New Mosaics at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, KS

Here are two new mosaics that I made, that will be on display and are for sale at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Kansas, from early November through December, 2011.


Each Mosaic, Winter Tree and From the Dark, includes many hours of work. I first created the basic concept and design for each, and then shaped the ceramic pieces to fit where I wanted them to go. The images change as I proceed, and I design each piece anew as each element is placed and new relationships are formed. I find the process to be a bit like putting together a puzzle that evolves as the creative process unfolds.


I made both mosaics from ceramic dishes that I found over time, mostly from thrift stores. Sometimes friends give me the remains of beloved dishes that were dropped or met some other dark fate, and I incorporate these, too. I stockpile dishes of particular colors that inspire me or that I know I’ll need eventually, especially black and white.


Each piece was inspired in part by the impending winter.  I wanted to create a stark winter beauty in the piece Winter Tree.  I have been thinking about the arch that appears in this piece for a long time.  It is a personal symbol for everything that is here within, a bit like a rainbow but matter of fact and without the emotion.  The other mosaic, From the Dark, is about illumination — the light that carries one through the dark — a dark winter or a dark time. The carrier of the light in this piece for me connotes fragility, yet the medium renders these papers boats rather solid.  The boats were interesting shapes for me to work with.


The Strecker-Nelson Gallery is located at 406 1/2 Poyntz Avenue, Manahattan, KS.  Hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm. Phone the gallery at 785-537-2099.

Commission Accomplished

 I’m pleased to have recently finished this commissioned mosaic. The theme is prairie grasses, and the piece is 12″ x 12″. I used recovered dishes and pottery to make the piece. When I make mosaics, I use a tile nipper to shape the ceramic pieces to fit, then glue them to a plywood backing before applying the grout.

Grout is Good: When Commissions Come Together

Occasionally I get the chance to create a piece of art that is commissioned for a particular purpose or occasion.


Once I made a collage time-line of sorts for a client who gave me important photos, memorabilia, and documents from his life to incorporate.  It was scary working with such precious things, among them a copy of his birth certificate, weathered and encased in fragments of plastic. He was someone I didn’t know and he didn’t want to influence my design or working process at all — total trust. And that was nerve-wracking. Would he like it? In the end I think he did, or at least he said he did.


Once a friend commissioned a piece of art for her wedding; two nesting doves portrayed in scratchboard. The original black and white image was reproduced in purple for the wedding invitations, programs, and t-shirts. Ten years later my friend’s parents commissioned another piece, now for my friend’s tenth anniversary. I used mixed-media collage for this one, again in purple. And now the doves have kids.


Today I am in the process of making a small commissioned piece in mosaic. The design phase is over, and for me that’s the hardest part of the creative process and also the most satisfying. The finished piece will be a gift commemorating new beginnings in a story that only my client could tell. I’ve enjoyed gathering some of the details of the lives that this piece will honor. I’ve worked alongside my client to find the right symbol and design: blowing prairie grasses. I am using broken shards of recycled dishes to make the mosaic. In addition, I’m incorporating small pieces of colored glass, special to my client who picked them up around her farm. I’ll know whether or not the mosaic will come together as a whole only after I grout it and it dries. Grout is the unifier. Grout is good.