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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: February 2011

Glittering Shards

Friday, February 25, 2011

Children's mosaic tea light holder

Carrying on the series of tutorials for making mosaics with children (that is good for very little ones as well as bigger kids), here is a lovely tea light holder for you to make that involves no cutting and materials that are readily available.

The key thing to notice here is the type of glue used. Working on a 3 d surface means that using ordinary craft glue is hard as the object you are sticking on will slide off.  So, before I launch into the project, here's some good to know info about silicone adhesive!

In this project we use clear silicone adhesive  / caulk which is the stuff that is used around the edge of a bathtub (flexible, slightly squidgy even when dry).  It is very tacky stuff so you won't have to worry about tiles etc.. slipping off! It comes in various colours so make sure you buy the one that dries clear   - it is white when it comes out of the tube. Builders / tilers will buy them in big tubes that require a metal 'gun' but you can also get silicone in squeezy tubes (the small ones sold for craft purposes / on mosaic sites are much more expensive than the stuff you buy in a DIY stores and I have never seen any advantage to warrant the extra cost).  Lastly, a lot of silicone adhesive has a pongy smell so use it in a well ventilated area and not for long periods. However, I have discovered a tube of the stuff that is smell free and readily available (at least in the UK) called "Kitchen and Bathroom Sealant" from Wickes DIY. Enough about the properties of silicone glue! Here's how you make your pretty mosaic tea light holder.

What you need:
  • old jam jar / glass tea light holder etc...
  • glass nuggets (available in pound / dollar stores / florists / Ikea / craft shops) mix of coloured and clear / translucent is nice so that candlelight shines through
  • translucent (see through) silicone adhesive
  • spreader
  1. Spread the glue quite thickly over the jam jar - work in section so that you can hold and rotate the jar. 
  2. Embed the nuggets firmly in the glue. 

3.  You will need to squish and move the nuggets around to fill the space without going over the edges.
4. Leave to dry - it will take a good couple of days to go clear.
5. If you want, you can grout it when it is dry - black grout is particularly effective
6. If you have used a jam jar, you can add some wire on the rim so that you can hang your mosaic tea light holder - we are going to make a few to hang out side once the warm nights come (can't wait!).
We have left ours ungrouted and I love the way that the candle light catches the bubbles in the glass. Simple, pretty and a very easy mosaic project for children big and small (and adults of course!).

Have fun!

Before I sign off, I just want to say thanks so much for all the encouragement in the last post. It is hard to say in words how much I appreciate the genuine support that people give. It means a lot.  I have added a new page on the top right of the menu with all the newly updated  "Celebrating Each Step" info on how to be part of this reflective space.  The new code for the blog badge is there (so that blog badges point to this new page not the old one). Please do update your blog badge with this new code or add the blog badge for the first time to declare "I'm Celebrating Each Step". Thank you :)

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Monday, February 21, 2011

So many things to celebrate! And a round up of blog love...

Oh my, I don't know if my stars are lined up or what but the last couple of weeks have been worthy of some serious looking back and Celebrating!
Gosh, I really should do a winter version of my toes!
Before I share, I have to report back that several people have said to me  "Please don't stop the Celebrating Each Step forum." And tonight I just discovered a beautiful new photography and mosaic site with the Celebrating Each Step badge on and I felt a twinge as I know there is a fair sprinkling of badges for the Celebrating forum in the blogosphere.

So here's the deal. I will continue to post my celebrations and acknowledgments of the steps I take, when I need to, because...well... I need to (and want to). Read all about it by clicking the "I'm Celebrating..." tab at the top right of the blog where I have also put the blog badge for you to grab.  If you are a regular reader or just happen upon a 'Celebrating' post, please join me in celebrating your own recent accomplishments, big and small (either in the comments or on your own blog for you to link to). One dear friend has told me that looking back every day and acknowledging our big and small steps with gratitude is a key tenet of Ignatian spirituality. It is good to remind ourselves that when we engage in this practice of reflection, we are in good company, stretching back through ages and traditions ;)

And's me celebrating...
Sold! Great story behind this piece here
  • selling two pieces of mosaic art this week - yay!
  • Sold!
  • a new commission to make some gorgeous mosaic dragonflies for a garden
  • a commission to do a 2 day workshop and a piece of public art with children in care. This is rather wonderful as I was a social worker and advocate with children in care until recently, so it brings two parts of my life together  :)
  • a really successful pilot of mosaic workshops at the Artyard.  People really got the mosaic bug and were so complementary about the course that we have now booked another month's worth of workshops!
  • announcement that one of my students, Silvia, won the local round of the Topps Tiles Award for Achievement in Mosaics for her first mosaic 'Starling'. She now goes through to the national round. Well done Silvia!
  • Silvia's award winning first mosaic
  • I have been approached by a wonderful looking gallery and art education centre who are interested in my work. Exciting...!
  • I have been nominated for a Stylish Blog award by the lovely Creating Trouble! Thank you so much...feel honoured.  Head on over there to see some lovely art, cards, mosaics and quilting. Lovely to find another mosaic-lovin' blogger in London too!
As part of receiving the Award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, pass the Award onto 15 other blogs that I love and then let them know!   Here goes:

7 things about me...
1. I love artichokes (mmmm....), and fish and rice and watermelon (my desert island foods)
2. I can say the alphabet backwards very fast (good party trick)
3. I wrote a book on the rights of children who are locked-up, which was widely distributed to young people in prison several years ago
4. I am a bit of a singing and miss miss miss the choir I was part of BC (before children)
5. I spent part of my childhood in Southern Italy, in a beautiful seaside town called Marina di Ginosa, with the loveliest white sandy beaches and acres of vineyard
6. Van Morrison is my all time favourite musical artist - Irish mystic and musical genius
7. Yup, my hair is naturally curly.

And I award the Stylish Blog Award to the following blogs:

1. Dana Barbieri Art
2. Mosaic is Art
3. Sy's Prints
4. Elemental
5. The Prairie Girl
6. 101 Birdtales
7. Ordinary Courage
8. Beauty That Moves
9. A Little Hut
10. The Crafty Crow
11. Blue Sky Butterfly Studio
12. Marmalade Moon
13. Mousy Brown's House
14. Kelly Rae Roberts
15. Makiko Hastings

So much I could say about each one - some newly discovered, others have been regular pit stops in my blog journeying - but safe to say that I have chosen these as they represent  some of the  wonderful 'blog-homes' of some amazing, inspiring women, each following their hearts, creating beautiful things in various mediums and struggling to balance  creativity, daily life and -in many cases- parenthood. Thank you blog sisters.  The Stylish Blog Awards, as I see it, are a sweet way of acknowledging each others goodness and giving others a chance to discover this goodness - so head on over as there's a lot of goodness going on!

Handing over to pause and breathe...and wonder... What  steps have you taken that you haven't properly acknowledged because of life's busyness and the pull of the 'to do' list?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Experimental photography fun!

This pic of the girls taken by Moyra from Creating My Life

Here's some images from a great afternoon out on London's Southbank with a gorgeous bunch of girls who have all done Amelia's Experimental Art e-course (she has opened bookings for the Spring course people! So head on over and be tempted as its a great course for re-discovering and deepening creativity).

I loved the freedom of walking around with others, click-clicking away with my gorgeous new Nikon D3100 (I just would not have felt quite so free taking shots in funny angles on my own!).

An added bonus was stumbling upon a fantastic exhibition of children's art in the basement at the Royal Festival Hall. The theme was children's feelings and response to adversity, put together by the awesome Kids Company whose work with traumatised children's I respect enormously. Well worth a visit (and its free!).

This ceiling of lights was genius - each lamp made from tissue paper and (what seemed to be) coloured PVA glue to make words and pictures about feelings. Love it and its given me an idea of what to do with a lamp we have that has lost its shade...

And a nice coffee and natter with the girls to finish a lovely afternoon..!

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Monday, February 14, 2011

The greatest thing you will ever learn... how to love

 and be loved in return.     
(still learning)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Look what people are making...! (and a note about garlic!!)

Welcome to my regular round-up of work by my mosaic students!

As always, I am relishing the buzz of seeing people fall in love with the mosaic medium, getting totally absorbed in the process and feeling energized to create. Its such an honour to facilitate this.
Hard at work at the Artyard taster workshop
As is my style, I don't expect beginners to just stick to the basics - so on my current courses (the 7 week Glittering Shards course, my weekly drop-in's and the short taster course at The Artyard) people are doing some great experimental stuff - including glass stacking (totally spontaneous - how cool is that?!)

Here's some pics of works in progress. Before you browse, I need to digress wildly.

If you read my recent post on making Busy Mama's Garlic be aware that there are health reasons why you should not keep (home made) chopped garlic in oil for more than one week in the fridge (and a couple of hours at room temperature) as you can get serious food poisoning. So if you have been tempted to make your own stash of pre-chopped garlic in oil, read this! Thanks to Brigit from Maine for letting us know this (she is a garlic expert - so wonderful!)

The following mosaics are all beginners, works in progress so yet to be grouted. Enjoy the mosaic eye candy and Happy Thursday!
 Kirsteen's moonlit glade

Judith's mosaic nude emerging

Anthea's gecko
spot the glass stacking!
Rachel's grass

Kate using glass nuggets cut in half - lovely!

A bit of love to finish - Happy Valentines!

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Is it art and are you an artist? A new way of looking at things...

I have followed the ' is is art?' debates for several years, often with bemusement from a non fine-art trained person such as myself.
Cerulean Rendevous by Carole Choucair Oueijan (mosaic)
My gut response  is to reject the authoritarian, 'closed-shop' spirit that would bring about categorisations such as 'this is and isn't art / fine art / good art' and to question the interests of the authorities that are behind such exclusivity.
Pict9339 by Lubosz Dobroslaw Kerway (mosaic)
Today I read an interesting article in A-N Magazine (Artists Newsletter which is a UK organisation for artists) by Dr Jon Bowen, an artist and psychologist. He introduces a liberating proposal (drawn from anthropological studies on ritual) to stop categorising something as 'art' or 'not art' and use instead a response based on a continuum:  'its very art, its quite art, its hardly art at all'. He also suggests a democratisation of how we  define art - in simple terms, taking away the power of categorisation (how 'arty' something is) from the 'authorities' and handing it back to 'ordinary people'. The role of  'experts', argues Dr Bowen, is to take the gut reactions to art of ordinary people and grapple with  why? And so a new way of looking at art and artists emerges  -  with the definition of art being less categorical and more continuum, less establishment and more community-owned.
Wet Nude by Mehmen Hakan Demirok (mosaic)
That sits much more happily with little 'ole me and rings true to the conversations I have with people in my everyday life.  When talking to friends and family, there is  invariably a huge divide between the response of Joe Bloggs to 'art' and that of the elite in the art establishments and academia. During my exhibition in December, I had three amazing, unprompted conversations (with different people at different times) all of which had been to Art School (and even lectured in Fine Art) and had come away bruised by the experience of elitism,  authoritarianism and disconnection from ordinary people. What interested (and encouraged) me about these conversations was that they all came about because these kind souls walked into my exhibition and were touched by what they saw - they responded to the art on the walls and said to me (to paraphrase) "What you are doing is great, it is art, we can see your journey in it, it is unfettered by constraints to the establishment" and they urged me to carry on making heart-full art without concern about how people may see or define my work. Those conversations were more valuable to me than the sales I made.
You Catch My Teas by Concetta Perot (mosaic)
For me, the most striking challenge  in Dr Bowen's article was a sentence in response to the ritualistic power of the Turner Prize, 'which says that "It's art because the money says it's art. It's good because the money says it's good".  Surely we have to challenge the power that we give to these monetized  processes that tell us what is and isn't art / good art? And that challenge starts at home. Do I see myself only as an artists when I am selling? Do I define how well I am doing by how much I am selling?  I am not talking about the need to make a living (for that is an entirely different thing), but how we see our very selves and the work of our hands and hearts. It is a continual challenge and it makes me question why so many of us, until we are earning a certain arbitrary amount from our work, find it hard to say "I am an artist". Why should this be so?
Permafrost by Sonia King (mosaic)
Closer to home for a mosaic artist like myself is the perpetual 'is it a mosaic, is it mosaic art or craft, is it fine art mosaic?' debate  where we encounter yet another layer of elitism at work. Did you know that there was a petition a few years ago to challenge the Tate Modern's (the premier UK modern art gallery) refusal to  allow contemporary mosaic art to be displayed in its hallowed walls? Because apparently mosaics were craft not art. Ehm!  I don't know if they have since changed their policy (if anyone does, please enlighten us). But the fact that such an institution would sanction this simple confusion of medium with process and outcome is astounding. Do we reject the medium of painting because we also use paint for DIY and decorating jewelery boxes and picture frames?

Mosaic is the medium, tiles are the paint of the mosaic artist and our hands - lovingly shaping and handling each piece - are our paintbrush. We are all journeying - our process becoming more skilled, instinctive and complex as we deepen our interaction between the medium and our inner and outer worlds.

What are these exclusive edicts really about?  Could it be that mosaic art, so accessible (for even those who 'can't draw'), lending itself so readily to outsider-art and  self-teaching, is a touch threatening? Does the making (and selling) of art really have to be kept out of the hands of the masses?

This post began as a simple desire to display the image below of a wonderful and challenging installation I experienced last summer and to pose the questions of where it fits within definition of genres (is it mosaic or not?).  But, as often happens, my neural tap-tapping of fingers on plastic keys took me elsewhere! Glad if you would add your thoughts to mine.  
Mirror by Shaeron Caton-Rose (very mosaic or a little bit mosaic??)

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