19 February 2009

Mosaic Progress - Getting Close

Here is the most recent image of MacKenzie in the Garden with Bees. I will likely finish the glass work between now and Sunday. I have a bit of work to do on the edges, particularly the left edge, that doesn't show in this photograph. It needs to be trimmed about 1/4" so that it will fit in a 24" X 48" frame. I have to pull up about 25 tiles, shave off the 1/4", and replace the tiles, some of which will need trimmed themselves.

Next time I'm going to cut the substrate and build the frame before I start with the glass work. I won't place the substrate in the frame until after the grouting so that I don't have to worry about getting grout where it should not be - I just want to make sure I don't have framing issues like this one.

12 February 2009

Mosaic Progress

Today I came home from work feeling rather ill. I think it's just stress. Eventually stress starts to mess up my stomach and I get digestive problems. I crawled in bed with the heating pad and slept most of the afternoon. That helped, somewhat.

Still, I only did a small amount of work on the mosaic - not enough to be worth the effort of photographing it and posting the photo (especially since my internet connection is so very slow tonight). I worked on the smaller sunflowers. I have all the greenery done - there's just the five bees and a couple flower blossoms and then the filling in of the sky, which should go quickly. The tile I ordered for it should be here on Monday.

Instead of working on the mosaic I worked on developing an events calendar that I can drop into a post or the sidebar of a Blogger blog. It's for another project I am researching.

More later.

11 February 2009

Damn Ken Starr to the Deepest Hell

This breaks my heart.

I've signed the letter. I don't usually do this sort of thing. I don't know if things like this are effective. It often seems like just a feel good (like driving a hybrid) that really doesn't do what we need (like way less driving around).

This one I signed.

And I love the music.

08 February 2009

Mosaic Progress - Part 10

I discovered this weekend that the color I wanted to use for the remainder of the sky is the one color I missed when I made the huge glass tile order last month.

Very frustrating.

So today I went online and ordered the blue-gray tiles, and some pure black mini-tiles for another project and the class I am teaching in March & April. I also ordered 6 pairs of tile nippers for the class. I already have 4 students and I think I might end up with a few more.

After my realization that I only had 25 tiles of the sky color, I decided to work on finishing up all the flowers and plants in the mosaic and the six remaining bees while I wait for the order to arrive. After about six hours of work this weekend I have five bees, the outer ring of petals for one of the giant sunflowers, the blossoms on the smaller Mexican sunflowers and a bit of greenery left on the plants left to do. I'll keep working on them until the tile order comes in. Once they are done, and the sky tiles cut to fit around them, the rest of this mosaic will go very quickly.

I am starting to get excited about completing this one. I am looking forward to grouting it. Adding the grout always pulls it all together for me. I usually love it while I am working on it, but become totally enthralled when the grout goes on. I think I am going to use a pewter gray grout. I think a black or slate gray would be too dark for this mosaic. It has a considerable expanse of sky that needs to fade into the background. Using a grout that is remarkably different than the blue-gray sky tiles will make the sky show up too much and pull the viewer's attention to it rather than the foreground elements.

I've started thinking about the frame. I think I will make a fairly deep box frame (my name for it - the actual frame type probably has a different official name) for this mosaic. I will drill the plywood back board and set the hanging hardware in from the inside before mounting the mosaic in the frame so that there is plenty of strength in the hanging system. This will be a heavy piece.

05 February 2009

Tom Dispatch

I've added Tom Dispatch to my blogroll. It's a political statement I'm making by doing so.

I encourage people to read it, but I'll warn you ahead of time that it's not for the faint of heart. It can be scary, discouraging, infuriating, frustrating and more.

It is one of the most important things I read.

It's really hard to do it though.

Fine Arts Commission

Tonight I heard the most remarkable thing - a commissioner on the Fine Arts Commission actually said (paraphrased) - that piece has a function so it isn't art, it can't be called art.

I was appalled. Here was someone on the Fine Arts Commission - someone who is supposed to be supporting the arts - setting those kinds of limits on what art is...

It reeked of white male european hegemony to me... and it was a woman expressing the thought. Had I been a member of the commission, instead of merely a onlooker, I would have challenged the idea. I'm a bit dismayed that everyone on the commission just sat there as if that was a perfectly legitimate statement to make.

I live a life dedicated to blurring the line between art and craft; a line that I see as a historically arbitrary social construction. I believe in questioning the status quo. Every single day.

Tonight clearly illustrated that the battle is not over.

Mosaic Progress - None

I did not work on the mosaic last night - took a night off to do some research. I am doing a presentation next month for the Knowledge Acknowledged series at work. The library has four presentations scheduled for this spring. The first one was by Robin Wangberg, a professor of physics that runs Ironman Triathlons. The next is by Eric Heukeshoven, a music instructor here who plays the Winona steam calliope in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans every year. I do the next presentation after that and Abelisto, Chris Kendall and Gary LeMasters are finishing the series with a presentation on sustainable beekeeping.

Here's the promo for my presentation:
Monta May- accomplished artist, will share her passion for creating art that is bound up in the mystery of antiquity, the ancient artifacts, techniques, motifs, and imagery that allow us brief glimpses into the lives of our common ancestral pasts. Monta’s work reflects a fascination with things from the past. March 24, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Now I have to decide what I am going to talk about.

I am fascinated by the ancient, the mysteries that surround us that we rarely acknowledge. This fascination informs my art practice, becoming part of the context I work within.

When I did my MFA I wrote quite a bit about inspiration and historic examples of concurrent inspiration. I realized then that most of the art I do is in media that use centuries old techniques. Fiber work, encaustic painting, and now mosaic, all have roots that are very old, very deep.

04 February 2009

Mosaic Workshop

March 11, 18, 25 & April 1
Mosaic Art: Creating Glass Tile Mosaics
Wednesdays • 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Winona Arts Center
228E 5th St
Winona MN 55987

Participants will learn how to create mosaics using vitreous glass tiles. They will also learn a bit of miasic history. Emphasis will be given to understanding and mastering techniques so that participants will be able to create mosaics on their own after taking this workshop. Participants will have the iption of signing up for either a 1 mosaic option (materials for a 1 sp.ft. mosaic to be created in the workshop) or a 3 mosiac option (materials for a 1 sp.ft. mosaic to be created in the workshop, plus materials to create 2 aditional mosiacs for further exploration). In addition, participants may purchase the tile nippers used in the workshop.

Tuition: $60
Materials: $25 for 1 mosaic, $55 for 3 mosaics
Tools: $20 for tile nippers (some will be available for use in the workshop)

Registration deadline: class may be canceled if less than 4 people register by March 1.

Instructor: Monta Gael May, MFA, montamay@gmail.com

This is the information for the mosaic workshop I am leading. If you are interested in registering for the workshop please contact the Winona Arts Center or email me.

03 February 2009

Mosaic Progress - Part 9

Tonight's work was cut short by an hour or so. My right thumb met the corner of a particularly sharp cut tile. I did not even know it was cut until the blood spurted.
I did get some work done first.
I should be able to finish the glass work this week. After that it will be grouting and framing. I think I'll make a shallow shadowbox frame this one.

01 February 2009


Abelisto & I spent most of the weekend cleaning and organizing the house. We've half decided to move our bedroom upstairs since Nova & Mike have moved out, leaving the second largest room of the house empty. It's a great deal colder room than the one we use for a bedroom right now. Running lengthwise down both sides of the room, the ceiling meets the walls part of the way up. Only the center of the room has a flat ceiling. There probably isn't a whole lot of insulation in the ceiling where it slants.

I like moving things around in the house. It soothes the restlessness I often feel. Having moved 19 times since I was 20, I seem to get anxious after living in one place for very long. Moving furniture and making things new and fresh eases it a bit.

Anyway, we're thinking of moving upstairs so that I can move the mosaic out of the front room. We don't really have a living room. We have a huge room that currently has several bookcases, two desks and my mosaic work bench. The parlor studio is totally crammed full right now, with no room to work. I've put the tapestry loom in there because the cats - or rather one cat, Finn - claws the canvas apron if it sits out in the front room, and it totally fills the empty floor space. If we free up the other room on the first floor I can divide all the art tools and supplies between the two rooms - perhaps mosaics and encaustics in one room, weaving looms and spinning wheels in the other. 

Mosaic Progress - Part 8

I spent most of the weekend cleaning and organizing the house. I did manage to get some more work on the mosaic done. I will need to get some more cutting wheels for my Leponitt tile nipper soon. I think they are beginning to get dull - it was getting hard to make accurate cuts, harder to cut the tiles straight. I rotated the blades this morning and they seemed to cut better this evening when I worked on the mosaic.