If Your Dream Was a Mosaic

Since I’ve been in New Mexico, I’ve had time to rekindle my interest in mosaic art. What began in Arizona at my women’s retreats doing mosaics on old horseshoes, has grown to a broader interest in using mosaic for decorating my southwest home, the now painted in rusts turquoise, golds and soft creams. So last November, with a little time on my hands and a creative itch wanting to be scratched, I took an indoor mosaic class at an art center in Albuquerque. In June I took an outdoor mosaic class with an eye to transforming an outdoor dining table into a work of art. Little did I know that going from an eight by eight inch practice patio block to a twenty-eight inch square table top would be a big leap of faith. I had a vision. Without too much noodling over what could go wrong, I carried on.

I drew my design – a gecko big enough to fill the tabletop corner to corner. I bought tiles: Turquoise, yellow glass, gold glitter, white marbled, oranges and rusts. I covered my workspace in plastic. I became, depending on the minute or the day, excited, overwhelmed, engaged, resistant, despairing, hopeful. I knew I couldn’t do the whole thing all at once, so I chunked it down, first doing the gecko, then one corner of the square, then the next until, after several weeks, shards of cut class, squares and triangles, all fit together into a magnificent whole. Then red border tiles came in the post, a little bigger than I thought, but workable. I made a big mess grouting the completed top, but that’s part of it. Finally, I added the vertical edge tiles that had to be done with a different glue (Who knew? I had to call my teacher to find that out --always learning as I went along.) And lastly, I made another mess grouting that.

At first when the whole thing was done, I saw all the imperfections. Never mind that mosaic consists of imperfect pieces, discards, and repurposed materials. But I saw all the things I didn’t like, the things I’d do differently, the colors I thought didn’t quite work. My husband Bill said “It’s beautiful. You’re the only one who see’s that stuff. There is so much color and movement that no one is going to see what you find so obvious.”

Dancing with the Creative Process

One day when I was out riding my horse, breathing in the scent of summer and letting my mind wander, I got thinking about my mosaic experience. So many things started to click. First, I dove in. I knew I could do it. I loved working with the colors and putting what I had learned doing an 8-inch paver onto a grander palette. I loved getting on with it. I felt like I was swimming in a current that I had to watch, and if I watched it, I would be able to stay afloat. I kept going. I was dancing with the creative process. Although I had my own thoughts about where it should go and how it should look, the process showed me where to go. Together, the process and I made something beautiful. I made the tabletop come to life and it made me come to life. And there was mess involved.

I thought about how doing that mosaic could apply do another dream of mine, completing a book I started two years ago but put on hold while I moved from Minneapolis to my new life here in New Mexico. Like the table’s gecko, I wondered “What is the focal point of my book?” Thinking about the border, I asked myself, “What is the framework?” Like the oranges, reds and yellows of the interior space, I wondered “What are the bursts of color that will make the book vibrant?”

What are the Pieces of Your Dream?

We all are making mosaics in one way or another. Where in your life are you assembling pieces of different colors, shapes and sizes to make something new and beautiful? What dream do you hold and what are the pieces that bring it to life? When have you said “Yes” to something that is bigger than you are, that you didn’t quite know if you could do it but went ahead anyway because you knew it was time and that you would find a way to fit the pieces together?


Gather your colored markers and a sketchbook or journal. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  If the dream you want to say “Yes” to was a mosaic, what would your focal point be? (Remember, mine was a turquoise gecko). What shape and color is your focal point?  Is there a border or frame? How wide is your frame and what color? Is it uniform or made of found objects? What colors fill in the background and how do they showcase the focal point of your dream? How would you chunk it down?

Take a minute or two to revel in what comes. Trust it. Then open your eyes, take your markers and draw what you saw. (No fair judging what you draw. The image is a guide for you.) Or, if you prefer, journal about it. How messy are you willing to get? 

And please let me know what you learned in the comments.

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