Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Welcome to Sparks

Welcome to our Healing Arts Center. 
It's the space we envisioned way before we made the move to our first public arts studio in MidTown just a short time ago. Copper Cat Studio has moved to a seemingly unassuming space on the edge of Industrial Sparks. We are conveniently located right off I80 and McCarran, but just enough off the beaten path that the only people that walk through the door are meant to be here. 



This whirlwind of events happened at just the right time. I had no intention of moving before the end of the year, but when the rent increase notification came in late March, we were at the point of having to give location details to Artown and Reno Open Studios for their publications, and I was just about locked into doing a sponsorship for the MidTown Artwalk. Everything shifted in a two day span of mentioning to someone that I was thinking of moving and boom, we were on the fast track to move. I was able to meet deadlines for getting my soon to be current info to all of my show organizers, drop out of the Artwalk, and give my month's notice. The way it serendipitously came together, I packed up for my biggest show of the spring on April 24th and the leftovers were my first load to the new space that last week of April. We were completely moved out a few days later, did some setting up the first week of May, had a much needed Mexico vacation that had already been planned and were open the week after we got back. We already had workshops on the calendar and students registered for May and June, so we hit the ground running. In this first 9 weeks of being open, we've had just shy of 30 workshops both private and on the public calendar.

All of our instructors have come with us and Donna Smit, of Like Your Junk - Smitten Designs, even has a glass fusion studio in-house! I am in talks with several other artists in different mediums to bring their artisan passions to Copper Cat Studio. With the expanded workspace, we are able to hold multiple workshops at the same time- I can be working in my own studio/office, while Donna is teaching a private lesson in her studio, while there is a 12 person class in the main studio room and a 15 person workshop in the Gallery room. Oh, and at the same time, there could also be a yoga or guided meditation in the yoga room and people shopping in the seperate retail room. With two bathrooms, a kitchen and a grouting area, this is a place we fill nicely but can still grow into!

Come visit, if you haven't had a chance to. We are constantly getting in new artistan ware in the retail shop, new classes are being added weekly and there is always a fun project in process in the workshop room. Our hours remain the same- Tuesday-Thursday 11-6pm, Friday 11-4pm and Saturday 11-3pm, Closed Sunday and Monday. 300 Kresge Lane, Sparks NV

Monday, April 10, 2017


Expansion. We talk about this a lot in my spiritual circles~ Allowing the Universe to conspire in your favor when intentions align and growth is inevitable.  In business, there's the literal meaning for when it's time to move on to the next phase of growing your business. Both of these are coming together in a serendipitous way for me. In our spiritual circles we also talk about these things happening at a more rapid pace right now and boy, isn't that the truth!

In my last blog I contemplated the next phase of Copper Cat Studio. In my mind, I was fine with staying in MidTown, carefully planning out the next couple of years to create what has always been my goal- to have a Healing Arts Center. I knew what components I needed in a space, but had no idea where to look. MidTown has been a great learning experience for me of what I want and need in that space. Definitely not a busy retail store front like I'm in now. Something easily accessible but a little off the beaten path. A place where people can easily come to buy supplies and local artisan gifts on their lunch break and not have to spend 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot. A place where my customers feel safe walking to and from their cars and not be hassled by unsavory individuals.

I have a way of manifesting properties- both business and personal, that is more than a little eery. So I knew when the time was right to move, the perfect place would appear...I just didn't think it would happen this quickly. I've learned that when you ask for something from the Universe, you can't put conditions on it, otherwise it doesn't show up. In this case, I happened to be picking up mosaic substrates at one of my vendors, Victory Woodworks on the edge of industrial Sparks. I had just been hit with a rent increase that was three times what I was expecting, so I casually mentioned to my contact at VW that I might be looking to move soon and if he hears of anything that looks interesting, let me know. And he said, "Well, we have a space that we just renovated and it's ready to go- do you want to check it out?" I said "Sure", thinking this wasn't where I wanted to be, but what the heck? Initially, looking at the space my thoughts were that it was way too big for my needs, but on the drive back to the studio I had completely space planned the unit in my head, realizing that it was big enough to do multiple workshops at one time, I'd have my own office, space for another full time artist, an area for my slab roller and kiln, a larger retail area, parking lot....and a yoga room! It was freshly painted, new flooring and move-in ready. The more I thought about it, it was the perfect location- right off the highway, easily accessible for Reno and Sparks customers. And for those of you whose first reaction is, "It's all the way out in Sparks?", it's three miles east of the spaghetti bowl...for me it's actually a quicker drive than my 3 mile commute to MidTown! With impending deadlines to get locked in to Artown, Reno Open Studio Tours and debating on whether to be in my current location for the MidTown Artwalk, I knew this either needed to happen fast or wait to move at the end of the year. When I found out that rent was the same as I was paying in MidTown for 1,400sf MORE than I have now, I was sold.  I met Don there that Friday afternoon and started negotiations on the lease on Monday. The Victory Woodworks people are some of the best people I've dealt with- personally and in business, and I can't imagine better landlords.

We have so many ideas for what this space will provide. My head is literally spinning. Artist friends as well as healers, yoga and tai chi instructors are contacting me left and right wanting to bring their gifts to the space to share. This is exciting beyond what I could have imagined!

We will be open at 20 St Lawrence in MidTown through April 22nd. We are attending Earth Day on the 23rd and move the week of the 24th. We will have a couple of weeks to set up and have some proper R&R and hope to be open for business by May 20th at 300 Kresge Lane in Sparks.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What's In A Name?

Today I verbalized it. I told a long time colleague from my old design world that I'm no longer painting. Not, "Well, I'm not really painting much these days" or "Maybe I could fit in". I'm no longer painting. Period. And to be truthful, I've really only done a handful of mural jobs in the last 5 years. My heart just wasn't in it anymore. At the first of the year, I revamped my website and took off any trace of my mural painting background. It just seemed right and  was also unnecessary to showcase something that I no longer offer, when focus needs to be on the current studio. 14+ years of painting in people's homes and businesses and already it feels like a distant memory. Just like some day mosaics will have run it's course in my life, painting is a chapter that is officially closed and it feels like a bit of relief. Incidentally, today I also ran across my old portfolio while de-cluttering my home studio. One of those plastic-sheet, photograph-filled, almost resembling a scrapbook kind of portfolio. My, how things have changed in a short few years.

People always ask where the name Copper Cat Studio comes from. A roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest with a good friend and fellow artist, and hours upon hours of talking, brainstorming about marketing ideas and designing our dream studios. At that time I was transitioning from mural painting as my main source of income to mosaics. Add into the mix- yoga instructor, Reiki master, personal chef, and other less glamorous jobs that helped me get by over the lean years and what it came down to is that I needed a business name that could cover many of the things I was doing and could potentially do in the future. At that time I was thinking about doing copper enameling and wanted to include my alter-kitty-ego and there you have it...Copper Cat Studio was born somewhere along I5 in the Cascade Range with Mount Shasta in the distance.

I love the how life evolves. Just because you are successful at something doesn't mean it's what you have to do for the rest of your life. I'm not sure if it was the daunting responsibilities of running a retail store, our very busy workshop schedule, or the heavy, gloomy winter getting to me (likely a little bit of each), but it really got me thinking about what the next chapter of Copper Cat Studio will look like. Don't worry, my plans for my amazing MidTown location will stay in place for a couple more years, but I'm already thinking ahead to that little place off the beaten path. A place without a retail store front- the REAL Healing Arts Center I envisioned when this all started. Who knows...maybe I can have both? This first year flew by, and as far as planning for workshops, I'm mentally well into the summer and soon half of another year will be in the books. This next "couple of years" will go by pretty quickly, and as long as I can continue enjoy the hustle and bustle of working in MidTown I will stay put. I gotta say when the time comes to move along I will really miss my cute little studio, tucked into the coolest pocket of MidTown. I love our little community of businesses on St Lawrence. I love walking next door to teach yoga. I love our family tradition of meeting on Friday nights after work to have a drink at Public House then explore one of the many wonderful eating options in a two block radius. It's fun, but it's sometimes a little too much for an introvert like me. So for now I will bravely put on my kitty ears and navigate this endeavor I began a year ago and we will see where it takes me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Transformation of a Community

In the 18 years that I have called Reno home, I have witnessed a huge transformation in our community. In my early years, I heard Reno referred to as having the potential to be a Renaissance town, but that it was more of a jumping off place, where creativity is cultivated, but artists move on to bigger and better things. About 8 or 10 years ago things started to shift: up and coming artists not only stayed here, but artists were actually drawn here. Of course I think a huge part of that is our Burning Man community. What a surge of art that burners have created here! With artist collaboratives like The Generator, the possibilities are endless. Artown is so packed with amazing events, it's hard to pick which concert, art gallery, craft fair, workshop, etc, to attend on any given day in July.  And the community support of local arts is overwhelming. Art advocates like Oliver X of Reno Tahoe Tonight and Eric and Geralda of Art Spot Reno are making it their mission to bring arts to the community. People are thirsting for creativity and Reno is delivering.

One of the amazing sculptures at Reno's annual Sculpturefest

What I'm noticing now is a transformation in our community in terms of spirituality. With all of the turmoil in our society, people are looking inward to find a sliver of peace. They are looking for creative outlets to nurture their spirit, and I'm seeing that lead to more of a quest to find that sense of inner peace...and in turn, a sense of purpose.

I am inspired and excited to see so many friends who are doing an amazing job of raising the vibrational level and making a positive impact on our community. I think this is where it starts and there really is a ripple effect on the rest of the world. There have been so many people taught and inspired by my Reiki Master Teacher Denise Sheehan of Sage Spirit Coaching & Reiki, who are finding their calling to open businesses to share Reiki with our community. Urban Lotus Project is a non-profit created by Hannah Bias to bring yoga and meditation to at-risk and under-served youth in Reno. Have you been to one of Alchemist Theater's monthly gatherings? With a great mix of humor, music and meditation, they deliver powerful sermons that bring spirituality to us in a non-threatening way. These gatherings have been so popular that they have turned to live streaming because they sell out every month, even after moving to a larger venue. There are so many other local people and organizations that are paving the way as well, too many to contain in a simple little blog! Friends are talking of finding healing through singing bowls, crystal beds and floating chambers. People are thirsting for spirituality and yes, once again Reno is delivering.

When I began my Reiki journey 6 years ago, and completed Yoga Teacher training 3 years ago, I never knew how serendipitously they would all be blended with my journey as an artist to create a place for people to come to nurture body and soul. It is very exciting to see so many who share this common vision for our community and are finding purpose in serving others. It is humbling to be in the midst of the transformation.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Artown in MidTown with Copper Cat Studio

The last time I blogged we had just announced the big move to Midtown. Well, we hit the ground running and since opening in late January, we have had almost 30 workshops- mosaics, of course, and other mediums including Fused glass, Henna, Steam Punk Jewelry with resin pouring, wirewrapping Tree of Life and more.  It is so awesome to be bringing mosaics to the community at large as well as providing a place for my artist friends to teach their craft.  These past few months have been busy to say the least!

Photo: Digiman Studios

We are excited to be partnering with Artown in a number of events this year. Below is a list of events that we will be hosting or involved in. More information can be found on our website as well as the Artown website.

Mosaic 101   July 2nd
Mosaic Garden Stones   July 6th
Art In The Garden   July 9th (Copper Cat Studio will be closed to attend this show)
Glass Fusion Jewelry 101 with Donna Smit July 13th
Henna 101 with Kimberly Allcock   July 16th
People Project: Smaller, Artist Meet & Greet   July 17th
Junk Heart Pendant With Donna Smit   July 20th
Mosaic Birdbath   July 23rd & 24th
Midtown Artwalk   July 28th
Mosaic 101   July 30th
Half Day Yoga/Mosaic Retreat July 31st


Not listed on this roster of events is my involvement with Urban Roots in a community mosaic mural build. We will be working with children 5-11 years old to create a a mosaic mural for one of their structures. I'm really excited about this one!

We would love to see you at the studio for a class or just for a visit. I am there Tuesdays through Saturdays. 20 St Lawrence in MidTown next to Creme Cafe.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Going Back to Work

Eight years ago today I took a big leap and quit my day job to become a full time artist. I had been building up to it with my side business as a mural artist and my growing love of mosaics, but it was very scary to walk away from the safety net of a regular paycheck. The first year was great- I landed the biggest job (still) of my career~ The Peppermill pools, 1200sf of mosaic mural. Then the economy took a dive and I diversified. I love to cook and had a great opportunity to cook for a wonderful family, two dinners a week for a couple of years (Thank you Tammy, that little bit of income helped us to eat in lean times!). Those first few years, I didn't turn down any painting or faux finish job. I participated in every craft fair I could get into, sometimes even multiple events in a day. I worked harder than I ever have in my life but enjoyed every moment of it. There was just no way I could ever go to "work" for someone else! In the meantime, I completed all three levels of Reiki and became a Reiki Master, then got my Yoga Teacher certification, not sure how these would play into the big picture. The last 3 years or so have been flowing pretty amazingly. I have found a nice groove of mosaics, workshops, painting, yoga and underlying everything was Reiki.

About this time last year, ready for the next chapter, I put out the intention of having a community space for arts and healing. I didn't really think much more about it because I wasn't able to wrap my head around how it could actually happen. January came around and I had an amazing opportunity to buy my friend's online mosaic supply company. Step one in that direction. Then I acquired the inventory of another friend's stained glass store. Another step in the retail direction. Then over the summer I had a friend who was thinking about letting go of part of her space in Midtown and I thought, great space but no room for yoga and I had an investor that was looking to buy a building, so I wasn't looking to rent. Coincidentally, I was there meeting a friend for breakfast so that she could give me keys to the yoga studio next door where I was going to start teaching. But it didn't hit me until I was eating breakfast there again Labor Day weekend that this, in fact, would be the ideal location for my new studio. On one side, an excellent restaurant to partner with for catering during my workshops, and on the other side, the yoga studio where I happen to rent space as I need it. Kind of perfect, don't you think?  Oh and my favorite little pocket of Midtown, direct neighbors being Creme Cafe, The Yoga Center, Reno Public House, Neverender, Chuy's, Wedge, Dreamers and Macbeth Theater. And we would be renting, but better to rent for a few years while we figure out what our permanent place needs to be AND get to be in the heart of the artsy, fun place to be in Reno right now.

Soooo the Big Announcement~

Future home of Copper Cat Studio & Tessera Glass

In January we will be moving the studio to Midtown on St Lawrence St, next to Creme Cafe. This is the same spot that launched the popular Picasso and Wine. My working studio will be there, which means I will be there full time Tuesday through Saturday. There will be a retail section including mosaic tile, mosaic supplies, tools, books, mdf shapes, stained glass, and more. We will have gift items featuring several of my local artist friends. We will have workshops that can accommodate groups of 16+, including our ever popular Mosaic 101.  There will be shorter workshops for those who have experience with mosaics and are ready to dive in and we will extend our Full Day Retreats with Sage Spirit to include two yoga sessions, breakfast and lunch catered by Creme Cafe. And for those who have been asking- we finally will have room for OPEN STUDIO! There are so many ideas for workshops and we will even be hosting guest artists to learn other mediums. We are hoping to partner with Creme Cafe in not only catering during workshops and private parties, but to host a rotating lineup of artists that will adorn their walls and will coordinate to teach workshops in our space. A tentative Grand Opening party is planned late January to coincide with Creme Cafe's Fifth Anniversary. We are so excited we can hardly stand it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Smalti. For most mosaic artists, it's the creme of the crop as far as tesserae goes. The first time I was introduced to smalti, although I did not know what it was called at the time, was in my parent's church St Charles Borromeo in Oklahoma City. The walls are covered with amazing smalti murals. The first time I used smalti was in 2004 in a week long course at the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna, Italy, taught by renowned mosaic artist Luciana Noturni. I have to say the whole process of creating a mosaic in the double reverse method and using hammer and hardy, the way it was done in ancient times, was very intimidating and very time consuming. It was awesome to learn the process but at that time in my mosaic career, smalti seemed a little out of reach to experiment with, as it is very expensive. 

Fast forward to 2013 and I met a couple who have become one of my favorite repeat clients. They have lived the most interesting life of art and adventure, traveling the world over and literally roadtripping from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica.  You can read more of their journey at From Polar Bears to Penguins. They came to me with a commission for a bathroom countertop and the design to be inspired by a book of drawings that they had gotten on their travels. The one they liked the best was a drawing of a tree with all kinds of creatures intertwined and coming out of the branches and roots. As an artist, this is just the thing that gets you excited for a custom project! 

Inspiration for the Smalti Mosaic
They had insisted on smalti and I tried to discourage them, as last I had checked, smalti was ridiculously expensive. As I researched, however, I found that since I had worked with smalti in Italy, there were several vendors that offered smalti here in the US and even some that imported it from Mexico. I chose the latter and when I ordered samples I was very impressed with the quality. Still pricier than glass tiles, but more affordable than I had anticipated. The only way I can describe smalti is that it is yummy. The colors and variations are luscious and it cuts like butter. The texture smalti creates in a mosaic is unlike anything you can create with vitreous glass tile (...says the owner of a mosaic glass tile company). 

So we were all set and began the design process~


...And Complete!

Several months ago, they contacted me to create another smalti mosaic.  This time for their garden. The subject was St Francis and I was very excited because from childhood, he had always been my favorite saint. Of course we went the non-traditional route and used a folk-art drawing as the inspiration and it turned out just perfect for their garden.

In Process

Installed on a boulder in my client's garden

As I was writing this blog, I got an email from my clients asking when we can get started on adding more animals and birds throughout the garden. It's looking like more smalti is in my near future!