Thursday, December 18, 2008

Out of Touch and Out of Town

I haven't posted in a while. Life happens ! I have been on a couple of trips (both Mosaic related) and I am looking forward to another in January! My first trip was to Bell Buckle TN in Sept. where I attended at class at my friend Sherri Warner Hunter's studio. Steve Koerner was the visiting instructor giving us a taste of his technique in Flying Concrete. We had a blast! and started construction on Sherri's new wavy, curvy garden shed. Here is a pic of the class/work crew. It doesn't look very curvy here but trust me it will when complete. About 2/3 of it has a barrel vaulted ceiling and the entrance end is a dome.

This shed is a work in progress and I know that Sherri looks forward to many more classes that include her garden shed. Check out Steve's website for more on Flying concrete. I love his "wavy curvy" construction style. He lives in San Miguel and offers classes there. I hope to visit someday.

Sherri's studio is located in Bell Buckle TN. I LOVE it there! I've had the opportunity to hang out there a couple of times and I know I will go back. Eclectic, arty, and down home. You never know who you will meet and I guarantee you will love them all. This trip I finally got to meet J.L. Nippers a cool folk artist living in the hills of Tennessee. I wanted to buy a piece of art from him and ended up with a couple. Brought me home a lime green gator and a tree full of Blackbirds. That's not the best part. I spent 3 hours with him and his wife. They are the sweetest folks you'll ever meet. I just got a Christmas card from them! They been married for 52 years!

I could go on and on. Maybe another day! Enjoy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Remarkable Woman

Throughout our lifetime we meet many people, among them there are those we know the instant we meet them our lives will change. My introduction to Ilana was one such meeting. She carries with her a rich history. It is as evident in her presence as in her art. At 84 years old she is as passionate today as ever sharing her technique of Spontaneous Mosaics through instructional classes and speaking engagements around the world.
I have always felt that mosaic artists are not taken seriously in the world of fine art. We do not have our own category to jury in and we are forced to select mixed media or assemblage. Mosaicists are often seen as hobbyists or craftsman who duplicate the work of the "real" artist. This duplication process has taken place for centuries and is a skilled craft done by very talents artisans and this is why we are often not seen as artists. During my first conversation with Ilana, she said was “If we (mosaic artists) are to become accepted into the fine art world we must be willing to push our materials beyond their traditional use and then they can not be ignored and we will not be looked at a craftsmen alone. We will be artists.” OMG I just wanted to hug her! I want to be her when I am her age. Brilliantly composing art from buckets of broken junk. ahh the good life!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mosaics in Mexico

The People for the University, the University for the People.
Designed by David Alfaro Siqueios
Mosaic by the Perdomo Family Workshop


As the North American Distributor of Perdomo Smalti I am happy to announce the opening of Mosaics In Mexico in Cuernavaca, Mexico where our smalti is produced.

An extension of the Perdomo Family's Workshop, Mosaics In Mexico provides intermediate, professional and advanced mosaic workshops. With over 80 years experience in fabricating fine art smalti murals, MVM shares their unique artistic methods and passion for mosaic. Enjoy perfect weather, cultural arts and amazing food while advancing your smalti mosaic skills.

Workshops include "Modern Mosaics: An Exploration of Color & Texture" , "Smalti Intensive - Intermediate Level" and "Mosaic Portraiture - Intermediate/Professional Level". Visit or contact for more information. To keep posted on offrings, sign up for their newsletter!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stained Glass Mosaics with a Story

"That darn Fly" Barbara Keith

"Late Afternoon in Winter" Barbara Keith

Barbara Keith has a way with stained glass in mosaics. The birches above are subtle and simple in feel, yet it draws you in and makes you feel like you can step right in. Like Alice in the looking glass. Which brings me to her other creations. She has illustrated several nursery rhymes and turned them into a book. "The Girls and Boys of Mother Goose" . The illustrations in mosaic are classic with a twist. A beautiful way to visit Little Bo Peep.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mixing It Up

Table by Robin Herskowitz and Daughter
How cool is this table? I absolutely love it. Great mixed media mosaic and functional too! I always have a hard time combining a lot of different materials. I love the way it looks but I never do it. Looks like I have found myself a new challenge for me next open day in the studio. Is this a challenge you need to take?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Big Things Down Under

Telescopus – by Dominic Johns

I had the pleasure of meeting Dom at the 2008 SAMA conference held this past March in Miami. From Parramatta Park, Australia, Dominic is just a great guy and definitely passionate about everything he does, as you can tell by his loving embrace of his newest work.

Upon completion this is what Dom has to say: Telescopus is in and I’m feeling very happy now. This project has been approx 1000 hours to bring to fruition and now I’m ready for the next one. Moving the work was a tense experience, but we managed to do it without breaking anything. So get down to the Cairns Esplanard 'nard’ opposite 181 The Esplanade and check it out. The cut face glows in the dark!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Resurrection Complete

I did it! I finished the bird bath. Resurection complete! It is not the prettiest mosaic I have ever done but it is the most fun I have had in a while. I love it's folky quality. It reminds me of one you would have seen at an old cottage up north in the 40's. Have fun! Talk to Stones!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Outdoor Living with Mosaics

Mosaic Bar-b-que by Clara Nelson

Detail 2

Detail 2

This mosaic border recently completed by Clara Nelson of Palm Springs, CA is sure to be the focal point of the the newly finished bar-b-que. The project is located in Flagstaff, AZ. Clara used the local local flora as inspiration. The sunflowers and aspen leaves, pine cones, and the phases of the moon from left to right. She used Cinca Unglazed Porcelain, half marbles and dicroic glass for some bling.

I can smell steaks for years to come!

An Important Annoucement!

WARNING: Consult your physician before starting mosaics. If taking anti-depressants, you may need to reduce dosage or discontinue altogether.

SIDE EFFECTS: May cause sudden fits of elation, joy and unexpected surges of energy. MAY BE HABIT FORMING

Email: doublehuedoublehuedoublehue.mosaics.calm

Not sure who the author of this is but I think it rocks!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mosaic Streets

Lisbon Streets - Scott Hansen

Streets of Taxco

I learn more about my own country by traveling to other places. I visited Taxco, MX and saw some amazing mosaics. Not art, not even building decoration, but the streets. Streets? Can you imagine this happening in your town. Sadly I think not unless you live at Disneyland. Why? Practically, yes that's part of it. We couldn't afford the time and labor it takes to create this. More importantly we cant expect any BMW Roadster or ladies in their $500.00 Jimmy Choo's to endure the bumps and cracks these beautiful streets create. The lawsuits from broken heels alone put them out of our financial reach.

These streets are not contracted public art. They are built out of necessity by craftsmen who took the time to create designs as they built them, not because the designs were necessary, but because it was necesary for them to create something of beauty, that creates landmarks, and give the viewer something to look forward to as the buzz about town. Here we are more concerned that our shoes look good than our public spaces. Taxpayers gasp when we hear the that 1% or less of public building project budgets are spent on art. That's $1000.00 dollars or less for every million that the building costs. That's 2 pairs of Jimmy Choo's! Maybe we should be more concerned that the contractor is the governor's brother-in-law and that the material supplier is charging 3x the normal standard for a 2 x 4.

Rant complete! At least for now................................................

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Big Clock

Big Clock detail

The Big Clock - Kim Wozniak

It is amazing how these tiny tile almost give the appearance of reptile skin. The Big Clock measures 36" accoss and is one of my favorite projects. It hangs proudly above the sofa. It is one of those compelling reclamation projects. I found it, got inspired and I wasn't happy until I finished it (2 days and very little sleep later). I purchased the clock for only $20.00. The plaster surface of the frame was damaged and couldn't be repaired (or so they thought). I filled in the large hole of missing plaster and covered it in tile, and waalaa.

I think it is a classic example of why I love mosaics and mosaic artists. We either use our broken treasures as tile or tile our broken treasures.

Micro tile from another's View.

Mosaic Vanity - LeeAnne Wooten

Mosaic Backspash - Jane Robinson

Even though I sell these beautiful tiny tiles, I've rarely used them myself. I love them but somehow they don't speak to me first when I make my material selection. Today cleaning out email I ran across a couple of projects created with these little gems that make me want to revisit that approach.

Micro Tile or Tiny tile are 3/8" square glazed high fire porcelain. You are probably most familiar with these tiles as the surface material used on coffee tables, ash trays and trivets of the 50's and 60's. Glazes ranging from subtle shades to bright and bold and even gold and silver metallic. (These are my favorites!) See the big Clock!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Build......

A view of Sam Rodia's Towers
A piece of Emery Blagdon's Healing Machine

I never really considered myself an artist but rather a builder or a "maker of stuff". It has always been something I am compelled to do. I think that's why I am so fascinated by people like Sam Rodia, Fred Smith, and my newest favorite Emery Blagdon (even if he's not a mosaic artist). They all had their reason's for building. Fred wanted to create a destination, The Wisconsin Concrete park. Sam Rodia wanted this too, but his real reason was to fill his time after his wife left and he wanted to quit drinkin'. Lastly Emery Blagdon wanted to heal people, namely his parents and believed that the electrical currents collected by his healing machine could do this.

As a wannabe "crazy lady on the side of the road" I look at them in awe. Men of creative genius. I am not sure I will ever measure up, but I wonder if their real reason wasn't to live on past one life. To insure that they weren't forgotten in the environment of one life.

I recently purchased a new DVD called "I Build the Towers" a biography of Sam Rodia's journey and a history of the towers. Great works of art that were nearly lost because some people didn't understand why they were built or of what importance they are. Do we really need to understand? They are important because someone took the time to do it. This is the legacy, and I can't believe that any of those who wish to bulldoze the art of the crazies, those who have never built anything themselves, will die proud of the legacy of tearing such works down.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Make Art! Have Fun!

Circus Iron by KG Greenstein
As mosaic artists sometimes I think we take things a little to seriously. Our materials, our process, and our finished work. Today I received a message from KG Greenstein of KG Studios in Oakland CA. A visit to the website included in the note reminded me that serious art does not need to serious, Maybe we need to get out of our trained adult trousers and into our kindergarten smocks once in a while and just have fun. You never know what we might come up with.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I just received my copy of the 2nd edition of Andamento and I must say it is a feast of mosaic material. Published by BAMM this issue includes detailed articles and in depth insights into :

• The lost mosaics of Kenneth Budd
Gaetano Meo's Mosaics at Clayton Parish Church
• Fifty years of mosaic murals by Desmond Kinney
• In search of a Mosaic Colour Theory
• The Oppenheimer mosaics in Lille Cathedral

This is a must read for mosaic lovers. You can order your copy here.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Ovation by Shug Jones

When I saw this piece by Shug I just had to have it. It now resides in my living room and I never tire of studying it. It's is such a great example of contemporary mosaics and the vibrancy of color inherent to the Italian smalti.

Shug along with partner Julie Dilling own and operate Tesserae Mosaic Studio. Located in Plano, TX, Tesserae Studio is a full service studio assisting customers from concept to installation. These girls have tackled some amazing projects and thier website is worth a visit!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A visit to Mexico

In Progress Section of Autumn Prairie

I love my job! This past Febuaray I went on my second "business trip" to the to the workshop and factory of the Perdomo family in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I always have a hard time calling it a business trip even though I do work almost the entire time I am there. There is something about being in Mexico in February, surrounded by smalti and skilled mosaicists that doesn't feel like work. Owning certainly has it's perks!

The pic above is part of an in progress mural Autumn Prairie by artist Dixie Friend Gay. It is one of several mosaic murals that Dixie has created with the assistance of the Perdomo Workshop and will be installed in the Indianapolis airport.

The Perdomo family workshop has been recreating the work of artists into mosaic form for over 50 years. The mosaic studio produces its own smalti to interpret artworks into mosaics, producing special colors and providing installation. The studio, under the keen supervision of Master Mosaicist Luigi Scodelle takes great care to hold the vision of the artist and has worked on many challenging mosaic projects around the world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Call out to all Millefiore Artists

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Artists using millefiori in their work are hereby being summoned. There is to be a new and exciting North Light Book on the horizon: Patterning with Millefiori in Mosaics by Laurel Skye and FW Publishing House. Henceforth, we are proclaiming a "Call-Out" to any mosaicist who is using millefiori in their work to send forth their images for possible publication in the book. Let them be of varied nature, wild and extravagant, demure or eccentric. Most importantly, let them feed the imagination and inspire.

Here is your chance to get yourself Published! Email your submissions to Laurel. Deadline is 8/1/08

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blossom Takes Flight

Meet Blossom, she was created for The Einstein Projects Butterflies and Friends on Parade. The Einstein Project is a non-profit organisation that provides hands on science projects to schools in the state of Wisconsin. I have been creating creatures for their yearly parade for 5 years. The critters will spend the summer along the Fox river in Green Bay and on Sept. 28, 2008 will be auctioned off with all proceeds benefiting the Einstein Project.
Blossom's wings are powered coated aluminum, the flowers were created with Brookstone tiles, glass nuggets, and green leaf tile. All of the tile was adhered using Lexel and then grouted.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fred will never die!

For those of you who don't already know me. I live in the beautiful state of Wisconsin, I love concrete, and I love the crazy environments that people create with it. One such person was Fred Smith of Phillips, WI. Fred was born in 1886, and spent his working life as a north woodsman. He built the Rock Garden Tavern in 1936.

Self taught Fred had no formal schooling, he was asked later in life if he had been hindered by his inability to read or write, and he replied, “Hell no, I can do things other people can’t do.” This was no exaggeration. His education was experience. In was 1950, at age 65, that Smith began crafting his unique entourage of cowboys, miners, Indians, and soldiers. All Crafted from boards, wire, cement, broken bottles and whatever else struck his fancy. Built on his homestead farm Fred created a fanciful yet powerful outdoor sculpture environment he named “Wisconsin Concrete Park.” Fred suffered a stroke in 1964 and was no longer able to work, but dreamed of adding more figures. In his 14 years of sculpting he created over 200 figures. When asked why, he replied "It was in me".

Fred's collection of characters include not only famous folks like the Lincolns but local legends like Paul Bunyun and regular folks that lived nearby. All of this was preserved after his death by the Kolher Foundation. In 1977 the Wisconsin Arts Board undertook restoration, that although was hindered by a storm was completed in 1978 and the property was gifted to Price county for use as a public Art Park. So you see Fred will never die and I am sure that he is smiling down as visitors pass through and I know he is waiting for you to stop by.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cheeky's Twin

Another fish from Sophie's school!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Cheeky Fish by Sophie Drouin

I just received this pic from Sophie Drouin. Isn't it just fabulous! Sophie created this piece with a myriad of materials. Including smalti, beads, and Karma tile from Trend, Slag and dichroic glass, and copper sheeting. He is so lively and bright with his fins swaying in the tide. Sophie created and named this fish after Martin Cheek this year keynote speaker at the SAMA conference in Miami. Martin has a knack for infusing as much character and Whimsy as he can into his animals.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A birthbath story

I have been feeling a bit off lately. No real reason I can put my fingers on. Spring has been slow coming. Not enough sun. Too much rain. I haven't worked on any of my own art in months, just a few random, not my style commissions. Yada, yada, yada, Yesterday I decided to stay home. It was fairly nice. I would spray some rampant weeds, clean up the junk piled in and out of my garage. Make room in there so that I can do some work! Clean out the garden etc........... As always my ADD kicked in, and I spray some of the weeds, cleaned part of the garden, cleaned some of the garage and straightened up some of the junk piled up outside of the garage. A little of everything, all of nothing, but in doing so I ran across one of my first mosaic projects, a birdbath.

It is very ugly, with mosaic only on the bowl portion. I used interior wall tile and polyurethane glue, which even then I knew could not stay outside in the winter. I justified it in my mind by promising that I would always bring it in for the cold part of the year. HA! That happened the first year and never again. It was left out to become nothing but a pile of glaze chips in an awful bowl with an even worse paint job on the base! Well needless to say, its dilapidated appearance distracted me from all else I had planned for the day.

I muscled it into the garage and with a maul and chisel removed all of the broken tile, therapy in itself. I grabbed the base and scrubbed it clean! Looking better already! It was about 3:30 I decided I would do a mosaic on the base, with three rules. One I couldn't go to the shop for any materials. Two I had to be finished by 5:30 (unrealistic!). No real reason I just wanted it to be done and fast without getting caught up in all the design process, and sitting half finished into eternity. Lastly no cutting. Pick it and stick it! I love the crude rawness of so many of the "folk" mosaicists like Sam Rodia and Fred Smith this was a good opportunity for me to enlist it and get out of my "It must be a great thing when it's finished zone". After all the birdbath could not get any worse!

I have a large pile of gravel sitting in my drive now. (Leftover from a landscaping project) The glacier has left some beautiful stone for us here in Wisconsin. Granites in all the colors of the rainbow, Quartz, and much of it was polished by god (and the glacier). So I grabbed a bucket of stones, mixed a bucket of mud and began to pick it and stick it! Smear on the mud, push in the stone, and cover it as fast as I could! As a worked the stones and I talked just as we did when I was a little girl collecting them in a bucket from the creek or at the lake. They were all excited to become a part of my birdbath, and no longer lost in the pile with the others, destined to become part of my driveway. I added some smalti in green and blue so that they could feel like they were at home at the creeks edge.

I finished at 7:00, not 5:30. The time flew and I remembered how I feel when I just make stuff, just because I had an idea, when I just let the process carry me to the end. Today I will do the bowl, and time will fly, and next week I will have a (hopefully permanent reminder) of why I do what I do, letting go of the rules and making it just because .

Birdbath Ressurected

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reasons to Buy Art

I recently received this Top 10 from a Joanne Warren Hauser, a watercolorist and friend. Her and I often have conversations about how people will so easily spend a few hundred dollars on a mass produced decoration for their home, but balk at the idea of spending that same amount on something it took us hours to create. To date we have not been able to come up with a real reason. Do they really find value in reproduced painting that they find at the furniture store or else where or is it because they don't have to feel guilty when they are sick of it and send it to goodwill? Any thoughts? I always tell people if you love a piece you should buy it, because if you love it it will always match your sofa no matter how many times you change it.

I think this top ten is worth a read and I would love to make it 20 or 100, so please add your thoughts.

Top 10 Reasons to Buy Art

#10. Contrary to popular belief artists really don’t like to starve!

#9.You get to meet wild wacky wonderfully talented artists and pick their brains to discover their creative inspirations!

#8. Feel Patriotic buying not only American Made but Hand Made!

#7. You can use art for stress therapy & save tons of money on doctor’s bills while improving your mental health!

#6. Live out your fantasy of quitting your day job, vicariously through the artists you meet while still preserving your 401K!

#5. Help defeat the big box mentality!

#4. Art is furniture for your mind (and lasts much longer than your sofa!)

#3. You’ll be known for your one of a kind good taste because of the
art you surround yourself with and the truly unique gift items you give!

#2. Three words…. You Deserve it!

Drum roll please…and the
#1. Reason to buy art………….. Ahhhh! It makes you feel so good!!!


16" x 20"

JoAnne Warren Hauser

Monday, May 12, 2008

Connie's Custom Fireplace

Take a look at this fabulous fireplace! It was just completed by Connie Cohen (Spizzi Mosaics)of Minneapolis, MN. Connie used Trend's Karma (WitsEnd Mosaic) and a variety of colors of Mexican smalti ( Connie and I had several discussions as she worked on the project regarding materials and grout colors, etc. I just couldn't wait to see it. Boy it was worth the wait. Kudo's to Connie! I can't wait to see what she does next.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Welcome! to the new WitsEnd Mosaic blog. I hope to create a lively and creative space to share my passion for mosaics, customers and friends work, and a little of life's travels. May inspiration of thoughts and philisophies, ideas and art abound!

When you think about it, our lives are truely a mosaic of people and events. Some pieces come to us by chance and others by hard work and determination. However each is brought to us we have the opportuntiy to place it in a way that will best enhance the finished piece. Some pieces fall easily into place, other need a bit of coaching and some are best left to the side. The art of mosaics is ancient and lives on long past the maker and so too the mosaics of our lives live on, in the lives of our children and the others we have touched, on the planet and the footprint we leave behind and in the message we voice through our art.