Art Jewelry Adventure!



Ok, I am back at it again but I promise this is the last promotion for my online classes for a long time!

But I did want to share with you, (just in case you don’t receive my Newsletter), the news that I will be teaching my very  FIRST online JEWELY class as part of the 2016 Art Jewelry Adventure. This is put on by the same folks who run the Polymer Clay Adventure. It was so popular last year with over 1000 attendees that they decided to expand into jewelry making classes…and they will also have a Quilt Adventure offering too for the fiber lovers out there! So nice to be able to have a whole year’s access and inspiration from the comfort of your own home!

I will be teaching Crowned Amulets:IMG_4930

This is a class that uses polymer clay as a base along with shrink plastic for added touches! It is a lot of fun! There are 18 other artists besides myself who are teaching a variety of MIXED MEDIA classes, not just polymer clay jewelry projects, so that is cool! If you sign up you get classes from 19 artists for only $99.00 for an entire year’s access and inspiration! Can’t beat that! BUT as an added BONUS, I will be giving away 13 pendants to the first “Lucky 13″ people who sign up! (they come with chains too!)



So for 2016, these are the only two ONLINE classes I will be teaching: Crowned Amulets and Tiny Tin Shrines…..Click HERE for more info or to sign-up!



Thanks again for your continued support…..Happy Halloween and Feliz Dia de los Muertos! I am headed off to Mexico for our annual retreat in San Miguel de Allende and my next post will be about my trip….and the hurricane! IMG_2286


Polymer Clay Adventure Blog Blast!

tiny tin shrinesJust wanted to let you know that TODAY is the day to sign up for the 2016 Polymer Clay Adventure online art retreat! There will be 24 instructors teaching 28 classes and 50+ hours of instruction all for only 99.00 for the entire year! A true value… often that is the price of one class at a retreat!

LeAnn Wooten was the lucky winner of the Free seat contest….congrats to her and many thanks to all for participating!

The other thing that I wanted to mention is that I am giving away a little gift to the first 25 people who sign up through me! (the red link above)  It is a little “spoonful (or two ) of love”! These tiny crowned spoons are perfect for mica/mika powder!

Also, Ilysa and Kira, the retreat organizers are giving away lots of Goody Bags via a raffle to people who sign up in the first three days!


I am teaching Tiny Tin Shrines….a fun, small Altoid tin shrine!



If you click on the link it will take you to a page with information about three online retreats….click on the Polymer Clay one where it says “Get Your Ticket” and that will take you to another page where you actually can register. There is lots of information in these links to see who is teaching and what the projects are…..some cool stuff for sure!

Ok…. that’s it from here!

Happy Claying


Polymer Clay Adventure Launch !

This is just a quick blogpost for those of you who may not have seen the info posted on Facebook or my newsletter. The 2016 Polymer Clay Adventure launch date is quickly approaching and I wanted to give you a sneak peak of what I am teaching this year…..I seem to still be in shrine mode, but this time it is a class called Tiny Tin Shrines.IMG_4928

It is actually an Altoid tin box….which is cool because there are three areas to cover in clay!   If you go to this link you can find out more info about the launch including info on updates about early bird specials….and using that link helps me out too! There is also a contest for a FREE seat…by just clicking on the link your name will be added for the drawing.  This online retreat runs for an entire year and has a plethora of amazing classes being taught by leading polymer clay artists….all for 99.00 for the whole year! Best of all you can stay in your jammies and create in the middle of the night if you want! Hope to see you there! (wherever there is!)PCA teaching button

Art is You-Minneapolis!

Returned last week from teaching in Minneapolis at Art is You and had a wonderful time in this great city. My sister, Leslie, accompanied me as my trusty Sherpa while hubby David sat this one out! We spent the first day and a half exploring….IMG_4563

The very first thing we had to explore was where to eat dinner! Of course! IMG_4570


IMG_4571Very yummy Italian food…hit the spot. Next I scored the last two seats together at the famed Guthrie Theater for a performance of To kill A Mockingbird. The theater is amazing and we really enjoyed the riverfront area. Still seems so strange that it is the Mississippi River that runs through there!IMG_4574


IMG_4589Here are a few more shots of Minneapolis from the next day. The weather sure changes fast there….we went from hot and sunny to cool and rainy in a few minutes!

the new Viking Stadium....hence the ship shape!

the new Viking Stadium….hence the ship shape!

IMG_4690IMG_4714One of our favorite downtown sights….this incredible mural that was just completed in July. Hard to grasp just how huge it is!IMG_4697I am happy to report that the craft brew industry is alive and well in Minneapolis….though they really got rained on!IMG_4689 (1)IMG_4685

The next morning we headed in our first Uber ride to MIA-the Minneapolis Institute of Art and this did not disappoint and best of all it was FREE!!! ( I had been to The Walker before so didn’t hit that this time around)

IMG_4594I loved the views of the city from the windows…and the collection of art was fabulous too!IMG_4596IMG_4603IMG_4597

After the museum stop, we headed to the Global Market for an ethnic lunch and shopping.

IMG_4647The next day it was off to work! My first class was Coloring on Clay. I love this class because it is a process class where we spend all day creating super cool tiles that students can later put together to create a mosaic or anything they want! It is a very meditative class as well….just like coloring in a coloring book!

My Coloring on Clay class.

My Coloring on Clay class.

Here is a sampling of the beautiful and unique tiles that were created….IMG_4727IMG_4719IMG_4725IMG_2264IMG_4723IMG_4730IMG_4724IMG_4718IMG_4720



After class we had to make a mad dash to an art supply store to pick up some white acrylic paint. Happened on a cool little part of town where Art Materials was located. IMG_4735IMG_4734

Each morning at the retreat begins with a morning motivator session before class begins. This gets everyone up and moving and put into a creative mindset. Friday morning Rachel gave a talk about her creative journey…..notice the Kewpie doll centerpieces!


IMG_4740Friday’s class was up next and it was the first time that I taught my Embedded Tin Hearts class. These rusty ol’ hearts that I brought back from San Miguel de Allende were transformed into gorgeous, embellished jewel-like beauties!

Embedded tin hearts class photo!

Embedded tin hearts class photo!



New art buddy and old art buddy!

New art buddy and old art buddy!

Loved watching how so many personalities came out in these hearts.

While I was teaching this class, my sister, Leslie, took Sunny Carvalho’s class and look what she created….so cool! Very proud of my sis who thinks she can’t “do art” but we know better!


Friday night culminated with the always anticipated vendor show. I found quite a few jewelry goodies to embed into clay!

Tonia Jenny helping out.

Tonia Jenny helping out.

IMG_4760Jane LaFazio doing a little shopping and vending and Kari McKnight-Holbrook chit chatting in the background. Way in the background Stencil Girl was vending my border stencils amongst many others! Fun to see them officially displayed but not sure why I didn’t take any pics of that! hmmm….

Saturday brought about my Patron Saints class, probably the most challenging of the workshops that I taught and of course, it was also my largest class!

Patron Saint makers!

Patron Saint makers!






It was fun having the editor of my book, (Mixed Media Mosaics) Tonia Jenny in class and fun to see how different her aesthetic was. Nice work Tonia:


Buddies, Angela and Vernie, who were with me each day!

Buddies, Angela and Vernie, who were with me each day!


Kaaren Poole's  wonderful squirrel Patron saint ....

Kaaren Poole’s
wonderful squirrel Patron saint ….


IMG_4790IMG_4776I know that I didn’t get a shot of all of these wonderful “patron saints”…..but wonderful they were.

My last class of the retreat was Triptychs-Crafted by Hand. This is a class where we no longer need the wood triptych because instead of working on a wood base, here we create a triptych totally out of clay! Hard to tell they are all clay….they look like metal and wood. They all did beautiful work!



Super nice class of triptychs and triptych-makers!

On Sunday, the final day, Les took a class with Kim Geiser and learned how to make some lovely polymer pendants. Wish I had some pics to share but I was in the mad dash to get my room cleaned all up so the hotel could get their room back and I had a very special dinner date!! I know Les enjoyed Kim’s class and said how fun it was to learn new techniques in polymer clay…so much to know!

On our last night in Minneapolis, we met up with my long time friend and fellow mosaic artist, Sharra Frank. We had a fantastic evening catching up. She is a real dynamo in the mosaic world and teaches some incredible mosaic classes both in person and online. And she is a heck of a nice young woman who is balancing creating a thriving art business and raising a young family. Kudos to her!
IMG_4806 IMG_4812

All in all it was a super time in Minneapolis…thanks to Sal and Ellen for putting on such a nice retreat and my sister, Leslie, for all her help. But most of all, thanks to the many lovely ladies who joined me in my workshops! I so appreciate it! xoxoxo






A visit to Kim Emerson’s house…..

I recently had the pleasure of going by Kim Emerson’s house to see her home, her studio and the newly formed San Diego Mosaic School.

IMG_4262For anyone who might not know who Kim is, you may have seen some of her work around town! Some of her commissions in San Diego include work at Rady Children’s Hospital, the City of Carlsbad and the San Diego Port Commission to name a few.

I was delighted to hear that Kim and her husband, Dennis Reiter, have the groundwork laid for the San Diego Mosaic School at their home in the Normal Heights area of San Diego.IMG_4263

The gardens are lovely but it was a real treat to go on tour of their residence to see some of Kim’s work up close and personal. IMG_4265On the wall above, you can see a few of Kim’s mosaics including a couple of tributes to Mark Rothko….one of our favorite artists too. But the mosaic below was my favorite mosaic of the day….love Kim’s use of vibrant color and texture to create this beautiful abstract piece.

IMG_4266Each room in Kim and Dennis’ home is adorned with an eclectic mix of Kim’s work and ethnic treasures from around the world.IMG_4272

Dennis with his collection of folk masks in the kitchen.

Dennis with his collection of folk masks in the kitchen.

My husband, David, accompanied me and enjoyed visiting with Dennis who has a background in photography…. so obviously has a good design eye!



Kim’s studio was a nice space (well organized!) and very inspiring with works in progress and sketches for upcoming commissions. IMG_4273IMG_4274IMG_4269

As the tour progressed, we strolled down the long driveway to the garage area where mosaic classes are held. The driveway was lined with a rainbow of tile!!IMG_4280IMG_4277

and two huge, covered tables with what looked like the best stash ever of broken dishes, tiles, pottery and I don’t know what else…but would sure like to have had the time to have found out! A veritable treasure trove of goodies that students have access to!!!IMG_4278IMG_4279

The garage has a nice intimate feel for classes and when surrounded by such inspiring materials, it is no wonder that students have a ball creating mosaics here.IMG_4282IMG_4281


Just outside the classroom space, there are some lovely garden mosaics and a collection of tiles all adding to the charm of this location.IMG_4285IMG_4286IMG_4287IMG_4288

We had a great morning with Kim and Dennis and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for their new endeavor and for the mosaic community in San Diego as a whole. We are very fortunate indeed. Upon leaving their home, we couldn’t help but smile at this final touch near the curb when we were getting in our car.IMG_4289



Artist Appreciation Month!

Little did I know that August was Artist Appreciation Month! Hooray to all of us artists who deserve to be recognized for bringing beauty into the world!! This fact was brought to my attention by a gal named Marietta Gregg who is the daughter of Patience Brewster. images-3While I was not familiar with the name (as unique as it is!) when I first heard it, I know her work and as a matter of fact, am pretty sure that I have one of her charming little ornaments! (though I will have to wait until December to see for sure!)

patience copy


Anyway, Marietta had contacted me to say how much she loved my work, which I so appreciated.  She also mentioned because it was Artist Appreciation Month,that she and her mom were asking artists to do a blog post about other artists who inspired them and wanted to know if I wanted to participate. I did want to participate because I wanted to share the work of an artist who has definitely inspired and influenced my work…..but more on that in a bit.

I wanted to say that when I went to Patience Brewster’s site, I spent a very long time there reading the story of how her business has grown….and about her family and the impact that cancer has had on their family, for Patience losing a beloved son and for Marietta, her brother. Having just lost my brother to cancer a few months ago, the story really hit home.
But more than that, I could just tell from the videos that I watched and the stories that I read, that these were good people who worked hard to create a thriving art business. Patience Brewster has a wonderfully whimsical vision that she shares with a world-wide audience and I am happy to share her work here!images-2



So now onto the second part of this post…..sharing with you the artist, Ayala Bar, a jewelry maker from Israel whose work I adore.

ayala bar

Ayala Bar at work in her studio

Many, many years ago I started seeing Ayala’s work….back then the designs were far simpler but equally beautiful in their beaded glory! Even her models are stunning!  I love the Frida Kahlo reference.

frida ayala copyI was fortunate enough to teach in Israel a few years ago and actually visited her shop in Tel Aviv, but unfortunately she was not there when I visited.  I would have loved to have met her….maybe one day. In Israel, there are many incredible bead/jewelry artists. I love the whole Israeli aesthetic with its attention to detail and color.P1060810 My favorite shop in Tel Aviv

So for Artist Appreciation Month, I wanted to share some of Ayala’s work and then show a few pieces of my work so you can see the influence. Though I work in an entirely different medium, her small jeweled pieces inform the look of what I do. Here is an example of a new piece I have been working on (below) and then a rather new piece from Ayala Bar:

My embedded mosaic

My embedded mosaic

Detail of a necklace

Detail of a necklace

I have quite a few examples to share….

The entire necklace

The entire necklace

A recent mosaic mandala I did

A recent mosaic mandala I did

A few other beautiful beaded jewelry pieces from Ayala:005514-2 ayala earrinmgs

Jeweled mandala detail

Jeweled mandala detail

In Israel, as in many other cultures the hand (Hamsa) is a very important symbol and is often used in jewelry making. Many of my friends in the Israeli polymer clay guild also make polymer clay hamsas which they hang on their walls as a symbol of protection and to ward off evil spirits, hence the “evil eye” that is often seen incorporated into the hand design.



and here is my version which was inspired by both Ayala Bar and the polymer clay artists I met throughout Israel. (especially Pinki!)



I also see a lot of Indian influence in Ayala’s newer work which incorporates pieces of fabric for a more ethnic look. I have been very inspired by all things Indian for the last few years as well! That love affair started long before I knew who Ayala Bar was, back in the 1980′s when I was doing my hand painted dresses and using Sari borders as trim pieces.

Ayala Bar designs

Ayala Bar designs

Detail of a clay quilt

Detail of a clay quilt

Overall my work is a blend of Medieval/Early Renaissance art and Mexican folk art yet I owe the jewel-like look of my work to Ayala Bar and the other Israeli bead artists! ayala earrings AYA_130450-2IMG_9153IMG_0504 copyjeweled icons 1

The fact that I was fortunate enough to visit Israel and see much of the work that has inspired me has left a profound influence, even on current work that I am doing now, years later, as seen with these two tin boxes that I finished recently for a class called Journey To Jerusalem.



Lastly, I wanted to share a few of my own jewelry pieces that are a little bit Ayala Bar and a lot Mexican folk art inspired! This first piece is a rather muted palette for Ayala Bar but I wanted to show it here because my jewelry pieces tend to be in just silver and gold tones…but I may want to try some colorful jewelry pieces after doing this post!!!


P1090708P1090776P1090731 copy


Thanks for letting me share one of the many artists whom I truly appreciate! Many thanks to Marietta for the inspiration and nudge to do this post.






Art Unraveled 2015

Just returned from a wonderful week in Phoenix teaching at Art Unraveled. Yes, it is hot in Phoenix in August…but who goes outside anyways!?? And the room rates are much cheaper then, so it is perfect! Our first stop is always in Dateland  for “date shakes”…yum!

IMG_8104This year I was lucky enough to have “dueling” Sherpas! Both my husband and my sister were there to help at every step along the way which made my job much easier.

setting up on the first day

setting up on the first day

My first class was a new class called “Encrusted Hearts”. The inspiration for this class came from the milagro-covered hearts found in Mexico. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but  students hit it out of the park! I was thrilled to see what they came up with. Enjoy this small sampling from class.IMG_4063IMG_4060IMG_4064IMG_4067IMG_4061

I had fellow instructor Diana Frey in class and her sister! Diana created a beautiful shabby chic heart while her sister went for more of an edgy look.IMG_4056IMG_4080

I also had a couple of art buddies from New Mexico in class, art workshop coordinator, Annie Hooten and Cyndy Tagge.IMG_4053

I had full classes which I was so grateful for….and was happy to have my sister assist in all my classes when I needed her.

Les, hard at work! (creating until I needed her for something!)

Les, hard at work! (creating until I needed her for something!) She was a huge help!


My second class at Art Unraveled was a nine-hour class called Gothic Triptychs. It is a good thing we had a few more hours for this class as there was lots to get done. The first step was using “mastic” and stamping into it to create great textures for the background of the triptychs. Here is an example of some great, deep texture on the outside panel.



Another art buddy, Anne Holliday joined me in class and created a super cool and very unique octopus themed triptych!

Above is a pic of one of my favorite pairs of sisters, Caroline and Susan!IMG_4089

So many lovely pieces were created…..

It was fun seeing my new line of border stencils being used by students. They came up with some very clever ideas.


very creative, Three Kings

very creative, Three Kings


My final class was Clay on Clay Quilts. I love this class because I love seeing the beautiful quilt squares that are lovingly made. In this class, unlike my Clay Quilts class,  students created a clay layer that the quilt squares were attached to. It almost ends up looking like fabric. Again, it was fun to see some of my stencils being used on this clay base.

My stencil from Pilgrimage to the Renaissance.

My stencil from Pilgrimage to the Renaissance.


Stencil from Pilgrimage to Mexico

Stencil from Pilgrimage to Mexico


My old art buddy Pam Gemin busy creating!

My old art buddy Pam Gemin busy creating!

Here are the results of our clay quilting bee!!!IMG_4111IMG_4125IMG_4134IMG_4124IMG_4123IMG_4122IMG_4121IMG_4120IMG_4119IMG_4133IMG_4116IMG_4131IMG_4129IMG_4126IMG_4113IMG_4117IMG_4112

As you can see, it was three full days of creative bliss! I want to thank all of the students who signed up for my classes, I certainly would not be teaching without the support of so many….I am truly honored. Your work was amazing.

On the last day I took part in the annual vendor marketplace. It is the highlight of the week with incredible vendors selling an incredible variety of things. Quite a few of the instructors also vend, myself included.

IMG_4141Many thanks to retreat organizers Linda and Chuck Young……countless hours go into making this retreat the wonderful event that it is.

Not looking any worse for the wear!

Not looking any worse for the wear!

This is where having two Sherpas really paid off! Lots of schlepping! David was in charge of ringing up sales and Les did bagging! And apparently I guess I just stood around and gabbed!



Right across from us, Seth Apter was manning the Stencil Girl booth and doing a fine job at it I must say. But he got so busy that my Sherpa Leslie went over to help out for awhile!

a quiet moment adding up the sales! lol

a quiet moment adding up the sales! lol

IMG_4145Seth with Barb Solem, art retreat coordinator for Art Retreat in the Desert and a few other retreats!

Right behind us was Leighanna Light and Tom Ashman…..and Jen Cushman came by to hang out!



Right down the aisle were the dements!!!(oops, that auto-corrected from the deMengs! I kind of like the “deMents” though!!! Michael and Andrea:



It was a wonderful event…and again I would like to thank all those folks who purchased things not only from myself, but from all of the artists vending at this great marketplace. It is all of you who make Art Unraveled what it is!IMG_8123



A day in the OC!

A few friends and I took a little field trip today up to Orange County to go “glass shopping”! First stop was at our art buddy, Katherine England’s home and studio. For anyone who has ever taken a class with Katherine, you know that she is a whirling dervish of creative energy….just being around her makes the creative juices start flowing! Today was no exception as the first step on to her property makes you realize you’re not in Kansas (well, Fullerton) anymore! Fullerton was recently named the “most UN-orange county city” and I am pretty sure they can singlehandedly thank Katherine England for that proclamation!! Here are a few shots of her…. yes, purple home!IMG_3807IMG_3808IMG_3833

our little field trip group!

our little field trip group!

As whimsical and bright as the exterior is, the interior is just as lively with a definite James Ensor-esque feel with Katherine’s collections and oddities adorning the walls and furniture.IMG_3803IMG_3844IMG_3802IMG_3846Katherine does amazing work in just about every medium possible…..she is not limited to any particular style and is a mixed media dabbler extraordinaire! The skull above is hers as is the monkey!

IMG_3800 (1)It is always such fun to visits artist’s homes and studios because one really gets a feel for their aesthetic by the work they collect and the work that they do.

Katherine's beaded mosaic turtle.

Katherine’s beaded mosaic turtle.

And just look at this very cool chandelier…..IMG_3842Wandering around from room to room, one really gets to know who Katherine is by her very eclectic surroundings. IMG_3843IMG_3847IMG_3845IMG_3840If one were to enter her studio from the street, you would know you were entering a very special creative space!IMG_3816IMG_3815Even the pavement heading into her studio is artful!IMG_3817IMG_3814And once inside her garage/studio, it is easy to see where the magic happens. Aside from all of the community projects that Katherine tackles, ( today she was headed off to teach at Piece by Piece, a non-profit organization aimed at helping formerly homeless people by teaching them mosaic skills) Katherine also teaches a variety of mosaic and journaling classes at her studio. IMG_3828

Here is some of her work:IMG_3829



And here is a mixture of both Katherine’s work, mosaics her students created and mosaics she has collected. A very inspiring and creative environment in which to learn to be sure.IMG_3818

Laurel Skye mosaic...really love this!

Laurel Skye mosaic…really love this!





Katherine, being the generous soul that she is, gave us jars to fill up with Smalti, her new passion! IMG_3834IMG_3835

Here is a pic of us and a few wonderful OC friends who also stopped by!IMG_3837Before we parted ways, Katherine gave us a little talk about stained glass to prepare us for the next stop on our itinerary.

IMG_3832And then we were off to the land of stained glass at Hollander’s in Stanton.IMG_3853

It was quite a feast for the eyes and since I really don’t use stained glass in my work, I sat back and enjoyed the tribe picking out their beautiful pieces! Can’t wait to see what they each create!IMG_3852IMG_3851

It was a super fun day….and we all decided that we need to take field trips more often!


Europe, part deux!

After the wonderful time spent in France seeing friends, eating great food and touring museums and cathedrals, it was time to head north to Belgium. After spending the day in Bastogne visiting World War II sites, we headed to Bruges, Belgium. I had been there once before after teaching in France and I so loved it that I wanted to make sure we stopped there for a few days. It is one of the most picturesque places in all of Europe and built on a waterway of canals, it is often referred to as the “Venice of the North”.IMG_7023IMG_2050

I was lucky enough to be there on a Saturday for the flea market and despite the rain, there were a few vendors. Always such fun!IMG_7028

Bruges is also home to one of my all time favorite artists, Jan Van Eyck, who created the Ghent Altarpiece. Love.  Anyway, Bruges honors all of its artists, writers and composers with statues like this:IMG_2044

Hans Memling is another favorite Flemish artist and we so enjoyed the museums here.IMG_2015

Here are a few other shots from around town.IMG_1977IMG_2003

And for anyone who has seen the film, En Bruges, you will remember “The Church of the Holy Blood”. It is just gorgeous and we stopped in on Sunday to hear a friend sing in the choir.IMG_1957

Love the milagros!

Love the milagros!

And one cannot leave Belgium without eating a delicious Belgian waffle….there goes another pound! (truly gained almost 10 pounds while gone!!!)

IMG_7071During our time in Belgium we also visited Ostende on the North Sea coast to see the James Ensor Museum….which used to be the family home of this very expressive painter when he was young.

DSCN5754These are a few of the masks that Ensor made as studies for his paintings which often include subjects like carnivals, puppetry and masks. IMG_2061

IMG_2067It was a lot of fun visiting this museum even though there were very few original paintings left in the house. But being a collector of all things fantastic, Ensor’s home itself was like a cabinet of curiosities with crazy monkey skeletons, brightly colored masks and all sorts of oddities. Loved it. Down the street on the boardwalk in Ostend was an artful installation…..loved the orange color against the sky and sea…..DSCN5789

After Ostende we drove to Flanders Field and spent the day visiting World War I battlefield sites of trench warfare. This area was known as the Western Front and the town of Ypres was the site of many battles. They have an incredible museum there.



Traveling with my husband who is a former European history and art history teacher is fantastic. He is a wealth of knowledge……and because of this we made a detour to see a German cemetery because of the famous sculpture there by German female artist, Kathe Kollwitz whose work often touches on the tragedies of war. This particular cemetery features one of her most famous pieces called Grieving ParentsIMG_2091She and her husband lost a son in the war and instead of comforting one another in their loss, they are depicted as isolated and grieving in their own way….the headstone of their son is in front of them….it is a very emotional and heartfelt rendering of the human condition.

After our visit to Belgium where we drank way too much Belgian beer (another 2 pounds gained!) we headed to The Netherlands. First stop there was in The Hague. We met up with one of my husband’s former students who works at the International Court of Justice and we were allowed to sit in on a trial the next day……needless to say, it was an incredible experience.IMG_2075We also saw the Peace Palace in The Hague:DSCN6201 On a lighter note, we went to go see the tulips which were in season. Wow, I couldn’t believe my eyes! This first shot was taken of tulip fields…..DSCN6162DSCN6106Then we visited the famous Keukenhof Gardens, the Disneyland of flower lovers! It is one of the world’s largest gardens and it did not disappoint!IMG_2048DSCN6097

After our cultural visit to The Hague, we moved on to Haarlem, a small town outside of Amsterdam and we were so glad we decided to stay here because it was so quaint and charming and was home to painter, Franz Hals, one of David’s favorite Dutch painters. IMG_2382IMG_1186The Franz Hals Museum was one of the best museums we visited. It had a beautiful collection and they had a tulip show running concurrently so that in each room, artwork was paired with flower arrangements! Awesome!IMG_2057IMG_2325DSCN6301DSCN6321

an incredible doll house!

an incredible doll house!

One of my favorite paintings...a Land Yacht/Ship of Fools

One of my favorite paintings…a Land Yacht/Ship of Fools

On our last day in Haarlem, we took the train to Amsterdam which was only a 15 minute ride. IMG_2428We spent the day going to museums to see The Late Rembrandt show at the Rijksmuseum,IMG_1183IMG_2387DSCN6415


and then heading to the Van Gogh museum the second half of the day…..IMG_2430IMG_2435IMG_2446

This was a very busy day seeing lots of art but well worth fighting the crowds because:IMG_2474And we did……..

And this is where Part 2 ends…..because the next day we boarded our ship to set sail to the Baltic……(possibly to be continued!)






Our European tour

Five weeks in Europe and 3500 pictures later…..and here I am creating a blog post about all the inspiring things I saw. This is a more daunting task than I imagined. I told myself that I would only share two pictures from each place. Well, that went out the window. So it may be a few blog posts, we’ll see how it unfolds!

IMG_6962We flew into Frankfurt, Germany and picked up our rental car and headed south on the “Romantic Road” to Rothenburg.DSCN3769 Let me just say up front that my husband planned the entire trip. I left it up to him because I had too many things going on after the first of the year to even think about it. So little did I know that Rothenburg, the first place we stayed would be one of the most amazing places we visited the entire trip. We were off to a great start! Here are a few pics of this walled Medieval town:

We were there right after Easter so hand painted Easter ornaments were everywhere!

We were there right after Easter so hand painted Easter ornaments were everywhere!

The yellow building above on the right is our hotel and our room is the one with the two balconies facing out.DSCN3842This town looked like it was from a set in Hollywood…..each business has the most beautiful handcrafted signs, many with crowns, so of course, I was swooning!DSCN3858So that’s just a little tease….you really must go here if you ever get the chance! I want to go back! The next stop was in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. It was great because as it turned out, we stayed with a polymer clay buddy, Anke and her husband Nico. Anke is a wonderful polymer clay artist that I met at a retreat in France years ago. She was a wonderful host and tour guide.DSCN4284

Anke's studio

Anke’s studio

After showing us around Karlsruhe, Anke decided to join David and I the next day as we made our way through the Black Forest region. Our first stop was the gorgeous spa town of Baden Baden. DSCN4357DSCN4392DSCN4398

We spent all day on the road taking in all the sights in this lovely, Black Forest area and pulled into Strasbourg, France later in the day. The cathedral in Strasbourg was one of the main reasons why we began our tour in the Alsace region that straddles Germany and France. I had seen pictures of the tympanum of this cathedral and it quickly rose to the top of my bucket list of things to see….it did not disappoint!DSCN4426

Had to see this in person!

Had to see this in person!

Strasbourg was also the first of many beautiful canal cities that we visited on this trip.



There was plenty of art to take in, we visited three museums and saw some amazing works including Vermeer’s famed “Girl with the Pearl Earring”!

IMG_2313One of the things I enjoyed seeing most however, was the incredible, Medieval astronomical clock that was inside the cathedral! Truly a marvel that still works to this day!DSCN4543DSCN4545

After Strasbourg we headed south to Colmar, France which was another beautiful canal city right in the heart of Alsace. The drive to Colmar was exquisite with picturesque villages dotting the landscape.DSCN4724DSCN4749

We used Colmar as a base for Reisling wine tasting, famous in this area and for visiting castles and monasteries including this incredible Monastery for St. Odile. DSCN4648

Perched on top of a mountain, this monastery, devoted to the miracles of St. Odile, is truly amazing with expansive views across the valley. On the property were two small chapels that were adorned with the most beautiful mosaics. DSCN4653DSCN4660Back in Colmar we had the good fortune to see the Isenheim Altarpiece by German Renaissance painter, Matthias Grunewald. We also saw Schongauer’s, Madonna of the Roses. Such inspiring work!


DSCN4779 After Colmar we made a quick trip back into Germany to go to the beautiful university town of Freiburg. Just wanted to share another incredible tympanum….this one in color!

The Freiburg catherdral tympanum.

The Freiburg catherdral tympanum.

We criss-crossed back into France and made a detour to Ronchamp to see the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier’s, famed church, Notre Dame du Haut. Known for his modernism, this structure was incredibly unique both inside and out. DSCN5154DSCN5164

Interior of Notre Dame du Haut.

Interior of Notre Dame du Haut.

The inside natural lighting was beautiful and so were the side chapels with their meditative spaces.IMG_1639Quite a contrast to the soaring gothic architecture that I love but I totally enjoyed this structure for a variety of reasons. Ronchamp was a great side trip and we had it all to ourselves!~

At this point, we began heading north and made it to a small town just outside of Nancy called Toul. We were heading towards Reims, in the Champagne region and visited a number of small towns along the way with beautiful architecural gems.DSCN5375DSCN5370DSCN5309DSCN5304All this gothic architecture will somehow be showing up in my work I know! One of the most incredible examples of gothic architecture is the cathedral in Reims which was partially destroyed during World War I.

Reims CathedraL

Reims CathedraL

This cathedral where the kings of France were coronated is enormous and it is hard to capture the scale, except when you look at the base of it and see the people that look like ants! Here is a photo that my artist/friend Pascale, whom we stayed with, had of some of the destruction to the cathedral during the war.

IMG_2103Today it is rebuilt though there is continuous restoration work and scaffolding on the frontside. Fortunately we were able to see some of the incredible sculptures that adorn the fascade.




We all agreed that the middle angel resembled George Bush!!! Below are the Chagall windows that illuminate the space beautifully.

DSCN5474It was so nice seeing Pascale again. She and her husband, Patrick, organized a workshop for me years ago in Reims. Pascale is a very talented mixed media and polymer clay artist who is an archeologist by training….she actually has done some of the excavations at the cathedral!



This is a pic of her studio and some of her work:IMG_1846IMG_1774IMG_1779

A few of Pascale's polymer clay mosaics!

A few of Pascale’s polymer clay mosaics!

Pascale was a wonderful host and made us feel right at home in her home! She went out of her way to show us around and also took us on a tour of the Tattinger Champagne caves!

Ok, this is enough for Part I of our excellent European adventure….more to follow in a few days!!!