Lunar Gala is a student run fashion show at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that is held each year around the Chinese New Year. It's a creative feast with students involved in every aspect of the show- producing, modeling, designing and dancing. It brings together students from different majors who incorporate technology and unusual materials into their collections. My son, a freshman at CMU, was selected as a model and walked in three different lines. In the photo above, he is sporting a pink mesh top with shag shorts, created with what reminded me of those hook rugs I liked to make in 1978. The designer described this collection as "irreverent in a playful way" which pretty much sums up Alex. In another line called Stack, the designer utilized foam board and plastic to make sculptural clothing that looked sort of like those balsa wood animals that come in a kit at hobby stores-- except that it was clothing! If Alex hadn't been involved in this, I'm fairly certain we never would have gone to Lunar Gala. But what a fun opportunity for all these creative students and their proud family and friends.
For such a small town, Metuchen, NJ has a really vibrant arts scene. In less than 3 square miles, there are multiple painters, photographers, ceramic artists, fiber artists, and even me! When invitations went out to participate in this latest show, Return to Love, at the Pearl Street Art Gallery, I was happy to submit one of my sculptures because I knew how much fun it would be to see all of these talented people at the reception. There are two components of this show-- an on-going sale of small locally made products (hours are weekedays from 2-5 pm & weekends from 10 am -5 pm) and the artists' reception in the gallery on Saturday, February 10 from 5-9 pm. While the artwork can be seen during other hours, Saturday evening is the best time to visit since many of the artists will be in attendance and the gallery will be buzzing with all the energy of this lively group. Hope to see you there!
Observant readers of this blog may remember lamps that looked similar to this from my October 6, 2017 post. At that time, they were under construction and I posted a picture here as well as sending one to my clients so they could see the progress. Almost immediately, they emailed me back and asked to come over. Despite approving the original drawings, they told me they hadn't really been able to envision the design and were having second thoughts. Over the next month, we re-designed and re-designed until my client referenced that he wanted the cream colored section to look like a leaf. A new design was created with that in mind and I started again. Custom work is all about creating something that feels right to the client so I was thrilled when we turned on the lights today and they both smiled and said they loved them. Because they are the ones living with them, it's always worth it to me to take the extra steps to create something that will bring them joy each time they look at them.
In December, a woman reached out to me about repairing a cherished piece of "flow blue" pottery. I hadn't heard of this style but learned that it was popular in during the Victorian era and is recognizable for its blurry blue patterns. In addition to the actual value of this plate, the sentimental value to her was quite high and she was devastated when she broke it. We talked about the Japanese art of Kintsugi where broken pottery is repaired with lacquer and gold powder. The breakage and repair is honored through this process, making it a part of the history of the piece, embracing the flaw rather than trying to disguise it. I was pleased that she asked me to help her but had to do quite a bit of research to figure this out as pottery repair was not something I knew much about. Hooray for YouTube! I discovered a product made by Swarovski called "Ceralun" which is a gold epoxy clay. After running a bunch of tests on some broken pottery of my own, I figured out how to create a beautiful, thick gold seam which now runs through this lovely cobalt blue pottery. It highlights the break and also brings to mind how things that are damaged can be brought back together again through patience, time and effort.
In last week's blog, I shared about the artists' workshop series, Jumpstart Your Dream, at Transformations Gallery. The first of three workshops was last night and it was amazing! The gallery was full of interesting, creative people and Janna Morishima shared a wealth of beneficial information. If you missed last night, there are two more-- February 15 & March 15. Simultaneously, we have a gorgeous new show featuring the work of two Metuchen-based photographers, Deb Kmetz and Mark Harris. The idea for this show arose when Deb and Mark posted some photographs they had each taken while visiting the Southwest for a photography workshop/ vacation. Although they frequently pointed their cameras in the same direction, what they focused on was often very different. We approached them about sharing their work with this idea in mind and they ran with it! The opening reception is this Sunday, January 21 from 3-5 pm. It's free and open to the public and will be a great chance to explore their dual visions.
Although I'm an artist who works mostly alone, I have a strong desire for community with like-minded people. A bunch of years ago, I became part of group of women artists that meets monthly to discuss our business challenges and to support each other on our journeys. Janna Morishima is one of the members of our group who has recently started diving deeper into her own dream job as a coach for creative people. She is incredibly insightful and always offers great advice and guidance to the artists in our group. When she mentioned that she wanted to run a community workshop, Judy Weinberg and I jumped at the chance to hold this event in Transformations Gallery. As co-curators of this gallery located inside the Old Franklin Schoolhouse, one of our favorite things is when artists challenge themselves in new ways as the result of being part of one of our shows. We thought this workshop series would be a great way to encourage more of that growth. Each segment of the workshop focuses on a different aspect of running a creative business; it's free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!
Bomb cyclone? What??? Having grown up in Michigan, I'm always skeptical when the weather forecasters get really excited about a snowstorm in NJ. Not that we haven't had our share of large snowfalls, just that many times the outcome is substantially less than the hype. I'm even more suspicious when they start throwing around phrases like "bomb cyclone." So when I went out to my studio early in the morning yesterday, I wore my slippers. I had some drawing to do and wanted to be comfortable. My studio door is 20 feet from the back door of my house and I can make it from one heated structure to the other without even feeling a chill if I walk fast. Slippers are a fine choice unless there is an actual BOMB CYCLONE, at which point, after 4 hours, the walk back to the house involves snow far deeper than my slippers care to navigate. I sent up a distress call and my husband shoveled a path out to me. From that point on, I put on some actual shoes when I shoveled back and forth throughout the day. Hope you all stay warm and dry and your path to and from work (or where ever you need to go) is clear and safe!
As we celebrated Christmas on December 25, we also marked 4 months that our Japanese exchange student has been living with us. Over that time, we've been to New York City a few times, the Jersey Shore, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. And a few days after Christmas, we visited some friends in Delaware. Miu told us one of her family's traditions is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas so we decided to honor that by sharing a few buckets of the Colonel's finest with our Delaware friends. Miu asked if she could make a cake she really likes and she carefully cut strawberries and peaches to make little Santas and a flower; it was adorable! In 4 months of having her with us, we have learned a lot about Japanese culture and I can only imagine what else we will learn in the remaining 6 months. So from our house to yours, we wish you, "Akemashiteomedetogozaimasu!" (Happy New Year!)
This time of year is always busy with holiday preparations-- buying & wrapping gifts, planning meals, making cookies, and of course finishing up work projects in order to take a much needed break to enjoy time with family and friends. Those of you who came to my open studio on Small Business Saturday might have seen these two transoms which were a "work in progress" at that time. They were really fun to make and install as they are filled with bright colors and specific custom details, like treble clefs as a nod to my clients' love of music. I snapped this photo of my husband while he was doing all the hard work! After the Christmas decorations are put away and life settles down a bit, I will be going back to their home with my photographer friend to get an official picture of the windows in their beautiful new setting. Happy holidays to all of you and best wishes as you put the finishing touches on your preparations!
I always get nostalgic around the holidays but it's hitting me in a bigger way this year. Perhaps it's because I already have one kid in college who we missed as we decorated the Christmas tree this year. I look back on the days when they were little and used to put out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. After they went to bed, my husband and I would chomp up and spit out the carrots on the front lawn. For some reason, it seemed more believable that the reindeer were messy eaters so we wanted to leave behind some evidence that they had enjoyed their snack. The cookies, on the other hand, we gobbled with no crumbs left behind. If you're a cookie lover and looking for a way to support a great cause, check out the Metuchen Cookie Walk which is a fundraiser for the Fuccile Foundation. This charity embodies the spirit of the holidays--family, love, and support for our community. There will be over 14,000 cookies for sale, over 250 different types, made by 145 bakers. Enjoy the cookies and do something good for others. Oh, and spit out the carrots-- keep the magic alive!
A welded steel and glass sculpture of mine is part of a show called "Light" which is running through January at Gallery U in Westfield, NJ. The piece was originally a prototype for a sculpture I was making for a client. But then when it was complete, I decided to turn it into its own thing by filling it with dichroic glass. Depending on how the light hits it, the glass in the piece changes color. It was great to be selected to participate in this show which highlights our need for light and hope during dark days.
A few weeks ago, I shared that we were in the planning stages of this year's Eat, Drink, and Buy Art. I am pleased to announce that our artists have been selected and we are eager to share this year's venue-- Metuchen's own Whole Foods! The artists span a broad range of media from an encaustic painter, to photographers, a soap maker, a fiber artist, a ceramic artist, and me too! Come get some holiday shopping done, support local artists, see your friends and neighbors, and enjoy some great food and drinks at Whole Foods. It is the art party of the season- Saturday, December 2 from 5:30-9:30 pm. Hope to see you there!
I'm happy to announce I will be hosting a studio sale on Small Business Saturday which is November 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, from noon to 3 pm. It's so much fun to open up my studio and have people visit! It's a great chance for me to share my work that's "under construction" as well as gifts that are ready to take home with you. I also enjoy personalizing holiday gifts- from ornaments with photographs and names to coasters and wall hanging with specialized quotes or customized information. I love helping you make your gifts unique! But since good things take time, the last day to special order is Saturday, November 25! So I hope you can make it to the Studio Sale and I look forward to helping you make this a great holiday.
The holidays are just around the corner which means so is my favorite event: Eat, Drink & Buy Art. Every year we put a different spin on it to keep it interesting and this year is no different. We have a very short turn around time for artists to apply-- the deadline is this Sunday, November 5. We will be sharing more information shortly but if you are an artist, you might want to apply. And if you're not, make sure to stay tuned for more news about this event- the art party of the season!
What does it sound like inside my studio? Most of the time there is music on. And often there is the sound of breaking glass. It's usually only a single break at a time since I hand cut everything. But about a month ago, I saw a call for submissions to an art show at the Monmouth Museum. The theme was "hope" and I had been thinking a lot of about things for which I am hopeful. I thought about my concern over how fractured our society is. And then I thought about glass and it's ability to "heal." I had a vision for a sculpture that includes a piece of glass that was shattered and then fused back together in the heat of the kiln. I wanted the breaks in the glass to be apparent but I also wanted it to be whole. My first step was to create a platform out of two sawhorses so the edges of the glass were the only parts supported. I looked around for something small and heavy and found a steel star that I was given at a welding workshop. Then I put on my safety glasses! After shattering the piece, I recruited my husband who has a zen-like delight in putting puzzles together and we reassembled it. My steel and glass sculpture, titled "(Un)crossing the Rubicon" was just accepted into the Monmouth Museum's, "Hope for the Holidays" show. It depicts my hope that even though the US society may be fractured now, with hard work and time, we can pull back together and become cohesive again.
It feels like every day lately I have walked outside and said, "I can't believe it's October!" This is partly because time is flying but mostly because the weather has been amazing! Leaving the issue of global warming to the side for a moment, it has been stunning to feel the cool of the morning warm to a sunny 70 degrees by mid-day-- perfect weather for grinding metal and welding! In the beginning of the summer, when I was commissioned to make these wall sculptures, my client showed me two places in her newly remodeled kitchen that she wanted to liven up with some glass and metal sculptures. I have been working on these off and on since then and had 2 steel woks that were a good stylistic match to each other and also to their future home in a kitchen. And then recently I got inspired by some giant sunflowers and decided to take advantage of this great weather to make one more sculpture. Attaching the glass flower onto the steel colander, it begged for just a little more. Knowing that my client likes twisty metal, I attached some coils of copper as well as a copper leaf to off set the large central flower. I was also able to make a few more leaves from that smashed scotch bottle (see the blog post from Sept 29) so it is all coming together. Professional photographs are next and then installation!
For reasons I don't quite understand, sometimes I get a number of similar commissions in a row. For example, this spring/ summer, I did 3 flower-themed windows in a row. They were all different styles but for each one, the subject was flowers. In the past few months, I have gotten 3 commissions for lamps. Again, the execution will be very different but for some reason, lamps are all the rage! The photo above shows one of a pair that I am currently constructing. Often glass artists build lamps on plastic molds that come directly from a factory with patterns already plotted onto them. In this case, my clients wanted to replace shades on hanging pendant lights in their kitchen. The plain, clear shades had broken but they never really loved them anyway. They envisioned something colorful and unique so I designed the pattern and created a custom mold. Then I started the process of cutting and fitting all the pieces together-- attaching them onto the mold temporarily with tacky wax to be sure they all fit correctly. The next step will be to wrap each piece in copper foil and then to solder everything together. Since the mold is solid, no light is getting in, leaving a very flat looking lamp. But when they are finished and light shines through, the jewel-toned glass that they selected will glow and create a beautiful artistic focal point in their kitchen.
Moving along on these wall sculptures! I was inspired by some flowers I saw while out for a walk one day. While those were bright purple, my client asked specifically for oranges and yellows so I created these little lovelies. I had previously welded together a sort of "flower skeleton" with stems (made out of large drill bits) and flower tops (made from steel washers). Those create the forms to which the glass attaches. I had some fun smashing apart an empty bottle of scotch so I could flatten it into a leaf-- that's the more transparent one on the left. Then to give it a bit more of a leafy look, I painted some veins onto it and another leaf I made out of opaque green glass. I have some more glass flowers in the kiln right now, slumping into and over molds to get a bit of shape. And earlier this week, as I was digging through my metal, I discovered a steel colander which has a similar shape and holes like this wok and I am working on a design for a large, glass sunflower that will go into that. I love the way the delicate glass flowers contrast and play off the solid steel upcycled parts. To be continued...
This was a week of lots of little things. I dug into a steel and glass sculpture commission that I am really excited about. On my blog on June 9, I shared a photo of a railroad spike that I had welded to a base and attached a little glass tulip to the top. After seeing that, a client who was re-doing her kitchen reached out and asked me to make 2 wall sculptures for her. She loved the idea of using reclaimed metal and some delicate glass flowers and leaves to add color and balance. This week, I did a bit of welding on her sculptures, creating vines out of bike chain and attaching them to a steel grill basket. Then I switched gears and started working on the glass. It's fiddle-y work; nothing moves quickly and there are multiple firings to slump the flat glass into satisfying shapes. There's some engineering involved too which is a fun challenge. I am excited about the way the pieces are coming together and will continue to post pictures as they develop.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I installed this window in it's new home. I'd blogged about the process of construction on July 28 (at which time it was held together with nails) and on August 11 (when I had just applied black patina to the metal). Both of those blog photos showed the less glamorous side of a work in progress- the window lying on a piece of plywood with no light coming through. During those times, I often worry because the process isn't pretty! Due to time constraints, I asked my photographer friend, David Glasofer, to take this photo in my studio the day before the installation. As a professional photographer, David's photos are always correctly and evenly lit, straight, in focus, etc. I had hoped to have him take a professional photo of the piece installed but time was too tight then so we settled for the studio shot and I had to rely on my cell phone camera for a quick snap during the installation. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the "action shot" of the installation as sunlight streamed through the glass. When my client saw the window in place, she remarked on how great it looks in her house and that made it all the worry worth it.