Losing My Marbles

A broken Mason Jar, FULL of glass marbles, was my inspiration for this piece. Just jumped off the shelf, imagine that.

Mission accomplished.

One down 20 jars, or so, to go.

Bought the vintage window in Orange, California with my sista friend, Alice.  A fun day was had by all.

Lovin’ the glass heart porthole!

“Conscience is no more than the dead speaking to us.” ― Jim Carroll

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply “must” do things.” — Ray Bradbury

Glass on Glass
Glass on Glass

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” — Pearl S. Buck

The Nerve of Some People

Emails from Etta …

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning having gall … brazen nerve … effrontery… sheer guts… plus arrogance; it’s Yiddish and, as Leo Rosten writes, no other word, and no other language, can do it justice.


A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for a dollar each.
Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time
and as he passed the pretzel stand, he would leave her a dollar, but
never take a pretzel.

This offering went on for more than three years. The two of them
never spoke. One day as the young man passed the old lady’s stand
and left his dollar as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him for the first
time in over three years. Without blinking an eye she said:

“They’re a dollar and a quarter now.”


Do You Have Any Fairies Lying Around?

That was an actual question that was posed to me this past week.

Scary thing is … I think I do have a fairy or two lying around …

I just can’t find the little buggers … they must be hiding;) Fairies do that, you know.


So, Alice … the fairies are indisposed but I do have a colony of plastic rabbits, drive thru plastic toys and the Three Stooges minus Moe … maybe he’s with the fairies.

I’ll keep looking!

The Best Things

The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson


all rights reserved © 2013 Mara Lee
all rights reserved © 2013 Mara Lee

That Was Then. This is Now.

Sorting through images … I didn’t say organizing … found the vintage rotary phone that I hand-painted 30 years ago.

Well ...
Well …

Haven’t painted another one since.

That was then. This is now.

Another example of inspiration slapping you in the face and then skipping away.

Putting It Out There

I’ve been blogging since 2008 and I’m not sure why.

Then I read …

“The Internet has no eraser.” – Liz Strauss

… and that only made it worse.

It’s out there and I can’t take it back.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question … and is that even possible?

Which sent me into a tail spin, 15 tabs open, to find the inspiration to carry on.

Stopped when I got to the  10 Reasons Why Bloggers Hate Blogging

You’re only as good as your last post … good to whom I’m not sure … but I did sell something today … bonus!

Through the Looking Glass

The vintage window was a gift from my sister friend, Tilly Evan Jones … I think it sat around for a couple of years, until I finally decided to glue a bulk of my vintage glass collection to it.

It never ceases to amaze me how magically the pieces fit together and as an added bonus … it fit perfectly inside the guest bedroom window.

All you need is a sturdy window (or frame), mosaic tile & glass tools, safety glasses, vintage glass dishes (or otherwise), random glass pieces and e6000 adhesive to be glued in a well ventilated area.

FYI … Just so you know … when using e6000 adhesive … once you place the glass on the glass, you can shift it a bit but basically it’s over … live with it.

WARNING: ALWAYS wear safety glasses when cutting glass or tile and as a FYI … I do not recommend this project for kids.

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The “Simplification Tour” 2012

thrift shop

When you consider all of the resources available to help simplify your life, you would think it should be a lot easier than it is.

I’m perfectly aware that less is more and remind myself of that everyday!

As an undiagnosed hoarder … no not the dollar store, old food and bug kind … the kind that can’t seem to part with the perfect vessels and nick knacks that I envision for mosaic tile projects of the future.

I could keep this to myself and hide my addiction from the world … but instead I am going to proclaim publically to stay as far away from the thrift stores & glue what I already have.

At least, until the end of February.

Junk: Seemingly useless rubbish which sits around for months and is inevitably disposed of the day before it is needed.

Just Bite The Bullet

mosaic tile studio
Something you don't see everyday.

Cleaned and organized my tile studio.

It took 9 solid hours.

Guess that happens when you don’t clean for over a year.

Struggled to justify the time but I was forced into it by hosting a party in the space.

Happy to report that you can find joy in organizing, if you choose to.

Wondered, more than once, what someone else would do with all of this stuff, if I wasn’t here.

Scary fun.

Certainly has the potential to be a once in a lifetime garage sale … sorry I’ll miss it.

Mosaic Tile
That's only a quarter of it.

P.S. The party was a blast!

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Custom Ceramic Tile The elation of selling one of my mosaic tile pieces is always followed by a little sadness.

Strange but true.

While packing a few pieces for shipping, I once again had to reassure myself that these pieces are going to a good home where they will be loved.

Seems silly as I write this … they’re just random bits and pieces with my soul attached … no biggie.

I could try to make an exact copy of the piece … one for me and one for you … but I never have and I probably never will.

Besides … you can’t have everything … where would you put it?

Off to the post and grateful that I’m not a dog breeder:)

Happy Monday!

The Perfect Gift

perfect gift Often wonder why people make such a big deal out of gift giving.

By the time you quit complaining, you could have made something.

Even if you’re not the handmade type, this may inspire you to change your mind.

Absolutely loved Crunchy Betty and her 40 Hot Homemade Gift Ideas for the Man in your Life … relax … you may be here awhile.

Then there is the TIPJUNKIE with Handmade Gift Ideas ... even though it’s the Christmas list…adapt.

and …

I can think of a hundred ways to adapt the “Older Than Dirt” jar for Valentine’s Day!

It’s the thought that counts and I’m pretty sure that means your thoughts.

Think about it:)


Did You Hear That?

The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Wait for it … wait for it …

The thrift store mirror just sat there (like many of my found objects) but this piece was like having a thousand pound elephant in the room and it taunted me. I suppose I could of hung it up but that would have meant attaching a really strong wire to the back and I never saw that item make the list.

After moving it onto the tile table (and off again) a dozen times, I surrendered to the zero inspiration but hope.  At least I hadn’t broken it yet.

Then two dear friends coaxed me along by gifting me broken remains of their lives … Terri, a one armed porcelain figurine of a woman (Matilda) and Tilly, a box full of heirloom birds that flew out of her hands during a move. Amazed how that inspired me to let go of the death grip that I had on my sacred box of porcelain flowers.

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The pieces magically (as they always do) found their place onto the border and were given 9 months to dry:)

Made a pact with myself that this piece needed to be grouted and hung before Thanksgiving 2011.

Decided on charcoal grout, instead of something much lighter. Prayed about my choice.

Took a handful of the black mud and pressed it into way, way, way to many places to turn back.  Needed a second to compose myself after immediately getting that sick “OMG I picked the wrong grout color!”

Kept telling myself to just “Keep Calm & Carry On.”

Five hours, a roll of paper towel, box of Q-Tips and 250 pounds later (not me the mirror :)

“Paint the frame black” chimed in from the peanut gallery … appreciated the final collaboration that included the much needed help in moving this beast to its rest stop.

Love the standing back part …

mosaic tile mirror
yes ... I could have taken a better picture but this post has overstayed its welcome.

Loving Tuesday!


Love Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

… and hope to get there someday soon.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a folk art environment, gallery space, and nonprofit organization that showcases the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar.

Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on over 100 public walls throughout the city of Philadelphia and around the world.

Zagar has devoted himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960s, when he moved to the area with his wife Julia. The couple helped spur the revitalization of the area by purchasing and renovating derelict buildings, often adding colorful mosaics on both their private and public walls. The first such project was Julia’s still-thriving folk art store, the Eyes Gallery at 402 South Street and continues on for miles.

Back in the day, a few tile gypsies tried this on the streets of our historic little town of Jordan.

Interesting that the cracks in the sidewalks that were filled with treasures …  testing 5 different kinds of concrete … popped up like toast after one winter.  Hmm.

… and can you believe that people actually pried off the bits and pieces from the buildings with tools? Yep. True story.

But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

Art changes things.

You Can Take It With You

Took a few mosaic tile minutes today and found a really cool blog called  My Boho Life & their funky 9 foot Mosaic Tile Backsplash.  

I find myself dreaming about having a mosaic tiled backsplash one day:)

Then I ran across this Lowe’s mosaic tile video. Short, sweet and easy to follow …

but …

Did you know that if you measure the backsplash area and cut a piece of 1/2″ concrete backer board into workable sections, you can arrange unique mosaic tile designs, glue the pieces, grout and seal the entire project on a FLAT surface. Wouldn’t recommend a 9 foot section but 3 foot will work.

Then all you have to do is attach the finished pieces, to the backsplash area, using the holes that you’ve pre-drilled and kept free from grout.

Easier on your back plus you can remove it and take it with you, if you choose.

Happy Gluing!

It’s Comforting To Know … Something’s Never Change

This may be a duplicate post but the question keeps coming up so I thought I’d cover it one more time.

FYI … You could just buy the book and all of your mosaic tile questions would be answered:)

  • Q: How much time do you have to set the pieces into the concrete before it dries?
  • A: It’s not concrete that is surrounding the pieces (for indoor projects) … It’s grout.

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Basic instruction for indoor mosaic tile construction:

  • Cut pieces to size … Always wear safety glasses when cutting!
  • Glue pieces to the prepared surface using Weldbond or Mastic
  • Let the glued pieces dry for at least 24 hours
  • Prepare grout according to instructions
  • Grout the piece
  • Clean off the excess grout
  • Dispose of unused grout properly … meaning not down the drain
  • Let dry … Polish the grout haze as needed
  • Seal dried piece with grout sealer

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein


It’s Called An Abyss

toy story 2You know … a great big endless space.

That’s what this is. All of it.

The one constant is our insatiable need to try to fill every part of it, on a daily basis.

Not gonna happen.

Why can’t we just be happy with what we’re experiencing, while we we’re experiencing it?

I think A.A. Milne may have nailed it …

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.

First You Don’t Succeed

bird mirror
Layed it out three times. Put it away three times.

If things don’t seem to fit together the first time … try again … and again … and then again.

Many of the porcelain flowers that I’ve collected over the years are embedded in this piece, along a cherished porcelain bird collection that was gifted to me by my dear friend, Tilly.

While moving into a new home, Tilly accidentally dropped the box of her mother’s glass bird collection.  I feel honored that she thought of me when deciding what to do with their remains:)

Should take me forever to grout this … sure hope the courage to finish the piece is fast in coming.

Thinking charcoal.

Woo hoo for me!

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Thrift Store Junkie Haiku


junk stores
Still waiting in the cue.


Someone’s handiwork
Needed to come home with me
Talk doesn’t cook rice.

– Mara Lee –

A Work in Progress

Mosaic Tile Mirror
My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather. ~Terri Guillemets

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Matilda’s Birdland

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Scheduled to be completed this week.

We’ll see how it goes.