One thing I really love about my job is how different it is from day to day. My kilns have been firing non-stop, creating elements for the James Monroe wall sculptures. But I'm running out of room for all the different pieces, waiting their turn to go into the kilns, so I decided to switch gears and work on a lamp pattern. I have a commission to make 4 lamps for a client who wants them to match some stained glass windows that are original to her home. I got a mold that will create the shape of the lamp but decided to create a unique, coordinating pattern. That requires transposing the flat drawings I've made onto a curved 3-D shape and it's something I've never done before. So I turned to YouTube. Despite being a pretty low-tech person, I frequently avail myself of the wide variety of learning there is online. First I watched some videos on how to make a hoop skirt. But after consulting with a friend who is a talented seamstress, I realized glass and fabric are not similar enough for me to borrow those techniques. Then I found it: Evil Ted shares his secrets on how to make a "foam dome" which, in his video, ultimately becomes a Star Trek helmet using aluminum foil & duct tape! No doubt our final products will be very different but Evil Ted took me through step-by-step how to create the pattern. And maybe when the lamp is finished, I'll make a stained glass Star Trek hoop skirt!
The summer after I graduated high school, my family took an amazing trip to Greece. I was incredibly lucky not only to be able to go but to have my older sister, Gretchen, as my traveling companion. We left my parents in Athens and traveled together through the Greek Islands- Mykanos, Santorini, Tinos, and Crete. Pre-internet, we drifted around in search of fun, food and adventure. Fast-forward about 25 years and my sister traveled to Greece again for her honeymoon. Since then, she has become a yoga teacher and, just now, has put together an amazing opportunity-- she is taking a group to Greece in September! She will be teaching yoga twice a day, although participation is not mandatory. Gretchen is a fine art major and has a unique eye for the beauty and history in Crete as well as a deep sense of fun! She has partnered with Stone Arch Travel and this looks to be the trip of a lifetime. Click here for more information about the trip.
I'm really excited to be starting on a new, big project! I have been commissioned by James Monroe elementary school in Edison, NJ to create three glass and steel wall sculptures for their beautiful, brand new school. In 2014, the original school was destroyed by a fire which resulted in the staff and students spending the next three years temporarily using space in other area schools in an effort to carry on. Their school has been completely rebuilt and the new building is huge, modern, and full of light. When I first met with them, I was impressed by the resilience of the staff who, despite their difficult years, expressed a deep sense of gratitude for all the people and institutions who supported them along their journey back to Sharp Road. The only remaining piece of the old school is a name plaque that was rebuilt into their new lobby. On either side of it, as well as throughout most of the building, the walls are white and without any adornment. We discussed how that would be a perfect focal point to add some artwork, both to honor the old as well as celebrate the new. A theme in my art is transformation and I suggested I could create wall sculptures to place on either side of the name plaque that depict the growth that they have experienced as a school community as they returned to their former location. To make it timeless, I also wanted to highlight the students and honor the changes they go through during their years in elementary school. With an adorable mascot to work with-- the owl-- I began to envision it. These two baby owls are the first elements to come out of my kiln but there is so much more to come. Stay tuned! I can't wait to share it with you.
Allow me to confess, I am not a professional photographer! I created this transom for a family in Metuchen who was remodeling their kitchen. They had chosen very clean fixtures and appliances and asked me to create a transom to be installed in the kitchen above their basement stairs with a light behind it. They wanted the transom to bring some color and vibrancy to the space and we talked through a bunch of options-- different flowers, colors, and designs. Ultimately, they came back to the idea they had suggested originally of roses. They were thoughtful about all aspects of the design and I was fairly certain they would love the finished product. So when I sent this photo to them, they replied quickly that they were pleased but it wasn't until I brought the transom to their house that they really got excited about it. They commented that from the photo, it's impossible to see the texture of the glass and solder, the variation in the color of the petals and leaves, and the luminous quality of the glass overall. So I laughed when I suggested that since the picture doesn't tell the full story, I will bring all my potential clients to their kitchen to see it in person. It's nice to work with people who appreciate what I do and also have a good sense of humor!
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!