Happy Anniversary Jonathan and Lindsay!
I was thrilled to be asked to create this mosaic for some friends to celebrate their anniversary this year. When Jonathan first asked me about doing this project I was hesitant. Given the fact that my school residencies have kept me busy almost the entire school year I was reluctant to agree to this commission. I always want to make my clients happy and I wasn’t sure when I could complete it. But once he understood the loooong! timeline- like the whole winter and part of spring… I agreed.
I have to say it was pure joy working on this between school projects. I loved my quiet time in the studio, silent in the snow except for mellow music playing, it was a great way to slow down, get absorbed in the process and steer my mind and heart in another direction. I love this kind of work and get easily lost in not only fitting pieces together but in choosing just the right patterns and colors from the mountains of dishes that I have. That’s really the part I love the most, getting inspired by the variations and the challenges of making everything work. For example, the flowers were individually cut out of some plates I went hunting for specifically for this project. What amazing luck when I found the exact flowers I was looking for!
Thank you to Jonathan’s brother who designed the original artwork for the couple’s wedding invitations. And thank you Jonathan for choosing me to honor your special day!
It’s been a long stretch without writing anything here… I’ve been taking a little break this month to regroup, rest and rewind!
I recently had the opportunity to participate in an inaugural teaching artist’s academy in Vermont. About 20 of us gathered to work on defining our profession, offer ways to organize and run our programs, discuss challenges and share our experiences. We touched on efforts to integrate arts into curriculum and ways to meet those challenges. Being a Teaching Artist is a relatively recently recognized and acknowledged profession. There is so much to develop and nurture there. As things change in our world, in our country and in our schools, so must our approach to being a community artist. The gathering was a great beginning!
The experience encouraged me to pursue offering my residencies in a new way. I’m now proposing more involvement with students from the beginning. I’d like to see students driving the process when possible; choosing the focus for the artwork and brainstorming ideas, working on the artwork and compositions, making decisions on color choices AND working with teachers to tie in with what they’re working on in class. It’s a start and I’m really excited to see where it leads!
Since the airing of NH Chronicle’s show on my work, I’ve gotten busier than ever. I’m here to tell you the arts are alive and well in New England! I’m encouraged by how this, to me anyway, seems to point to an understanding of the importance of art in our schools and support of bringing it to our kids.
I hope to be able to write next time about how successful this new approach has been. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I’d love to hear from you!
Writing about mosaics is like dancing about architecture, or something like that. (I’ve appropriated this quote from a similar one that I just love.) That’s probably why I haven’t written anything in awhile, it’s not that easy for me. That, and the fact that I’ve been crazy busy… with being an “Artist in Residence.”
So, I had been thinking lately that I wanted to say something about being an “artist in residence.” Just to define; being an artist in residence means staying in one place for a period of time to achieve a certain artistic goal. In my case, creating mosaics with people, mostly students in schools and so far, that means grades K through 8. I’ve been loving it. It’s super hard work, physically and energetically demanding. There is so much leading up to the actual residency… planning, proposing, budgeting, preparation of substrates and other materials, making all the artwork come together. Then there is the actual residency. I come to your school early in the day to get ready, then spend the day seeing one class after another. We work on the mosaics together. Students are reminded to either, “Keep your hands off the sticky mesh!” or to “Go easy on that glue! Just a drop and then you stop!” We make sure everyone is safe if they’re using the tile cutters, safety glasses on and away from other students. Then comes the day we get to put the icing on the cake so to speak- the day we grout and fill in all the spaces between the tesserae or pieces. What fun! We make a mess, it’s like playing in mud, but it is so fun and the results are absolutely worth it! The last piece of any residency is the “Grand Unveiling.” This is the time when the students get to show off what they’ve accomplished. Sometimes there is a slide show of the students in process, followed by an actual uncovering of the mosaics. Other times it’s an uncovering and a walk through. Sometimes it’s a “ta da!” moment when parents and students get to see the mosaics all together for the first time. No matter how the mosaics are presented, it’s always rewarding, always thrills me to bits to see how proud and happy everyone is of their efforts. The fact that it’s such a positive and lasting experience is something that keeps me wanting to do more and more. It’s such hard work, and so worthwhile!
One week from today I’ll be making a 3′ x 4′ mixed media mosaic in West Springfield, MA at the Big E! I’ve been hired by Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director of the Division of Agricultural Development at the NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food to do a week long demonstration of a mixed media mosaic. What an honor!
The Big E is an enormous event that begins Sept. 12 and ends Sept. 28. The venue is the size of a small city and events include; a daily Mardi Gras parade, a circus, a performance stage, a midway with all kinds of rides, horse and cattle shows, hundreds of restaurants, you name it, it’s there! I’ll be located in the NH Building on the Avenue of States from Sept.19th- 25th.
The theme for the mosaic is “Eat Local” and portrays the “farm to table” movement. I was inspired by the surge in growth of NH farms and a huge upswing in interest in organic farming. Of course I’ll include all kinds of colorful produce, but the mosaic will also have a few surprises! It’ll be a bit like “Where’s Waldo”- you’ll have to look hard to find them…
This commissioned mosaic will hang permanently in the NH Building. I’m so proud and excited to be a part of this huge event! I hope you’ll come by and say hello!
Happy Summer- finally! I’ve had a great time this past fall, winter and now spring creating mosaics to help various towns to celebrate their anniversaries. Local schools and their students are very interested in learning about their history and sharing what they learn through the art of mosaic. Beginning with the Weare Middle School where we made 6 large mosaic panels; 3 with local iconic buildings, 3 with items either grown or made in the villages of Weare, the students demonstrated their skills and artistry in these wonderful mosaics. Just this past week, I finished up an artist residency in Dunbarton at the Elementary School, where I worked with grades K – 6 to create 10 large mosaic panels to adorn an outer entryway at the school. Again, the subject represents beautiful and recognizable images around town. The students worked on mosaics of daffodils, ice harvesting, the Molly Stark house and the Town Hall, among other things. They look really wonderful and will be installed this coming Tuesday. We all can’t wait to see how they transform the doorway! Beginning in June, I’ll be traveling to 7 or 8 different venues and events with 4 Community Mosaics for participants to work on with me. This project “Mosaic 250” is sponsored by Lincoln Financial Services, organized by Jessica Fogg and Concord 250, which is putting on a year long party to celebrate the city of Concords’ 250th anniversary next year. I’m in the process of designing the artwork for the mosaics and will have the first one at the June 6th Kick Off Celebration (see my events page for details or go to Facebook.) Also in the works for next year is a Community Mosaic Project for the town of Hopkinton, NH to celebrate their anniversary. It’s quite a time for historical mosaics and Kast Hill Studio! You couldn’t choose a better medium for it’s durability and longevity and I feel that my use of recycled materials, in the form of stained glass, only adds to its’ value. I hope that you’ll have a chance to come out to some of these community events and to join in the fun. It’s going to be a great summer!
What is this weather!? Below zero one day, 38 degrees the next, and freezing rain today? It’s January in NH! From my studio windows I can see what’s coming over the fields to the West but I know how changeable that can be. I just have to make sure that in addition to my winter coat, I have an umbrella too. From my door to the studio is just a minute but anything can happen! I’m happy to be inside with the pellet stove I call “Peter Peter Pellet Eater” churning away quietly in the corner. It’s reassuring to hear the sound of those pellets dropping into the feed chute as temps dip lower and lower…
It’s been great to be back at work out there after all the busyness of the holiday season. The focus at the moment is on a commission for a shop called Bowerbird in Peterborough, NH. The owner saw my glass on glass mosaic work and asked me to make a bowerbird for her and several for sale at the shop. For those of you unfamiliar with the bowerbird, it’s a fantastical creature from Australia that gathers objects of the same color and arranges them, very carefully, around a grass bower (an open arbor like structure) in order to attract a mate. He spends all day long moving the objects about to get them just right. The effect is stunning! I’ve been having fun first collecting my own like-colored objects, then arranging them on my glass substrate. It’s been challenging creating a dimensional effect that shows off both the bird and his collection. The mosaic work happens in fitting all the pieces together and still leaving room for light to shine through the glass. I feel very lucky and fortunate to be able to do this work. I promise I’ll post photos as soon as I’m able.
Thanks for reading my blog. Keep an eye out for upcoming mosaic workshops and I hope winter is good to you all! Happy New Year!
Is it just me, or is everyone out there feeling caught off guard this fall? Well, here we are anyway and it really feels like fall today…leaves flying and frost edged basil! So it’s really gotten me in the mood to think about and post all my new Fall and Early Winter workshops today. I have some fun and interesting classes I’m planning so I hope you’ll check them out on my Workshop page. Many of you have requested the Glass on Glass workshop again so I’m offering four sessions. Come to all 4! Why not?!?
Other news, it’s been a great summer filled with festivals and classes that were fun and exhausting all at once! All in all, a very successful season with the exception of our micro-burst storm at Market Days. No one was hurt as it took place in the wee hours of the morning, but most of the tents and many displays were destroyed or badly damaged. Pretty scary, but we’re all here to “tell the tale” so that’s what counts!
Coming up this Fall are a couple of fun events; my Glass on Glass mosaics will be on display at the Hpkinton Historical Society “Tomorrow’s Masterpieces” exhibit opening with a champagne reception on Sept.28 from 5-7 pm. The show is up until Dec.7 and includes a great variety of local artists and craftspeople’s work. It’s a -be sure to see- show! http://www.hopkintonhistory.org
I’ll be participating once again in the NH Open Doors event sponsored by NH Made and the League of NH Craftsmen taking place on Sat. Nov.2 and Sun. Nov.3 each day from 9am until 3pm. Stop by and check out my latest work and watch a demonstration of “Pique Assiette” style mosaic making. This means I’ll be breaking china, safely of course! Oh! And there will probably be hot cider and locally made cider donuts too…http://nhopendoors.com
I’m working on a several artist in residency proposals for this school year along with some great commissions so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. Please keep checking back as I’m sure to be adding more workshops as the season progresses.
Have a great Fall everyone and I hope to see you soon! Lizz
Happy Summer! Kast Hill Studio is super busy taking advantage of the sunny skies after weeks and weeks of rain.
Coming up on July 8 & 9 I’ll be in Harrisville, NH at the home and studios of Hans and Marcy Schepker, Glass Geometry and Pear Tree Studios, respectively. My time there is part of the “Immersion in the Arts” Summer 2013 Intensive program for kids ages 6 to 18. We’ll be mosaicing 2, 20′ long semi-circular concrete benches that surround a fire pit. We have all kinds of fun materials to work with from stained glass scraps, mankala beads, tiles and stone. The benches are being completed as you read this!
In the meantime, I’m finishing up a commissioned mosaic wall panel for a garden that’s about 2′ x 3′. The theme is dragonflies in their natural NH environment; swamps and fields. I’ve used mixed materials and think it looks beautiful so far. I’m hoping to start work towards the end of July on two more commissioned projects for some dear friends of mine; a garden sculpture and another large panel for the side of a garage. I’ll keep you posted on that!
July 17, 18 and 19 are the annual Concord, NH Market Days and Festival. As part of the Arts Market, I’ll once again be offering visitors the chance to participate in a Community Mosaic Project. This years’ project is extra special, so I’m keeping it a surprise. Let’s just say, think aquatic… Be sure to come by my tent and add a piece or two of glass!
I’ll be at the Vermont Carving Studio and Sculpture Center August 5-9 to teach Lightweight Armature Building for 3-D Sculpture and Mosaic. We’ll have a blast! For info and to sign up see http://www.carvingstudio.org/workshops/workshop-information.asp.
As always, hope to see you soon!
It has been my pleasure to work with the students of Weare Middle School, grades 5-8 for the past week. Some 600 kids worked on a total of 6 3′ x 4′ mosaic panels to help commemorate their town’s 250th anniversary. The students made their artwork based on photos borrowed from the Historical Society archives. We had 3 panels representing 3 different historic landmark buildings, and 3 panels representing the items that were either manufactured or grown and harvested in that area. The villages made everything from linseed oil and boots, to wooden toys and rope. The students worked hard on these enormously detailed mosaics, especially on the buildings. The had to learn perspective and did a great job on getting all the angles right, which isn’t easy! Also, in addition to the recycled stained glass, we used tiny bits of mirror for windows and tiny bricks made of porcelain tiles all cut by hand! Running across the bottom of each of the six panels are sets of railroad tracks and in between the tracks we incorporated real gravel. The tracks truly “tie” it all together! In just four days, the panels were ready for grouting and on the 5th day we were able to do just that. Soon, we’ll remove the masking tape on the frames and give them a final coat of paint in preparation for the installation. The students, teachers, principal and staff of WMS certainly have a lot to be proud of. Thanks for having me at your school, it was a real pleasure! Well done everyone!
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Tagged Artist in Residence, historical, kast hill studio, Lizz Van Saun, mirror, mosaic panels, mosaics, porcelain tiles, recycled stained glass, students, Weare Middle School