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Two Mosaic Studies Created With Broken Dishes

 Studies are like sketches or perhaps experiments. I quite like the idea of doing studies, just to see where an idea will lead, curious to see what it will look like when done.

Just working on small 6 inch by 6 inch pieces of wood as a base for the mosaic studies, I went through my many many containers of dish bits and put together a small set of colors and textures that appealed to me. The first piece was made using bits of dishes that I’d cut into only rectangular or squarish bits. The pieces aren’t exact or tidy rectangles or squares like you’d get with normal mosaics, but the uneven, variances that you get when cutting up dishes which I think adds to the surface interest.

I arranged them in an intuitive order, balancing the colors and textures as I went.

Mosaic in Broken Dishes, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Then, looking at my work table, I realized I had quite a few triangular pieces scattered about and decided that, as my next study, I would use only triangular bits of the same dishes. An entirely different composition but still fun to look at.

Mosaic in Broken Dishes, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Looking at them now, I’m quite enjoying them and seeing many possibilities as well. We’ve become interested in surface design in the last few years and Will and I have been having a bit of fun teaching ourselves how to make repeat patterns. And we’ve also been applying our work to all sorts of other products from prints to pillows on our various online Print on Demand shops like Society 6 and Red Bubble. Looking at these studies, I can see some fabric design ideas, prints and other possibilities. It’s a whole new avenue to explore. Watch this space to see what we make with these…..much more to come.

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Mosaic Bird Bath Delight

We’re sort of lazy gardeners. We follow the no dig, layered methods and don’t go in for applications of herbicides, pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. We don’t do a big fall clean up either. We just let the garden be at the end of the season, leave the leaves, leave the seeds, don’t take down plant growth. We just walk away and leave it all for the birds and squirrels.

And the birds reward us by coming by and eating all the seeds left on flowers and plants, the berries on our shrubs, the seeds in the trees and rooting around for insects in the layers of leaves and whatnot. We keep a set of binoculars at our kitchen window right next to a couple of bird books to identify who flies in for lunch.

The best thing, of course, is watching our bird baths. The two baths are placed just so we can get a good view.

Two Mosaic Bird baths, summerhouseart.com

We’ve had a bit of cold snap here in usually balmy Victoria, and the water in the birdbaths has been frozen. Yesterday the temperature came up and with it a lot of birds in the garden, mostly Robins.

We saw one Robin trying to get drink around the ice in the birdbath and decided to do the birds a favour.

The layer of ice was taken off and the baths cleaned out and refreshed with new water. Within minutes of our return to our kitchen window we were rewarded with a steady stream of birds coming to bath.

First one, with one waiting on the rim…

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then two,

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then three Robins ..

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

and then two Robins and a Towhee..

Mosaic Bird Bath, summerhouseart.com

and then the baths were full of rowdy, splashing birds!

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

We actually had to go out two more times to clean out the baths and refresh the water and each time, within minutes, the baths were filled with splashing and happy birds, who then flew up into the trees to preen and clean their feathers. Thought I’d share our little bit of bird bath delight today. And thanks to Will for creating this little video, he says apologies for the bumpiness and bad resolution.  But hey, you know it’s just for fun.  And also big thanks to Kevin McLeod, who seems to make just the right music for us to use.  You can find Kevin’s work at incompetech.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Doing Some Artsy Experimenting with Beach Pottery

Beachcombing treasure summerhouseart.com

In the spring and summer I tend to check online for low tides. And if it’s nice out, and the tide is really low in the morning, I’ll be convincing Will that we really need to go beach combing in Sidney. Luckily, he usually doesn’t need much persuading. Now you don’t want to know how much beach pottery I’ve already collected.. ok, LOTS.

But there is something about wandering up and down on the beach, head and eyes down, with the sun and the seagulls overhead, the smell of the ocean around you, searching for those lucky finds. It’s so calming and lovely. If I’m going to have an addiction, I’ll take beach combing any day.

But what do you do with all these lovely finds? So far, we’ve had a good time creating birdbaths and mirror frames with it.

Beach Pottery Mosaic Birdbath by summerhouseart.com

We have plans, in the summer, for making a couple of garden sculptures covered in pottery.

And Will has been making jewelry from driftwood and beach glass and pottery for our new Etsy shop, FoundMadeArt.

Sea Pottery Pendant by Will Bushell, FoundMadeArt

I had an idea of creating small wall pieces with the bits all arranged like a collage, but shipping weight was a problem. Then I discovered Wedi board on an online mosaic site. It’s relatively unknown in Canada, I had to search like mad and finally found a tiling company in Nanaimo that had just started carrying it. It’s a light weight substrate created for bathroom tiling, with foam sandwiched between two thin layers of cement. Trust mosaic artists to see some new uses for this product. Suddenly a lightweight substrate for outdoor mosaic instead of heavy cement board!

I thought if I created some small wall pieces, they would be quite ship-able with the low weight. Wedi board is a bit more expensive than cement board and you have to buy special hangers for it too, but I thought, it would be worth a bit of experimentation. So with thanks to my sister and her husband, in Nanaimo, who very nicely brought down the 3ft x 5ft. sheet for me when they came for tea and goodies, I had something to work with.

The beauty of Wedi board is that you can cut it with a utility knife. I decided to start small with 6 in x 6 in pieces. Then, after lots more research online ( don’t you just love youtube?) I decided to cover each piece with a thin coat of mortar to hide the grey surface.

Then came playing and trying out layouts some chosen bits of found beach pottery. All, btw, freshly washed and dried to remove the salt residue. Kind of funny to think there I was washing dishes that had come from the ocean.

playing with beach pottery layout, summerhouseart.com

The first experimental arrangement went through lots of changes, I even took photos so I could test the look.

Beach Pottery layout, summerhouseart.com

And then, with the air getting rather blue, because of the difficulty of trying to adhere the pieces without getting mortar everywhere, the first piece was done.

Beach Pottery wall piece, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

For the next piece, I decided to wing it. I basically chose the pottery I was hoping to use and applied mortar and stuck them down with less worry about placement, using intuition and speed mainly. You don’t have much time with mortar anyway. It may be a method I’ll use in the future, when I try to create more of these little wall pieces. These are just the start of a new idea. Who knows where it will lead? One day, hopefully, they’ll be for sale on our Etsy shop. One thing I do know, is that I’ve got an awful lot of beach finds that need a home. And I do have a bit of beach combing addiction.

Beach Pottery wall piece, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Yuletide Greetings

This was another year for playing with an alternative to a tree.  Instead we set up this lovely duo of Bird cages, filled them with lights, set them off with a few beads and let the birds free to sit on top.  Looks lovely and bright in the early evenings.  And with that we send our wishes too.

2016 Christmas bird cages, summerhouseart.com

( BTW, if you’d like to comment just click on the title and it will take to the post with a comment section.  We love comments)

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A Little Composition in Christmas Colours

In the midst of getting ready for the holiday, I couldn’t resist playing with some stained glass shards in various shades of greens and reds.   We decided to use it for the splash page to our website, to set a colourful tone….

Stained Glass composition, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

( BTW, if you’d like to comment just click on the title and it will take to the post with a comment section.  We love comments)

 

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More Stained Glass Scraps Transformations

Stained glass composition, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Today, another stained glass scrap composition….up close, from the side, in the sun. Love seeing the edges of the glass. Cool eh?

I’ve been enjoying this view for quite some time in our kitchen window while having my breakfast. Love the light bouncing through the colorful and textural glass. Ok, I do have a weakness for lots of color. And this is even better, it’s glowing colour!

Stained glass composition in window, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

I call it “Floating Black”, my attempt at a descriptive title. We took this one and did a bit of transforming magic in Photoshop. And now we have it flattened into a composition of colorful shards on a white background.

Stained glass composition, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Makes a lovely print in our shop on Society6. Just click on the pic to go to our shop.

Society6 print, summerhouseart.com

And if you look through our shop on Society6, you’ll find it as an iphone case too.

Society6, iphone case, summerhouseart.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Just A Few Scraps of Stained Glass …

You just never know where a few scraps of stained glass will lead to…Blue and Orange stained glass abstract, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

I’m one of those people who never throws much out. As artists, we can see potential in old chipped dishes, old furniture, old scraps of paper and magazines, and even old scraps of stained glass. Back in 2010, I’d been given lots of small stained glass scraps by someone who was cleaning out “junk”. Well, as it’s often said, one persons junk is another persons treasure. My friends know me well, and later that year, I got a couple of boxes of stained glass scraps for my birthday and I did make some mosaics with these scraps.

Abstract glass mosaic, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

And then, everything sort of sat around for a bit. But I did happen to have an old illuminated sign box that I use as light table. Now the thing about colored glass, what really excites me, is what happens to all that color when light shines through it.

So a few years ago I started to have some fun applying shards of glass to glass, first old windows then those glass frames you used to be able to find where you have to sandwich the picture between two sheets of very thin glass. Now, I wasn’t interested in creating the usual stained glass where you surround the piece with leading, because what really interested me was the layering of color in the light. And I got a bit frustrated gluing glass on glass until either Will or my son Dave, walked by and said, “Well, why don’t you just glue glass to both sides of the glass?” Well, duh. And that is how I got onto gluing glass on both sides of the glass.

Also, I wasn’t interested in creating pictures with glass. What I played with was just using the scraps as they were and creating abstracts with them. Which turned out, at least to me, rather well. I loved the look and the windows have been sitting on windowsills in the house ever since I made them. Here’s another view of the glass piece at the top of the post.

Abstract Glass in Window, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Now the beauty of having a mind that’s open to possibilities is that you never know where you will end up next.

I’ve always wanted to do more with those compositions, and I looked at light boxes and all sorts of things for a while and then just sort of forgot about it all. Then a few weeks ago I was looking at prints, and print files and looking around for what I could convert into prints. And in one of those ah hah moments my eye lit on the stained glass comps in the windows of the kitchen. So, together with Will, who is more of a master of photoshop than I, I played around with it and found that the glass transformed really well into abstract compositions on paper. Which we immediately ran through our new printer and loved the result.

We do have some print on demand shops, one being our shop on Society6. So today, I’m happy to show the first of these new Stained Glass Prints,

composition-in-blue-and-orange131768-framed-prints Society6

already converted into a few fun products, one a pillow, and much more to come yet. Just click on the pics to go to Society 6.

stained glass society6-pillow by summerhouseart.com

 BTW if you’d like to comment, and we do appreciate comments, please just click on the title to bring up the post with a spot for comments at the bottom.)

 

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Two Students Create Two Very Different Mosaics

I teach Pique Assiette mosaics, a type of mosaic made with broken dishes,  in my tiny, little studio, a sunny former bedroom in a 1922 house. This little room has a big work table and is full of dishes and supplies for all the art forms I indulge in. It’s just the right size for mosaic classes for one or two students, no more. And that’s the way I like it, because it allows me to really teach to the needs of each person and it also allows each student to do exactly what they want, or at least have a chance to discover what they want. And such was the case with Irina and her work mate, Jessica.

Jessica knew exactly what she wanted to do from the first class. She had been inspired by an image of a horse, one from a logo of a computer game her husband liked. So we loosely followed that and created a plywood backing shaped as a shield. The shopping class was easy since she’d already decided to look for white and blue dishes. The trick with a piece like this is to create lots of texture and color interest by intuitively and loosely mixing up the shades of white and blue dish shards. It did become rather a big project and she even had to run out to buy more dishes to finish but she did get a sense of how to create a lovely surface. The mosaic took more time to do and required a bit of delay before grouting. But I’d rather students had the extra time to work and finish what they envisioned in an enjoyable manner.

Here she is, looking pretty happy, after the grouting was finally done, with the mosaic on my easel.

Student Jessica with finished mosaic, summerhouseart.com

The finished piece has this lovely ancient look and feel, a beautiful roughness that the original logo never had.

Student Jessica's Finished Mosaic, summerhouseart.com

Irina, was, much like most of my students, not quite sure of what she wanted to do. This is where the shopping class often shows the way, when you find some dishes or colors you like. Making a mosaic with broken dishes is much looser and intuitive than the traditional mosaics. Mosaics done with glass tesserae, can be quite tight and often lend themselves to very symmetrical designs. I encouraged Irina to tap into the intuitive flow of the patterns and arrange the pieces until they “felt” right. She was really terrific about trying all sorts of arrangements. But I think, as the crunch came to finish in time to grout, she just finally stopped trying to get it perfect and just let the “flow” happen. And I’m so glad she did!

Here she is working hard cleaning off the grout in the last class, still wondering, would it all work and would she like it.

Student Irina, cleaning grout, summerhouseart.com

Well, I think she’s looking happy with the result, don’t you?

Student Irina with her Mosaic, summerhouseart.com

And here it is, a closer look at finished mosaic.  I think she did the most wonderful job, creating a lovely, colorful flow of flowers and colors. It’s just a small piece, but it’s got a real song to it.

Student Irina's Finished Mosaic, summerhouseart.com

Two students, two very different results, but both learning how to use their intuition and how to be loose with the shards of broken dishes and by doing so, finding the flow in creating. Turned out perfectly I’d say!

(BTW if you’d like to comment, and we do appreciate comments, please just click on the title to bring up the post with a spot for comments at the bottom.)

 

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The Lucky Finds of a Dish and a Fish

Mosaic Student Dianne's mosaic dish, summerhouseart.com

This very beautiful mosaic is the work of my Student Dianne. As the title of this post suggests, it’s the result of a couple of lucky finds; a lovely pewter dish and a dish sporting a fish.

In my mosaic classes, I teach a type of mosaic called Pique Assiette, which is making mosaics with broken dishes. On the first class, after I’ve totally overwhelmed someone ( in a good way of course ) with all the mosaic possibilities, given them a very brief taste of how dishes break, and what to look for, we set off to Thrift stores to shop. And that’s when the fun begins. First, it’s all about looking for dishes and colors that spark something for you. Then second, it’s all about luck and finding something that makes it all happen. Dianne was very lucky. On the shopping class she found the very unusual pewter dish. The design on the edge was fantastic and we both agreed that the dish itself would make a great place for a mosaic. Then, during the week, she was lucky again and snapped up a dish with a crackle design surrounding a fish.

The first class was a time of trying out all sorts of ideas. From creating a totally abstract design, without the fish and then finding a way to incorporate the fish at the edge of the plate and working all the other colors and textures around it.

A lot of designing is just about trying things out. Laying out pieces and looking and wondering. You have to follow your instinct. And sometimes, I’ve even taken up pieces I’ve glued down and started over. When Dianne returned the following week, the first thing she said was that she was glad I’d told her about removing pieces and starting over even after gluing them down. Because she’d done a lot of that. I could totally understand her progress since it is much like mine. I’m slow and thoughtful and I just keep rearranging until it “feels” right. So it was great to have a student who gets that idea. And as you can see, all that rearranging and listening to whether it “felt” right had a wonderful result.

The last week, we grouted and again were lucky as I’d just tested a grout called silver and it was perfect to pull together the silver of the dish with the mosaic itself. Here it is ungrouted.

Mosaic Student Dianne's mosaic dish, ungrouted, summerhouseart.com

And here is a pretty happy Dianne with her lovely mosaic…

Mosaic Student Dianne with the finished mosaic dish, summerhouseart.com

 

I happen to know that Dianne is already planning another mosaic and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

(BTW if you’d like to comment, and we do appreciate comments, please just click on the title to bring up the post with a spot for comments at the bottom.)

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A New Direction: Creating Small Mosaic Studies

Floral mosaic study, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

 Lately all you hear is declutter, declutter, throw out, lighten your load, etc, ad nauseam. Recently, I even saw a book that claimed your health would improve by throwing things out. It’s the latest trend.

Well, I happen to be one of those people who hardly ever throws things away. You may think you are throwing something out but it has to go somewhere, like the garbage dump, if it can’t be recycled. As they say, there really is no “away”. We do, however, recycle a lot. In fact, we hardly ever have any garbage for the garbage people to pick up.

I make Pique Assiette mosaics, which means, creating mosaic surfaces from broken dishes. So, essentially, I’ve been making art from all those dishes that others got rid of. I suppose I really should be thankful for all those people who donated all that “clutter” to thrift stores.

Over the years of making mosaics, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of leftover bits and pieces that didn’t make it into the latest mosaic. It’s not clutter. It’s all sorted by color and pattern and stored in recycled salad containers. As I say, there is a lot of it. I just can’t throw it all out. I always have a feeling that someday I might need a certain color or pattern. Of course, whenever I can, my students benefit from my stash of broken bits should they need some color or maybe a floral pattern to augment their pieces.

Which brings me to this latest little mosaic at the top of the post. Looking at all my lovely stash of bits and pieces, I’ve decided to start creating small mosaics. This one is just 6 inches by 6 inches. For the time being I’m planning to make little studies, putting together all those small and precious bits I’ve been saving. It’ll be a nice change from the larger projects I’ve done before. Who knows where it will end? Or how many I’ll make or if maybe I’ll have a show of small mosaics somewhere or maybe post them on our Etsy shop.

This little mosaic, with it’s floral design, will be a gift for a niece’s wedding. Something small and I hope, precious, that she can enjoy in her new home.

Floral mosaic study, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

(BTW if you’d like to comment, and we do appreciate comments, please just click on the title to bring up the post with a spot for comments at the bottom.)

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