Peace Signs

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In The Studio - Wednesday

Wowie, am I busy this week! The muse is in full swing and I am working on the custom celestial set. This set is fast becoming one of my favorite projects. What do you think?

This was the hardest one to cut out mostly because of my arthritic fingers.

Crescent moon and sun measure 8-9 inches.

stars

Celestial set
A treatment of grout/glue/water was added to the back and sides for added strength and aesthetics.
Same treatment on the back and sides of the stars.
The fun part!

In the sun, this beauty shines.

Late at night, lamplight, I had to get a picture of it when finished and awaiting grout.
Messy from glue, it's still gorgeous in sunlight. Now in the "to be grouted" pile.

Started this moon right after I finished the sun in the evening.

Continued into the late evening working on this. Tiny pieces of stained glass were cut to fit.

With each crescent moon that I create, if it fits in this space, I have to document it in this way. It's a tradition!
Time to start on the stars!
Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics

 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Find Creative Inspiration

One of the hardest things we crafty folks go through is staying in the creative mode. Sometimes we just can't find our mojo and when that happens, our whole life goes caddywhompus. Everything seems to be just slightly uneven for us. Sometimes we just need to rest and find our energy once more but other times we really have nothing that inspires us or fills us with joy. This is probably the saddest thing to go through for a creative. Not finding our center, our calling, is very upsetting. Once we acknowledge that we need to work on finding what brings the joy, that is when we need to help our muse along and do something, anything, artistic. Once we do, more thoughts come along and before you know it, there we are, right in midst of one of the busiest creative times ever!

Finding inspiration is not difficult for mosaic hobbyists whether they are just wanting to give it a try for the first time or are into their 11th year of creating them, like me, but you have to know where to look.

My favorite place to start is through books. Search online and you'll find massive amount of books at your disposal, from mosaics done in a weekend, outdoor projects and even furniture. When I taught some classes a few years back, I'd bring some of the books shown below to help the students get inspired and excited enough to take that feeling home and continue their mosaic journey. It didn't work for everyone but it always grabbed a few in each class and new enthusiasts were born.

Here are a few books in my personal library. I still refer the all of these when I'm looking for a technique or inspiration. These can be found online through Amazon. I recommend them. Each one has value. I also suggest you find any mosaic books that capture your attention while looking around websites, bookstores and the library. You never know what you'll find.



Another great source to help you along when you're in a slump is YouTube. Just type in the search area "how to make mosaics" and you'll find over 200,000 videos. Scroll through these videos and find a few that grab you. That is what inspiration does, after all. Type the same info in your browser search engine and you'll find enough to keep you busy and inspired for quite some time.

Finding people who write blogs like I do are great sources of inspiration as well. Sharing what I'm working on each week or adding to the online shops is fun for me but it could very well inspire someone to give what I do a try. That's a wonderful thing!

Someone I admire greatly is Lou Ann Weeks. I LOVE her quick "how to" videos and her blog. Her site is filled with inspiration and tutorials. Spend some time on these sites, sign up for her blog. You won't be sorry.

When I first started making mosaics I used only broken dishes. Mostly because that is why I decided to try mosaics, I broke a dish that was part of a set my Grandmother gave me. "Blue Willow". Still a very popular choice for mosaics. After a while, maybe 6 months or so, I knew I wanted to learn more and I wasn't having as much fun with dish shards as I knew I could have with stained glass. I am now very comfortable using pottery, china, glass, mirror, found objects, etc. but it took time and a lot of studying to find what spoke to me the most. My most comfortable choice is stained glass and mirror. I tend to like the colors nature uses for the ocean and the trees. Earth tones are my feel good colors and I want them near me at all times.

Really horrible photo taken in 2007 of one of my first mosaics created around 2005.
I probably took a lot of photos of these earlier mosaics using actual cameras with film but I have no idea where they are or where the mosaics are either. After I moved in 2011 it all got shuffled somewhere either into storage or at my Dad's place. This is the only photo I could find of the earliest mosaic I remember making from that time.

Some examples of better photos, using some of my favorite materials, follow.




Find what speaks to you, let your muse come out to play. Give mosaics a try! Find videos and blogs, books and people who will help you along your path toward the magic that can be found in mosaics.

Have fun!

Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics


 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Creative Business Journey

I've put a lot of what I was working on, on hold since I learned about my physical problems. It hasn't stopped me but it definitely slowed me down a little bit. Finding the rhythm to become a healthier me isn't difficult but it put all the energy I had into me and not my business, future or otherwise.

Having said that, after a few months of this new me, I am now ready to tackle some business plans once more.

I am concerned about the financial end of things ... so much so that I actually made myself ill for a few days both mentally and finally physically until I realized what I was doing to myself. How my thoughts were sabotaging all the love I have for mosaics and all the wonderful dreams that are associated with my calling. I have, in the past, sort of shook off these thoughts as a dog does water when he's wet. But these past few weeks have been harder to shake and in hindsight I am assuming I just need time to put all the pieces back together in my brain so I can once more plan and dream. I am concerned about the monthly debt I have to pay with no steady income. I am concerned that without collateral (except my art) I won't find the backing/financial help I need to move forward. I think those are legit concerns but I also think if I stay in that mindset, I will never move forward due to fear.

It's time to start thinking once more about what I want to do. I made a new vision board. This one is just a reminder that I do have favorite words and phrases that I use to pull me out of a bad day. I've named this one "stories" because these are the stories I tell myself over and over again.


In this board, I've shared the other 3 vision boards I've got hanging up, and below that, some of my favorite sayings.

One is from Dr. Wayne Dyer's "Excuses Begone" book. He gives examples of our excuses as to why we can't do things. The excuse is: "No one will help me." The affirmation is: "The right circumstances and the right people are already here and will show up on time." I tried to get that all into the sentence in the board but it wouldn't fit, so I made a brief version that reminds me to stay open to whatever comes along.

My "Wish Upon's" mosaics have the tag line: "Wish, Believe, Trust, Receive" with them. These are small boxes I made that hold the dreams and wishes we always have. Writing them down and putting them in a special box especially for wishes, is why I made them. I don't have any more available but am considering finding a way to make more once I get a little money gathered up for supplies again. It would be great to make up little jewelry boxes with a star on them (the other boxes I made were star boxes with a lid but are sadly no longer being made) like this.

Cool, huh?

The third reminder, is loosely based on Mike Dooley's teachings about the Universe and how we perceive life in general. "The Universe has got your back!" is probably the most accurate thing I could remind myself to keep me in a positive frame of mind. I am reminded that if I focus on what I don't have, or lack, I will get more of what I don't have. Focusing on what I'd like to have in my life, not just money (who doesn't need more money?!) but also a more fulfilling life sharing the love I have for mosaics with others. It is so important to me.

I have come to a crossroads in my business life. What used to work 6 years ago, no longer works. I have done everything right, but the formula no longer works. I have a lot of online shops and venues for selling my mosaics and other art. I use social media constantly. People ooohhh and ahhhh and tell me how wonderful my art is, but very few actually purchase anything. It's time to do something different because what used to work, no longer serves me.

I'm ready to take my mosaics out in public (and me with them even without proper teeth or a happy smile ... it's time to overlook those physical problems and forge ahead) and do craft fairs a few times a year, maybe building to 4-6 within a year. It takes help and money. I have the help, thankfully and gratefully my cousin has offered to take time off from her job to help me for a day when I need it, to man the table and carry the mosaics. My daughter has said she'd help me if I needed it and I might just have a new Facebook friend who will help me too. Anything is possible! My Dad has a table and a tent he uses when they do outdoor events and he might even have a chair or two we can borrow. The first craft fair I found close to me is in August and I contacted the person who is running the show and she told me I can hand her the money for the space on the day of the fair as long as I confirm I'll be there. Now all I need to do is find the money.

Without a steady income, it is difficult to do things like this. Savings is long gone. It's hard to do anything, really. I have been fortunate to live with my daughter and her family for a long time and it's been mostly wonderful and rewarding. Seeing most of my family every day, especially my grandson, is awesome. There are times when I need, for example, a new pair of shoes. I can't buy them. The fam definitely can't buy them for me, they are stretched to the limit. Luckily within the next few months, I hope to qualify for social security retirement benefits. That will at the very least keep me in shoes. But, getting from right now to September (I'm assuming the benefits won't start until I'm 62 but I've yet to call the social security office to find out ... it's on the list to do today!) is difficult.

However ... as far as the business end of life goes, I see nothing but blue skies! I'm about to contact someone I know who works for the Chamber of Commerce in our town. I'm hoping to make a connection through this person to see what my future holds as far as getting a studio workshop open and functioning. Just because I can't see how to do it today, doesn't mean it can't be done!

As Oprah says, one thing I know for sure: the Universe has got my back!

Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics



 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In The Studio - Wednesday

I'm having a fun week in the studio. It's nice to just forget my troubles for a while and do what I love to do. There's nothing much else that compares.

I wanted to share a photo of the 3 sets of coasters I made for the "how to" posts I've been writing. They are so pretty all together.


I am also glad I have them handy for the craft fair I want to do towards the end of summer. Fingers crossed it all works out ... it seems to be, so far, so that's a really good sign!

I made a sweet Minnie Mouse for a soon to be 2 year old using a discarded plate and some broken dishes, mirror and a little stained glass.



I also had made some polymer clay words that I wanted to put on the plate, but they didn't really work too well on it. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them until I found a small piece of Wediboard I had painted a design on (some flowers I think) and then covered over in paint because I wasn't happy with the results.

After toying with a few different things, I came up with this.


I put a ribbon through the hole at the top so it can be hung up on a wall. The sides are painted with pink paint and then I dabbed them in mica flakes in gold. Very effective, fast and easy project ... and CUTE!!

Now that the gifts are made, I'm starting work on a custom order. I'm struggling with depression right now so trying to focus on art has become more difficult than it should. However, although there are still a few things I'm mulling over with this one, I can start cutting out the shapes.

So far, I've only managed to get a little bit of work done on it. I'm okay with taking my time and I'm also okay with just doing a little when the emotional things I'm dealing with settle down enough to concentrate on other things.

My own design of a sun ready to be cut.
Cutting Wediboard is really easy but this design takes a little finesse.
The custom will be a sun, moon and stars to be hung on a wall. Once I figure out how I'll do the sides and get hangers, I can start the mosaic magic!

Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics


 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How To Make 4 Inch Mosaic Coasters Using Various Tesserae - Part Three

The last in the series of mosaic coaster making. Today, I'm sharing the fun you can have using stained glass and mirror.

In this post I've shown one way to make two 4 inch coasters from start to finish using stained glass and mirror. These coasters take 2 days to complete. They can be done in a weekend! Please refer to the previous post to see how to grout: mosaic-coasters-part-one.

For this project you will need:

1st part:

  • Stained glass and mirror
  • PVA glue
  • glass nippers
  • 2 MDF or wooden coasters (prime with a glue/water mixture as shown in mosaic-coasters-part-one)
2nd part:
  • Sanded grout
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Wooden craft stick
  • Newspaper or plastic
  • Clean, dry rags
  • Acrylic paint
  • Painters tape (optional)
  • Felt pads (optional)
  • String or ribbon (optional) 
This project is recommended for children 6 years of age and up due to the tools to cut glass. It must be handled with care at all times and adult supervision is imperative.

Art Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Difficulty: Medium

For these coasters, I drew a simple design to follow. You can have a lot of fun designing your coasters and considering what colors you'll use. I decided to go with 2 colors of blue, ice blue and blue & navy streaky stained glass, silver and turquoise mirror and glass 1/2 circles in cafe latte.

The first step is to draw the design and pick out the glass and mirror you want to use.
Some of the glass shown above was not used for this project. After studying the design for a bit, I decided to just go with basic blue and silver.

To make the design interesting, I used the mirror glass in the center.

Filling in the outer sections with stained glass, cutting the small square pieces into triangles.

Easy designs are best to use when learning how to mosaic.
All pieces are in place and the glue needs to dry for 24 hours before grouting.

The glass gems at the corners are to help keep a glass or mug in place when sitting on the coaster.
I decided to use black grout to give these coasters some added drama. I could have used many different colors. The final choice is yours!





Aren't they awesome?!



Wrap some ribbon around your coasters once the grout is dried and sealed. Gift them, keep them handy for those times when you aren't sure what to give someone or use them whenever you want to feel fancy.

Any questions? Please leave comments or send me a private message if you have anything you'd like to discuss.

Next week, I'll share a list of suppliers and a few people I admire who make mosaics for you. The fun of creating mosaics is to find inspiration to try new things!

Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics

 

Monday, June 20, 2016

On A Personal Note ...

This week I'm adjusting to having diabetes and what it means. I'm using a new glucose meter to check my blood sugar levels. I don't like it much yet. It requires a lot of precision on my part to get it just right and I'm still clumsy when I use it. I've wasted lancets and test strips just trying to get one reading and enough blood to draw to get a reading. I didn't think it would be as difficult as it is. I'm hoping by the end of this week, I'll have it down and figured out.


I'm not going to give a review on different meters, I'm really not experienced enough to form an opinion, that isn't the purpose of this post. I will say learning how to use this one definitely takes time. I was not prepared for that because the other meter I used for a week before getting this one was much easier. Probably less precise; it's good to get the best results.

I'm also writing down everything I eat, when I eat it, what I weigh, what my blood sugar level numbers are each day. Granted, I've just started doing this for a little over a week (since I got my first meter) but I think there's a good chance I will keep it going. I like knowing what might be causing the high numbers when I take a reading and I switch each week to a different time so I can see the differences. It's new to me, so I'm vigilant about it all. I recently talked to someone who has lived with diabetes for close to 30 years and they aren't as careful or don't seem to be as concerned as I am. I'm not sure that's something I should do: become complacent about it. I am going to try to continue to be careful and make sure I keep track of it all.

In other personal news, I'm losing a little weight. The medication I'm taking helps with that but I think walking 3-4 times a week, even as little as 5 minutes (most times it is longer, I average about 10-15 minutes), seems to make a difference as well. I love to walk. I take my camera and stop and take pictures of pretty flowers, goofy trees with faces or what look like mythical creatures (my artistic side loves to see things as art) and just enjoying the sun.

Sad faced tree with a wrinkled brow.

A goofy faced totem pole made naturally from cutting branches.

Mythical creature gator-lion-lizard.

Right now I'm having trouble finding the balance between when I'm "supposed" to eat and when I'm actually hungry. They don't always happen at the same time. According to the doctor, loss of appetite is possible with this medication (Metformin) but the nurse at the diabetes center I went to recently said I HAVE to eat 3 meals a day. I find 2 is good enough, thank you. And pushing to eat 3 meals is hard when you really don't want it. NO one is more surprised than I am that I don't want it!! Who have I become?!

Meanwhile, art keeps me happy and so do my family. Not necessarily in that order. I start to stress about the lack of things (mostly money and this debt still hanging over my head from the past and what I've got a fundraising campaign for ... I'm seriously so broke right now, as the saying goes: "I couldn't even pay attention") and I know staying in that stressful state keeps things from moving forward in a more plentiful way. I've had 30+ years of training with meditation and listening to inspirational audios to know that way of thinking (negative) is not productive at all. I learned depression too, is associated with diabetes. I have to work much harder to stay in a positive frame of mind. It's a whole new world.

What I would like to do is start to concentrate on the months ahead a little bit and work on mosaics to do a crafts show in August. I don't know yet how to gather the funds for it, but I know I have to do it. I actually want to do it. That is an unknown feeling for me. I never wanted or felt I needed to do craft shows. Now, with the lack of online sales and the shear volume of art for sale online, I think taking it to the streets is the way to go a few times a year. I seem to have everything in place except for the funds to reserve the space. The person running the crafts show told me I could bring money with me the day of the show. How awesome is that?! I have a few months to find a way to gather it up. A few online sales would be great.

And so, learning about life as a diabetic isn't all bad. It makes me aware of what I'm feeding myself, I'm watching portion control and sugar/carbs intake. There are days I just don't care to look and other days I won't touch anything unless I know exactly how much of what is in it. I think that makes me human.

Tomorrow's post will be the 3rd in the series of "how-to" instructions on making mosaic coasters. It's the last in the series for now. The next posts on Tuesday's will be sharing information on where to buy supplies, what kind of tools to use, and some of my all-time favorite mosaic artists.

Support Independent Artisans, Designers and Crafters for your gift-giving needs all throughout the year. Thank you!~Cindy, EarthMotherMosaics