My year so far.

In the middle of the coldest Winter in recent memory, I appropriately started off my year by completing another in my series of Grandmother Elemental Shields paintings, Grandmother Ice. It’s painted with Golden Open Acrylics on a circular canvas.

 

Grandmother Ice, acrylic on canvas 20"x20". Copyright 2014 and beyond

Grandmother Ice, acrylic on canvas 20″x20″.Copyright Jane E. Ward 2014 and beyond.

This silverpoint drawing, completed in 2013, Kwan Yin with Chrysanthemums was in the Round Rock TX Drawing Show in the Spring.

Kwan Yin with Chrysanthemums, silverpoint drawing.

Kwan Yin with Chrysanthemums, silverpoint drawing. Copyright Jane E. Ward 2014 and beyond.

I took a wonderful Smalti workshop at the Chicago Mosaic School in the Summer and bought my first hammer and hardy. Now I’m ready to make some new mosaics with Italian Smalti.

Fall Leaf, smalti mosaic. Copyright 2014 and beyond

Fall Leaf, smalti mosaic in progress.
Copyright Jane E. Ward 2014 and beyond

Fall is here now, although the temperature has yet to go below 80 degrees here in Texas, and I have some of my  jewelry in a show at the Texas Art Asylum, October 17,18 and 19th.

Ojos de Diosas

Ojos de Diosas, copper wire and jet beads. Copyright Jane E. Ward 2014 and beyond.

I’ve worked on several other projects, you can see one in my last post, and have even more in the planning stages, so all in all so far 2014 has  been a very busy and fun year.

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I’m Back

I’ll be blogging here  again since dismantling my website. Here’s the latest mosaic piece, it’s to go in the gap between a stove and the hood. The middle is metal with a faux patina applied, a good place to put  a recipe or a reminder  attached with a magnet. It’s 15″x15″, glass and ceramic tile.

Mosaic magnetic board.

Mosaic magnetic board.

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Hestia at her Hearth

It’s been a while but here I am. Summer is now winter and it’s turned chilly here, we had a freeze last night and it’s just the right weather to curl up by the fire with a good book.

“Hestia at her Hearth” is the first in a series of storytelling art about an ancient Crone and her fairy friends.

Colored Pencil drawing. Copyright Jane E. Ward 2012

Hestia at Her Hearth, colored pencil drawing, copyright Jane E. Ward 2012

In each drawing,  Hestia will share her world with the divas and fairies of each of the Elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In this one, happy fire sprites cavort in the flames of her hearth as she, nice and toasty, reads a book about the Lore and History of Dragons to her companion Uruloki, a young fire-drake, at  at her feet.

In Greek Mythology, Hestia is the ancient Goddess of the Hearth. In ancient Greece her fire was never allowed to go out and every home had a shrine to her in the hearth. She was represented simply as a flame and later was depicted as a veiled Matron.

When a young woman married she would carry burning embers from her mothers hearth, through the streets in solemn procession, to her new home, to light own hearth.   The Ancient Greeks would also carry the Sacred Flame from the Pyretaneum within Hestia’s Temple, to wherever they settled and at the height of their Empire this could be very far afield.

She was present at the very moment we discovered the element of fire could be captured from a lightning strike catching fire to the shrubbery and brought it home to our caves, this was even before we knew how to create fire for ourselves, although I’m sure that skill came pretty soon after the discovery, probably when the first hearth fire went out! From that moment on, we gratefully worshipped her, knowing that without fire, life was much harder and we were at the mercy of the weather, wild animals and all else that lurked in the darkness.   As well as the promise of safety she also gave us fire skills that included cooking, pottery making, glass making, smithcraft and forging and infinitely so much more. She truly was the Mother of Invention.

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It’s about time!

Yes, it’s about time I updated here, what can I say… but I’ve been really  busy making art, see…

I finished out my series of mosaic plaques with the Cretan tiles.

Just Let it Flow. Copyright 2012 Jane E Ward

This is a mixed media mosaic with ceramic tile, millefiori glass, beads, shells, jewelry pieces. The title ” Just Let It Flow” is my mantra and it also sums up my creative process.  I found Flow by falling in love with my process.

You Reap What You Sow. Copyright 2012 Jane E. Ward

This is also a mixed medium mosaic with many of the same materials as above, the words are stamped in Aves Apoxy Sculpt. This piece was made at the beginning of the growing season and as I thought ahead about  reaping the harvest, I thought of my bees. Once these pollinators are all dead from Colony Collapse Disorder, by systematically poisoning them with pesticides, we will eventually not have very much left to reap.

 

Persephone’s Pick Copyright 2012, Jane E. Ward

And finally this mosaic took up quite a lot of my time, it’s made from hand cut stained glass tessera and beads for the pomegranate seeds. Originally this was going to be a hearth for my new fireplace but I changed my mind and hung it on the wall above. The title, Persephone’s Pick, refers to Persephone’s choice to eat the pomegranate seed and remain in the Underworld for half the year as Hades wife instead of returning to the world for good. I have often wondered why she made this choice.

So as you can see in my defense dear reader, I have been very busy but still, it’s not a good enough excuse for not writing just a little, every once in a while and I promise to do better in future.

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Happy New Year for 2012!

Take the Bull by The Horns and Leap! Mixed Media Mosaic Copyright 2012 Jane E Ward

Detail

I just finished this mixed media mosaic last night as I watched the the ball drop in Times Square- it’s  called “Sometimes you just have to take the Bull by the Horns and Leap!” The piece consists of a  bull and labrys image from a found coaster from Crete, mileflore glass, pewter, black and silver glass beads, a silver Cretan Snake Goddess and a pewter snake charm. The words are stamped on Ames Apoxie Sculpt that is painted with Golden interference Blue on a recycled wood form.

The Bull Leapers in ancient Minoan Crete would perform rituals consisting of daring acrobatic leaping over bulls. They would grasp the bull’s horns which made the bull violently jerk his neck upwards giving them the necessary momentum to then somersault up landing on the back of the bull, from there they would do a back flip off onto the ground.

Fresco from the Palace in Knossos Crete currently in the Herakleion museum- Wikimedia Commons

The labrys is  one of the oldest images of Greek civilization depicting a double headed axe. The archeologist, Marija Gimbutas discovered that this symbol goes back a lot farther to Neolithic Anatolia and interpreted it to be a symbol of the great Mother Goddess, with the two curved edges representing the waxing and waning crescents of the moon.

I’ve decided that “Take the Bull by the Horns and Leap!” will be a good motto for 2012- a leap year!

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Merry Yuletide! – La Befana

Merry Yuletide to you all!

I’d like to share with you a post that I wrote for my She Who Oracle blog last Yule, it’s recent wonderful discovery for me, the Italian Witch and Gift Bringer, Befana.

I have Italian ancestors, my Mum’s Dad was half Italian, so I feel like I’ve discovered a little of my heritage but more than that I’ve discovered a positive image of a witch, an ancient crone at that, and a lovely story to tell Alice.

La Befana flies through the night carrying a basket full of goodies, comes down chimneys and brings presents to children- sound familiar? But she flies on her broom!

For countless centuries, on the Twelfth Night, Befana would leave her last holiday gift, marking the end of the Yule Season. She still visits children in Italy on the same night, now called the Eve of the Epiphany. And yes, like the other well known gift bringer, she fills their stockings with goodies or a lump of coal if they been naughty. Instead of leaving sooty footprints on the rug, before she leaves she sweeps the floor with her broom! It is customary to leave her a small glass of wine and a something sweet. In thanks for the sweeping, I think I‘ll leave her something chocolate. :)
Here’s a story told about her:
“In a little village high atop a hill, in Via della Padella number 2 to be precise, an old lady, part fairy, part witch, passes the entire year in company with her grotesque assistants (the Befanucci) preparing coal, making sweets and toys and darning old stockings and socks. These are all to be distributed to children on Rome’s magical night of nights, between the 5th and 6th of January. This seems the longest night of all. Every child is in awe of ‘La Befana’ a sentiment tinged with love and fear. Dressed in black and huge, she comes, entering the houses down the chimney to leave her presents for the children: coal for the bad boys and girls and sweets and candies for the good ones. The children prepare a plate of soft ricotta cheese for her, for everyone knows that she doesn’t have many good teeth left.” from “Nerone, An Insiders Guide To Rome” http://www.nerone.cc/nerone/archivio/arch54.htm
And here’s a couple of traditional poems to La Befana, I found on Wikapedia:
La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!
The English translation is:
The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!
Another version told by people in the Province of Trento (northern Lake Garda):
Viene, viene la Befana
Vien dai monti a notte fonda
neve e gelo la circondan..
neve e gelo e tramontana!
Viene, viene la Befana
The English translation is:
Here comes, here comes the Befana
she comes from the mountains in the deep of the night
snow and frost (ice) surrounds her
snow and frost and the West wind
here comes, here comes the Befana!

Befana has been around for a very long time, she is even older than Babbo Natale; Santo Natale, Father Christmas or Santa Claus. She is believed to be associated with the Goddess Hecate and here’s an early 19th century, somewhat shocked and appalled, account of her association with the Roman Goddess Strinia,
“This Befana appears to be heir at law of a certain heathen goddess called Strenia, who presided over the new-year’s gifts, ‘Strenae,’ from which, indeed, she derived her name.[ Her presents were of the same description as those of the Befana—figs, dates, and honey. Moreover her solemnities were vigorously opposed by the early Christians on account of their noisy, riotous, and licentious character” from the book Vestiges of Ancient Manners and Customs, Discoverable in Modern Italy and Sicily by Rev. John J. Blunt (John Murray, 1823)
Under a slightly different name she may have also been a fairy Godmother. Befina was a celtic fae that visited the cradle of new born babies to bestow upon them talents and made predictions of their future.
May La Befana Visit you all!

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The Virgin of Guadalupe Day, December 12, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail from mixed media mosaic) Copyright 2011Jane E.Ward

“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.” (Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531)

For the past few years I would head up to PineCrone Labyrinth and Retreat Center in Bastrop, Texas to hold a Our Lady of Guadalupe Day weekend, sacred art workshop. My dear friend Fern dedicated Pine Crone to Our Lady of Guadalupe and every year on this day she would honor her. As PineCrone was lost in the Bastrop Wildfires this summer and Fern passed away in June, I just couldn’t seem to get my self together this year to plan and hold the Guadalupe Day workshop any place else but I’ve been working on a mixed media mosaic to memorialize the place and my friend and these details are from that piece. I’m not ready to completely unveil it yet as I still have a lot more work to do on it.

I’d also like to share some material from one of the Guadalupe Day workshops, (they were different every year) :

Our Lady of Guadalupe is always shown within the glorious golden light of her mandorla. In my research have found that a mandorla is a doorway and Our lady of Gualdalupe is a portal Goddess. Portal goddesses lead us into a religion and from there they open the doors to a wider and infinitely deeper spiritual space.

The Mandorlais an ancient symbol of two circles coming together and where they overlap an almond shape is formed in the middle.  It is also a variant of a halo which surrounds the whole body of a holy person also known as the Aureola.

The Mandorla “Almond,” (mandorla is the Italian word for almond) is also called vesica~ piscis, the Vessel of the Fish. Almonds were holy symbols because of their female, yonic connotations. Almonds were believed to have the power of virgin motherhood, as shown by the myth of Nana, who conceived the god Attis with her own almond. During medieval times, the almond was interpreted as a symbol of the embryo enclosed in the uterus. To the Pythagoreans, the Vesica~ Piscis was literally the womb of the universe, the ever unfolding Mother of Sacred Geometry. A Vesica Piscis is on the cover of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England.

Chalice Well cover. Theangryblackwoman at en.wikipedia

The Chalice well  is a spring, in continuous use for thousands of years, which has become a symbol of the flow of eternal life, and of nature constantly renewing itself. The ancient Celts believed wells to be doorways to the other world, a place where the veils between human existence and the greater spirit became thinner, and communications could take place with the gods and goddesses.

The mandorla symbolizes the point at which two clearly separate worlds meet and intersect. The center of the Mandorla, represents liminal space, the threshold of the doorway or portal between the worlds, between the inner world and the outer world, between the magical and the mundane. It is the divine container in which new creation begins to form and germinate. This is the womb, the moment of creation, where something seems to come from nothing.

This ancient symbol appears in the images and myths of cultures from around the world, from the Orient to old Celtic tribes of Europe. Ancient mandorlas in art represented the mysterious feminine aspect of life as a sacred womb, a portal between the realm of spirit and the realm of matter through which all life passes into this world.

Meditating on the Mandorla can bring about transformation: in our bodies and spirits if we use them for healing, and in our whole life if we use them in our art.

(From Stepping Through The Doorway 2, a sacred art retreat by Jane E Ward)

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