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Mosaic Arts Online sent this email to their subscribers on May 15, 2023.

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MOSATC ARTS ONLINE Hello Mosaic Arts Online Friends! I am in awe each time I receive an email or see a post of an MAO student's work they have created while learning from our platform. As we produce each of our courses it is always my vision that they will end up in the hands of eager and enthusiastic students that want to learn new techniques and improve their skills. Since I can't be in each student's studios to see how they are learning and creating I have to rely on these emails and posts to see the results and I have to say each time I am more blown away. Today's email is that kind of 'blown away' and I think you will be too. Julie Vaughn is sharing her experience of how jigsaw puzzles lead to a very deep dive into discovering and learning mosaic art, all through Mosaic Arts Online. I will let Julie take it from here and enjoy this read, she has an incredible body of work, and we know there is more to come! Thank you Julie for sharing your MAO Student Experience with all of us! - How did you first come to mosaic art? I have a very unorthodox answer to this question – jigsaw puzzles. After college, I began my career in corporate America (banking). As I started rising through the ranks, I was putting more and more time at the office. By the time I got home, my brain was fried. The one thing that relaxed me was spending a bit of time putting a jigsaw puzzle together before going to bed. As the years went by, I got up to doing puzzles with more that 20,000 pieces – I needed more of a challenge and yes, they do exist but only crazy people like me buy them. My other passion is traveling. On one of our trips, about 20 years ago, we stopped in Tunis and visited the Bardo Museum which houses one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. I was immediately hooked. I started looking into other places where I could see more ancient mosaics and made sure I included them in our future travels such as Italy (Ravenna), Turkey, Greece, etc. In my jigsaw-oriented brain, I found the similarity in the process of putting small pieces together to form a picture and decided that it would be more productive to actually try to do a mosaic and make my own pictures instead of playing with premade bits of cardboard. Since by this time I was working even longer hours because I was running our own business, I thought I would just dabble in mosaics since after all it was just a distraction or just a recreational activity. The more I “dabbled” the more I wanted to “dabble”. By the time I sold our business a couple of years ago, I was fully convinced that what I wanted to do, besides traveling a lot, was to get really good at something that I loved to do – mosaics. I just needed to learn a great deal more. Do you enjoy learning online and if so, what are the benefits you see in it? All of my learning has been done online. Online training was perfect for me because I could fit it in when I had time. In the beginning, as I had some free time, I searched and learned from “How To” YouTube videos showing everything from how to cut tile to how to mix mortar. I had no intention of paying for an online course since I was only “dabbling”. But as with everything, the more you learn, the more you know that you don’t know enough. I was also looking at the pieces produced by some mosaic artists and that made it even clearer that if I really wanted to do mosaics well, I needed some real training from real artists. That is when I discovered Mosaic Arts Online which truly gave me the tools I was missing. The fact that I could get real professional insight & training with the convenience of doing it in my own office was absolutely terrific. Although Phoenix, where I live, is a very large city, it does not have a mosaic school so my only other option would have been to travel to where I could find the classes I needed and that could mean – somewhere in the world. MAO has a great selection of courses, all in one convenient and easy to access place. Only after I took a few courses did I have the courage to move to smalti, the material I had always wanted to work with. The best part about the Mosaic Arts Online courses is that you can go back to them and, having made a mistake like the one I made in my first smalti piece, you can revisit the course and view it with a better level of understanding. Smalti Flower What are your favorite materials to create with? As I mentioned before, in the beginning I treated doing mosaics as just a fun way of spending time. Therefore, I decided to work with vitreous glass tiles because that was a great deal less expensive than smalti and I could get the product easier. I started out on my first mosaic with the equivalent of the 20K piece jigsaw puzzle. It was a 32 ft long by 3 ft high mosaic that covered our backyard BBQ counter area . Since we live in the desert, I wanted something related to water so I opted to make the area below the counter look like an aquarium. The first and smallest panel (about 2X3ft) went up quite well which gave me a false sense of success. The second panel showed me in no uncertain terms how little I knew about installing mosaic on a wall. I just about completely destroyed months of work in about five minutes. Every time I make a mistake, I learn something new. That was the day I learned about tile tape and self-adhesive fiberglass mesh by going on the Internet to find a solution to my newly discovered problem. I like making large mosaics and, although I now know how to install it on a wall, I prefer that somebody else does the installation instead of me. Aquarium BBQ FIrst panel of the Aquarium BBQ Most of my work is in vitreous glass, and I have done pieces both indoors and outdoors. Besides the BBQ, I installed a couple of pieces at an apartment complex and I have also tried my hand at a layered mosaic which served as a background for some outdoor sculptures. I wanted to give the impression of depth among seaweeds. Exterior installation at an apartment building Beautification of apartment building Layered mosaics with vitreous glass One of my latest pieces is a fireplace which I grouted with Starlike Crystal EVO translucent grout.(I highly recommend it even though it dries fast and that makes it a bit difficult to work with). Glass fireplace I used my newly acquired knowledge from Caitlin Hepworth’s course on how to use fiberglass tape and thinset on another substrate, in order to fix a broken vase I had. Fixed vase I created a poker table top for my son’s house and I did a variety of indoor pieces. Chris' Poker table Indian women Yellow Hats Ballerina in black and white Flower Krishna Musicians Crazy landscape My husband liked this Japanese woodcut from the 1800's and challenged me to reproduce it in mosaic – so I did. Kabuki actors-inspired from a Japanese woodcut What I am doing now is what I really wanted to do from the beginning. I have finally started working with natural stone and smalti and I love it. I am still learning, but now I have time to practice until I get it right. The piece below is called "Jupiter". Jupiter How much time do you dedicate to your art? When we are not traveling, I spend about 4-5 hours a day working in the studio, and that does not take into account the hours I spend just thinking about mosaics and solving problems in my head. My husband makes fun of me when I go into the studio on weekends, asking if I get overtime pay. Mosaics for me is a joy. It relaxes me and at the same time it makes me feel productive. What are some of the techniques and skills you have learned from the instructors at Mosaic Arts Online? Anabella Wewer’s course on the Language of Mosaic taught me about andamento. One of my big “AHA” moments was after my first attempt at working with smalti, my smalti flower (the first photo at the top), and I asked for some honest feedback from the Foundations & Fundamentals online group. Anabella gave me just that when she pointed out the major mistake I had made by lining up smalti tiles and getting the choo-choo train effect. Although you think you know something, until you put it into practice you don’t realize what you still don’t know. I viewed Anabella’s course two times, and I realized I had made a lot more mistakes than just the choo-choo train one. In my second piece "Jupiter" I paid a lot of attention to the rules of andamento, but I need a lot more practice. My college curriculum which consisted mostly of math and finance, did not go anywhere near Color Theory. I took a couple of art classes but I never actually dealt with a color wheel or even knew that colors had values. I had my first acquaintance with this topic during my first course I took at MAO given by Caitlin Hepworth where she only tangentially covered some of this since the course’s main topic was Sculptural Mosaic. At least for me, this was a perfect example of how one gets more from a course than one actually expects. My first step after I bought my supply of natural stone and smalti, was to create a color “chart” for myself taking into account the value of each color I had purchased. Of course, I also went and experimented with the wire and fiberglass meshes as per the course, but I have not yet completed the piece because I want to cover it in smalti, and I see big problems with the edges. I will need to modify it a bit before I can do what I want with it. Color chart of smalti Sculpture WIP From Tami Macala, I learned how to install hanging hardware which now I use on all my pieces. My challenge now is how to mount and hang a mosaic that I want to do on a 3ft x 5ft piece of Wedi board without breaking it. Last but not least, I finally have a good understanding of the Direct Ravenna Method from Arianna Gallo’s course, which by the way, is excellent. That is going to be my next project. I just learned that I can use plasticine instead of clay and now I need to figure out how to work with it. Do you have a dedicated space to work when you create your art? When I first started out, I commandeered the dining room table for my mosaics which made it rather inconvenient for having friends over for dinner. After we sold the business, we decided to build a guest house behind our house which now has been requisitioned by me for my studio. Sorry, no room for guests but they can come over for dinner. Even the garage is full of my supplies. I left the floor of the rooms unfinished (just concrete) so that I could mess them up and not worry, and also to make it easier to vacuum up the glass bits. The living room has two floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and I also had a skylight window installed for additional light. Over the years I accumulated some power tools which come in handy for creating wood frames and now I have room for all of them. My husband installed a large TV which I connected to my laptop so I can project a copy of the image I am working on. Also, very important, I have my music. My routine is to go into the guest house, turn on the AC (I live in Arizona), turn on the music, do my little dance around my worktable and then get lost for hours into this creative space. Life is beautiful. Studio space TV for viewing all MAO courses :) Chopping machine and various nippers Tesserae storage and more tools I hope Julie's story can be an inspiration to you as much as it was to me! - One more note! If you are looking to learn more about andamento with an intuitive spin you have until Wednesday at midnight to receive $20.00 off our Re-Launch of Rachel Sager's Intuitive Andamento 1.0. We have added 5 new sections full of more content, improved video quality, and Rachel's BONUS section that includes a pictorial tour of her body of work. Click here to see Rachel's free promotional video with a look inside the course and to automatically receive your discount. Until next time keep creating and be well~ Tami Macala Mosaic Arts Online Founder | | 113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205 BUILT WITH O ConvertKit
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