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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It’s hip to be square

checkered lamp - offThis mosaic was kind of a cross between 2 previous projects, which diligent readers will know and recognize. After seeing a picture of the lamp and the small checkered plate I had made, a friend asked if I could make a colourful checkered lamp for her son’s room. I, of course, eagerly accepted the job.

I was pretty excited about the project for a number of reasons: (a) it was my first commission, which was kind of flattering, (b) i thought the end product was going to look absolutely smashing, and (c) the checkered pattern meant that it would be a fairly quick job to finish (at least the gluing part). What I didn’t expect were the endless shards of glass that kept lodging themselves in my poor hands as I cut all the squares. Yes, by the end of this project I was an expert in extracting those little bastards from my skin (or biting my tongue as my partner did it for me using an assortment of pins and tweezers under a harsh bright light).

I think the end product is fun; the colours make me smile for some reason, and I think they really stand out in the white grout. And I’m glad I didn’t make the squares perfectly symmetrical – how boring would that have been? Anyway, I hope wee Josh likes it and gets many years of enjoyment out of it (at least until he enters that teenage angst phase).

checkered lamp - lit

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Guilty as “charged”

Keeping my glass supplies stocked has never really been a problem thanks to my mom and her love of stained glass. But with over 500 km separating us now (538 km, to be exact – thank you, Google maps), it’s been a wee bit tougher to replenish my stock on a regular basis. While I’m not exactly running low on glass, my colour selection is dwindling. So one weekend a few months ago I decided to venture out into the great white Ottawa winter and hit the local glass store.

Now, when I say “great white Ottawa winter”, that’s exactly what I mean. The day my partner and I chose for our little adventure turned out to coincide with a healthy dump of snow on our nation’s capital. But like the good Canadians we are, we didn’t turn back. Oh no, we kept going, slowly slogging through the mounds of freshly fallen snow. Of course we had to stop en route at a diner to fuel up with a greasy breakfast first, after which our eyes glazed over and we quickly fell into a grease- and carb-induced torpor. I think that may have been a good thing, because it meant that we didn’t think too much about our 6 km trek through the snowy (and very much unshovelled) streets of Ottawa.

Once we arrived at the glass store, I inexplicably started feeling a little self-conscious, like an outsider. I didn’t know where the scrap bin was and after quickly surveying the shop floor, I started rummaging through what I thought was the scrap bin, which, instead of the irregular scraps I had been expecting, contained neat little bundles of perfectly square glass. I picked out a couple bundles, plus a whole discounted sheet of glass with a chipped corner. When I took them up to pay, I decided that we hadn’t walked those 6 km for nothing and I swallowed my pride and asked if that was the only scrap bin they had. The guy working, bless his soul, didn’t laugh at my ignorance and instead kindly pointed me in the direction of the real scrap bin. I donned some of the holey gloves provided and sorted through pounds and pounds of scrap. Ah yes, that was the good stuff – so many colours and irregular shapes and sizes! I was happier than a chipmunk in a peanut butter jar.

All this to say that some of the glass I picked up that blizzardy day was used for the 2 acacia charger plates seen below – my first projects with bought glass. The designs, by the way, were conceived as doodles while I was daydreaming in French class (and later simplified as I laid them out on the plates, because I inevitably bite off more than I can chew when I’m coming up with an idea for a design).

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You spin me right round, baby

Looking back on my childhood I realize that I’ve always kind of liked turny thingies. I loved merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, those little turning platforms that you stood on and twisted right and left to slim and sleek your waistline (popular exercise gadget of the 80s), and, of course, lazy Susans. Even now, I smile on the inside when I’m chez mes parents and we pull out the lazy Susan to play Scrabble … although that warm fuzzy feeling is quickly replaced with feelings of frustration and despair as my mother handily kicks my ass. As you can imagine, I was filled with sunny, happy thoughts when I saw this lazy Susan just waiting to be mosaicked.

The inspiration for the design actually came from a Chrismas card I received this year. As work progressed, I took more and more artistic liberties and if you were to look at the card and the end product, you’d never guess that the former inspired the latter. Anyway, this little beaut was snatched up by a friend, who gave it as a wedding gift to friends of hers. I felt quite honoured that someone thought it was good enough to be given as a gift. I was admittedly a wee bit sad to see my little piece of turning delight go, but the money in my wallet quickly eased my pain…

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A festive mosaic sweatshop

In our quest for meaningful, heartfelt (yet cheap) Christmas presents, R and I decided that this year we would make mosaics for our friends. Usually we do a baking marathon and give our nearest and dearest Tupperwares full of festive delicacies, but the logistics of hauling all those baked goods from Ottawa all the way back home without them getting stale or broken seemed a bit tricky. Small, stackable mosaics seemed like the way to go. As luck would have it, we came across these great little plates at The Bay (of all places!) and they were a real steal. Now all we had to do was mosaic them…

Mine came together fairly quickly because I used fairly big pieces of glass, but R was a bit more ambitious. There were a few cut fingers (mostly mine), more than a few expletives uttered out of sheer frustration (mostly hers), and 2 sore necks from bending over our projects for hours. Yes, it was a veritable Christmas mosaic sweatshop over here. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, she hates the grouting and polishing too, so guess who got stuck doing that!

I think R did a fabulous job on her mosaics, especially considering it was her first time – she’s got a great eye (not that I’m biased or anything). I also found it really interesting to see how different our styles were.

xmas mosaics

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We ♥ Jack (and Sally’s not bad either)

My brother’s fiancée is a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan. We’re talking huge fan – she’s got more Nightmare paraphernalia than Ottawa has civil servants. So this year I decided to contribute to her collection by making her a Jack mosaic. I chose the simplest design I could find, and even once I got it drawn on the plate I had to simplify it even more – Jack’s mouth just had way too many lines! Damn him! Even though this piece was a bit of a challenge, it did have one advantage: if I can’t come up with any gift ideas for her next year, I can always follow up with a Sally mosaic!

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And Julie said, “Let there be light!”

clear mosaic lampNot only is Ikea a great place for meatballs and hotdogs, but it is also a good place to find fairly cheap bases to mosaic. I picked up this lamp on a whim, thinking it might look nice in the red that I used for one of my earlier plates (I was still, and am still, trying to get rid of that damn red glass), but then I got to thinking that a simple clear glass lamp with a dark grout would look much cleaner and more sophistimicated. It was a fun piece to do (except the grouting, but what’s new?), and as I worked I excitedly (and incessantly) flicked the light on and off to see how it was progressing. It seemed to be a popular piece among my friends and I have since had requests for a few more of these little puppies, none of which have been filled yet (probably because I haven’t had the urge to shuffle through Ikea with hundreds of other people, jostling to be first in line for the 50c hotdogs).

 

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