Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Unexpected Warmth

28mm by 7mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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One seredipitous thing about life knocking you down is you sure find out who your friends are in a hurry. And sometimes, new ones come out of the woodwork, or unexpectedly assume a new role in your life. I have been blessed lately to have this happen with two amazing friends who consciously chose to support me during a difficult time, growing our friendship exponentially. The care and warmth shown by them both has further served as a reminder that even in the darkest times, light shines in through the cracks, brighter than you could ever dream. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Desert City

 20mm diameter - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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I can imagine that for someone who hasn't been, the word Cairo conjures up images of a very colourful, lively place. It is lively, alright, and crazy, and loud, and downright aggressive. I have heard more horn honks since coming to Egypt than the rest of my years combined. But it is not literally colourful. In fact, Cairo is beige. Beige, beige, beige. There is sand everywhere, and while buildings may have been created in various colours, they must eventually heave a sigh and resign themselves to the seemingly legally required monotone. When I leave Egypt, my eyes almost hurt from the vividness other locales possess. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Phoenix Rising

45mm by 15mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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Everyone loves the image of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, brilliance coming out of ruin. But what is oft forgot is that for the Phoenix to rise, it first must burn. Such wonder can only come out of complete destruction. 

In my life, I have had numerous occasions, where I found myself proverbially in the ashes. Each time, I rose. Each time, I rose into better than what I had before. Each time, I rose more brilliant than before. 

So when I find myself at the bottom of the trench, mucking about in the ashes, I remind myself of this constant, and take what consolation I can in knowing that in order to rise, I first must burn. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

When Life Hands You Lemons

30mm diameter - Mosaic gold, filati, freshwater pearls in sterling silver
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Life hands everyone figurative lemons sometimes. No one breezes through life, everything always fine. Life is supposed to be messy, have plot twists, present strife. How we handle those moments defines us as people. Do we make proverbial lemonade? Or do we let those lemons rot and fester on our countertops? 

I like to think that when life handed me a lemon, a few years back, I cut that sucker into wedges and served it up with a couple much needed shots of tequila. If you had asked the bewildered woman standing there with a yellow citrus fruit in 2014 where it would get her 4 years down the road, she would have been amazed to know that she would spend all that time nomadic, calling multipe countries home, and finding all sorts of crazy amazing things to do to make it happen. So my take away from that is: When life hands you lemons, don't despair...hang on for the ride! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Here and Now

16mm by 16mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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If I've gotten used to anything over my last few years on the road, it's uncertainty. On any given day, I wake up to a life plan of varying length. Sometimes I'm fortunate that I have a life plan with work and locations mapped out months in advance, and sometimes I'm not; my longest such plan in the last 5 years was 9-10 months, my shortest, mere weeks. The 9 month plan, naturally, had a major upset, necessitating a return to a shorter plan. 

What all this uncertainty has done, besides keep me on my toes, is made me live more in the present. Everything I plan, everything I anticipate, or hope, or dread, may never come to pass, and quite honestly, probably won't, at least not in the way I foresee it. Life usually has other plans. Despite my increasing comfort with uncertainty, I am still unceasingly amazed how one's life can be so thoroughly changed in mere minutes. As such, I strive my best to live in the here and now. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dolphin Encounters

28mm by 7mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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Towards the end of last year, I went on a long weekend diving trip on the Red Sea. I hadn't gone diving in two years, so was understandably nervous. I descended with apprehension, checking my various gauges obsessively, until...DOLPHINS!

As soon as the group arrived at the bottom, the dive master signalled us to kneel on the sea floor. For the next 5-10 minutes, we were treated to two dolphins, a mother and her young, swimming among us, obviously checking out these weird creatures that created far too many bubbles. 

Later in the trip, we saw more dolphins from the deck, against the unbelievably blue Red Sea:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Blessing - SOLD

45mm by 15mm- Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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So for most of the winter, I've been teaching art and substitute teaching at the American International School in Cairo. Before Christmas, the principal of the school asked if I would make something custom for his wife. It had been ages since he has bought her jewelry, and he was excited to give her a one of a kind piece of art. 

As we started talking about the design and colours, he admitted to me that he himself was colour blind. So unfortunately, merely talking about colours didn't help him much in terms of making a decision. We had several ideas as to how to overcome this, one involving him taking pictures of her closet or other jewelry items so I knew what colours she liked. Eventually as I showed him a few photos of my work, he said decidedly, "Those colours. I know she wears whatever those are...those are blues and greens, right?" Indeed they were. The addition of the cross was also at his suggestion to honour his wife's faith.

Designing this pendant with and creating it for a man who so evidently wanted to please his wife was heartwarming. Nothing is more fantastic than two people who feel blessed to have each other in their lives. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Life Giving

28mm by 7 mm- Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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My best friend Blythe donated blood for the first time on Valentine's Day. Her father, a 318 time donor, was really proud of her, as was I. In Egypt, the donations are measured by weight, and she gave 400 grams (a little under 1lb). 

I can't give blood, as I have had malaria, a fact that I've always felt vaguely bad about. But what I can do is urge people to donate blood if they are able. I am writing this sitting next to a student who was in a car accident last summer, and had he not received blood he would have died. He has only managed to return to school in the past month...and the first thing he did upon returning to school was organize a blood drive and pay it forward. Well done Tarek! If you can donate, please do. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Grape Expectations

65mm by 20mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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Here in Egypt, my wine choices are pretty limited. There are a couple of wines available that are drinkable, but nothing to look forward to drinking, save at the end of a long day of teaching (that currently is followed by a few hours of mosaic making). As such, I am already looking forward to a larger variety and better quality of wine when I head back to North America for a visit in a month. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018


20mm diameter - Mosaic gold, smalti in sterling silver
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Happy Belated Valentine's Day! My day was so hectic I didn't get a chance to breathe, let alone post a mosaic! But now I have a moment to reflect and think about love. 

Love is, for lack of a more better word, simple. It simply is. Relationships, unfortunately, are not. So here is a good reminder:

So keep relearning how to love, starting with yourself. The world needs that more than more anything else. 

Monday, February 12, 2018


12m by 12mm - Mosaic gold, smalti, filati in sterling silver
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One thing I had to give up, at least temporarily, when I started my crazy nomadic life was the regular creation of fine art mosaics, which take too much space, materials, supplies, and time to be possible on the road. My travel kit for the jewelry is about 7kg, and I can make dozens of pieces without a restock, whereas 7kg would create a single, unwieldy mosaic. The choice to focus nearly exclusively on jewelry was one necessitated by logistics.

As much as I was happy to have a choice that made my dream lifestyle possible, giving up a permanent studio and the fine art side of mosaics was difficult on my heart. I had to make peace with simply bringing beauty into the world, without a bigger artistic message or meaning. Creating beauty, I accepted, was enough. Interestingly, I've found my own personal meaning in it, an internal beauty in the piecing together of objects that bring such joy to many. Beauty is enough.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Stone Wall - SOLD

28mm by 18 mm - Mosaic gold, turquoise in sterling silver
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In Canada, fences are usually wood, or chain link, maybe barbed wire. It would be rare to see a fence or barrier built out of stones like you do all over Europe. A tour guide Ireland pointed out the obvious: the stones in the wall were the stones they removed from the field whilst tilling for acgriculture or building construction. Brilliant premise, really, remove the rocks you want to remove from a field anyway, and built a wall to demarcate that this land was yours because, by gum, you put in the energy all those damned rocks off it. 

It helps that the stone walls themselves, and the views from them, can be pretty darn spectacular:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Slivers of Hope

28mm by 7mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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Life doesn't always go as planned. The nerve of it! One thing I've observed over nearly four years of nomadic life, is that almost every time I've had a major upset, or disappointment, or plain old plot twist, something good has always come out of whatever happened, something that wouldn't have happened if life had gone "according to plan". That being said, in those inky moments of teeth gnashing, it's nearly impossible to believe that something spectacular will come out of the current predicament. Yet, because life has pulled me back, so often, so consistently, only to be later shot forward into something unexpected and wonderful, I admit that now, even in those darkest times, I still have golden slivers of hope for something better. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In Memoriam

28mm by 18 mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
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Though I haven't blogged much in the last half a year, you may have noticed that I have had a number of the same shape of pendants in similar blue tones. These were done as a set of pendants for a group of women and girls who had lost a loved one. My dear friend Elizabeth, who I have mentioned before, commissioned me to make them for close female family members of her favourite cousin, Carl "Chuck" Riley, who died unexpectedly in 2017. Each pendant is different, but they all incorporate blues that we chose to match the colour of his eyes.

 Working on this commission really hit home for me, as I am the same age as Chuck was when he passed away. Life is a precious, precious thing, and I try my best to "suck the marrow" out of each day.