Thursday, December 12, 2013

Magnolias and Mosaics

Recently, my boyfriend Chris and I took our first mosaic class with Yakov and Angele Hanansen at Unicorn Art Studio. The two have been doing large scale mosaics for over 30 years, and were kind, insightful, and extremely knowledgeable teachers. Both Chris and I have become addicted and can't wait to do more!

This piece was based on a drawing I did this spring (above) at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens when the magnolia trees were in full bloom, dropping their thick, fleshy petals onto the newly sprouting grass. Behind them, hillsides of daffodils glittered in the distance. It felt like a big quilt of different patterns, colors, and textures. I then turned that drawing into the design for the mosaic, below.

The process of translating a drawing into hundreds of cut pieces of stained glass is extremely meditative.

It forced my mind to think in new ways about drawing, because in a mosaic, everything must be considered. The color, size, shape, and direction of every piece and pattern is important. Intention is everything.

I had a lot of fun creating different patterns, and layering and weaving different marks and colors throughout the image.

Finally, the act of grouting was a very nerve-wracking, but exciting, and transformational experience. After working on putting the pieces together for many, many hours over 2 months, you have to smear the dark grout over all of your hard work. Then you wipe it off and see how everything has been transformed by filling in the gaps. I was surprised by how much the image changed!

Above is a little video I put together of all of the progress shots, showing the growth of the mosaic.


And now, finally, it is home, hanging proudly in our living room. I can't wait to start the next one!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Charles W. Morgan: The Main Topmast: Part 2

For the second part of my day at Mystic Seaport, we were able to see the crew pull the Charles W. Morgan out into the river and turn her 180 degrees towards the shipyard. Quentin Snediker, director of the restoration, offered us the chance to ride in one of the small boats in the river for the operation, so my friend and fellow Dalvero Academy member, Jennifer Kiamzon, and I jumped at the chance and hopped in. Other Academy members were onboard the Morgan itself or perched on top of some nearby scaffolding.

Seeing the enormous ship from the water was such an exhilarating experience! The tiny boats like the one we were in rotated around the Morgan like a school of little fish around a giant whale. The little one in the drawing above had a powerful motor, and hooked itself onto her bow and began pulling the Morgan into the river.

We drifted peacefully away from the whaleship as the other boats pushed and pulled her massive heft into the river. Suddenly we heard Quentin shout the name of our boat over the walkie-talkie and the driver gunned the engine and headed for the Morgan's hull.

Before we knew it Jen and I were flailing back as Paul, aboard our boat, leapt over us and braced himself against the hull of the Morgan as our boat rammed into her side.

We peered up at the towering masts as Quentin surveyed the boats over the side of the Morgan and shouted orders to push and rotate her into place.

We moved away, and then rushed in several times for Paul to leap forward and press against the boat.

As the Morgan finished her rotation, the boats dispersed and we headed back to dock.

She now faces in towards the shipyard with her monumental prow jutting out over the dock.

For a couple of landlubbers it was an amazing experience! Peering up at her towering masts from the water made me imagine what it must have been like for the sailors in the whaleboats on the hunt, seeing much this same view as they prepared for a grueling, cruel chase in the open ocean. One behemoth looming above them, and another diving beneath.