Address Plaque Workshop, Upcoming Shows, and Classes

A great time was had by all as we toiled away in the heat this July weekend just prior to the wildfire season start up. Although we had one emergency cancellation just before class began, we still had plenty of good energy to make this a great creative gathering. A few newbies joined in with some old hands (literally and figuratively) and we had a wonderful class overall. Some folks already had address plaques they liked at home, and so opted for “plain-ol'” mosaics.

HA! As if there’s such a thing!
Here are some pics of the process and the final outcome of some of the work. Plus BELOW, some info. about upcoming classes and shows!

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I have a beginners mosaic class coming up this October 1st and 2nd during the Contemporary Mosaic Art Summit in Ashland, OR at Southern Oregon University.

We’d love to see you there for the workshops, but don’t forget the lectures by international mosaic artists. There’s also an Invitational Exhibit at the Thorndike Gallery at SOU, where I will have the 2 pieces shown here for sale:imag.landscape.lgViewfrom9F.lg

and don’t forget the wonderful Mosaic Exhibit and Silent Auction at Belle Fiore Winery on Thursday Oct.1st from noon until 6pm. There will be so many wonderful smaller treasures as well as larger works for purchase- and it’s a ONE DAY ONLY event.  Here’s the piece I’ll have there for sale:

beneaththesurface.lgCome meet the artists, enjoy the views, buy a glass of wine to sip while picking out your favorite piece! I hope to see you there!

The Horses of Equamore Mural Project/Artists for Equamore

I can’t believe how much time has passed since my last post, but life has been FULL! Work on the mural continues pretty much everyday and I am doing my best to try and get it up on the wall before July. (But no promises! I can only move so fast.) Keep your ears open for announcements of an unveiling event! It should be a fun one, as Equamore really wants to help me celebrate this with the community of Talent and the Rogue Valley. More on this below.

While working on the mural, I and my friend Lynn Adamo finished and installed the Booker T. Frog sculpture (the T. stands for “the”) on his new mosaic lily “pad” at the McMinnville Public Library at the end of April. (See earlier progress post) We had lots of help from friends to make this work just right. Everyone was excited to see Booker again and even more excited to see the mosaic brighten up the entrance to the library. You can read more about it and see photos over at Lynn Adamo’s great blog post: http://www.lynnadamo.com.

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I have to say I had no idea how many steps would and could go into creating The Horses of Equamore mural. I have done similar work before of course, but each project somehow seems totally different and new. I love a challenge, and rarely tackle anything that isn’t one, but this project turned out to be sort of a reverse-engineered mosaic, which is way more complicated than I originally thought it would be.

Rather than starting with pieces and putting them together to make a whole, I started with big slabs of clay (about 32″ x 24″) and cut them up to create the pieces. 20150517_181721Then those pieces were cut down further to create more and smaller sections. Then those sections were deeply scored to create spaces for grout lines so once filled, the lines would create the illusion of a true mosaic. I keep calling it a faux mosaic, but really it isn’t, it is turning out to be tens of thousands of pieces! 20150518_115420I also carve into the clay to create the critters, landscape, etc. by first tracing my template directly onto the leather hard clay.

20150518_175909Because I am designing grout lines into the pieces, I also realized I’d need to protect those grout lines from the shiny clear glaze I’m using on the rest of the pieces. In order to do that I have to hand wax every single grout line and edge of every piece after it is bisque fired and washed.

It sometimes takes an entire day just to wax a single half section. 20150520_205955However, my hope is that the rough texture of the bare clay will ensure the grout will grab and stay in the grout lines (xx= fingers crossed

I’m using underglazes to create the color on the panels. This is a bit more predictable than regular glaze, as the color applied looks somewhat similar to reality once fired. Regular glazes usually look nothing like the color they are — so what goes on green can come out blue, or what goes on pink can come out green. It’s a little maddening and for me too difficult for this type of work.First panels

Here’s a side by side comparison of underglaze before firing, and after firing with a clear coat on top.

To date I’ve completed about 19 feet of the 27 foot total! The next sections are in the kiln with another one awaiting bisque firing. The finish line is in sight 🙂

While that’s happening, I’m trying to create some work for the special fundraising event going on at the Equamore Foundation on Sunday May 31st. It’s called Artists for Equamore and looks like it should be a great deal of fun. I’ll have garden art, ceramic tile plaques, possibly some new mosaic jewelry, and more!artist event smOver 20 local artists (check out the above link), live music, wine, food, and really great horses! What more could one ask for? Even if it rains we’ll be doing it up in the arena area, so don’t give me any excuses. We need your help to make it a success! 20% of all sales are going to the horses – so come on out. 3-6pm.

50 Shades of Clay (or the making of the Equamore mural)

20150218_160346Greetings to all my loyal friends and art enthusiasts!

I wanted to let you all know what is happening in my life and on the Horses of Equamore mural (FINALLY!).

2014 was a crazy busy year for me, beginning with receiving a $4,000 grant from the Haines Foundation of Ashland in late July! I proposed creating a mural I could call my creation from start to finish as a way to build my portfolio and help myself get future work as a mosaic artist. I was excited, but also a bit daunted, as I knew I would have to raise at least $10,000 more in order to really “get paid” for all my work.

I chose the theme of the mural, the horses of the Equamore Foundation, as I felt that there was a strong connection between the community of Talent where I live, and the horse culture that is all around us here in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. I was introduced to the foundation by Anna Clay, owner of the Grotto Pizza where the mural will be installed. Anna is a huge supporter of animal welfare causes, so it seemed a good match to me, and luckily she agreed! Here is a link to the mock up of what the mosaic will look like, minus a good number of wildlife tiles that will be added in to the final piece, in situ.

I also had to go through the City of Talent to get approval from the City Council, and still have to get permits finalized through Planning before installation on the Grotto.

In August I put together an Indiegogo.com crowd funding campaign which started in early September and ran for a month. I slowly started raising money one dollar (or sometimes 75 cents!) at a time.indigogo card copy

In addition to the horses, the mural will also include many other examples of wildlife that can be found in Southern Oregon. I “sold” folks the chance to have their names put onto an animal tile from a selection of around 45 tiles, which will be set into the final mosaic as an integral piece, rather than as an aside. I liked the idea, which I borrowed with permission from Eileen Barr who co-created the 163 steps project in San Francisco. She was a great resource for me in terms of how to handle fundraising and integrating the community into the project. Thanks Eileen!

I was ultimately successful in the last hours of the campaign and made my goal, which enabled me to pay a lower fee to Indiegogo and keep more for the project! THANK YOU to everyone who pitched in, large or small, it all matters! I am feeling so blessed and so happy to have the support of the community, my friends, and my family.

Then I took the next 6-8 weeks for prepping wares for the annual Clayfolk Show and Sale at the Medford Armory, which was also quite a success. More good vibes!

I began right after the Clayfolk Show getting set up to create this giant project consisting of a 27 foot long, 2.5 foot tall handmade ceramic tile mosaic depicting the horses of the Equamore Foundation, a local rescue for abused and neglected horses.

I purchased a “portable” carport/tent to use as an outdoor annex to my tiny studio. You can see the back of my studio just in front of the tent.

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It looks small here, but is 12 x 20 feet of room that I’m loving having already. It will be even nicer when it warms up and I can be out there all the time!

Next, my friend Rick Evans, fellow artist, and previous co-worker from Illahe Tileworks, found me a used slab roller on Craigslist.20150119_142143I’ve wanted one of these for a long time, but never had the space. Now I do! It’s very exciting and I rolled out my first slab today. I’m a little rusty on the how part, but it HAS been about 6 years since I’ve used one of these babies. And I’m attempting to do large slabs of clay — approximately 24″ x 30″. I’m feeling my age today!

Once I’m done with this blog post and the slab has stiffened up just a little, I will begin to cut out the shapes for the first pieces. Whoot! Whoot!

I had the full mural design blown up onto paper at 111% original size to use as a template. I coated the entire thing with clear contact paper to protect it from tearing and make it more resistant to the moisture in the clay.20150129_131949 Then I cut out pieces from the template that would be more manageable in size and shape. I made a corresponding “map” of the final piece so I knew where each piece would go once they were finished.

Yep. I pretty much just made a giant puzzle!

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Each of these pieces will be placed on the clay and cut around as well as transferring the design to the face of the tile as a guide. I still am a little undecided how I’ll tackle creating “mosaic” pieces for the background, but I think it’ll work out. Sometimes you have to figure things out as you do them to see what will work and what won’t.

And finally today, I’ve been creating my own version of the whole 50 Shades genre by doing glaze tests for the project. My own 50 Shades of Clay!20150218_160346

I am using Amaco Velvets underglaze with a clear sprayed on top to bring out the color and protect it from the dirt and weather. I’m loving the palette so far. I realize there are only 48 colors here, but more tests are on the way!

That’s where I am on the process so far, as I am concurrently working on a public commission for the McMinnville Library. This will be a lily pond mosaic I’m co-creating with my friend and fellow mosaic artist Lynn Adamo of Hillsboro. Coverage on that project in the next blog post!

Oh! and don’t miss seeing how all the Haines Foundation recipients used their grant money — join all 18 of us at the Ashland Art Center on March 6th (First Friday) from 5-8pm for an exhibit of everyone’s works and works in progress!

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!

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.