Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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A confection…2…

Stepping out onto the balcony of the Palau de la Musica Catalana with its double rows of pillars covered in mosaic was like stepping into fantasy-land. I think that if Salvador Dali and Walt Disney collaborated on a surrealist sci-fi movie with a setting in a birthday cake this would be where they filmed it, n’est-ce pas?



The details, it is all in the details…(if you double click on these pictures they will get bigger so you can see the details!)

As coincidence would have it, if you live near San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum has an exhibit until January called Disney and Dali. They did collaborate! They made a short movie together and had plans for other projects.




A confection…


Gaudí was not the only one. There was also Lluís Domènech i Montaner one of his contemporaries and a professor at the architecture school in Barcelona for forty-five years. He was also a politician prominent in the Catalan autonomist movement. Montaner’s concert hall design is quite amazing.

The Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall designed in the Catalan modernista style. It was built between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891 that was a leading force in the Catalan cultural movement that came to be known as the Renaixença (Catalan Rebirth). Between 1982 and 1989, the building underwent extensive restoration, remodeling, and extension. In 1997, the Palau de la Música Catalana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, more than half a million people a year attend musical performances in the Palau that range from symphonic and chamber music to jazz and Cançó (Catalan song).

A red brick and iron structure, it is cramped in with its neighbors but has so much to look at I stood in front of it and gaped…


Famous musicians connected to the choral society are depicted at the top of the pillars.





The front has the original ticket booths that no longer function, and mosaic everywhere.

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The sculpture on the corner of the building was created by Miguel Blay and is called The Catalan Song. His signature can be found if you look hard enough.


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The new entrance is around the side of the building where we went to meet up with our tour of the interior…

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Dressing rooms, a library, and practice rooms are located in the new tower.

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New pillars carrying the spirit of the old.


Our tour took us up to a second floor salon just off of the balcony with the exterior pillars which currently had an exhibit of Miró sculptures (I will show you that in the next post).

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Mosaics in the building were by Lluís Brú; ceramics by Josep Orriols; stained glass by Rigalt í Granell; cement tiles by Escofet; and sculptures by Miguel Blay, Eusebí Arnau and Pau Gargallo.

I took so many photos of this building…pattern, pattern, pattern…I did get a little exuberant with my iPhone out on that balcony with all the mosaic pillars…exuberance begets exuberance…so I am going to break it into multiple posts. Watch this space!


Good things…

Back before I went to Barcelona, I mentioned that I had been helping some parents at an elementary school in the district I used to teach in construct a ceramic mosaic. When I left, after many months of making clay tiles, glazing clay tiles, creating images of the life skills the kids at the school are taught, and cutting tiles and mirror for the background, they had begun the installation.

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By the time I got back they had completed the installation with every kid in the school getting to make an addition of some type. They had even completed the grouting and the entire mural was absolutely fabulous! (I was kind of sorry I missed the grouting because I do love to grout. Oh, well, the next project!)

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These are Shweta and Tammy, mothers, artists, volunteers, organizers and Renaissance women who are really fun to hang around with because they do cool projects. I would follow them into an art project anywhere. Kudos on a job well-done! Just goes to prove the universal goodness brought to you by art.

In addition, on the universal goodness of nature:

I have mentioned my Dutchman’s Pipevine on my gate many times over the years. It is great because it is a California native plant so takes little water, the deer don’t like to eat it so it can hang to the outside of the garden gate, and it has possibly the greatest flower ever seen…

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We planted ours probably six years ago for the above qualities and one more. There is a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly that only likes it. So we have waited and waited for ours to come…which it finally did a few weeks ago.

I could not get a picture of it because it was really flittering…

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but Terry succeeded…


but then it was gone. Today I passed by the vine and into the house, glancing over to see if it was time for me to take fast growing tendrils and weave them back into the trellis and I noticed that many ends had been chewed off.


After my first thought that we had somehow grown a super-large example of deer that was taller than the gate and wrecking havoc despite the poisonous nature of the plant (which is why they are not supposed to like to eat it), I looked closer and found that we now have a colony of caterpillars…


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The caterpillars are not poisonous at first, but the more leaves they eat the more poisonous they become. This is why the birds do not like them even though black with red spikes makes them kind of obvious. The caterpillars leave the Pipevine for a different plant when they make their chrysalis. I feel like a grandmother to thousands! I am so proud…

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Roofs, chimneys, pinnacles, and spires…(part one)

Touring Barcelona includes roof walking. The genius Gaudí neglected nothing in his designs. Every detail was his to control, and he did. The roofs were well thought out to contribute to the function of the building as well as visually contributing to the joy and craftsmanship. I am not sure at the time who got to enjoy these roofs, but current tourists get an eyeful. Chain link fences and railings are newer additions so tourists don’t fall down the skylights. Sometimes I did shoot down toward the street but I really wasn’t in danger of joining the crowd below.

Just a note for future tourists of Barcelona: you can purchase tickets for the attractions on the internet even before you leave home. You can print the tickets out and then you do not have to wait in the long lines to get in the structures. (This does not mean there will not be lots of other tourists around…it is very difficult to get photos that do not include strangers.)  If you do not want to plan that far ahead, and if you have wifi where you are staying, you can also purchase the tickets the night before and take the copy of the ticket with you on your iPhone or device. At the door they read the bar code of the ticket and you jump the long line. Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, and Palau Güell have audio guides (Casa Batlló had the newest and best…it includes a small video screen so they show you antique photos and animations along with the narration.) We did not use the audio guides in other places, just enjoyed the experiences unfiltered…

Casa Batlló

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Sagrada Familia

Gaudí’s Cathedral, still being built. Two tickets required…one for the main church and one for the elevator up into a spire and then walking down a spiral staircase. This picture of the facade shows the spires, the elevator is inside on the right and then you walk the bridge behind the green tree of life sculpture (with white doves on it) and all the way down the staircase there are slits and small windows where you can see tops of towers and decorations.)




Oh, yes, there will be many parts to this topic…watch this space!

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What I Have Been Doing

I am going to be here on June 14:

Shadelands Antiques and Crafts Show
Over 80 dealers will be selling their antiques and collectibles at the Shadelands Antiques Show on Sunday, June 14, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum grounds, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road. The event benefits the Walnut Creek Historical Society. Admission is free.

so I have been making things like this:


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and acrylic collages:

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I have also been helping a dedicated group of volunteer mothers at a local elementary school create a mosaic for their multi-purpose room wall:

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seven mosaic trees will eventually represent the life-skills program at the school…

The moms plotting the logistics of getting 75 kiddiegartners to apply flower tiles to the wall…


from this:


to this:



What I Will Be Doing

Speaking of mosaics…next week it is to be Barcelona and then Madrid!

My sketchbook is ready…



and we will be off…I know I tell you each time that our apartment will have wifi and I will be blogging, and then something compromises the wifi connection and I cannot stay in touch…but, this time I think we are to be golden, because not only is it a larger city but there probably is a wifi cafe just down the block if it doesn’t work in the apartment. Here is holding the good thought! See you on the other side!



Stairway to the stars…

After having such a fun Thursday, I am compelled to detour away from my tales of Switzerland just a little bit more. It is no secret that I have a passion for tile (in particular Heath), so when an opportunity came to visit San Francisco with a group of retired teachers from the school where I taught before going to Moraga’s JMIS, I was very excited. My heart skips anytime there are mosaics around. We started the morning by traveling to the Flora Grubb Gardens Nursery. Lots of inspiration there and it was well worth the trip as a prelude to what was to come. (They even have a coffee bar…can’t ask for anything more!) Loved this old car planted fully making itself into a garden ornament. Emphasizing the rule that anything can be a container…

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Then we drove to the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood. This is in the Inner Sunset District and at 16th Street and Moraga Street are the steps. These 163 panels are of a sea to sky theme all the way up to the top. They are constructed with Heath Tile, handmade tile, mirrored tile and since it is a neighborhood supported project there are dedications, remembrances, and names of people and businesses from the neighborhood. The mosaic was completed in 2005 by Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. The stairs are used for exercise and tourists come to photograph them. They are well used by the residents. We were there at around noon with full sun making photography tricky (I have mentioned before the difficulty taking photos with an iPhone with bright light and glare. There was also the factor that some areas were in sun and some were in shade.) Despite the handicaps, it was fun to photograph this artful reflection of a community.


This woman ran up and down the stairs four times before our group had made it to the top once. Her feat was very impressive!



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I did love the use of the mirror tile…


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And then we were at the top…if you squint you can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge…


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After walking down again, we went over to the Hidden Garden Steps located on 16th between Kirkham and Lawton. These steps were approached from the top and we walked down each flight to look back up for the impact. (It was definitely an impact!) These steps were dedicated in 2013. Once again you could purchase a tile to have your name on it or a business could purchase an entire motif such as a flower. (Here are photographs of how the artists plotted out the designs.) My pictures are from the top working down.

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Luckily for us, one of our group members was Susan Dannenfelser, a ceramic artist, who knows the artists who created the mosaics.  Aileen Barr met us and guided us around her work. This is Aileen resting on her artwork (or is that resting on her laurels…I think there probably are some laurels in this garden!)


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Came home from this field trip pumped up and ready to create…thanks Del Rey Rovers for the great day!!



Our copy of Bay Nature arrived recently and it included an article by Jon Carroll “In the Third Kind of Fog.” (He is our favorite columnist from the San Francisco Chronicle). Carroll’s article was about the types of fog at Point Reyes National Seashore and we set off today to experience it in all its goopy glory. Drat, it was the most beautiful, sun-shiny day in our history of visiting the shore. Not really drat…but still I do not think we have ever been there when there was sun and we hadn’t been to the Limantour spit of sand since Terry was in law school…what is that? forty years?.

We started at Point Reyes Station for a brunch at the Pine Cone Diner (“Good Food, Prickly Service”). Imagine if you were the waitress having to live up to that job description!

Unfortunately, Cowgirl Creamery was on vacation, but Bovine Bakery was open for sustenance for the evening’s meal. I love this bakery because of its ceramic bovine mosaics on the wall.

Off we went down the crooked road to Limantour. At the highest point of the road we could look out and see all the way to the Farallon Islands. So clear we could see forever.

We walked through marsh and sand, grass and seaweed, bird and wave.



Well, Hello, Dahlia…

When Joyce visited me last summer she told me stories of her Dahlias, a flower with which I was not very familiar. Then I started to notice them everywhere and last weekend I got to see them in place in her beautiful garden. And, yes, Dahlias do enjoy smiling for the camera! Very photogenic I’d say…

Joyce had a concrete bird bath she wanted to mosaic to go amongst the dahlias. She invited me to come visit and help with the process. I was glad to participate in the effort, such hospitality at their house! You should envision us in the kitchen applying tile and sparkly glitz to this concrete (as in heavy) shape with wafting piano music from the living room as John played his grand piano. Can’t get much better than that! We made quite a dent in the project. (The red area is all that is left to be covered with tile.) The surface is painted with RedGuard so moisture does not make the tile pop off from the back during use. Part of our time was spent trying to find bonderizer (as it is called in Northern California.) In Southern California all there is available is RedGuard. We had to visit multiple tile stores and backrooms filled with great deals to figure this out. As if that was a hardship! (My suitcase came home with more tile than I flew there with…who does that, anyway??) Soon this will be all covered and get grouted. We think we will do a video conference call on our iPhones so that I can walk them through the grouting process when it is time. I think the birdies there are going to like the bath and that the Dahlias are going to smile even more! Beautiful garden…


iPhone Photo Friday…

A San Francisco Thursday

It is hard for me to believe, but in my first year of retirement I may have been over to San Francisco more times than in the ten years previously. Something about freedom that makes you move…Yesterday was another excursion over to catch the Impressionist Exhibit at the deYoung Museum before it closes on Sept. 6. Woke up to the fact this week that I was going to miss it if I did not jump. I think half of San Francisco also realized that, because there were crowds everywhere.

Crowds to get on the bridge

Please note, this is an iPhone picture without post-processing, significant in the color of the sky. Big Note: no FOG!

Crowds to get off the freeway (construction on Fell St. backed everything up).

and crowds in the museum where you were not allowed to take pictures inside the Impressionist Exhibit…

So, I took what shots I could get a good vantage point of (with no one standing in front of me) and which thrilled me to see. There was Joan Brown’s Noel and Bob, 1964. Lush color and texture and great face on Noel (plus anything with a dog…)

and the other side of my psych that likes images that represent the simplicity of Asian Art was fed, too. (The murals by Piazzoni, The Sea, 1931, that were saved from the old library that is now the Asian Art Museum):

Then, as we waited for our appointed hour to get into the main show, I found a small gallery that swept me away—photos and grids, photos and grids, photos and grids, tra la…

Ed Ruscha and Los Angeles parking lots:

Even Dodger Stadium and Ruscha’s Every Building on The Sunset Strip, 1966, accordion book:

The only text is the street numbers of the buildings.

The grid of  forty-six photos on the wall taken in Iceland by Olafur Eliasson, The River-raft Series, 2000. Does repetition make it a mosaic?

and a collection of found everyday objects by Nigel Poor, “Found” Project, 1998.

A David Hockney photocollage of Luncheon at the British Embassy, Tokyo, February 16, 1983.

A panoramic view of San Francisco by Mark Klett and Michael Lundgren, 2004,

There was a lot in this small gallery to absorb. Note to self: try more black and whites and get into that panoramic mode!

After fighting the crowds, things took a definite up-swing when we found a new restaurant for a late, ravenous lunch that may have had the best pizza, evah…

Pizzette 211 at 211 23rd Street

The desert and frosting on the cake were the mosaic murals we passed on the facade of a school when we walked on 23rd Street from the restaurant back to our car.

“Art, art, I want you. Art you make it pretty hard not to.” (don’t miss this Youtube video)

A black and white using the RetroCamera app. Now all I have to do is find a large wall that is empty so that it can take twenty framed photos!



Great Friends

My old and dear friend, (we are not chronologically old, it is just that we have known each other since fourth grade-oops could that be more than fifty years??? Well, don’t tell anybody and do not use the word vintage in our ear shot) Joyce, and her husband, John, came to visit last week. We had a wonderful time catching up and laughing about times past. Two years ago we also had lunch together in Sausalito and spent the morning, that visit, in the Overstock room at Heath Ceramics choosing tile so I could make them a garden sphere. I finally finished it and they took it home with them this trip.

Here it is:

I made my own garden sphere a few years ago and had fun with the iPhone altering its image into a silver mirror ball…

and making an advertisement…

I must say that I am glad that my technique has evolved. If you look closely at the pieces of the mosaic, the early pieces are much more free-form because I had not discovered my new secret weapon. Through all the murals I did with my students, here, back when I was teaching, and the early pieces I did for my own garden, the tiles were whacked with a hammer very randomly. But, in between I did this

I helped my neighbor, Laurie, install a bathroom floor in her new construction. (Boots, her new kitty just thought he should be on display, he is not a mosaic cat.) This photo is before baseboards, but shows the absolutely beautiful 12″ x 24″ porcelain tile. My new tool of choice is a large score and snap tile cutter that I can also cut really small pieces with. Sometimes I don’t even score but just snap against the raised area and it is really quick and clean. Of course it is another tool to store (just ask the man I am married to) but I learned a long time ago from Norm on  “This Old House”, that you always need the right tool and this seems to be the right one. Only the times when my fingers slipped from around the end of the handle as I snapped did I doubt that this was the right tool.

Here are instructions for making the sphere and here is a source of supplies at the Institute of Mosaic Art.