Friday, November 4, 2011

The Blue Cat

This year for Halloween my three-year-old daughter wanted to be a blue cat. I had been asking her for several months about what she wanted to be and she never wavered. I kept thinking she would change her mind about this costume but she never did. So by October first I had to do something about it. After searching on line for blue cat costumes and coming up empty, I decided to make one.

This past year I taught myself how to sew. It is a new concept to me, but something I have always wanted to learn. I learned to hand stitch as a kid but we never had a machine in the house. Sewing was not something my mother did, and my Nanny was too old to teach me. So that was that.  I had a broken machine sitting in my garage for some time and finally got it repaired, and found a friend to teach me a quick lesson. For months now I have been hemming pants and curtains and I felt ready to try my hand at the Blue Cat Costume.

I took Mia to the fabric store and let her choose the blue hues, and little by little... mistake by mistake, I got the thing put together. I bought pre-made cat ears and made  blue "slip covers" for them. Then traced one of her dresses and made my own pattern. Sewed on a furry tummy and furry sleeves and made a tail out of cardboard tubes and slip covered with fabric. She asked for bells on the end of the tail. Cute. The hardest part was figuring out the zipper. Apparently my machine is so old that nobody in the Orlando vicinity sells parts (I needed a zipper foot attachment). But I got it figured out with what I had, and bonded it with some fabric glue. Worked great.

I can't say the costume would stand the test of time if she wanted to play dress up... but Mia has some funny ideas about things. And apparently she only wanted to wear the costume for Halloween. I couldn't even get her to try it on for fittings before the big night. Had to bribe her once or twice. I am not a great seamstress, I definitely sew things the hard way. I am learning. And I feel really proud about teaching myself this skill. I find it to be really useful. However hard I worked on the costume, Mia resisted my use of the sewing machine. "I don't like that noise. Turn off that machine" she'd yell from the next room. Well too bad. It's for your costume. I don't care if the machine is from 1960 and sounds like a lawn mower. It works.

The funniest thing about this costume was my forgetfulness of taking a decent photo of her all dressed up. We went to a friend's house for Trick or Treat and in the midst of all the hustle bustle, we got 2 good photos of her, but neither was of the full costume. Duh! Anyhow, she looked adorable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yoga Studies

Ahh, the weather is finally turning here in Central Florida. A true breath of fresh air. It has gone from hot to lovely. I love the fall weather and the freedom it gives me after months of being locked indoors from the summer heat. The change in temperatures calls me outside to the porch studio and allows me to work in the moderate temperatures, rather than sweating it out to a near faint.

It has taken some time but I've finally been able to consistently carve out some creative time once again. My free time has dramatically changed over the past six months, and it has taken me time to adjust. My daughter's three-hour nap has been reduced to about one hour, thus allowing me less and less time to myself.

I have just finished three more mosaics for Full Circle Yoga and I am working on a fourth before delivering them to the studio. The first is the "OM" symbol, done in black and teal. It is a smaller piece, 12"x12", and I like the swirls that compliment the symbol. The second mosaic is a woman balancing in Tree Pose. This one is a little larger, about 12"x18". The third piece is a gift for the owner, her logo laid out on a garden stone.

Finally, I've come to accept that I'm not faithful to video recording the creation of my pieces. I have tried and failed. It's just too much work for me to set up and take down the camera and tripod each time I have a few minutes to work. I wish I could leave it set up and ready to record, but my outside studio just won't allow it. Maybe in another lifetime. Another studio.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Busy Summer

I can hardly believe how my summer has gone by so quickly. The long hot days have been taken over by family emergencies and a recent pregnancy, both of which have left me little time for creative endeavors. I was away from home for nearly 6 weeks, and shortly after I returned, found out I was pregnant.

For anyone who has never experienced pregnancy, let me tell you... it's hard. It's exhausting. And just finding something to keep your stomach happy is a challenge as well. The little monster in my tummy decides what I can eat and what I cannot. S/he doesn't like chocolate, or citrus, or peaches. Or apparently black beans. We recently took a short vacation to St. Augustine where I ordered a bowl of black bean soup. I took one bean (not one bite - just one bean) and bee-lined it straight for the ladies room. Luckily there was no line for the stall, otherwise I would have chosen the sink for expressing the bean. Nobody needs to see that!

Now that things have calmed down a bit, I'm working on a piece for the yoga studio. It is a lady meditating... and coming along nicely (just very slowly) This time I'm recording a video of the mosaic process so people can see what goes into these pieces. I wish I had more time for mosaic lately, but this summer Florida heat is a killer. I dream of the cooler days yet to come.

Dragonfly Stone

My latest piece is another garden stone. It was made from both Italian glass and ceramic tiles. The glass was brought back to me from a friend who visited Italy in 2009. I have been saving it for a special piece. I made a boarder with green glass beads, and the rest of the tiles were handmade by me. The dragonfly wings are a purple/ brown glaze (same tiles I used in the Octopus mirror) and the body is purple. I like the combination of green and purple. I have a photo of this garden stone on my phone, but having trouble getting that connected to my computer here...  maybe I'll figure it out soon and can post it. Ugh

I decided to give this as a gift to my mother, for her front doorstep. The last garden stone I did is holding up quite well in the Florida heat, humidity and rain. I wasn't quite sure if it would break apart due to the outside elements, but I feel confident that I know what I'm doing.

Dragonflies are one of my favorite subjects to work with. Carefree. Delicate. And fun to watch.

Fly away little friend. Make a new happy home.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Love; Sold

I recently sold one of my favorite pieces, the Love Mirror.  I give thanks to my friend Christine at Full Circle Yoga, who lets me use a part of her retail space as gallery space. It's always exciting to know that someone out there likes my work. I love all the little details that went into making this piece: the beads inside of the top hearts, different textures that make up the picture. I hope the new owner found a special place to hang it. Now I need to create a couple of new pieces for the yoga studio. What a way to find inspiration.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Butterfly Garden Stone

I've been diving into new creative endeavors this spring - sewing and gardening. Two skills I wish I had and never really learned. For the past few weeks I have been learning to sew and take care of plants. They seem like simple tasks that I should be able to handle! I love the idea of having a butterfly garden. Once I feel confident that I won't kill the new flowers, I'll expand the collection to include ones that will attract butterflies.

I've been blocked creatively for the past several weeks. I think it is the looming promise of more mosaic mirrors that is holding me back. I tried to work it out by making new tiles and molds over the weeks, planting some flowers and cooking a lot, but nothing has really broken my block. I decided to make something for my new garden. No pressure. It's just for outside.

Last week I took a spare garden stone and drew out a butterfly design. I quickly put together the pieces to make the mosaic. It came together so fast I couldn't believe it. When it's right, it's right.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Tiles

Some time ago, I found this fish decoration at a junk shop. I always wanted to make something with it and decided it would look cool on a tile. Last week I rolled out the clay and made some impressions. I actually made them to be cast in plaster, so that I can pour and reproduce them to be 4x6" and 4x8" tiles. Pretty cool! Now I can line my kitchen or bathroom with a boarder or something. My daughter will probably say they're scary. She thinks this about a lot of my pieces... I wonder what Tim Burton's kids think of his work?

There is some trickiness to the shrinkage of clay, etc., and my math isn't great... so this is an experiment to see what the final size will be after firing. Hopefully close to the intended size. I will pour and fire them soon and try out a couple of glazes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Break-In Artist

Every so often I wake up in the night to a loud crash or screech. Last night was one such occasion. Crash! I forgot to lock the cat door, and the Break-In Artist had come to visit. There is a white cat in the neighborhood that I swear just showed up one day and decided to cause trouble. Really, the poor thing is starving. I think someone dumped him off in the nearby woods this past Christmas. He's hungry and finding ways to sneak into my house to eat!
Last night when I got up to find him, I thought he had left the way he came in and I locked the cat door. But really he was hiding inside.  When I went back to bed... Crash Again! He had tried to leave through the door and was locked inside. He's fast! And I chased him all through the house opening doors, trying to get him out. I think he's partially blind because he was bumping into walls and doors like you wouldn't believe. I'm afraid there's gonna be some crazy catfight in my house one night around 2am. I'd better remember to lock that door.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back to Drawing

This week I've drawn out the next 4 mosaics I want to do. I am sticking with The Sea theme. It's peaceful to work on. Like how my fish tank is peaceful to watch. There is something about the water and the way the creatures move about in there. One mosaic will be just plants, sea plants floating about. One has jellyfish swimming upward. One Beluga Whale, and I also drew a sea snail slugging around. I'm not sure I'll be able to do all 4!  I was inspired to draw one night and ideas just kept coming.

I thought it would be best to have my ideas drawn out before making the tiles this time, that way I can customize more what object gets what texture and color. I have to be careful to not try and make all the tiles at once! I am really excited about the sea plants!

I'd really like sea plants in our fish tank, but apparently they are difficult to care for along with the fish. We got a tank last fall and I'm just in love with it! I love to watch those little fish swimming around all day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Photos

Here's a photo of my friend's bathroom with the lovely Mermaids! Yes, more mermaids. One of my earlier pieces but lovely, nonetheless. This week I took some new photographs of my work and contacted a few art reps, magazines, designers and contests. Really just showing the photos to different types of people and seeing who may like it. It's all trial and error right now. I hope something breaks soon.

Today I started making molds for those Bug Boxes. It's not that I want to take time away from my next mosaic, I just am being frugal. I want to use up the plaster I purchased before it expires. Plaster is kind of a pain in the ass. It gets everywhere and dries in these chunks. I wasn't quite prepared for mixing too much of it.

I decided recently that I want to learn sewing. This woman inspired me to try new things.
I recently found a friend to teach me how to sew, and someone else gave me a sewing machine. I guess it is time for me to learn!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 7 - It's Finished!

 Well it looks like I missed two weeks of blogging about my progress on The Octopus. I kept telling myself that I was almost finished, and if I kept working instead of writing about it, I would be done sooner. Only I kept finding more work to be done. The good news is that I am finally finished with this piece! I put the backing on yesterday and photographed today. That last 10% of any project is always the hardest. I took some nice photos earlier today.
The entire background was filled in with the same shade and texture of blue to keep it uniform. After much agony and wanting to add more color to this piece, it just wasn't working. I scaled back to just let her shine. I love it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let Them Figure it Out - Week 4

On the porch where I do my clay work, I have a little table for my 2 year old to paint. When we stay home, painting is one of our outside activities (and I can sneak in a few minutes of mosaic time). Yesterday, my little lovely says, after about her fourth painting, "I want to paint mom". And she decorates my arm, and her face and arms with gobs of paint. I had to laugh and let her do it. Just watching her paint with no rules was quite liberating. She mixes the colors in ways I never would. Dirty brushes go into the paint jars. Clean water buckets get filled with clay and rocks. Its amazing. I just watch and learn. There are no boundaries here, it's quite nice. She knows no different. Why wouldn't you put a brush filled with black paint into a jar of orange paint? Well, I have my reasons, but I'm going to let her do it her way. And I think this is pretty great of me! I don't step in and tell her to do it my way. So many parents try to control the way their kids do things. I say, as long as it's safe, let them figure it out.

I love being a stay at home mom. It is the hardest and most rewarding job I've ever had. I never imagined how wonderful having a little child would be! I love the changes that have taken place in my life. My daughter makes me laugh all the time. She is my little light shining all day, with funny sayings and an adorable face. She thanks me with hugs and kisses, and dirty hands. I wouldn't trade back for anything.

Here is Week 4 of The Octopus. I feel like I  made a  lot of mistakes in this past week. For several days I have created and torn apart most of the background. I am having trouble with getting the color combination right at the top. I've been playing with blues and greens, creating patterns with the colors. I just can't seem to feel comfortable with it yet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bleeding for my Craft

For some reason I expect more from myself  in a week's time.
This past week I got the outer frame done. More pink glass beads! It's exquisite! I also started the sea background and placed some pieces at the bottom for sand. I'm not sure yet about the bottom ones, maybe I want more contrast. It takes a long time to get all those little pieces in there! And today I cut my finger, which is
not unusual. I meant to take a nice bloody photo for the blog,
but forgot and washed my hand. It's not so gory without the
blood there.

Anyhow, here is a photo of The Octopus - Week 3. She is going to look so great! I need a name for my new creature. Originally I thought it was a him, but now with the teal and pink.... I am just not sure. Any suggestions? Ophelia? Opal? Oscar?

I also made progress on my Bug Boxes. I got the handles into the styrofoam and ready for plaster. However, with the weather changing so much... I am not mixing plaster in the cold or the rain. No Way! It's supposed to rain late today and tomorrow. Maybe I can plan for Thursday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Octopus - Week 2

Here it is!  Week 2 of The Octopus.

I reworked the tentacles and I'm almost happy with the way they look. I like the way they break the frame. After looking at an older piece, Meredith the Mermaid (below), I asked myself why I didn't frame out the mirror and decided to try it for this one. My fear is that is is too gaudy... too many beads... too girly. But sometimes girly is good! I will probably have to rework the tentacles again on the bottom part of the piece to allow for the frame to be more consistent.

This weekly check-in and taking photos gives me new perspective on the artwork. It looks different on the table in front of me vs. on the computer screen.
Meridith the Mermaid

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Octopus - Week 1

Happy New Year! I am going to post a progression of my newest Magic Mirror, The Octopus. Here is a photo of the preliminary drawing and starting the head and tentacles. It will likely change shape as I continue to work on it. I am so excited about this new piece! It is coming together pretty fast. Sometimes I get really inspired by a shape or creature and can't wait to bring it to life. Just imagining the  Jelly-like movements of the Octopus, swimming in the sea. It may sound crazy, but I love to spend time with him!

This first set of tiles, for the Octopus' body, were done with the red clay back in 2010 The textures came from metal hardware that I found somewhere, and it was a good test on red clay with this glaze. I am running a little short on tiles, so I may have to amend the picture from the original drawing. That's fine. It will look great.

I need to fire my kiln again soon... the tiles I glazed last week were somehow painted totally the wrong color. I am not sure how this happened! Ugh! Apparently I wasn't paying attention. One great thing about ceramics is that (sometimes) you can glaze over the old glaze and re-fire the piece. If I fire them by Thursday I can use them to work with over the weekend... assuming I got the color right this time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Slow and Steady

Some of you have been asking how my show went last month...

I enjoyed setting up my table and meeting some really great people. I can't say that I made spectacular sales... just one! But one is better than none, right? It was dark and cold, I can't expect miracles. But the outdoor show circuit is a better fit for me than the gallery circuit. I did a gallery show in 2009 and just didn't feel comfortable there. Plus I had no control over how my work was shown and was pretty upset with the way it was displayed. The Alive After 5 show in Sanford was a good place to start, and I think I had a good spot - right next to The Wine Bar! I even bought a beer from the guy next to me and made friends for the night. So it was fun. The crowd was lively and supportive of my work. I got a lot of positive feedback from people, just no buyers that night. The artist next to me said November was a better month for sales, as she is a regular at this venue. I will try again. And I think a daytime show would better represent my work - no fighting against the darkness and the cold. Now I just have to motivate myself to do it again.

I have started a new mosaic. Yes, back to the Magic Mirrors. I actually drew this one out about a year ago before finding my mentor for the slipcasting. Today I am firing the kiln with some new tiles for the new mirror. I look forward to piecing it together and another beautiful work of art to grace your home.

And another great thing happened today. An old friend wrote me to ask about a mosaic she had seen previously listed on Etsy, as she wanted it for her new baby girl's bedroom. I feel so happy to get this piece to my friend. I love to make artwork, and yes, I want to sell it. But the main thing is for other people to be able to enjoy it and appreciate it. I make these pieces partly for myself - to bring my visions to life. But also, the art needs a good home where someone will love it. Goodbye Seaside Lisa. May you love my dear friend and New York City.