My interest in mosaics began 7 years ago when I was looking for meaningful experiences for my daughter, Heather, who has profound disabilities. Heather had just turned 21 and her caregiver, Toni, and I were searching for opportunities that could enrich her life as she moved into adulthood. We were introduced to the Seattle Mosaic Arts Studio through a friend and we began spending our Friday afternoons there. We started with simple projects that had a theme: make them person-specific. Heather and Toni made mosaics that were gifts for Heather’s former caregivers. For one caregiver, who loved organic gardening, they made a mosaic of a beet wearing big headphones with the caption, “the beet goes on”. And for a bicyclist they made a very cute bicycle. Each project took about 4-6 weeks. I wanted to get to know all the different types of glass and tiles in the studio.
So my first project was to do the same small design-a candle holder, over and over, in different types of glass or tiles. I also had a person-specific theme and this is what kept me interested. The candle holders were made in honor of a dear friend of mine, Jason Francis, who died fast of cancer, 11 weeks from diagnosis to death. I had planned a reveal party at my house in order to give away each candle holder made in Jason’s honor to all of his close Seattle friends, whom I called his “deep friends”. This was year 3 of not having him on this planet, and it still sucked. I had also planned my first group project-a mosaic coat rack, waiting for us to build that night. The coat rack was to be a gift for his wife and daughter who, since Jason’s death, had moved to the other coast. We needed to make her something that would “love her” from Seattle. For me, mosaics had to have a heartbeat, a place of super connection. We could have done a mosaic of the Mountain and the Space Needle, but more personal to them was the Tulip Festival. A mosaic coat rack made by her friends from Seattle would be a keepsake that would “love her” everyday, as her piano students could hang their coats on the mosaic Tulip rack during their 30 minute lessons. I have been hooked on the mosaic process ever since, especially when it is done with or for the people you love. I have guided events to celebrate a friends 50th birthday, or a 30 year marriage, the first child leaving for college, or the first career job with a signing bonus. Family and friends have commemorated these events by making a mosaic together. It’s a double gift. You have the memory of making it, and then you also have the mosaic itself. Over the years I’ve seen the power in both.
My experience with the mosaic art form has taken shape over the last 6 years. From glass cutting and fusion to integrating recycled materials, I have taken every structural class I can get my hands on at the Seattle Mosaic Arts Studio. My independent study in community projects is what drives my passion to celebrate collaboratively through art.