The next artist-in-waiting is Crystal Thomas. I met Crystal on Flickr and she promptly showed up in other mosaic forums. I am currently in love with her mosaics She does exactly what I want to do: subdued, elegant and sophisticated work!!
Crystal’s story into her life of mosaics began much like mine did. She never considered herself to be artistic “I don’t draw, paint, or sculpt”, yet there was still a part of her that felt the need to create. She, like me, was drawn to a book on mosaics while at the bookstore one day. For her it happened back in 1998 and she has been creating ever since.
What started as a hobby craft soon led to more complex designs and challenges. She slowly began to realize that this was becoming a form of art for her, and about the same time, she noticed that mosaics seemed to be growing noticeably more popular as an art form in and of itself.
In 2002, Crystal went on a mosaic tour led by Gina Hubler which included a pilgrimage of sorts to the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna where Crystal had the privilege of reproducing an ancient mosaic in marble and smalti. “Now I’d seen many of the world’s great mosaics and worked with modern masters, and I was undeniably hooked!”. The tour included a 3 day workshop at the the Art School, instructed by Luciana Notturni. “Our experience was a bit unusual, I think, because there were only two of us on this particular tour (me and my mom!), and therefore only two of us in the workshop. Needless to say, we got a lot of personal attention, and it was a fabulous experience. I believe our lessons were not in the main school, but in a smaller workshop, where we were actually working alongside some of the professional mosaicists who were working on “real” restorations. I would absolutely recommend a workshop with Luciana!!!”.
The tour has changed somewhat since Crystal went, but she did go on to say how wonderful it was – “…a wonderfully balanced trip full of visits to some of the world’s most amazing mosaics and master studios, hands-on work, sightseeing, and of course good food and wine. Seeing those ancient mosaics and meeting Italian masters was a humbling experience…”. Sounds like sooo much fun! Crystal did not, apparently, come home from her experience there and immediately start creating her own masterpieces our of smalti with her newly acquired hammer and hardie! Rather, she has barely touched smalti since the trip. Her time in Ravenna unexpectedly inspired her to more of the modern mosaic frames and mirrors that were on display in the store at the Art School. The designs were mostly geometric patterns and made of a variety of glass and millefiori (think Laurel Skye). She arrived home and went on to make mirrors and frames for the next few years. For pics of this tour head to Crystal’s Flickr set.
Currently, her focus is art panels and three-dimensional forms. “The supply of new ideas and mosaic techniques to master seems infinite, and I constantly learn from other artists who are generous enough to share their wisdom, passion, and methods. Many of my pieces are inspired by the colors, textures, and images that I observe every day – I see mosaic potential in nearly everything.”
Last year Crystal had 26 frames up for sale on her Etsy site. One day she was contacted by a couple in Texas, totally out of the blue, who had just moved there to follow their dream of opening a retail art store. They bought ten of her pieces, and shortly thereafter bought the rest! A couple months later, they called her with an idea and this is how Crystal’s Skulls Series was born. “You’re going to think this is crazy, but people here in Texas really like their cow skulls. We were wondering if you would like to mosaic a couple.” A couple turned into five, and she may yet do more. “I’ve been amazed at how such an unusual “substrate” could provide so much opportunity for both technical learning and creative expression!”.
When not mosaicing, Crystal does freelance technical writing & editing and spends time with her husband and preschool-age son – her real work right now! “When he enters public school, I hope to have more room to grow artistically, but for now it’s a fine balance.” Hear, hear…
And finally meet Crystal, pictured here with her piece she made on her trip to Italy!