Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pink Rhodies, glass-on-glass.
The Federal Way Senior Center commissioned a second project from me this year.  This is a glass-on-glass mosaic that will embellish the top of a new sign at their entryway.  It will be illuminated by natural light, and the design will be visible from both sides.  I delivered the finished piece on Saturday, and I'm excited to see it installed in its permanent home.

The main part of the mosaic is done using Opus Sectile, which means that the pieces are cut to fit the shape of the object they represent; i.e. each petal and leaf blade are cut as one piece, the way a stained glass artist would work.  However, stained glass would not be able to accommodate the small details, like pistils, as they would get lost within the copper and lead.  These small pieces are very hard to cut, and a ring saw was used to cut into the petals where the pistils were inlaid.  The background is done using Opus Palladium, which simply means it is random, though each piece is still hand cut to fit together, like a puzzle that hasn't been made yet.

This was a delightful little project to complete, perfect for summer.  Now, I feel the shift toward Autumn, my favorite time of year, and I'm working on painting a bench for the City of Olympia.  It has taken me several weeks for Mike and I to strip off the gum, hair (yes, wads of it), laminate, and primer paint from the slats, and then I applied new primer and a base coat of different colored enamels.  A pattern is slowly emerging, and I will soon add layers of detail to create a "magic carpet" design.  I am drawing on my experiences applying henna, studying Middle Eastern Art and Culture in college, last year's trip to Turkey, and playing with techniques in Laurel Skye's recent book on Rajasthani inspired mosaic.  As soon as my daughter returns to school in a few days, I'll be making fast progress on the final stage of that project.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Infused, and then some...

It is harvest season on the farm, with our herbs reaching their full potential faster than I can cut and dry them.  I try to spend a little time each day gathering borage, mint, calendula, basil, thyme, and more, in addition to the tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, and little broccoli florets that we add to meals or freeze for the winter. 

The herbs are carefully selected and put into paper bags, then kept in a cool, dark place to dry.  I have two jars of almond oil with calendula and lavender, slowly infusing in my pantry.  There is also a jar of vodka and grass clippings, which will result in extracted chlorophyl.  All of these things will be added to the lotions and balms I'm learning to make.  Last week, my order of metal and glass containers arrived, and now I need to figure out how to create labels.  So far, I've created eye cream and a very rich hand cream, perfect for gardeners and mosaic artists.

I am hoping to have a small product line to sell and give as gifts by the holiday season, and I'll see how they are received.  If nothing else, I'm having fun making my own body care products.  I also made clove mouthwash and strawberry leaf facial astringent, just for me.  All of these things are actually quite easy to do, and very satisfying.  Moreover, I can avoid buying more plastic containers,which I tend to keep piled in my studio in the hope of finding ways to reuse them.

Now, I'm off to grout my current commission, and prime a city bench so that I can begin painting crazy designs all over it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My last day alone on the farm...

I have picked and frozen 8 gallon bags of raspberries so far, and they keep coming!
Mike and Anouk are staying with a friend in Northern CA and will leave there this afternoon for the last leg of their trip, stopping for the night in Oregon.  I expect to see them early in the day tomorrow.  I am very excited to have them home, but also fully enjoying the last day of solitude.

I feel that I've done a good job of subsisting on existing food, though I haven't been hard core.  There were many things in the cupboards and fridge to supplement my meals, like salad dressing, spices, coffee, a can of tuna, etc.  But, I made a huge pot of chili from scratch that provided many meals during the first week and ate a lot of salad with boiled eggs sliced over them.  I'm no longer quite as excited about cucumbers.  I often sautee beets and zucchini with balsamic vinegar and oil, which is delicious.  I think I've lost about 5 lbs, and I'm not craving carbs any more at all, though I do feel like I need more protein.

Yesterday I was in town and I bought tofu, rice milk, chocolate, and a bottle of wine.  We'll go and buy a carload of groceries this weekend, but I feel like I've reset my appetite to a different standard, and I'll try to keep eating this healthfully as long as I have access to fresh veggies.

Last night, deer ravaged my garden.  Someone ate the tops off of most of the carrots, munched the 3 broccoli plants, and chewed the top layer off of all of my cabbage.  The deer are beautiful animals, and I love how tame they are around here, but I am not growing a buffet for the wildlife.  I suppose we will need to put up electric wire or something this year. 

I found two baby eggs in the coop yesterday, which means my young hens are starting to lay!  We will soon have enough eggs to share.

My garden is still very weedy, but with two of us at home, we should be able to get that under control this month.  I have a commission, and I've been able to make significant progress on it with all of this uninterrupted time.  Now there is a bench waiting for me to pick up and paint for the City of Olympia, if I can just borrow a truck and someone else to help me load and unload it.  So, between projects and family, I'm sure I will be posting a lot less after this.  (I've spent way too much time on the computer in my alone time.)  Harvest time is upon us, so I'll be extra busy picking, chopping, freezing and drying during this, most beautiful time of year in my favorite place on Earth.