My History in Tempered Glass Mosaics

Until 2004, I worked exclusively in clay. While attending a week long architectural ceramics class, I met a woman who was going to the Society of American Mosaic Artists’ Conference in San Francisco that year. She invited me to come, and on a whim I decided to join her. As a part of the conference, I took a class with the founder of the Tempered Glass technique, Ellen Blakeley. She is an amazingly talented artist. You can see her work here. www.ellenblakeley.com 

After that class, I was hooked and my first years creating in mosaics was all tempered glass. Most of the work combined clay in the piece in some way. What I love most about the technique, is how it makes your mosaic become almost three dimensional. It’s a layering process and all the color you see in the piece is mostly underneath clear glass. You can incorporate photos, paper, ribbon, fabric, leaves, and anything else that is perfectly flat.

Below are some photos of work I have created using tempered glass. Come join in for a super fun weekend of learning and creating.

Commission piece with a handmade ceramic dragonfly with tempered glass wings surrounded by a field of tempered glass with mirror tile accents.

 

 

This butterfly combines a ceramic butterfly that has tempered glass in the wings. It’s set amid a field of tempered glass with beautiful art papers incorporated. It measures 30″ x 30″ and was purchased by a gallery owner in Half Moon Bay who I was represented by.

 

 

This is my favorite piece I have made in tempered glass. The ceramic heart at the top was made after 9/11. I had a friend call and say she was having people over to build an altar and grieve together over what we had lost. I saved the heart and incorporated it into this piece. I really should never have sold it, as it held such special meaning for me.

 

 

This Tree of Life piece incorporates a ceramic tree, polymer clay birds and leaves, and real fern leaves. The dimensions are 32″ x 46″ and it was purchased by a collector in Auburn, CA.

 

 

I’ve created lots of ceramic dragonflies in my pieces using this technique. This was one of my first bigger tempered glass pieces and it incorporates ribbon, glass gems, foil, and real hosta leaves. This one was purchased by a collector in Nevada City, CA and is  24″ x 24″.

 

This tree frog and branch are ceramic and it are surrounded by a field of tempered glass with a border of glass gems. It was commissioned by a collector in Nevada City, CA and is 20″ x 20″.

 

 

This coffee table combines a slate center surrounded by tempered glass. It was a commission for a family in Grass Valley, CA and is 30″ x 48″.

 

This bowl is representative of what you can do in this two day class. This is one of my favorites and is 16″.

Sculptural 3D Mosaic Flowers

Rosie Eckberg

The weekend of August 4-6 was my first 3D Sculptural Mosaic class. I wanted to share some photos of the work done that weekend. The project was not meant to be completed in the two and half days, so some students took their projects home to complete and others are coming to Tuesday morning classes to finish. The results are all so different and all so beautiful. I have scheduled another class for October 27-29th for those who were unable to make it. Hope you’ll join us next time!

Mary Beth Casement

Pam Jara

Gina Rubin

Trina Johnson

 

 

 

 

A Passion for Dragonflies

A couple months ago I was so excited to unexpectedly get an email from a couple who live in Davis, CA. They had purchased two different pieces from me about ten years ago when I was living in northern California. Both were wall pieces of dragonflies and they have them hanging outside by their pool.  This time they wanted an orange dragonfly since they often have orange dragonflies flying around their pool. This is what I created for them. They were ecstatic.

If you are interested in learning how this is done, I will be teaching this technique in my studio September 16th and 17th.

 

Did you See That? Mosaics by Marsha Rafter in the News

After the San Diego Botanic Garden Sculpture Show opened on June 25th, one of my friends Kim Riha, mentioned that she thought that she had seen my work in the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper. Since I don’t receive the paper, I had no idea that they were choosing to use my mosaic mandala in their ad for the sculpture Show. I was pretty excited to say the least.

 

In addition, while at the show reception, the photographer from the Encinitas Advocate happened to come by and asked if I would be interested in having my picture taken with my art. Of course I said sure. This is the photo they used on the page published about the Sculpture Show. Fun to see myself and my work in print.

                                                         Artist Marsha Rafter with her creation “Mandala”

Mosaic Demonstration at the San Diego County Fair

On July 3, I enjoyed demonstrating mosaics in front of the Fine Arts Building at the San Diego County Fair. This was a really interesting and fun new experience for me.  I had four hours and was given a table with a mirror above it which allowed the audience to see my hands while I was working. There were so many questions asked about the process and the materials, and one couple sat for two hours chatting with me so that they could see the entire process of mosaicing the seahorse from start to finish. When I was mosaicing the dragonfly, I had a young boy come up and stand right in front of me to watch, and then he assisted for probably forty five minutes. He was so interested and he did a wonderful job. It made him so happy to learn how to cut the glass and then set the pieces on the sticky mesh and he stayed until he had completed all the gold around the outside of the dragonfly wings.

I hope they will give me the opportunity to demonstrate again next year. I love sharing my love of mosaics with the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hidden Gem in Encinitas

On June 17th, I had the pleasure of teaching at The Center for Creative Renewal in Encinitas, CA.  The owner, Ellen Speert, is an art therapist and has owned the three acre property for over forty years. From the street, you would never know what lies beyond the gate to her back garden. She and her partner have lovingly created an amazingly beautiful environment that is filled with art and includes a building for her art therapy, complete with a deck that looks out over the mountains. In addition, there is an outdoor deck for art classes as well as a new yoga deck. Ellen teaches classes herself, leads art therapy groups, and hosts visiting artists several times a year. You can visit her website at www.artretreats.com for more information and to see all of her classes and events. Taking a class here offers so much more than just the content of the class. The location is spectacular.

The class Ellen and I chose was Mosaic Mandalas, one of my current obsessions. The word mandala means circle, and represents wholeness and divine harmony.  It was the perfect project. Students created the mandalas on Wedi board, making them waterproof and suitable for hanging in a garden environment. I brought a huge selection of my own handmade tiles to offer as focal points as well as to radiate from the center. As you can see from the photos, everyone’s interpretation of the project was their own unique vision. The results were beautiful. Thanks to all of you for coming!

If you would like to create a mandala in Ellen’s beautiful garden, I will be teaching this class again in April of 2018.

Megan Hoopes with her piece incorporating my handmade tiles in a paisley design.

Rosemary Stark with her beautiful piece incorporating a center medallion and radiating “leaf tiles”.

Carol Denenberg with her piece primarily all in blues using only glass.

A unique piece that I do not remember the name of its creator. It is so beautiful and creative. Let me know if you were in the class and can identify who made this one.

A beautifully planned and executed piece with complimentary colors created by Gail Gerbie.

The lovely yellows in this piece by Mary Beth Casement are so happy. And Mary Beth learned how to add glass rods vertically in the center.

Love the blues and purples Ellen Speert chose. The pink and aqua add a nice contrast.

The chartreuse green tiles in Susan Pierce’s piece are my absolute favorite.I just love that color. She ended up changing this from black to white grout. That was beautiful as well.

San Diego Botanic Garden Sculpture Show 2017

June 25th was the reception for the artists in the San Diego Botanic Garden’s 2017 Sculpture in the Garden Show. I am so happy to have had four pieces selected for the show. The first, my 36″ mandala, is installed near the entrance to the garden up in the plant shop (which is by the gift shop). The others, three of my sculptural “flowers” (mandalas), provide bright splashes of color down in the Hamilton Children’s Garden. The opening reception was a lovely brunch and a presentation by the CEO Julian Duval, and the curator of the show, Naomi Nussbaum.      Here is a link to the garden’s website and a map of the locations of the sculptures in the garden:     http://sdbgarden.org/sculpture.htm

And here are a few photos of the show.

A group shot of the artists in attendance.

My mandala up in the plant shop. It’s a perfect location. The photographer for the Encinitas Weekly grabbed me for a photo for the newspaper. 

Explaining my work to attendees who were on a tour of the sculptures.

A closeup of one of my mandala flowers in the show.

 

My husband, Mark’s dragonfly that is in the show.

 

 

Ruth Bancroft Garden Sculpture Show 2017

On June 15th I drove up to Walnut Creek, Ca to install three of my sculptures in the Ruth Bancroft Garden. This was my first visit to the garden and  I found it to be a very special place filled with beautiful succulents and cactus. The garden is just over three acres, and it was quite a spectacular show as there were 103 sculptures. What a perfect setting for the amazing art selected!

I stayed for the opening reception June 17th and several of our friends were able to attend. It was a fun event in spite of the 103 degree temperatures. What crazy weather. The week prior it had been 30 degrees cooler.

You can read more about the show here on the Garden’s website. http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org/2017SculptureShow.html

And here are some photos of my work, my husband’s work, our friends, and some of the other sculptures. Enjoy!

 

My dear friend Kendall Butler attended the opening.

My husband, Mark, and my dear friend, Leslie Meehan. Mark has two dragonfly sculptures in the show.

 

Awesome chicken!

I love this totem.

Beautifully executed mosaic pillow.

 

 

 

Memorial Bench Installation for the Butler Family

On May 18th and 19th, I was in Auburn, Ca for the installation of my second memorial bench. My good friends, Kendall and Eric Butler, lost their son, Justin, five years ago when he was sixteen. I was asked if I wanted to create a bench for them  and of course I said yes, I would be honored. The infinity symbol is an eight turned on it’s side which was Justin’s football number. Kendall loved the whimsical butterflies and dragonflies she had seen on my previous bench and wanted to keep the design simple so that was all we added.  It was such a joy to be able to have Kendall there helping with the installation. We had a great time and she loved it.

All packed and ready to fly to Sacramento.

Unpacked and ready to go to work.

Buddies. We had fun.

Thinset going on the stone.

Laying the glass.

 

Having fun with thinset.

Kendall helping with the grout.

Done!

San Dieguito Art Guild Art in the Garden Tour

Mother’s Day weekend was absolutely beautiful weather and a perfect weekend for the San Dieguito Art Guild’s annual Art in the Garden Tour. There were eight homes in Encinitas and Carlsbad on the tour and there were 6-8 artist’s at each location. I was so fortunate to be at the home of Holly Ripkin with a prime spot by the pool with a gorgeous view of her pool, garden, and the mountains in the distance. This tour has been going on for years and was very well attended. I am happy to say that I had a very successful weekend.

Here are some photos.

The artists

Our wonderful host, Holly.

The garden setting for my work.

The view I had all weekend.

Eileen with her newly purchased mandala.

Annette and Evan Friend with their new mirror.

 

I’m really looking forward to next year!