Tag Archives | California

The mosaic murals of Jingletown’s “Rue de Merde” (and more!)

Last weekend I took my first of two classes at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland. I definitely added to my arsenal of fundamental skills and knowledge, which is always a good thing. We created a few quick and dirty pieces that were focused on process and technique rather than aesthetics. Needless to say, none of them came home with me.

On Sunday morning I arrived a bit early and took advantage of the chance to wander the neighbourhood surrounding IMA. I’m sure glad I did, because I got to see the “Rue de Merde” – a little strip of gravel path and vegetation (presumably where all the neighbourhood dogs go to do their business?) that is decorated with a long wall of murals, both painted and mosaicked.

So, without further ado, here is a brief photographic tour of the Rue de Merde and more!


3 weeks in and still loving it!

So three weeks of my California sabbatical have already flown by. The time is going by way too quickly! I’m absolutely loving it. I’m not bored at all, and my only regret is that I haven’t made as much progress on my mosaic work as I had hoped. But I guess I’ll chalk that one up to being busy getting ready for our trip to Costa Rica and Guatemala (we leave in a few short hours!!). Once we get back though, I promise to be a mosaic machine! (After I power through the laundry and edit the gazillion photos I’m sure we’ll take, that is.)

Aside from picking away at my Mississippi piece, I’ve been doing some tinkering with my website, so if you see any bugs, let me know. Not that I’ll know how to fix them, of course… All this stuff just goes right over my head. While working, I’ve been devouring episode after episode of Downton Abbey and Friday Night Lights.

I’ve also been enjoying walks along the beach, which is literally right across the road. My favourite destination is the dog beach – I firmly believe it’s one of the happiest places on earth, all those happy puppies bounding around, enjoying the sand and surf. I just borrowed a bike from a friend, so once I get back I’m looking forward to venturing a bit farther afield.

In terms of adventures, we did a few little day trips just after I arrived: one to soak up some inspiration at the LA County Museum of Art (we hit the women surrealist artists exhibit, where I fell head over heels in love with the art of Kay Sage and Dorr Bothwell) and another to go hiking in Griffith Park. We chose the route that took us right up behind the big Hollywood sign, you know, for maximum tourist value.

Anyway, that’s about it! Once we get back, it will only be a few short weeks until my first course at the Institute of Mosaic Art. YAY!


New blog feature: Work-in-progress Wednesday

Since I’ll be making steadier progress on my mosaics over the next 3 months, I’ve decided to include a new feature on the blog: Work-in-progress Wednesday (or WIP Wednesday, for short). Each Wednesday (or almost every Wednesday), I’ll post a work-in-progress shot of whatever project I have on the go. No words, just the photo.

And, this being my first Wednesday in California, I guess this is as good a time as any to post my first pic.

The general plan for my first California project: A mosaic based on a map of meander paths of the Mississippi


California on my mind

Some of you might be aware of the fact that my partner and I are in our third year of living apart. (Short story: She had to go to California for work, but I couldn’t follow because of immigration laws – you know, the whole same-sex thing – so I stayed back here in Ottawa. There are no jobs for her in Canada and none for me in California. Hence, we live apart.) Anyway, what you really need to know is this: living apart sucks. End of story.

When it became clear that we’d be doing the long distance thing for a third year, I knew I’d probably go nuts (a stolen week here and there is not really enough, you know?) so, as a pre-emptive strike, I decided to ask for a three-month leave from my job. And my boss (and her boss) – bless their souls – agreed.

Which brings us to today: the day I fly down to California and begin my three months of actually having a semi-normal life with the person I love. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’ve been giddy for weeks and right now I’m grinning from ear to ear despite the fact that I was up way before the sun this morning.

You may be thinking: But Julie, what does this have to do with mosaics? Ahhhh, allow me to explain. Because my partner will be working while I’m down in California, I’ll need something to occupy a good chunk of my time. And what better way to keep myself busy than to make mosaics? It’s always been my fantasy to do this stuff full time and now I have three months to live that dream.

I’ve got a few ideas for pieces that I want to do (stay tuned!), and I’m going to try to experiment with some materials that I haven’t used much before (no stained glass for me…at least not for 3 months!). I’ve also signed up to take two courses up in Oakland at the Institute of Mosaic Art. And get this: one of them is with one of my mosaic idols, Sonia King! I was so happy when I found out that her workshop would coincide with my time in California!

Anyway, I should probably go stretch my legs a bit before boarding the plane. Next stop, Long Beach, California!

Soaking up some inspiration (and some sun!) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla


A bit of SoCal mosaic inspiration

Recently I popped down to Long Beach, California, to visit my partner. This was the fourth time I’d gone down to see her during the 2 years we’ve been living apart (thank you, crappy job market). Every time I go, we try to fit in a few mini-adventures to explore the surrounding area, and this time our adventures came complete with quite a bit of mosaic inspiration!

Our first outing was to the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA. There were some really great mosaics by Evelyn Ackerman, but since I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, you’ll have to content yourselves with this link.

From there, we went up to Malibu to the Getty Villa. Absolutely spectacular! Honestly, if you’re ever in the vicinity, please don’t miss this gem. Impeccably curated and just plain stunning. I would go back again in a heartbeat. There were some great Roman mosaics there that set my heart aflutter.

Do I look inspired?

More inspiration!

The traditional “travelling feet” photo op

Our last little road trip was down to San Diego, where we found these beauts in Balboa Park.

Hands up, baby, hands up!

Hitching a ride


Skype while you mosaic

blue mirrorI made this mirror waaaaay back in the fall, just after my partner moved to California to start a new job. It was a big adjustment, living alone again. I found that I had a lot of time on my hands, so I threw myself into making mosaics. This was one of the first ones I did after we started living apart, and also one of the first ones I did while we kept each other company over Skype. It was kind of nice, just knowing she was there. We chatted a bit, but mostly we just stayed on the line while we each did our own work (cutting and gluing for me, planning classes and marking for her). All I can say is thank goodness for Skype and for the distraction of being crafty (oh, and for the company of our super cute dog), because I think I might have gone nuts otherwise.


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