Monthly Archives: November 2014


I will start this post off by stating “I am not a fan of showers.” There. I said it. When I got married and my sisters threw me a shower, I asked that we all meet at the Pasadena Swap Meet where everyone had twenty bucks to find me  something as a shower gift. We would all meet up in three hours back at my house, drink wine, and see who found the weirdest item!

Needless to say, it rained. No swap meet. Just wine:)

I don’t know why I hate showers so much. I just don’t like playing silly games, cooing over gifts, sitting around chatting about getting married or having babies. I think I am missing a gene, the same gene that makes women want to have clean houses, have matching cutlery, use air freshener, and bake. I watch commercials where the woman of the house is so concerned about stains, spills, smelly rooms, etc. and I can only think “why don’t the men ever worry about this stuff?” I don’t get it. Anyway, I digress.

Please understand, I am not against these things, I just don’t like doing them. I am happy for my friends when they throw showers and do not hold it against them. And so….I can’t believe that I am doing this……BUT


         I                       AM                        HAVING                    A                              SHOWER!



Yes, folks, a shower. I figured since I am on an ARTernity Leave, I needed to have a shower. This year is about giving birth to community based projects and the first one is the Echo Park “Healthy Foods” mosaic, so I figured I better have a shower to welcome the 40 foot “tiled ball of joy” into the world. On December 6th from noon to 5:00 (pop in any time) we will gather at my house to celebrate, however there will be no poopy diaper games or toilet paper dresses to be made, but we WILL be making tiles for the mosaic and eating delicious cake. There will be chili, vegan soup, salad, wine, coffee, not just cake.

A big thank you goes out to my friend, Nicole, who is helping me with the shower. I tried to register at Home Depot, but alas, Home Depot does not have any online registries. While I was looking for information on Home Depot, I came across a wedding website that stated “And for the man of the house, Home Depot offers and in-store registry.” Ummmmmmm, news flash – WOMEN SHOP AT HOME DEPOT. Oy vey.


Anyways, if you are free and would like to join in on the festivities, come on by! Maybe it will even rain! If showers OF ANY SORT are not your thing, I understand. I’ll see you at the swap meet.

Ask and you shall receive

I was thinking to myself two days ago how I could really use a large cork bulletin board for my work space in the garage, but I just didn’t want to BUY one. I was thinking how great it would be if I could somehow acquire one for free. I was also thinking that I needed to learn more about the proper way to cut tile with a hand held saw, but figured I would get to that later when I was actually cutting tiles. I decided yesterday to take my big dog, Jones, up to LaCanada and hike on the Gould Canyon trail which is a lovely shaded hike in the foothills. As I neared the trailhead, I noticed there were a lot of large items on the sidewalks of this very swank neighborhood and then I figured out it must be BULKY ITEM day in LaCanada! I am like Fat Albert and his friends when it comes to trash and reveling in the possibilities of converting other people’s trash into my treasures, but I had my dog with me so I just put blinders on and drove on. It was difficult keeping my eyes on the road, not on the cornucopia of sidewalk discards, but when I turned the corner to park near the trail head I couldn’t believe what I saw. You guessed it……a large, cork bulletin board complete with a set of silver push pins leaned against a trash can! Holy Toledo! It looked brand new! Coaxing my 90 pound dog into the front seat, I hopped out and slid that bulletin board into the back of my car. I had a great hike and took that board back to my garage!


Thank you LaCanada!

THEN while working in the garage, my neighbors’ dad came walking by on his way to get his hair cut at the local barber. He said he would be staying with Katy and Amy (who, by the way, besides being great neighbors, also own the world’s greatest eye glasses store until late next week. Jim O’Connell is the kind of dad that can fix stuff and build stuff. My dad was that kind of dad too. Dad had every power tool known and so did my mom! Well, Jim pops his head into my garage and proceeds to tell me that he heard about the mosaic I am working on and offers his expertise if needed, as he has built up many bathrooms and done many tile jobs. I enthusiastically accept his offer. Jim shows up yesterday and proceeds to give me points on getting the perfect angle cut, using a grinder to cut and sand, and his tips on which wet tile saw to buy. A big thank you to Jim for taking time to share tips with me and for his general enthusiastic attitude.


Jim cutting into the tile

I’m telling you, ask and you shall receive. You never know what might be on the sidewalk one morning or who might be ambling by your garage!

A whole lotta HEATH!!!!

Yesterday I met the amazing Lisa Bookstein at Heath Ceramics. I felt like I had made a pilgrimage to Sausalito and met the tile Goddess of California! Seriously, I had one of the best days of my life yesterday meeting Lisa, walking around the Heath factory and seeing the massive kilns, the artists working on their gorgeous designs, the sample colors, and the boxes and boxes of tiles that Lisa so generously donated to me for the Echo Park mosaic. I loaded up my car with tiles in all sorts of green hues and a few warm colors too! A massive thank you to Lisa and Heath for the generosity and willingness to share with a community over 375 miles away. I now FINALLY have all the tiles I need to complete the mosaic. Back on the 580 freeway driving back to LA, tiles rattling in the back of the car, I feel so fortunate to have so many people supporting this project and so happy to see grey clouds forming over the Berkeley hills promising rain.


and um….what about MONEY?

The first thing I would ask someone on a year sabbatical is “how the heck can you afford to NOT work for a year???”

Some teachers get paid on sabbatical and some don’t. I am in the latter grouping, which means I had to save up in order to go on this sabbatical. No, my husband is not supporting me financially and it always gets my ire up when people assume he is. I saved like a squirrel for several years and am giving myself a meager salary whilst on the sabbatical. Honestly folks, we don’t need as much as society tells us we need. I am not buying any new clothes this year, am eating simply, and trying to keep it very simple on all levels. Let’s just say the 99Cent Store and I are dear friends this year. It is all worth it to have TIME. I keep on harping on TIME because we are all rushing around, working long hours, and lack time to fully live it seems, so although I am living on half my salary this year, I don’t even mind being broke because I am rich in TIME.


A new skill

I have been wanting to take a letterpress class for years now, so I signed up for a one-on-one class at De Milo Press and had Annika show me the ropes! I learned how to ink the plates, what type of paper is best, and how to operate a table top press. The press I used was about 100 years old. I made cards for my up coming shower (look for the shower post soon.) It took all day to make 100 cards, but there is nothing like receiving a card in the mail that has been made by hand. I wanted to create a card that wasn’t computer generated, but rather crafted one by one. I don’t know about you, but my spirit is enriched when I hold a hand made object in my hand. It feels good. De Milo Press offers small, intimate letterpress classes and a whole array of handmade cards and stationary:

Look at the mechanical beauty of this efficient table top press:


Time to LOOK

Teaching is like an efficient watershed system; A really great teacher provides water in an efficient and optimal manner, channeling that water and enabling the student to grow. I pour a lot into my job. I love teaching, sharing information, creating something new together, etc. There is a real joy in tending to the minds of the young and witnessing growth on a very personal level, but along with this constant tending comes a certain depletion and this is why I feel it is imperative for a teacher to take time away from the classroom/studio. How can I continue to inspire if I myself am lacking inspiration? Basically, my watershed needs more rain!

I’m now on month three of the sabbatical and I’m already filled with inspiration and am excited to share what I am learning, excited to share with my students the information, the stories, the patterns and textures I have witnessed so far. One cannot teach if one is not learning. I believe the classroom/studio is a place to experiment, try new things, explore, explore, explore and not repeat the same lessons/curriculum year after year, but a teacher needs time away from the classroom in order to replenish. Several weeks ago I went on a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons to hike and explore the natural world off season. I stopped at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson where I was inspired by the architecture and the collection of paintings and sculptures.

I also visited The Colter Bay Visitor Centers where I viewed a small, but well done exhibit on Native American art. While I was there I met an artist named Guillermo Martinez who makes drums and flutes. His musical instruments are beautifully crafted and we chatted for awhile. Turns out he used to live right down the street from me in Los Angeles and we have mutual friends. I asked him if he would be a guest artist in my class next fall and he agreed. Once again, this sabbatical has given me the gift of time to go out and explore and make new connections.

Although I love a good museum exhibit, I honestly find more inspiration from being outdoors, out on a hike away from the bombardment of urban life, far from cars and freeways in a quiet place where my senses can focus and experience the artistic wonder of nature.

Having the time to hike with the time to stop and stare at the patterns of an autumn leaf, a slow moving snake, the mineral veins of a rock, etc. have given me at least a dozen ideas for new lessons and an invigorated sense of being. Line! Pattern! Texture! I’ll leave you with the sound of Aspens from the Grand Tetons.



Precious TIME

I am not a naturally organized person. It’s actually quite difficult for me to file, fold, and place items in a systematic order. Chaos is more my friend, so part of my sabbatical is to get organized, get rid of stuff, sift through it all so I can see clearly. For anyone out there that teaches full time, you know what I am talking about. By the time I get home from teaching and being on my feet all day, the last thing I want to do is clean and organize. I just want to collapse in a bath and stay there for a long time with a glass of wine. Well, I tackled my garage first in order to create a working space for the year. You can see from this BEFORE photo, what my tile-filled garage looked like:


For years I would just open the garage door, close my eyes, and toss box upon box in there, quickly closing the door before I caught a glimpse of what I was creating! BUT NOW….now that I am on this sabbatical…….look what glorious TIME can do:


Oh yes! I have organized all the tiles by color. It’s so organized, it’s scary. I doubt this level of color coded efficiency will remain a constant in my life, but for now it feels great. I got rid of loads of stuff and finally feel I have a grasp on the inventory for the mosaic. Here’s some greens, some blues, yellows, and blacks! I am basking in the glory of this brief efficiency:

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Community Tile Making

at the tile making tablesI held a workshop awhile back to make tiles for the mosaic in Echo Park. I wanted the community members to be involved so I held a free tile making workshop working with clay slabs.  The workshop was set up at the Echo Park Farmers Market that happens every Friday on Logan Street near where the mosaic will be installed.

IMG_9588The response was overwhelmingly positive! IMG_9579IMG_9574IMG_9595IMG_9806Many folks stayed for hours making many tiles in the shapes of corn, carrots, tomatoes, and other fresh vegetables and fruit. We made about 90 tiles all together and I will be holding a few more tile making workshops in the next few weeks. I love working with the community, seeing everyone taking some time to sit down with each other, talking, laughing, creating. I’m posting some photos from the day and some of the tiles in various stages.

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The Echo Park Farmers Market takes place every Friday. They have a very generous offering of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as hand crafted items such as soap and candles. here’s their website for more information: echo-park-farmers-market

Mission Tile

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kate at Mission Tile in South Pasadena. Kate has donated thousands of tiles to my community projects and I can’t thank her enough. These are tiles that were slated to end up in landfills, but she puts them aside for me and I pick up a box or two every month.  I take the tiles I cannot use for mosaics over to Habitat for Humanity in Pasadena, so it is a win-win situation all around. With the tiles from Mission and the tiles from Heath plus various tiles I have purchased, I should have enough to start the mosaic in a week. It doesn’t look like it will ever rain again in LA, so the weather is on my side for sure! I miss seeing and hearing rain though. Need tile? Check out Mission tile. It is family owned and I love their generous spirit!

Heath Tile!

I’m very excited to have Heath Tile on board with the mosaic project in Echo Park. I visited the Heath factory up in Sausalito last week to purchase some more green tiles. While I was there I left my business card and explained the project I am working on with the hopes I might get some tiles donated. The next day I received an email from Lisa Bookstein, Heath’s mosaic artist, saying she would be happy to donate Heath tiles to the project. I am a huge fan of Heath. This company has been around for many years and has a timeless style and grace to everything they create. I’ll be driving back up to Marin next week to meet with Lisa and I can’t wait to see what they can spare. I just like being near that place. It inspires me to see a company with values such as Heath still thriving, still making and creating objects in the U.S., and willing to share with the greater community. Edith Heath founded Heath Ceramics in 1948 and it is still going strong. For more info on Heath, go to: