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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: October 2010

Glittering Shards

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tree glitter pictures...from the archive

(We did this last Autumn and it was a lot of fun! Since the blog readership has grown a lot in the year, I thought I would post it again for you to see and have a go!)

The colours of spring and autumn totally captivate me - I stare and stare at a tree in blossom or covered in golden red leaves trying to imprint the image on my soul so that I can access that beauty once it goes, which invariably it does. On one level I find this rather gutting - like creating lots of masterpieces and then putting them on the ground to decay. I know this is the cycle of life but something in me still wants to cling to and preserve what I see.

At the moment, we have our lovely grape vine outside our dining room window, covered in leaves of the most luscious red / green / orange colours. I picked a whole bunch of them the other day and they sat in a bowl on our dining table, looking pretty and awaiting some use. As the days passed, they started to dry. It was then I had an 'aha' moment - an idea of how to use this beautiful colour and preserve something of the memory of autumn into the winter months.

A few minutes later, Isabella and I sat with our hands in the bowl and started crunching. (The noise, feeling and smell of this is highly recommended!). After a few crunches we had our very own "leaf glitter".

We then decided to do pictures of trees, using some twigs for the trunk and branches and a liberal sprinkling of our leaf glitter for the leaves - lo and behold we have captured something of the beauty of autumn for several more weeks at least!

 We will try doing it with different leaves soon - there are some beautiful yellows dropping from  a tree near our house at the moment. Oh, and the pinks from that bush near the park...


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A very special commission...

I must have looked strange, armed with a step ladder, a camera and two children in tow. Standing in the middle of a cemetery, looking...

Finally, we found what we came for, the grave of a dear man, Gerald, who died too young leaving behind two young children (one yet to be born) and a beautiful wife.  Back in April, I had met Gerald's wife, Piomi, who entrusted me with a most precious task, to make a large mosaic with six images depicting her husband's life.

So, up the step ladder with my camera I went on this lovely Sunday afternoon, to take snapshots of my work while the children ran around and played. Passers-by looked intrigued...

Finally, with Piomi's blessing, I can share the pictures of this oh-so-worthwhile commission.

A heart and yellow rose to represent love,

A cake and tools to represent what Gerald did with his hands,

A microphone and cricket wicket to show how he spent time with his friends,

And that eternal symbol of hands being shaken in friendship.

I am grateful for the privilege of making such a beautiful memorial to a dearly loved man.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Art making and The Big Silence

I have been art making all week...tired, happy and frustrated as I always think I can achieve more in a day than I actually can (why is that? anyone else have this weird perception of time?!)
As I work, I normally flit between listening to music on the iPod to talk radio (BBC Radio 2,  4 or 5 depending on my mood!). What do you listen to while you work alone? Art making is often a solitary affair - days on end in a studio - and I do often wonder what my fellow artists fill the silence with. Do share...

Well, on Friday I felt an impulse to just turn off the noise and work in silence.

So I did.

This is not new - I have done it before and I like the brain space it gives for my thoughts to tumble out. But I realised that, after half an hour, I was getting tetchy and restless with the lack of external stimulus so I 'compromised' and put on classical music (no words).
It got me reflecting on my relationship to silence. I have often heard that silence - time to be with just yourself - is a very, very important thing. Years ago, I heard from a beautiful and influential spiritual man called Gordon Cosby, that if we all just sat in silent meditation for 20 minutes a day, the world would be a radically better place. I believe there is deep truth in this. I also recall being at the top of the Italian Dolomites about 6 years ago and being deeply affected by the total silence at the top of the mountain. The peace and sense of connection to a greater One was palpable. Still, despite this sense of knowing, I do not practice silence.

Last night, hubby and I collapsed on the sofa in that Friday night kind of way.  We flicked on the TV and stumbled upon this amazing BBC documentary called The Big Silence, showing the journey of 5 people embracing silent meditation for the first time. I was mesmerised and (at the end) moved to tears by their journey (part 2 and 3 are yet to air). If this issue speaks to you, please do click here and watch it (you have 20 days left from the date of this post to see episode 1 online). Let me know if you do and what you think...

The programme has really affected me and as a result , I am going to make a conscious effort to have longer periods of silence while I work and to overcome my restlessness in the absence of external noise and stimulus. Have you undertaken a similar journey? I would really love to hear. I will let you know how I get on!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Mac love & a round-up of things on the web

I will start this post by announcing,  ehm... (clears throat) that I am now the proud owner of a MacBook. After much research (along the lines of but why is it better?) I was finally convinced. I am a convert. Love it. Downside....I am SO busy art making for my exhibition I have not had enough time to play and upload stuff and most of my pics still on the PC. So excuse this pic-limited post, but I can offer you this snapshot of how the old PC is now being used (it is on its last legs!)...

Now for a brief web round up...

For those of you who are artists looking to sell, UneARTh is a new online gallery (international) with 10 % commission. I just sold a piece through it (very exciting). Do check it out as its new and they are looking for artists to populate it.

Whether or not you are a mosaic artist, check out this video about the installation of an awesome (and huge!) mosaic at the University of Iowa. It is made by Gary Drostle (and a host of helpers) who is an amazing public art mosaicist from South London. To see a pic of another of his most amazing mosaics, read this blog post of mine (its a bit sad, I warn you!)

The latest online version UK Handmade Magazine here (not just for Brits!).  Great features, including hot to carve a squash lantern (very lovely).

Off to bed...busy day nipping ahead!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

A peek at mosaic making frenzy...!

My solo exhibition is 6 weeks away....I am making, making, making,  all household duties woefully neglected.

Here's how its looking.

So much more in the pipeline...

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A creative space...near you?


I was contacted a few weeks ago by a lovely lady, Debra, who runs a place nearby in East Sheen, called the Artyard, asking if I was interested in running some mosaic workshops. I clicked on the Artyard website and immediately started doing internal skips and hops of excitement! One real time visit yesterday with my little Toby and I am now hooked.

Artyard is a space that every community should have. It is a creativity zone for children, for children and their families and for adults. The physical environment is evidence of the much fun that has clearly been had over the years, as well as a testament to clever design and the spirit of re-purposing and upcycling. The programme of creative work offered, from Family Making sessions (popcorn provided!), box art workshops, print making and seasonal events to mother and tots craft sessions and "Cocktail and Canvases" on Friday evenings (mmmm....make mine a mojito!).
Artyard is going way beyond 'Paint Your Own Pottery' cafe's for children. It is combining the community spirit of Stitch and Bitch with creative classes in a fantastic, centre of town setting. Do you have anything like this in your community? Please do share...

Imagine if every community had a  creative space like this - where using your hands and your heart  where a normal way of spending your free time, socialising,  developing as a person and dealing with the ups and downs of life. Think arty parties for grown ups (not just for children!), a place to help to you celebrate and mark big events (with a special creation to take away at the end). Think self-help for individuals and groups. Think soothing of the soul during tough times. An alternative to the TV, the bottle, the anti-depressant - all those things we as a society use to numb our souls instead of making them come alive and sing.

Yes, I think the Artyard and other places like it are more than just a bit of fun (well, a lot of fun by the looks of it!). I think they can be the kind of places that create community, well-being and a whole bunch of humans that are fully alive, skilled-up and developing.

If you are in London or in the Southern home counties, why not consider Artyard as a place to go, not just with children, but for yourself - for some 'me time'. Artyard is having an Open Day between 11am- 8pm on Thursday 4th November. Check it out and if you are a London blogger - please do spread the word.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mosaic hanging decorations and jewellery with recycled lids!

A recipe for children's jewellery and hanging decorations

Take some lids, the kind you would normally throw away (milk & juice bottle,  jam jar...)

Buy some tile adhesive (white creamy stuff, same consistency as peanut butter - pre-mixed in a tub from Pound / Dollar store or mix your own from powdered tile adhesive from DIY shop - both very cheap)
If you are going for hanging variety (tree decoration or necklace pendant), make two small holes in the lid. Use heated skewer for plastic lids (don't breathe in fumes) or a nail and hammer for metal lids.Then hook some wire through to form a loop.

Fill lid with creame tile adhesive.

Get some sparkly things - glass nuggets, beads, broken mosaic tiles (note, if you think you might get into doing mosaic projects, invest in some cheap tile nippers. They look like this...and it means you can use old bathroom tiles as well as mosaic tiles for lots of making fun!)
Stick your sparkly things into the tile adhesive. Make sure you embed tiles well, so they don't fall out.
Add appropriate hanging mechanism - sticky badge pins for brooches, ribbon for necklaces or string for hanging decorations (I use dental floss!)
Here's our variations on the theme :

A beady brooch - we used a bit of extra PVA/white glue to make sure the piles of beads stay in place
A little face brooch made with glass nugges and some broken tiles (but you can experiment with small beads for the pupils and lips, if you don't have tiles and nippers...)
Our tree hanging decoration, which doubles up as a pretty child's necklace.
Some more tree hangy things made with jam lids.
As you can see, we have done quite a few of these - a great way of recycling! Anyone who has followed this blog may have noticed that I have a thing about hanging pretty things in trees... especially good on bare branches for winter I think! And Christmas tree decor of course...

More tutorials for hanging decorations here and here.

Have fun making :)

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Celebrating Each Step...looking back on September 2010

Hello lovely blog readers...happy Autumn!

Firstly, thank you to all of you who have commented my "You Catch My Tears" mosaic, both on blog / Facebook and in person. The piece is very close to the heart and to know that it struck a chord in others has meant a lot to me. Sorry for being so quiet here for over a week (the longest gap in my blogging since I restarted in June 2009!). There's been lots of good stuff happening which has brought with it necessary extra workload. The stress of trying to get everything done had me hyperventilating last weekend (not helped by the fact that I got ill) but I can gladly report that I am now remembering to breathe!
Some of you are familiar with this monthly "Celebrating" post. But for those to whom it is new, this space is an antidote to rushing and diving headlong into the next thing on the to do list. It is an attempt to momentarily slow down the speedy pace of life so that we can look back and celebrate what we have actually achieved rather than be forever focused on what there is still to do. Very apt for me at the moment, so I am going to take my own advice, look back on September and do some acknowledging and celebrating, right now!  Glad you can join me ;)  

Here's my list of what I got done and got through in the last month and I invite you to look back on September and make your own list. If you want, you can put your list in the comments section or (if you run a blog) write your own "Celebrating" post and pop the link at the end of this post so that others can hop over and celebrate with you too!

So, in September 2010...
  • I finished a piece of art I am very proud of, called "You Catch My Tears..." (go back one post and you can see it and read about it)
  •  I finally fulfilled a creative dream of making mosaic jewellery - and have already sold two pieces!
  • I have done lots of hard thinking and planning for a total restructure of my web site and blog and have commissioned web designers (watch this space!)

    • I have had a children's mosaic tutorial published in Disney's Family Fun magazine in the States- currently on the newsstands - yay!
    •  In partnership with a local refugee group, Star KKF, we successfully secured a grant to fund a series of mosaic workshops for young people to make a mosaic patchwork on the theme of hope. The mosaic will be featured in my forthcoming exhibition in December. Our workshops start next week, which I am really looking forward to.
    • I am participating in my first ever Artists Open House - today was the first day and it was great! I loved meeting many local people, explaining my work and feel very chuffed to have sold pieces.  If you are local, do pop by (3rd, 9th and 10th October). Map and details here.
    • On a family note, my sweet little girl started "big school" . She settled in almost immediately and is very much enjoying it. What a big transition for us all...I am very proud of her (and of her little brother who has had to adjust to the change)
    •  We are now a family of six, with the arrival of our little rescue kittens, PomPom and Rosie! Now they are here, I realise how much I have missed having cats in the house. They are gorgeous, have made themselves right at home and the kids love them so much.
    Lastly, I know the above list can read like a lot (and it is - I do feel good that I have achieved all this), but its not always like this. I know that its not just what we achieve but how we are in the process. I still struggle with being ok in the midst of the stress. At times I feel I manage and at other  times I really don't think I care for myself well enough. Its a huge challenge to me. Stroking the new cats helps a lot!

    How about you? What do you want to mark or celebrate from the last month? And how have you been in the process?

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