I have always been attracted to mosaics, and the patterns and colors that you can make with broken sherds. For many years I happily enjoyed the tiled walls in Andalusia, the Moorish brick architecture, the ancient art from all over the world involving mosaics. Every artistic or architectural item that ever captivated me completely, was related to mosaics.
But I did not dawn on me that I could create it, until sometime in 2007, walking the streets of Lisbon one weekend and seeing their black and white pebble mosaic sidewalks; at that moment the penny dropped: this was doable. The next week I drove to the local mosaic shop and had the owner explain the basics to me, and I made my first mosaic mirror out of one of those cheap IKEA frames. I still have it. After that I taught myself everything I know now, through books (I may not yet have all the mosaic books ever printed, but I believe I come close!), Youtube video’s and asking questions on online forums. And the journey of learning has been, and still is, wonderful.
After 4 years of making mosaics, and having completely saturated my circle of friends and family with mosaic birthday gifts, one of my sisters casually told me “I think people will pay money for that one” while pointing at my purple dish. Another sister had already declared herself to be an artist and had opened an Etsy shop. So with their combined advice I opened mine. In February 2012 I listed about a dozen items on a Wednesday morning, downloaded the Etsy app and then went on with life. On Sunday the app “kachinged” and told me my purple dish was sold. When I looked online, the dish had been viewed thousands of times, favored many hundreds of times, and sold to someone in the US. I called my artistic sister in a bit of a panic, since I had never expected to sell anything, really, and the only advice she had for me was “now pack it up and ship it”. Oh, right. Yes.
I was dazed. Someone, half way across the world, had liked my mosaic art so much she felt it was worth the price and the hefty shipping charge to have it transported all the way over to her place under the sun. I found that baffling. And very satisfying, and a confirmation that what I was making was worth the effort. The next sale on Etsy took many many months, but slowly the shop is taking shape. There are slow months, and months in which I sell it faster than I can make it. But knowing there is group of people in the world who appreciate my art, is a great motivator. As Mark Twain said: "I can live for two months on a good compliment."
Along the way I joined peer groups, local and international, and learned a lot from sharing my experiences as a mosaic artist. We discuss grout color, glue and substrates. We cheer each other on with each sale and commiserate during the dry spells. And I found most of us share a certain monomaniacal madness about mosaics. We try to take our heavy tools and supplies along on family vacations, and scope the neighborhood for mosaic art and possibilities. I once convinced the entire family that Ravenna would be an excellent summer vacation spot. It was indeed.
And everything we see is potential material too. My canoeing trips in the Ardennes are spent peering in the water for smooth rocks to mosaic. I came back from beach vacation on Crete with a suitcase full of smooth pebbles (the south coast, eastern half, the pebble beaches are a treasure trove!!). When I see shattered car window glass on the road, I stop and collect. I pretty much view the entire world in terms of “can I use it to mosaic WITH? No? Too big? Then can I use it to mosaic ON? And I have been very pleased to discover that I share this craziness with some of the coolest people around. And if you are still reading this far down the page I expect you are one of them. Cheers!