My FIRST Community Built Conference 2014 Davis, CA

What exactly IS this “Community Built” thing you ask? Well…I hope I can describe it in fewer words than the board members did- LOL. I describe it as: Community building and engagement through creative projects.

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Mosaic mural detail- Mark Rivera, artist Davis, CA

It all began with a bunch of playground designers and muralists “back in the day” (the 1970’s), and it’s not only still going strong, but is growing as a group and as a movement. All over the world folks like the 100 or so that gathered in Davis, California two weeks ago are yearning for connection. I am one of those folks and I didn’t really know it until I got there!

I had a hint these were my people when they said in the invite to “wear your messy clothes”, but I didn’t realize until I saw the projects these folks had pulled off, met the folks who fearlessly created and engaged with communities around the world, and heard the amazing speakers who are more concerned with bringing folks together than in a fat paycheck -how much I resonated with what was happening there at the conference.

Let me wow you with some photos from the weekend:

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Cottonwood bench, created by the artists of CBA Conference 2014

 

This is a Cottonwood leaf bench- created in under 4 days by volunteers from CBA with mosaic artist Donna Billick at the helm (almost done – and look- Amanda has on overalls!) 🙂 Those of you who know me know I LIVE in mine. 🙂

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City Repair project led by Mark Rivera, Davis, CA

Here I am painting the intersection/street with neighbors and CBA conference goers led by Mark Rivera- at 4th and K St. in Davis, CA – a one day project that took less than half a day due to so many participants!

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“Compassion is…” Earthbench with Mosaic Ceramic Inlays by Mark Rivera, Brennan Bird, and the community of Davis, CA

 

The Compassion Bench, created out of recycled materials, cob, and love. Here’s a peek at what’s “inside”:Compassion bench 2  Old soda bottles filled with plastic bags, compacted together to create a wall of waste that then gets turned into a useful place of community gathering – SO much cooler than throwing it all in the landfill, and cheaper than any other material.

What you don’t see about what’s going on here is that by creating tangible projects together as a community folks are: meeting their neighbors, learning more about themselves and those around them, and then continuing to interact with each other AFTER the initial projects are finished to keep creating community in their towns, neighborhoods, and what have you. Folks are being empowered to make change happen themselves, and are less whiny, less apt to blame things on the “powers that be” and more engaged in life! They are taking ownership of where they live and creating what they want to see in the world.

Awesome huh? Are you excited by the possibilities yet?? If so, check out the website of this amazing organization at http://www.communitybuiltassociation.org or LIKE them on Facebook at Community Built Association. I learned so much in the 4 days I was there my head was exploding with it all!

Also check out the wonderful work of the Pomegranate Center at http://pomegranatecenter.org – and watch the Ted talk by Milenko Matanovic at TedX. He’s an amazing man, great speaker, and you won’t be sorry you watched it. He was an inspiring lecturer at the Davis conference. One of those people you want to “follow”.

Now I am forging ahead to write my own grant to do a community mosaic mural project for Talent, OR (my home) this summer. I plan to mount the panels onto the side of The Grotto pizzeria near the intersection of Main St. and Talent Ave. in the fall if all goes as planned. I will be engaging with my neighbors and friends to make some handmade tile elements, rounding up off-cuts and extras from tile setters in the area to create the background (and save the tile from the landfill), and hopefully having a ton of fun in the process.

Wish me luck- and if you know any tile contractors in the Rogue Valley let me know!!

“Daylight-saving-me” Time

daffodilsSpring has sprung!

I can hardly believe the daffodils are up and blooming, the almond and plum trees are blossoming and the pears are starting to bud. Ahh, Spring, how I’ve missed you!

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Though we’ve hardly had a winter, with little to no snow (we’re now preparing for a major drought this summer), I am always happy to see the sun returning to my life a little more everyday.

I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which means in short, no sun no fun. I don’t function at normal capacity at best, I don’t function at all at worst. This year hasn’t been as overwhelming as some, but I do still struggle with trying to do anything useful when the clouds have rolled in… so though it’s spring, I still struggle. Just sayin’. It’s almost like someone waking me in the middle of the night and saying “okay-time to be productive now”.

It ain’t happnin’.

So if I seem less than cheery on a cloudy day, now you know why (or at least part of why). I don’t just love sun. I NEED sun. I cannot function at more than 50% without sun.

This is what keeps me from moving to Portland or the Bay Area, not enough sun! Before moving out here to Southern Oregon I consulted weather records and discovered Seattle has far more sunny days than my former home of St. Louis, in a year. What a shocker to me! And yet it explained so much about why I struggled so hard there. Southern Oregon is a much better environment for me, but really I still think I’d do better with a winter home in a sunnier local like Costa Rica or Santa Fe. In my dreams… So here I am. Trying to make the best of things while waiting for daylight savings to really kick in. Soon I can get on with my life and rev it up a notch.

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Body Health:

So, an update on the getting healthier front: I have been going to the gym between 5-6 days a week for the last 8 weeks. I do weight machines for 30-45 minutes, and 45 minutes of cardio every time. So about 1.5 hrs a day,  or an average of 7.5-9 hrs. a week. So far I have lost a whopping…. wait for it…

…1.6 pounds.

That’s like, maybe three apples. Geez…I mean I know my metabolism has slowed down, but WTF? If I keep this up I may get to my target of 30 pounds in 3 years figuring in that I’ll lose less each year and be able to do less… not very motivating.

But I’m going to keep going at least for the next 3 and half months, because I’ve paid for it and can’t stand wasting money. And I’m sure something good will come from it, I just wish it was a little more obvious and a little quicker.

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Vision:

One positive thing I am trying to do right now is work on creating a “vision” for myself and my life, a place of focus and purpose that keeps me on track and brings me back when I fall off the track. I’m reading a book (recommended to me) as a stepping off point, discussing and getting support with some artist friends, and working through some of my hurdles, one of the major ones being general wrong-headed thinking (see most of the above), the other being my bad relationship with money.

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Money:

I don’t know about you, but I have developed a deep sense of feeling I don’t deserve to have money, because somewhere along the way I was taught to believe that having money made you a bad person. Ungenerous, uncaring, unconnected to what really matters in the world- that’s what having money seems to mean to me. And having money means not having a job that makes you feel fulfilled, not having time to spend with friends, and not spending time doing what you love in general.

On some level that means I think people that do have money are bad people, though I KNOW this to be untrue. Some of my best friends have money, but I’ve never felt like I’m “on their level” as a result. They are good, caring, generous people, but I can’t seem to convince myself that we are equals. So that’s my work for the next while here, and maybe a long while, as it’s a deep seated belief that I desperately need to get rid of in order to move forward in my life.

As my old boss (an Italian grandmother) used to tell me, “it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is to fall in love with a poor one”. Oh if only this were so for me! I am put off by men who make money but then expect to find stability and security with men who don’t?! Something is wrong with this equation! Any help in unsticking these screwed up perceptions is welcome. I am seriously going to have to undo my whole belief system to get past this, but it has to happen! It’s like being reverse prejudiced. So ignorant.

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Time:

I am also working on my focus and vision by setting simple goals for myself. Just by creating a calendar of “work tasks” for myself in advance (I’ve laid out the next 4 months) has significantly helped keep me on a positive trajectory.

Knowing what task I’m working on for any given day takes the pressure off somehow. I don’t have to create a new plan every morning. I just get up, look at the calendar, and get going. Amazing how simple yet how effective this is for a self-employed person. It’s so easy to get off track or flop around in the unknowing.

Now I go to bed every night feeling like I’ve accomplished something, and knowing I’m “earning my keep” somehow. Even writing blog posts is now part of my schedule. Once a month, whether I have a plan for one or not, I will be coming at you with a new post, a new musing, a new update on the state of the arts in my neck of the woods.

I hope you’ll stick with me and give me some feedback. I often feel like I’m just doing this alone, yet I know we are all struggling to keep it together and it’s good to acknowledge that and keep encouraging each other in our journeys.

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Positive forward motion:

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get back to my wheel work and creating new bowls and such. I had to relearn how to throw- even struggling to center a piece of clay. It’s amazing how I can manage to “forget” how to do something I did less than 3 months ago. I mean, I must be the only person I know who actually forgot how to ride a bike, who forgot how to swim, and regularly forgets what I just did a few months ago. I think there’s a disconnect of synapses in my brain. How else to account for this weird behavioral defect? But it’s finally starting to feel better again, it’s just frustrating to have to constantly have to relearn.

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New fun stuff:

I am also working on a newer endeavor in mosaics, wearable art! I bought two bezels as an experiment and sold them both in a week, so I decided there must be a market for these tiny works. They’re fun to do, low pressure, and a nice break from some of the larger more time consuming tasks I often get involved with. Keep your eyes peeled for some of these in the next two weeks!

And I will be traveling to Davis, California in early April for my first Community Built Association conference! I think this will be a great way to meet some like minded folks doing what I love to do and learn some new skills to bring home and put into action. I’ve always loved public art and the way it can affect our communities not just in their existence, but in their creation. I hope to contribute some more in the future and also get paid while doing it!

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Upcoming workshop:

I’m also teaching another class over at the Ashland Art Center on Mosaic Cutting and Laying Techniques. April 19th from 10-3 with an hour for lunch. More information and registration at this link: Ashland Art Center.

Hope to see you all out and about this Spring (once it stops raining!) Keep in touch!

Mosaic LOVE workshop February 2014

In my last post over a month ago I was attempting to entice all the locals to come out for this beginners mosaic workshop at the Ashland Art Center- and come out they did! I had a dozen wonderful women and we had a blast (where are the men I ask you?).P1000650

I started by giving everyone a small frame or shaped board that had been sealed with Kilz primer/sealer to keep it from taking on moisture. I gave out a myriad of materials, including the above handmade ceramic tile hearts from my studio as well as stained glass, commercial glass tile, millifiore (pulled glass rods), and other bits and bobs I’ve collected over the years.P1000653

Next I gave a short explanation of “keeping it simple”, as there is so much to learn it’s impossible to teach it all at once. I must admit to being surprised and a bit overwhelmed at the number of students. I was expecting five if I was lucky-but having 12 was awesome! There were a number of different aesthetics and therefore a nice variety of work came out of the day

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The first day I forgot to take photos (sigh), but luckily Kara Lewis was there to pick up the slack- so I have just a few from the beginning stages of work.

The following week, after all the pieces were finished and dry, we met to grout. I directed a little demo first with pieces I’d done with the first day’s “leftovers”. photo 2 copyphoto 2

Then I gave everyone their own grout to go to town with. Man are we messy! LOL!

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But the results are Beautiful ladies!! Love these little works of art 🙂20140208_12271320140208_12325520140208_12270520140208_124705photo 3 copy 320140212_152716photo-2

I am happy to say we all had a great time and I will be offering ANOTHER class next month at the Ashland Art Center on cutting and laying techniques. Here’s the class description:

Mosaic Cutting and Laying Techniques 

Sat. March 22nd from 10am-2pm (with an hour for lunch)

Learn to make those feisty tiles do what you want them to do! Create flow and motion and choose what your tiles do for you rather than allowing them to dictate to you. Learn to cut circles, leaf shapes, keystone cuts and more and lay them to create whatever is in your imagination. We will use commercial glass tiles, stained glass, and commercial ceramic tiles for this experience. This class will be primarily for hands on learning with a little bit of lecture and demo to help show how to achieve specific effects. We will create a 9″ x 9″ sampler of many different techniques combined to create one image and show off your new skill set. 

For all levels of mosaic experience from beginners on up, ages 13 up to adult. All materials and tools provided. If you have any of your own tools (side biter nippers, double wheeled nippers, stained glass cutters) please bring them along.

Minimum 3 students, maximum 6.
$65 members, $75 non members
Karen Rycheck
aka missmosaic

To sign up contact the Ashland Art Center after Feb. 14th by clicking the link HERE. And please tell your friends! Have a great wet week (yeah moisture!) and an even better weekend.

Winter Wonder Land

Well, here we are again, another year has come and gone and winter is fully here in the town of Talent. Soon it will be my birthday and the next thing I’ll know it’ll be summer. Time just keeps speeding up the older I get and I feel like I’m trying to catch up and jump on.

Although I have never been one to make resolutions, I do make promises to myself to create change when things are just not going the way they should. So here I am to tell the world- I am going to be better to my body from now on and therefore feel better about myself and the world in general. I am going to eat better, get more exercise, and lose some of the 40lbs. I’ve gained since moving out West nearly ten years ago. Because lately I just haven’t been liking who I see in the mirror at all, and that’s not just about my appearance. I know when I don’t feel good it affects everything and everyone in my life and it’s time to turn that around once again and get back on track. As my friends and readers, I need your support! I need encouraging words and kind actions, and a lot of patience and help. I have been lucky thus far in my life to never have dieted in any real way. Aside from borderline anorexia in high school when I seemed to think my concave belly was “huge” and my skin was “fat”, I have always been around the same weight until I hit 37. And then everything changed. Bad things happened and my self-esteem went south and it’s been on a downward slide for years. The monster Fear set up permanent shop in my head and heart and I need to boot that sucker out in the cold once and for all!

Tomorrow I am joining the local gym. Not because it’s January. Because it’s time. And I HATE gyms. Most folks do I think, even those who go to them regularly. And that’s okay. I don’t have to like it, I just have to show up there. It’s the getting in the door that’s always so hard for me. Once I’m there, I’m fine. And I will keep getting in the door. I’ve promised myself. Even if it means giving up going to the coffeehouse everyday so I can afford the membership. Even if it means going without seeing my community as much for a while, it will happen. And I am going to hate it. And I am going to do it anyway. So there!

I will reward myself after I lose 5lbs.

Not sure how yet, maybe a sushi dinner…mmm…sushi…

Crap. Now I’m hungry.

And not a carrot to be had…

December is here already?!

Whew! what a crazy busy time last month was!

The 38th Annual Clayfolk show was a resounding success and I want to thank all of my supporters for coming out to make it our best year ever.  I was honored with the front page of the Medford Mail Tribune’s Tempo this year, and I have no doubt it helped me immeasurably.1

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My platters came out great- and I was able to do a trade with my friend Julie Young for wonderful photographs of my work. Here are a few:

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I totally enjoyed myself and did well in sales to boot. Bonus. However, I’m still trying to recover my energy to move on to new endeavors. I think the adrenaline is what took me through last weekend-and this week has been a long crash.

My first order of business after the show was to clean the house (which had been let go for far too long) do some laundry, and create the class description for my next workshop: Mosaic LOVE. I hope some of you can join me for this fun and informative class!

heart2Mosaic LOVE: A Class for Beginners of All Things Mosaic with Karen Rycheck

The mosaic art form is experiencing a resurgence all over the world – and you can be a part of it! Come get a taste of this dynamic and versatile art form while making a fun valentine gift for your sweetie, your mom, or yourself! We will be creating a small project to whet your appetite and give you the basic skills needed to begin creating in mosaic. Your first three hour session will be cutting and laying tesserae (pieces), the second one hour session will be grouting and finishing your piece.
Saturday February 1, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, and Saturday February 8,              from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

$50 Members, $60 General
All materials provided
Ages 13 +
Click here for the registration form
Please register by Tuesday, January 28
Questions? Email karaQlewis@gmail.com

Or peruse the Ashland Art Center class schedule on their site at http://www.ashlandartcenter.org

This could make a unique Christmas gift for someone, or a fun activity to do together- so grab a friend and sign up NOW.

I’m also going to move my potters wheel indoors for the winter, so I can continue to practice and create more good looking bowls, yet still be warm and comfy. I gave away my futon couch on Craigslist-took less than 16 hrs. for it to disappear-to make the space for the wheel. Now I just need shelves for the work! One can never have enough shelves it seems. So if anyone wants to help transform the bedroom into an annex studio-give me a call 😉

Coming soon- the fictional downtown of Bedford Falls (from Frank Capra’s classic film It’s a Wonderful Life) in CAKE. By yours truly. I have to admit to loving food sculpture-as long as it isn’t taken too seriously. But I do like a challenge, and this will prove to be one. Stay tuned for that adventure.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and were able to give thanks for the wonderful lives we all have. Even when I’m whining and struggling I am always grateful to my clients, readers, friends, and family; without whom my life would be dull, dull, dull. Thanks everyone!  xxoo

Clayfolk is coming!

Well it’s that time of the year again- The 38th Annual Clayfolk Show and Sale is on the horizon. I’ve been spending days and nights non-stop creating new work for this year’s show so I hope to see a lot of folks there.

The platters I wrote about in my last post came out beautifully and I’m excited to get them out in the public view.

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The last batch of small bowls also came out great. I hope folks like these as much as I do!

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I’m getting some professional photos taken this week and looking forward to seeing what she does to make these look more appealing. I’ve never been the greatest photographer which seems ironic, but I guess we all have our weak spots!

In addition to prepping for Clayfolk, I was busy making and wearing my best Halloween costume to date- and it was all free! Gotta love that 🙂 I went as Sacajawea- Lewis and Clark’s guide to the west. She had a newborn infant strapped in her papoose the whole journey! What an amazing strong woman she had to have been to deal with all those white guys and a little baby to boot. Anyway, here’s the costume:

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Yep- that’s Raggedy Ann standing in for the infant! And my friend Sara hanging onto my boat for dear life! It was a fun party- and dancing in a boat is way fun. Really rockin’.

I also made some new “furniture” for my booth yesterday- plate holders from scratch. I got bamboo off-cuts from a friend and purchased dowel rods that I cut and sanded, and borrowed a drill press from another friend to make all the evenly deep holes for them. Only took an hour or so- and they turned out perfectly. I love when stuff works the way you want it to! I’m also creating a pedestal out of cardboard and putting a wooden top on it for sculptural pieces. I never seem to have enough surfaces for all the work I want to show!SAMSUNG

 

In addition, I created 8 “busts” to display scarves for our next show over at Talent City Hall, “Celebrating Textiles and Fashion”. We have 14 artists displaying their works for the next 2 months. Our first invitational show, and a really nice spectrum of types of work too. Hope some of you get to see it! It will be opening Nov. 13th and run through Jan. 10th 2014. 

Well- back to it. Just wanted to let you know I’m still out here working away! Hope to see you soon- or just keep checking in to see what’s next on my agenda.

I’ll be creating another crazy cake for the “It’s a Wonderful Life” party in December, as well as creating a new custom mirror project and possibly a new mosaic for the Upper 5 Vineyards here in Talent- a wonderful biodynamic vintner. Stay tuned.

This week with MissMosaicGirl

I started off the week getting all of my bowls sprayed with a clear glaze. This is what they look like after spraying with a clear top coat- all snowy white and matte looking.P1000471

But then comes the glaze firing!

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 Temperatures of over 2100 degrees are reached to achieve a “high fired” product safe and durable enough to survive the dreaded microwave, the dishwasher, and even the oven if you’re careful.

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The colors really POP once the glazes have developed in the intense heat. It takes about 8 hours for the temps to get up to cone 5, and another 12 plus hours for the kiln to cool enough to open up and take out the treasures. So cheery! Loving these!

Only had one fatality, but it was one I really liked 😦P1000476 But it’s to be expected, as it is ceramics after all…

1385698_664801226872564_1643781070_n Things continued to go really well as Friday night found me at Illahe Gallery for the Mosaic Invitational and I had a chance to catch up with other mosaic friends and meet new ones as well.

My friend Julia Janeway showed up with her lovely family and her daughter Josephine was convinced she could hear sounds coming from Mosaic Town! 1377318_664801276872559_489237443_n

We decided “Totoro” was playing in the cinema building… but I’ll let you decide.

I spent a few hours on Saturday helping to install the mosaic medallion I created almost a year ago for my friends Pete and Carol here in Talent, Oregon. Pete had already installed the handmade tiles on the risers as well as putting in lovely slate on the steps and porch.SAMSUNG

The install went smoothly and we’re just waiting for the thinset to cure before removing the clear adhesive film I used to create it. I think it looks great with the multi colored slate, and the small border Pete added really adds the finishing touch.

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I’ll post final photos once everything has been grouted, but Pete and Carol seem pleased and I think it looks fantastic at their place! You can read about making the tiles here and here.

In addition to the install, I also was working on a new platter for the Clayfolk show coming up next month. I’m experimenting with new patterns that relate to, but are different than, my bowls. What do you think? Keep in mind- the colors will change. Gray will become white, blue will be a deep turquoise, and the black will get blacker once fired.SAMSUNG

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Whew! I’m tired just looking at everything that went on. Time for a long nap.