Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eureka! How it all started... I found the photograph.

This is a photo taken in Venice, Italy. It's not a great photo, but read on...

As you may have read previously, I studied mosaics in Italy and Turkey.
The last day in Venice...strolling around... I came upon 2 things that caught my attention. They both had a profound impact on me.

One was a chandelier - multiple branches - with glass pendants. The fixture itself was simple, it was the glass that made me come close to drooling... why? Fruit. Apples, pears, many, leaves, beads.
I asked the price - it wasn't too much, but the shipping was hundreds of dollars. About to board a train through Slovenia on the way to Hungary - schlepping a chandelier was not going to work. I took a mental picture... which is easy since I'm eidetic.

What might seem totally off the mark at this stage of the story is a beautiful story book I had as a child. The Arabian nights. In it, Aladdin makes his way into a cave, finds a tree dripping with fruit made of gems [looked like glass to me]. Translucent, colorful, startling...beautiful. Aladdin presents a bowl of these jewel fruits to a Princess to win her hand. The images from that book have never left me [once again, eidetic... I can pull it up on the screen in the air anytime]. I still have that book. So that chandelier really made an impression!

Anyway - as I am known to say - "I can make that," my search through Venice's tourist stores was a hunt for glass fruit, beads, flowers. I found nothing. I went back to the lighting store and asked if I could just buy the fruit? "No." Can you tell me where I can find them? "No." Back to the stores.

Through the door, I saw the stained glass mosaic you see above. I walked into the store and stared at it. Looks like a Mucha. Little squares of glass in many colors. On Glass. Grouted. In a metal framework. This time, the price was too high, forget about the shipping. Took a photo and moved on.

I never forgot the chandelier or the mosaic.

It took me 18 months of searching, bidding on ebay, visiting antiques and lamp repair stores, web sites, etc. to accumulate enough glass and crystal fruit to create my own chandelier. Hard to see, but there are apples, pears, grapes, flowers, pendants, etc.
Of course, within a week of assembling this, a store here in Phoenix is carrying the chandeliers from Venice.

The portrait also stayed on my mind. "I can make that," my mantra... became a reality, of sorts. I found small squares of glass. I glued them to glass, grouted it... not bad. Made a geometric, a flower, a woman. Problems I ran into:
  1. I couldn't find the colors I wanted.
  2. I couldn't find little squares
  3. I don't like to cut glass
  4. I didn't want to use stained glass pieces - too thick, too opaque.
  5. I couldn't afford to go back to Venice to find out more.
I tried finding more info about that piece online to no avail. Not done, though. What else could I use? At that moment, my parents arrived with a box of greeting cards and a paper cutter.
Aha... maybe I'll use paper, instead of glass!
I pulled a self-portrait off the wall - willing to sacrifice it to experimentation. Cut "tiles" out of cards. Glued them on the painting.

Okay, now that I found the photo [after many years]... I can see that what I do now has evolved from the initial inspiration to something completely different... but that image never left my mind. I credit that moment in a store in Venice with what has become my medium of expression.

I guess when I say "I can make that," I usually do.

Inspiration is a jumping off point... all of us artists - in every medium - start with a grain of an idea and create...everything beautiful.

Thanks for reading!


Nina and/or Ruthie said...

Very inspiring story! I love your work!
Nina in San Diego

Barb said...

Thank you for sharing how you started your phenomenal craft. I have been wanting to do mosaics, bit difficult to get all the colours of tiny tiles, I did some pieces with flat stones. I have so many fashion inspired me with the Coco Rocha piece that she posted on her facebook, from there I found you and plan on keeping you as my inspirational artist angel!

Barb Owen, Stoney Creek, Ontario