which are roughly 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/4" and cutting them into quarters. The tiles are glued directly onto the substrate. The colors in this piece are: Pure Black, Green Jade, Mugwort Green, Red Travertine, Rose Empress, Crema Marfil, and China Beige.

I started with the outline of the design/flower. Then filled in a couple of the petals.

These two did not turn out very well. It takes a couple of attempts to figure out how to lay the stones to get the correct placement and shading - something which is very important in a geometric design in which consistency is key.

Instead of starting at the top, I found that it's important to lay down the line of stones at the base of the upper arch. This is also the line where the darker stones transitions into the lighter stones.

The stones in the upper arch can now be filled in. Each arch isn't exactly the same, but there is space for two lines of stone which can be cut to shape to fit in the space.

I next start at the bottom and work up, trying to keep the rows even with the ones in the other petals. This will create a nice circle pattern. Eventually, I get to the row which transitions from the cream colored marble to the light gray/green marble. The row alternates the two stones.

I then fill in the gray/green stones, cutting them to shape so that the fit in the remaining space.

I am trying to create another effect by increasing the widths of the rows as they move up the circle. The row of the petal closest to the center is fairly thin with each row progressively getting larger.

Here's the piece so far. I next need to fill in the background. I like how the shading turned out. And I like the circular movement of the stones.

Marble is interesting. By itself, each stone looks fairly dull, but when placed next to other stones - even ones with a similar color hue - its true beauty really shines.

I've found something similar with smalti - but in an opposite way. One color of smalti has such a bold color, but when placed adjacent to other colors, the boldness is somewhat muted and the magic of color blending happens. There have been times when I was reluctant to use a color of smalti thinking that it wouldn't work in the piece, but when I combined it with other colors, it worked just fine. The same holds true for marble.

This piece is almost done. Then it's on to the next.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Queen Califia - continued

More photos from Queen Califia's Magic Circle taken by Dawnmarie Zimmerman.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Queen Califia's Magic Circle

Dawnmarie Zimmerman sent this photo from Niki de Saint Phalle's Queen Califia's Magic Circle in Escondido, California: "It was AMAZING! Several sections of this entire thing is done in polished gemstones. Kim and I had the best time running around trying to identify them all. Malachite, Red Jasper, Rainbow Jasper, Hematite, Granite, Rose Quartz, Tiger eye, some white with black polka dots that was not granite, mother of pearl, turquoise and several others we couldn't identify."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lynne Chinn's Virgin

Lynne is in my pantheon of mosaic gods & goddesses. I am always in awe when I see her work. But more importantly, I always learn something when I examine her technique.

There are a number of things about this piece which amaze me - the way the light falls on her head, the way her veil disintegrates into the background, the effect created with the different thicknesses of the strands of her hair - the little shadow under her right (our left) eyeball. Just amazing.

But I learn the most when someone does something which I would never think about doing and I wonder why. Lynne kept the line between her left cheek (our left - her right) and its shadow jagged. I would have smoothed it out and thought nothing about it. But look at the effect it creates making the jawline more defined and her face thinner than it otherwise would have looked. She said she did this intentionally: "If I made both sides the same, it looks too perfect and therefore, not like artwork or ‘brushstrokes’."

If I didn't know any better, I think Luke is a little bit smitten with her.
All jesting aside, look at what happens to her cheek when the photo is reduced - similar to looking at her from a distance. The line between light and dark smooths out but in a way which is very subtle and exquisite. In contrast, the line of shadow on her left forehead (our left - her right) was smoothed out to begin with and looks more pronounced.