Navigating Airfares: Knowing When to Buy

24 Mar

Low Airfare YipsWhen I first started doing my own research and finding my own best fares, it was a pretty peachy thrill. I felt so in control. The world was my oyster, and I could grab a ticket to explore it with a few taps of my fingers. Possibilities were spilling open, and yet … in retrospect, the decisions were pretty simple. Online sites were few (expedia), flights were many, and pricing made some sense. Now, well … things have changed.

I still love dreaming up a getaway and making it happen, but I confess that my finger trembles a bit more while hovering over the Confirm button. Am I saving a bundle or blowing one? Should I wait to book tomorrow, or was last week my last best chance?

I was happy for a little hand holding by Airfare Watchdog this week in the form of their 2014 guide to booking Low. Check it out, and plan something lovely.

Provence with Laurel True and Valerie Nicoladze June 2014

8 Mar

Summer Workshop, Tour, and Outreach
with Valerie Nicoladze and Laurel True
June 21 – 28, 2014
$2600

Valerie Nicoladze Workshop Provence

Immerse yourself in an educational trip and tour that will leave you inspired and creatively invigorated for the rest of the year! Enjoy the lavender in bloom, farm to table food, wine tasting, exploration of local markets and exhibits, and time to create in an inspiring studio environment.

Join professional mosaic artists and educators Laurel True and Valerie Nicoladze at Valerie’s Esprit Mosaique Studio in Avignon, France to explore and celebrate color and creativity through mosaics. Laurel and Valerie are teaming up for the second year in a row to offer a very special, specifically curated and inspiring trip that will combine hands-on studio time, a community project at a local social center, incredible insider sightseeing and experiential learning, and amazing food … and wine … and cheese … and shopping in Provencal villages … and more.

Valerie Nicoladze Workshop Provence

Esprit Mosaique Studio is full of joyful color and provides a welcoming place to learn, create and spend time in community with other mosaic enthusiasts. This is a wonderful opportunity for cross-cultural exchange with French mosaic artists and the North African community served by the Orel Social Center in Avignon. Participants will leave Provence feeling like family — having shared food, wine, stories and creation.

Each instructor will offer lessons focusing on various techniques including fresco cement as a background treatment, demonstration of the uses of stacked and layered substrates, and precision cutting and setting techniques for glass and ceramic. We’ll work with each student according to their experience level; all student levels are welcome.

Esprit Mosaique Studio offers a huge array of beautiful materials for students to use in the creation of their mosaic pieces — drawers and drawers full of colorful and exotic materials from all over the world. Participants will have the opportunity to work with french-made materials that are not often seen or used in the US. Students will enjoy a guided exploration of materials and color through the creation of a piece that they will take home.

One day will include the creation of mosaics elements to be installed at Orel Social Center in Avignon. We’ll combine elements we make with elements made by mosaic students from the social center trained by Valerie, creating a group mosaic project to be installed there. We’ll also spend an evening meeting our co-creators and share a delicious couscous dinner together.

Valerie Nicoladze Workshop Provence

In addition to time in the studio, participants will have the chance to enjoy creative meals together, stay in a cute Provencal hotel, tour Avignon and nearby markets including St. Remy and Les Baux de Provence (in a medieval village with an incredible view AND violet gelato), visit the breathtaking and indescribable exhibition at Les Carrieres des Lumieres, as well as enjoy educational wine tastings and a Provencal backyard BBQ at the home of Valerie and her family.

We’ll end our time together with a picnic in a local lavender field and a visit to the Village of Salut.

Our trip in 2013 was an indescribable experience for everyone. We can’t wait to offer this trip again this summer!

Cost: $2600

Includes: Mosaic workshop instruction, accommodations from June 21-27, breakfast and lunches, Tuesday night family BBQ and Thursday night couscous dinner, transportation from train station or Avignon airport and to and from workshop, and all touristic visits to markets, exhibits and wine tastings. Cost does not include flight, dinners (except Thursday) and personal expenses. Both instructors are bi-lingual and workshop and activities will be in English and French.

To Register for this workshop, please e-mail Valerie Nicoladze at: espritmosaique@free.fr

Questions? Contact Valerie (above) or Laurel at info@TrueMosaics.com

Payment: 50% due at time of registration to hold your space. Payment can be made through Pay Pal. We have only 10 spaces and expect this workshop/tour to fill quickly.

Valerie Nicladze Workshop Avignon

Itinerary 2014

Saturday, June 21: Participants arrive and get settled in Hotel de Atelier.

Sunday, June 22: Studio orientation and intros at Esprit Mosaique Studio. Tour of Avignon. Evening free (get over your jet lag and gear up for a great week ahead!).

Monday, June 23: Project lessons and demonstrations; materials selection and begin first project. Lunch at Restaurant La Strada. Afternoon studio instruction and work time. Evening free.

Tuesday, June 25: Studio work time and instruction. Lunch at Restaurant La Strada. Afternoon studio time. Evening wine tasting at Tavel winery and backyard Provencal BBQ at Valerie’s house.

Wednesday, June 26: Visit Provencal market in village of St Rémy de Provence, with lunch at Villa Glanum Restaurant. Afternoon  art exhibit at Carrières des Lumières and In Les Baux de Provence. Evening free.

Thursday, June 27: Studio work time and instruction. Lunch at Restaurant La Strada. Afternoon studio work time and instruction. Evening free.

Friday, June 28: Mosaic studio time to create elements for community project for Orel Social Center. Lunch at Restaurant La Strada. Install mosaic elements at Orel Social Center. Couscous dinner with families involved in social center mosaic project.

Saturday, June 29: To conclude our week together, we’ll take a gorgeous walk in a nearby lavender field and enjoy a Provencal picnic, 9:00 – 2:00. Afternoon: Goodbyes and departure!

Barcelona and Morocco with Carol Shelkin and Pam Goode, May 2014

25 Jan

GaudiCultural Tour: Barcelona + Optional Morocco
with Carol Shelkin and Pam Goode
Barcelona: May 24 – June 1, 2014
Morocco: June 1 – June 4, 2014
$2350 Barcelona Only

$650 Morocco Add-On

Join Carol Shelkin and Pam Goode for a blissful eight days in Barcelona getting up close and personal with Gaudi, Picasso, Dali, some local tapas, a little cava, a little Costa Brava, and a few Benedictine monks. And since we’ll be so close to Morocco, we’re offering an optional four-day add-on to Fes, a vibrant world heritage site with a medieval section of 9000 narrow pedestrian streets. This mosaic art retreat does not feature a daily class, but will feed you with ample inspiration for your next mosaic evolution.

BARCELONA

Casa Mila, BarcelonaSaturday May 24: Transfer to Apartment and luggage storage; Cafe for coffee and pastries; Tour of neighborhood; Check-in and Siesta/Shower; Red Bus Tour/Welcome Dinner

Sunday, May 25:
Stamp and Coin Market Gothic Quarter; Picnic in Park Guell, tour of Gaudi House/Museum; Casas Mila and Battlo

Sagrada Familia, BarcelonaMonday, May 26:
Mini Mosaic session with Martin Brown using ceramic a la Gaudi; Picasso Museum

Tuesday, May 27:
Montserrat, the famed mountaintop Benedictine Monastery and Black Virgin; Sagrada Familia

Wednesday, May 28:
Market Visit and Cooking Class; Afternoon on Your Own

Salvador Dali HouseThursday, May 29:
Els Encants Flea Market and Vintage Shopping; Afternoon on the Beach

Friday, May 30:
8:30 AM – 7:00 PM Private Coach and Guide to Dali House/Museum, Lunch on the Costa Brava, including several Mediterranean villages and Dali’s home

Saturday, May 31: TBD; On Your Own; Farewell Dinner

Sunday, June 1:
Airport Transfer

BARCELONA ACCOMMODATIONS

We’ll be staying in a large, light-filled apartment in the heart of Barcelona near Plaza Catalunya. The flat has seven bedrooms (several are dorm-style), wifi, a fully equipped kitchen, table space for 17, lift, washing machine, and a lovely terrace. This will provide a common gathering space as well as ample room for food storage and the possibility of eating-in on quiet nights if desired. The apartment is two block from the metro, and very close to shopping and dining options.

MOROCCO

Join us as we travel to Fes, founded in the 9th century and the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities.  Within Fes is the walled medina, known as the “the city of ten thousand alleys.”   Twelve thousand years old, the huge medieval medina is a bustling time capsule. Known as “the city of 10,000 alleys,” the New York Times describes Fez as ‘faded but stately, crumbling but proud, the walled city of Fez might well be the largest and most enduring medieval Islamic settlement in the world. It is indisputably Morocco’s spiritual and cultural heart.”  Artisans still practice traditional techniques, and the market is renowned for ceramics, zellige mosaic, spices, leather, textiles, and cuisine. Read more about Fes here.

Sunday, June 1: Arrival by air, train to Fes

Monday, June 2: Tour of medieval medina with English-speaking guide; visit to artisan workshops

Tuesday, June 3: Workshop TBD (zellige mosaic, Moroccan cuisine, belly dancing, calligraphy are among the possibilities); ceramic workshop visit

Wednesday, June 4: Train to Casablanca for flights home

MOROCCO ACCOMMODATIONS

In Fes, we’ll stay in a traditional guesthouse, or riad, consisting of several rooms surrounding a central courtyard. A Moroccan breakfast will be included each day, either in the courtyard or on the roof terrace, offering panoramic views of the medina and/or surrounding hills. Rooms may be single or double occupancy, with private bath.

LEADERS

Carol Shelkin and Pam Goode are professional mosaic artists, instructors, and travelers. Read more about Carol here and Pam here. The two have most recently led a workshop in Costa Rica, and have another planned for 2014/15 focusing on local culture and mosaic outreach.

TO REGISTER

To register or for more information, please email Pam. Deposit of $1500 is due March 1. Full payment is due by April 25. Suggested airline schedule is a multi-leg ticket NYC to Barcelona to Casablanca to NYC. Preferred schedules will be emailed to participants.

Mosaic Artists Take Over Touchstone Retreat Center!

12 Jan

Mosaic WorkshopsTouchstone, a craft and retreat center in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania, has invited a full slate of mosaic artists to teach in 2014.

Instructor: Rachel Sager
May 16–19

Building Stories in Stone: Contemporary Mosaic in a Geologic Medium (Intensive)
All Levels | $300 Plus Selected Housing/Meal Plan
Extended Weekend Workshop

Instructor: Rachel Sager
August 10 – 16, 2014

Building Stories in Stone: Contemporary Mosaic in a Geologic Medium (Immersive)
Instructor: Rachel Sager
All Levels | $500 + Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Weeklong Workshop

Rachel Sager WorkshopAre you ready for adventures in the creeks, hills, and valleys of Touchstone’s woodland campus? Join award-winning and internationally exhibited mosaic artist, teacher, and speaker, Rachel Sager, in her journey into the magic of sourcing local Southwestern Pennsylvania stone and transforming it into elegant tesserae, the building blocks of mosaic. This extended weekend intensive will cover building a sturdy substrate, mixing and applying high-quality thin-set mortar, cutting with hammer and hardie, the classic tool of the Italian mosaic maestros, and learning the nuances of andamento, the flow and pathways of mosaic. The field trip part of the workshop will include Rachel’s singular process of hunting and gathering for her material. This will be a challenging but also contemplative workshop, and students will learn valuable cutting skills along with mosaic philosophy. You will leave with a 12 x 12-inch mosaic, but more important, you will take home specific knowledge of an ancient medium translated into a contemporary format.

Rachel’s bio and class schedule can be found here for the May Intensive, and here for the August Immersive. Learn more about Rachel’s work here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

May 23–26
Realistic Flower Mosaics
Instructor: Yulia Hanansen
All Levels | $300 + Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Extended Weekend Workshop

Yulia Hanansen WorkshopLearn to translate images of flowers into realistic and powerful mosaic statements in this extended weekend workshop. To create flower mosaic, students may work in a traditional mosaic layout or master an exciting and visually effective “brush-stroke” technique that Yulia uses for her own flower portraits. Materials and techniques are discussed in-depth with demonstrations given in groups and individually. Stained glass is used as a primary material for this project with instructions provided on how to cut, shape, and lay out the pieces. Students also explore color and composition in mosaic arts. The workshop concludes with instructions on grouting and a group discussion on the made pieces.

Yulia’s bio and workshop schedule can be found here. Learn more about her work here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

May 30–June 2
Exterior Mosaics
Instructor: Bonnie Fitzgerald
All Levels | $300 + Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Extended Weekend Workshop

Bonnie Fitzgerald WorkshopThis workshop covers everything you need to know about creating professional permanent mosaics to withstand moisture and freeze-thaw cycles in exterior environments. Workshop lectures will include important information about selecting appropriate materials, substrates, and fixatives that will endure weather year round. We begin Friday evening with a picture presentation and lecture covering technical considerations and design principles. We will spend a portion of the workshop experimenting with both stained glass and ceramic tiles suitable for exterior use. You will make 2 small experimental/prototype pieces, one in glass and the other in ceramic. These exercises are a valuable experience in cutting and designing. We will then embark on our larger project on Saturday.

Bonnie’s bio and workshop schedule can be found here. Learn more about her work here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

July 27–August 2
Strata Chroma: Mosaic High (Relief) and Deep (Color)
Kelley Knickerbocker & Erin Pankratz-Smith
All Levels | $500/+ Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Weeklong Workshop

Erin Pankratz Smith WorkshopThis workshop is geared to interest and challenge students of all levels of mosaic experience.

You will first learn to build and rig your own durable, lightweight 2D mosaic substrates, incorporating pigmented cement in an adventurous exploration of color merging, layering, and texture. Next you will learn to recognize/create/exploit ideal joins of angle, height, size, and shape of a wide variety of black materials – both natural and manmade – for various visual effects, and then experiment with setting each into colorful cement mortars. Finally, using the strata format as a compositional framework, students will incorporate all they’ve learned into the construction of a small mosaic on their handmade substrates.

Their first collaborative artwork, I’m Pervious, built-in 2013, combined Kelley’s achromatic leanings and stratified-high-relief-materials approach with Erin’s saturated color aesthetic and birthed the idea for their ”Strata Chroma” workshop. 2014’s ”Strata Chroma” workshop marks the beginning of their collaboration as educators.

Kelley and Erin’s bios as well as a schedule for the workshop can be found here. Learn more about Kelley’s work here and Erin’s work here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

Instructor: Carol Shelkin
September 5–7, 2014

Tempered Glass Mosaics
All Levels | $200 + Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Weekend Workshop

Carol Shelkin WorkshopLearn how to create glittering mosaic art mixing collage with mosaic techniques using “Tempered Glass.” Tempered glass – also known as “Crash Glass” and “Safety Glass” is used to create mosaic art and architectural installations. A presentation showing examples of some of the finest works in Tempered Glass will be shown. You will learn to develop a jewel-like surface for both interior and exterior installations; and you will complete a mosaic using an overlaying technique with metallic papers, tissue, foils, glitter, photos, wordage, and more. You are encouraged to bring a variety of small paper images, photos, embellishments, and/or text to include in your mosaic. This is the perfect medium to permanently incorporate printed imagery!

Carol’s bio and workshop schedule can be found here. Learn more about her work at here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

Instructor: Cynthia Fisher
September 19 – 21, 2014

Glass Mosaics
Cynthia Fisher WorkshopAll Levels: $200 + Selected Lodging/Meal Plan
Weekend Workshop

Mosaics are a medium one can readily learn at a workshop, and then continue with at home with minimal investment in tools and materials. You will learn about (1) the rich history of mosaics materials, (2) tools and substrates, (3) a variety of methods of mosaic assembly with the major focus on the indirect method, and (4) color and the mosaic palette and how tile shape creates visual texture. Lecture time will be kept to a minimum, and there will be an emphasis on one-on-one guidance, maximizing individual interests.

Cynthia is eager to share her considerable knowledge and experience working in the medium of glass mosaics, from artistic considerations unique to mosaic to architectural installations. Cynthia’s bio and workshop schedule can be found here. Learn more about her work here. Lodging/Meal Plans here.

Mosaic Retreat in Todos Santos with Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art

11 Dec

Mosaic Retreat: Todos Santos, Mexico
Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art
March 16 – 22, 2014
$1599 (Double Occupancy)

Mosaic Art Retreats

Spectacular ocean views? Beautiful gardens? Pools? Personal chef? Mosaics? Yes please!

Spend one full week creating mosaic art in one of the most creative and peaceful settings on the Baja Peninsula, the pueblo magic of Todos Santos. Accommodations will be at the beautiful boutique hotel, Los Colibris Casitas. Los Colibris has 4 wonderfully inviting casitas, each with comfortable beds, great bathrooms and private patios to enjoy the scenery and ocean views. The infinity pool and hot tub are ideally suited for star gazing and observing the humpback and grey whales that often visit.

Mosaic Art RetreatsParticipants will work on a flat 3D shape, using your own found objects, sentimental pieces, millefiori, mirror and stained glass. We’ll learn to work with tinted mortar/thin set and grout, embedding colorful tesserae into mortar to create a color gradation, with an edging of tinted grout. Once mastered, this process is easy to reproduce at home.

Todos Santos is an artist colony on the Tropic of Cancer, just one hour north of Cabo San Lucas, but an entire world away. Nestled next to 70 miles of pristine, undeveloped beach, Todos Santos is famous for the remarkable quality of its light, which drew the first American artists from Taos in the 1980s. Since then artists of all stripes and nationalities have populated the town, which is a charming reflection of their passions with wonderful restaurants, art galleries, and shops. The people of Todos Santos are warm and welcoming, and love sharing the pleasures of their hometown with visitors. The beaches of nearby Pescadero and Cerritos are added bonuses.

The minimum attendance for this retreat will be 4, with a maximum of 8.

Mosaic Art RetreatsRetreat Price: $1,599.00 (based on double occupancy) includes:

  • Airport transfer on arrival and departure (within time frames)
  • 6 nights lodging at Los Colibris
  • Sunday evening welcome reception
  • 5 full breakfasts & 5 lunches pool side by local chef Iker
  • Refreshing agua fresca throughout the work day
  • Evening transportation into town
  • Partial materials for mosaic piece
  • Airfare NOT included
  • Room selections will be made in order of full payments received

Instruction: 5 days from 10:00 AM -2:00 PM. More work time will be available if desired.

Optional Activities: You’ll have plenty of free time to explore Todos Santos and its surrounding areas. Popular activities include hiking, beach walks, whale watching, gallery strolls, shopping. There will also be excursion options that can be booked through Todos Santos Eco Adventures. Massage and yoga are offered at Los Colibris (Los Colibris’ yoga deck sits at the highest point of the property on the tropic of cancer, and has one of the most amazing views of the pacific).

Read more about Los Colibris Hotel here.

Read more about Todos Santos Eco Adventures here.

Read more about Todos Santos Eco Adventures Facebook Page here.

Read more about Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art here.

To Register: Please email Tami with name and contact info or call 805.703.4291.

Fine Print: Deposit of $799 (1/2) may be made through PayPal or check. Materials list, tool list & instructions on packing will be sent after registration. Payment in full must be completed by January 30, 2014.

Cancellation and Refund Policy: All cancellations are subject to a 20% handling fee. For reservations canceled less than 90 days before the workshop, 50% is refundable. If canceled less than 60 days before the workshop, 25% is refundable. If canceled less than 45 days before the workshop, fee is non-refundable. Should the retreat be canceled for any reason the entire amount paid will be refunded within fourteen days after the retreat’s cancellation. Instructors have no obligation regarding any additional costs or fees related to the issuance and/or cancellation of airline tickets or other travel reservations. Instructors and Los Colibris accept no liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable ticket or for canceled flights. Travel Insurance is strongly recommended. All workshop participants should consider purchasing Trip Cancellation, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Baggage, Accident and Medical insurance from a reputable insurance company. A Travel Insurance Guide is here.

Mosaic Art RetreatsTami Macala, Artist and Instructor: I am a professional mosaic artist and teacher. I have been creating art all my life, and mosaic art for almost 20 years. In 2009 I started the Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art based on my love for mosaic art and desire to share my passion with other creative people.

I have vacationed in Todos Santos several times in the past two years and have stayed at Los Colibris each trip. I love the rustic and quaint feeling of Todos Santos, and Los Colibris is the perfect location for the accommodations and creating a wonderful environment for this mosaic retreat.

8 Days in the Rainforest

2 Dec

Just back from the Costa Rica Flora and Fauna Workshop, and thought we’d share a few highlights. The week was transformational start to finish, from the eager, supportive and talented group of mosaic artists assembled to the serene and endlessly surprising rainforest and biodynamic farm at Finca Luna Nueva, to the kind and generous Costa Ricans who embraced us and taught us, to the fresh organic food, and the so-not-your-average-day adventures. More fabulous photos by super-lens Susan Walden here. We’ll definitely be back. If you’re interested in the next session, please let us know in the comment section. Pura Vida!

Click on the first photo and scroll through for descriptions.

Marsh Mellow

28 Oct

It’s one of those glorious days that’s cool on the marsh and warm on the beach, and nature lets you choose whether you want to feel the wind in your hair while you listen to the fish jump in the marsh, or the sun on your shoulders while the gulls cry. Of course, I chose both, with a little hammock time thrown in for good measure. It’s October, and an idyllic time for a beach retreat.

It’s been a good week. Some nights there’s lots of giggling; some days an hour can pass in complete silence. Some nights we cook as a group; some nights we comb our hair and hit the village. Come as you are, be who you are, and use the time as you choose. Here’s a look at the week!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,705 other followers

%d bloggers like this: