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.