A lazy post…

OK, I’m going to kill 4 mosaics with one post. All these pieces were done on small plates I picked up the day before we went to get our dog, Dexter (yes, the one that ate the chokecherries).

We had rented a car because the shelter we were getting Dex from was located on the outskirts of Montreal. (Side note for anyone interested in adopting a dog: Animatch, the shelter where we got Dexter, does absolutely amazing work.) Since we rarely have a car in our possession (which is actually fine by us), we took the opportunity to go pick up some heavier pantry staples at the store. We also picked up a watermelon. A small word of advice: don’t put a watermelon in the trunk of your car. The sounds it makes rolling around back there make for a very nerve-wracking drive home. Hey, like I said, we’re not used to having a car, so these are the kinds of obvious details we stupidly overlook.

Anyway, these small plates were great because they were quick projects and were super easy to grout (woohoo!). The one seems to remind me of DNA for some reason. Maybe I was a geneticist in a former life. No, probably not.

Purple candle plate (square)

Red candle plate

Red candle plate

Purple candle plate 1

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[Long overdue] craft sale update!

My apologies – it’s been forever since I wrote. Did you miss me? No matter, I missed you.

I have a backlog of mosaics to write about (all from that big push I did to get ready for the craft sale), but first I want to tell you how the actual craft sale itself went. As you know, it was my first one and I started small – just a low-key event at my local neighbourhood community centre. No need to swim with the big fishes right away, right?

I think all things considered it went pretty well. Not being part of the regular craft sale community, I felt a bit out of place since everyone seemed to know everyone else. I also felt a bit ghetto since all the pros seemed to have a very elaborate set-up complete with lights, backdrops, shelves, and signs. Me, I only had a sheet to cover my table and some pretty weak homemade business cards. But hey, it was my first show and this is just a hobby for me.

Anyway, the sale. I started the day with 27 mosaics (I think that was the final count), and I went home with just 17. So, if my elementary school math is correct, I sold a whopping 10 pieces! I was actually really happy with that result because my goal for the show was to sell just one piece to someone I didn’t know (since all my previous pieces had been gifted to or bought by friends). Well, 4 of those 10 did go to friends (thanks guys!), but the other 6 went to complete and total strangers! The most popular item of the day: definitely the vases.

I think the most rewarding part of the whole experience for me was the positive feedback I received, which was very validating. One woman even asked me where my studio was (to which I replied, “Uh, my living room”). And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the craft sale in a nutshell.

Craft sale display

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I love fall. I really do.

I love fall. It’s my favourite season, by far. Spring comes a close second, but it’s a bit too muddy for my liking. Summer? Too hot. Winter? Too cold (especially here in Ottawa). But fall… Fall makes me want to go for a hike and grin at the satisfying crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. Other reasons I love fall: hearty soups, apples (especially my favourite, Tolman Sweet), that “back to school” energy in the air, Thanksgiving dinner, and, oh yah, the colours. Who doesn’t love fall colours? So rich and earthy. And I think that’s what I love so much about these 2 mirrors: the fall-like colours.

Now, this first one was actually the first mirror I made in this little ‘series’. It was a while ago, so pardon me if I’m a little fuzzy on the details. I do remember we watched “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” while I was cutting and glueing all those squares. Not a great movie – it definitely didn’t live up to the first “Elizabeth“.

The second mirror is my favourite one of the whole bunch. I love the colours and I love that you can see the grain of the wood through the glass – I think that sort of organic aspect is a great contrast with the hardness of the glass. This mirror is a great example of me having a plan and not following it (and the end product being much better because of it!). Originally I wanted to split the mirror into 4 differently coloured sections radiating from one corner (can you picture it?). But then I looked at the colours of the glass that I was being drawn to and thought that a sort of fiery freeform design would be much more interesting. And I do believe it was! It was also nice to work with the existing shapes of the glass scraps again – that’s really what I love doing and it’s when I feel most inspired.

I was home alone the weekend I started work on this mirror, so I needed something (read: a TV show) to entertain me while I worked. You know, take my mind off of my knotted shoulders, bleeding hands, and blurry eyes. The trick was that it needed to be a show that I found interesting enough to have it on in the background and not get annoyed, but one that I wasn’t dying to see, otherwise I would spend my whole time watching and my mirror would sit unmosaicked. My solution: Degrassi TNG. Yes, this mirror was made to the soundtrack of Season 7 of Degrassi TNG (that gives you an idea of how long these things take to make, eh?). This does not embarrass me. No, au contraire. I am a proud Canadian: I love CBC, Degrassi, maple syrup, and the fall colour palette. And I hope you love this mosaic.

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Checkmate!

This mirror is part of a whole slew of mirrors that I banged out in preparation for the Sandy Hill craft show (more scintillating posts to follow soon). I was lucky enough to find a whack of these Ikea Malma mirrors at various garage sales all over Ottawa this summer. We actually had fabulous luck in the garage sale department this summer. Humour me by letting me regale you with a tale of our garage sale luck.

One day, as we waited for the groomer to finish with Dexter, we cruised the nearby sales. I bought 2 of these mirrors at one of the sales, so I was already pretty happy, but then we stumbled upon the mother lode. Someone was selling their espresso machine. And, joy of joys, it had a milk frother!!! (In case you couldn’t tell, I enjoy my coffee with milk.) The guys was asking $10, which, in retrospect, was a pretty good price. We hemmed and hawed, but eventually walked away empty-handed. Our rationale: we didn’t need more ‘stuff’. As we wandered around a couple more sales, our conversation kept coming back to that darn espresso maker. We eventually decided to go back and see if it was still there. If it was, it was a sign from the coffee deities that we should buy it. If it wasn’t, well, it just wasn’t meant to be. So we returned. And lo and behold, there it was, in all its coffee-making glory. And, wonder of wonders, the price had magically dropped to $7! So we immediately shelled out, right? Wrong! We hemmed and hawed again! We peppered the guy with questions: Does it work? Really, does it work? Why are you getting rid of it? Is it heavy (we had to walk about 2.5 km with it)? Does it work? And then, you’ll never believe this. He turned to us and said (and not even in an exasperated tone, which is even more astounding): “You know what? I just want to get rid of it. Really. Just take it. Please.” And you know what the best part is? We weren’t even trying to talk him down in price. But I digress…

Let’s get back to business. The mirror. At first I wanted it to have 8 different coloured squares. Then I looked in my glass bins and was horrified to see that my colour selection was severely depleted. I couldn’t even scrounge up 4 colours (well, 4 colours that looked good together). In fact, even the 2 colours I picked were a bit scant, so I had to supplement them with grey. It’s times like these when I find myself wishing for a wealthy arts (OK, crafts) patron for whom money is no object and who will keep me well supplied with fabulously gorgeous glass (and tasty wine and coffee with milk and dark chocolate…). What? A girl can dream, can’t she?

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No animals were harmed in the making of this vase

It took me forever to come up with the design for this vase. I know, I know – looking at it, you’d never know it. As usual, I had grand, elaborate ideas. Complicated ideas. Ones that would not fit on a vase like this. Thankfully, my trusty inner editor kicked in and I pared the design down to the end product. Not much exciting happened during the making of this vase. I didn’t watch any fabulous movies or discover any great new musicians (side note: Triple J Unearthed is a treasure trove of undiscovered Aussie musicians and the source of many a mix CD over here at our place).

No wait! I believe the Great Chokecherry Incident of 2008 occurred at some point during the weeks I was working on this vase. What is GCI 2008, you ask? It’s when our relatively new dog, Dexter (yes, named after the TV serial killer), decided to gorge himself on chokecherries while we were out picking them to make chokecherry syrup. Who knew chokecherry pits contained cyanide? Clearly not us! To make a long story short, we quickly Googled “chokecherries + dogs + poison”, started freaking out (especially since one of the symptoms of cyanide poisoning was “sudden death”), phoned the emergency vet clinic just to make sure we were freaking out for a good reason, induced vomiting as per the clinic’s instructions, and then fed poor Dexter milk, burnt toast, and a generous dose of vegetable oil (which didn’t have its intended effect) and voila! Dexter was no worse for wear, although our nerves were pretty shot.

So, in closing, I present to you Dexter, shortly before his chokecherry-induced near-death experience. Oh, and the vase. Enjoy!

Dexter, just before he nearly experience "sudden death" due to chokecherry poisoning

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It’s [almost] the most wonderful time of the year

OK, so it’s not Christmas yet. It’s really not even close to being Christmas – the stores have only just put out all the Hallowe’en goodies. But I wanted to share some good festive news:

I will be participating in the Sandy Hill’s ONE & ONLY Art and Gift Fair!

It’s my first craft show and I am totally excited (and a bit nervous). I guess now I really have to buckle down and build up my inventory! In the line-up of things to be mosaicked: lots of mirrors, some plates, a few vases, and a lamp. And anything else I can scrounge up between now and then!

So if you’re in Ottawa on November 23 and are looking for that perfect handmade gift, come check it out!

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Circles and squares and triangles, oh my!

I’m not really sure why, but this plate reminds me of the 70s. Each time I look at it, images of bell bottoms and psychedelic patterns and macrame owls inexplicably float through my head. If only I had done it in yellow, orange, and avocado green! Anyhow, it’s just a simple little plate that I did on a rainy spring day here in Ottawa. The base, however, came all the way from exotic Kitchener – it was rescued from the thrift store down the street from my parents’ house. And that’s that!

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A bevy of plates

One of the many “unique” garage sale finds peppered throughout our apartment is a plant pot that we creatively call our “German pot”, probably because it has a “Made in Germany” sticker on it (yes, our creative genius never ceases to amaze me). When my little Book of Inspiration failed me while I was trying to dream up a design for one of the many acacia charger plates I had waiting in the wings, our trusty German pot stepped up to the plate (so to speak) and served as my inspiration. Though the pot itself is white with green swirls, I chose purple and clear glass for this project because, well, because it was what I had in stock! Actually though, I think it does look nice against the colour of the wood.

Because the German pot-inspired plate came together fairly quickly, I decided to move on to another plate right away. Just a simple green flower (I can’t tell you how much I adore that green glass) set in a black background – not much to comment on, but I will say that the green ‘pops’ a lot more in person.

And then, because I was on a roll, I did this third plate. I really drew my inspiration from the grain of the wood. And I am happy to report that my stockpile of red glass is finally down to a manageable size. Actually, my entire glass supply is starting to run a bit low – I think a trip to the glass store may be in order soon, especially now that it’s nice out and I can bike over (which is much better than traipsing through a blizzard, but not quite as stereotypically Canadian).

 

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A broken mirror resurrected

This piece has been done for forever, but I’m only just getting around to posting it because I’ve only just gotten around to taking a picture of it. Why, you ask? Well, 2 reasons: (1) I’m lazy / forgetful and (2) do you know how hard it is to photograph mirrors?? I can’t seem to get a good picture inside because the flash totally buggers things up, but today was a lovely sunny day so I was able to take this guy outside and snap some shots. And yes, those are telephone wires in the reflection. Sorry.

I guess one interesting tidbit about this plate is that the mirror was found in the trash. Yes, the trash. The neighbourhood where I live is overrun with students and at the end of each semester it seems that the dumpsters just overflow with perfectly good stuff they’re throwing out as they move back home to live with mummy and daddy for the summer. As my primary school librarian used to say in a very exasperated tone, “Kids, kids, kids…”

Anyway, one day I got home from work and there was this large mirror just sitting beside the dumpster, which I can see from my living room window (yes, it’s all quite scenic). Granted, it was a little bit chipped here and there, but for the most part it was in good shape. I thought to myself, “Julie, there’s a mosaic in that mirror.” So I grabbed an empty cereal box and my partner (dumpster diving is always more fun in pairs) and out we went. Of course, the mirror was too big to fit in the cereal box so we set about breaking it up, which was much easier said than done in the end-of-winter melting snow and mud (although there was something quite satisfying about stomping on the glass to break it).

And that’s how this plate came to be. It’s just one of the many treasures we’ve found in the trash here in Ottawa. Maybe I’ll tell you about our other finds sometime…like when I’ve got no mosaics to blog about yet have an urge to write.

 

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Quick and dirty

multicoloured candle plateI’ve found that lately I’ve been starting to plan my mosaics more. Being the organized geek I am, I started a little scrapbook of clippings from magazines, postcards, etc. that could serve as future inspiration for designs…and I’ve been using it. Now, that’s not to say I plan where each and every piece is going to go – these plans simply give me a sketchy roadmap of how I’d like the project to take shape, but I still take the odd detour or scenic route here and there and let the glass guide me as much as possible. While I like the results – I think they do look a bit more thoughtful and clean – sometimes I miss just getting lost in the colours and shapes. So that’s what this little project was: a return to the kind of mosaic where the glass is in charge and I kind of go on auto-pilot.

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