Monday, January 30, 2012


...and so another school project begins....  It really is fun to see these mosaic works progress from beginning to end.  I plan very carefully so all of the participants have a role.  But usually I'm the only one who really knows what it will look like at the end.  The dynamics between the participants is interesting, sometimes very cooperative, sometimes counterproductive.  Just like real life.  It's usually best to not work right next to your best friend, or your worst enemy... but take a neutral partner.  That partnership is often more balanced.  Collaborative works must take into consideration a wide range of variable factors, skill levels, patience, attention spans, communication styles.  Sometimes it's a struggle to get it to come together.  It's all worth it in the end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Scutes are the plates on a terrapin's carapace (shell).  The patterning of the scutes is special and unique to the individual terrapin, like a fingerprint.  I'm working at another of the Granville County Elementary Schools this week, Tar River Elem.  Their mascot is a terrapin.  Each of these school projects have some elements in common, but each experience is unique and special.  It is a joy to be able to share what I love with these students, and help them create a lasting art work for their school.  We talked about how being an artist requires knowledge in all of the core areas of study, math, language arts, science, and social studies.  Sure it's fun to sit around all day and make stuff... but you have to be able to run your business too.  Thanks again Granville County and GC Education Foundation for supporting creative learning opportunities for your students!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

mother and child

My oldest son went to his first formal event last night, the JROTC Military Ball.  He's in 10th grade, and the highest ranking sophomore in his program.  I've never considered our family particularly militaristic, although my Dad is a peace time Navy vet, and my Grandfather served in WW2 as an engineer in the Army Aircorps, keeping the photo recon equipment running (his division was responsible for all of the D-day photo recon, and was always a step ahead of the infantry in France).  Anyway, Danny has a keen interest in history and military, and is planning to continue ROTC to get him to college and the first steps of his adulthood.  As a mother, I have mixed feelings.  I am extremely proud of his desire to serve our country, and he is a natural leader.  He also has great physical conditioning and work ethic.  I know he would be suited to this type of adventure and potential career path.  But, he is still my child.  He'll be 16 in a couple months.  He's well over 6 feet tall, and shaves, albeit occasionally.   But, he's still my child. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

alternate transportation

Ravenna, Italy is a town full of cyclists.  Not racing cyclists, or leisure cyclists, but everyday means of transportation cyclists.  I saw elderly women and men slowly pedaling, professionals in work clothing, mothers with baskets full of groceries, families with babies in specials seats with windshields for protection, lots of school children riding home for their mid-day break.  There were cars, of course, but by far the bicycle seemed to be the most efficient way to get around this small to mid size town.

When I was a kid in Florida, we rode our bikes to school.  Every day.  There wasn't a bus, and we only had one car that my dad drove to work.  When we moved to the mountains of Western NC, just going around our neighborhood block on a bike was nearly impossible with the steep inclines, dramatic turns, and narrow lanes.  In fact, I had a crash just a few yards away from my own house that has since (for 30 years) discouraged me from enjoying bicycle riding.  I have a few physical scars left, but mainly the damage has been psychological.  I cringe for the die-hard riders between Durham and Chapel Hill that I often see or get stuck behind.  They usually are all decked out in special gear, with backpack camel water supply, rear view mirrored helmets, skinny butt- padded tights, blinking head and tail lights.  I find myself both aggravated by and admiring these folks.

I have taught my boys to ride, safely with their helmets, hand motions to turn and stop.  We have 3 dusty and spiderwebby bikes in the garage.  Right now I'm procrastinating my morning walk.  Maybe I'll try an afternoon ride.

Monday, January 16, 2012

melting pot

One of my favorite quotes in reference to America is by Jimmy Carter, "We have become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic-".  I like both ideas of a melting pot and a mosaic, where you can see the individual colors, but they are all jumbled and swirled around each other.  My wish this MLK day, is to continue to celebrate the differences and individuality of people, while embracing each other with respect and the desire to learn, accept, and understand.

If you're curious about the photo, its the interior of the large crucible in which secret formulas are melted at 1500+ degrees F to create the wonderful, beautiful colors of glass smalti at the Orsoni foundry in Venice... this actually is a discarded, 'garbage' pot... sigh.....

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Although I don't spend a lot of energy on regrets, I do sometimes reflect on the past to help propel me on the road ahead.  To me it's like one big experiment, if I don't get it right the first time, then at least I know what NOT to do the next time it rolls around.  This image is another from my Italy trip.  It is one of the installation/sculptural works exhibited at the Venice Biennale at the Arsenale location.  It was one of my favorite pieces (out of hundreds of international artworks).  The water was so smooth and glassy, the reflections were mirror quality, and the dense fog made extreme contrasts that made me consider if there really was mirror down on the ground reflecting the architecture.  The suspended shape was a simple square of plywood.  But that reflection, on that day, would have made the artist weep for joy at the image that was created with that simple square.  Just another lesson in perspective.  Probably any other day it would have looked like a weird dangling piece of plywood...  but for that moment it was perfection.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

new year treasure

I admit, this unseasonably warm weather here in NC put a bit of a spin on the holiday mood this year.  On top of that I caught a cold ,and was home with 2 teenage boys for 2 weeks (who wanted to bicker and eat the whole time).  The first week back to normal schedule felt strange, and although I have plenty to do for several mosaic jobs on the horizon, I just couldn't get back in the swing of things.  This past Saturday was lovely with 65 degrees and sun, I spontaneously asked the boys if they wanted to go to the Raleigh Fairgrounds Flea Market.  Usually one wants to go and the other doesn't but they were agreeable, so off we went (with the 15 yr old driving, I must add).  Both boys, but especially the older, are interested in old Military items, from clothing to equipment, to photos and ephemera.  They found their treasures right away and spent at least an hour deciding which items should come home and negotiating the prices.  On our way out, I spied some dirty storage boxes underneath one of the tables, and to my delight they were filled with stained glass scraps.  There were two other large wooden boxes filled with whole sheets as well.  Needless to say, they are now in my garage.  Mainly color sorted already, they need a rinse, but other than that, ready for business!  I think the flea market man thought I was the biggest sucker in town, buying all that dirty glass....