Architectural mosaics: backsplash

Backsplash closeup

The backsplash is finished and installed and it looks like this: I ended up hanging it all in one piece, as it was just manageable in terms of weight. I’m glad that in my research I came across the suggestion to fill in the spaces between the tiles with sand before applying Thinset adhesive to the back – this worked really well to prevent any cement from being pushed too far forward between the tiles. …

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Playlist Friday: Colouring songbook


Do try to colour outside the lines. “They’re Red Hot” – Hugh Laurie Did you know that Hugh Laurie released a blues album a couple of years ago? He often played piano and guitar on House, Fry & Laurie and Jeeves & Wooster, so he’s clearly been secretly planning this for years. I don’t love his singing voice, but the album is still well worth a listen. There’s also a charming and hilarious introductory essay by him in the liner notes on why it’s ok for a white middle-aged British dude to sing old black men’s music. Something else that Hugh …

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Canadian Visual Artists: Lorraine Roy

Young Maple 2 textile by Lorraine Roy

Lorraine Roy is a textile artist who creates vibrantly multilayered fabric collages and teaches workshops in her rural studio on the Niagara Escarpment near Dundas, Ontario. I love the rich textures and colours of your work, especially in combination with your simple, elegant compositions. What is the unique appeal of textile as artistic medium for you? No other medium has such richness and depth of colour and texture. Fabric is pervasive in our lives, yet it’s impossible to take it for granted because it’s got endless potential. I love all the techniques, from hand embroidery to machine stitching. It’s all …

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In progress: my first architectural mosaic

Backsplash mosaic in progress

A few weeks ago it occurred to me to ask my local floor tile store – where I’ve been buying grout for years – whether they have any scrap tile I could have. Up until now, I’ve only used vitreous mosaic tiles and stained glass, but it was time to look into ceramic tile as I was about to start working on a kitchen backsplash, which called for larger tiles and cheaper materials. So I show up with my sturdy shopping cart – the store is a ten minute walk from our house – and the guys there take me …

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One of a Kind Spring show

The 3D printers and a glimpse of the jewellery at the Hot Pop Factory booth at OOAK

One of a Kind Toronto Spring show opened today at Exhibition Place and will run for five days until Sunday March 31. OOAK has been running for many years and is one of the largest shows of handmade objects, art and crafts in Toronto. It’s huge. You likely know all about it, so I won’t go into too much detail. A couple of interesting new things that are worth looking out for when you visit: 3D Printing Shop The most delightful thing I stumbled upon at the Spring OOAK was Hot Pop Factory, a 3D printing shop with a very …

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Canadian Visual Artists: Jeremy Down

Lady of the Lake by Jeremy Down

Jeremy Down‘s abstract three-dimensional paintings are created outdoors in the wilderness of British Columbia’s Slocan Valley, where he lives, skis, canoes, and plays in a band. When you started out as an artist twenty years ago, you were living in Toronto and painting on traditionally flat canvasses in a studio. Now you’re living in a small town in British Columbia, you stretch your canvasses over these organic 3D shapes and you work only outdoors. How did this series of shifts come about – did you make a big radical move to change everything about your life at once, or did …

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Playlist Friday: Describe your ideal woman


You: perfect, unattainable, batshit crazy. Me:  in a band, lyrically gifted, aesthetically averse to vanilla. Did I imagine it, or did you also feel that might make a fun playlist? I have received complaints that the last playlist post had far too much writing in it. So you know what? No more writing after this paragraph. This is a no-justifications playlist. But – if you like it this way, leave a comment, so I’ll know. Edited to add: I changed my mind so there will be more writing. “Eurotrash Girl” – Cracker This epic journey in search of the ideal …

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Canadian Visual Artists: Tick Tock Tom

The Lion (Dante's Divine Comedy)

Tick Tock Tom is a scrap metal sculptor from Ottawa. His creations have appeared as props in movies and music videos, and for the last five years he’s been making one-of-a-kind award statuettes for the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I spoke to Tom over coffee on his visit to Toronto last week to drop off his latest commission: two sculptures based on the beasts from Dante’s Divine Comedy – the Lion and the Wolf. When I ask how this series – which also includes the Leopard, completed earlier – came about, Tom laughs as he tells me about being inspired …

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Favourite books series: Neuromancer

The Sprawl urban landscape mosaic

In 1984, William Gibson’s Neuromancer became the defining novel of the emerging cyberpunk genre. It also gave the world one of science fiction’s most often quoted, referenced and spoofed opening sentences: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Set in a dystopian, technologically advanced, darkly urban future, Neuromancer was one of the earliest works of fiction to portray an edgy world of cyber criminals, virtual realities of globally networked data and neural computer implants. It introduced the term “cyberspace” into popular use. Yet, like all futuristic science fiction, it was not really …

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Playlist Friday: For lovers of similes and metaphors


I can’t promise to do this every Friday, so some Fridays will be more special than others. This Friday’s playlist was inspired by the lyrics of the Tom Waits song “After You Die,” which are composed entirely of similes. Similes and metaphors, as you know, are the basic literary trope much abused by poets and songwriters of all ages. So it’s pretty impressive that some of them are still managing to cram songs full of really good ones. “After You Die” – Tom Waits What is it like after you die? Pretty surreal, according to this bonus track on Tom Waits’ …

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