Things have been busy on my end and I’ve become somewhat slow in almost everything “extra-curricular”, though I daresay it’s only going to get worse as I delve into full time work 😦 I think that = Death to Mo! I certainly hope not, perhaps it will simply mean prioritising what I do work on…
Anyway, let’s get straight back into meeting fellow mosaic artists, shall we? Please meet Francesca De Lorme aka Studio Fresca on Flickr. Reading through her bio is like reading a fine novel! Not only can she make beautiful art, she can write – I daresay I think she can do everything 😉 Francesca only recently caught my eye and it was initially because of her really well thought out and articulate comments she left for others. Then when I clicked into her photostream… *sigh*!
Francesca comes from a family of several generations of scientists and teachers who have a strong appreciation of the arts and crafts, but who viewed these endeavours primarily as worthy hobbies and entertaining pastimes rather than as a career path — so of course she became a scientist and a teacher, and not an artist! She has always dabbled in arts and crafts — everything from metal work to fiber art, from ceramics to watercolours, from hot glass to mosaics. “Just prior to becoming enamoured with mosaics, I was learning the art of hot glass casting at Kauai Recycling for the Arts, where we melted down discarded glass bottles, windows and jars and turned them into functional and fine art items.”
Francesca’s introduction to mosaics was in her Kindergarten year in California – there was a large mosaic (floor to ceiling) on the wall in the front foyer of her school. It depicted a lovely traditional village scene and it greeted her every day when she went to school. “I loved that mosaic for its peaceful depiction of community, for all its hundreds of colorful, shiny tiles (like little treasures!) and because we were allowed to touch it as much and as often as we wished. I touched it lavishly and liberally every morning when I arrived at school and it seemed like all the magic that mosaic contained just flowed into me through my fingertips. It became my own special talisman and I have been in love with mosaics ever since.”
She has been making mosaics on a part-time basis for around 3 years. Her mosaics are one-of-a-kind and completely hand-made utilising both traditional, and modern tools, techniques and materials. She says of her style: “(It) is probably best described as “eclectic in the extreme”, which works for me given that I am using found objects and since I never know quite what I will find in the dumpsters, at the salvage yards or in the thrift stores, it is hard for me to develop a specific style.” Francesca focuses on creating mosaics that are functional as she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy unique & beautiful objects in their homes, work places and communities. “It gives me great pleasure to think of someone not only looking at work I have created, but to consider that they might find it useful, too.”
Francesca has imposed upon herself a rule whereby she uses a minimum of 75% recycled, reused and salvaged materials in all her pieces. That’s a great rule!!! Maybe even something for the Mosaic Challenge Group someday…
“I sometimes wonder just why I happened to become so enamoured with mosaics because the truth is they are messy, difficult, time consuming, frustrating — and sometimes even painful — to make… But the absolute truth is that it is also exciting, fascinating, playful, absorbing, and infinitely rewarding, so regardless of the challenges involved, I absolutely love being a mosaicist because there are so many great things to love about this particular medium.”
She enjoys the connection to those artists who have gone before us as she uses her hands and simple cutting tools. She enjoys existing amongst fellow artisans. She enjoys the kinesthetic pleasure she gets from the solidity of the materials, the endless range of textures, the various options of opus patterns of the tesserae, and the three-dimensionality of many of the final pieces that just beg for a little tactile sensory input, in addition to all that visual: “There is something extra cool to me about an art form that encourages “touching” as well as looking.”
She enjoys playing with the positive and negative spaces: “The artistic concept of “positive/negative” space is particularly strong in mosaics and I like being able to incorporate it into my design to define shapes, lines and spaces, set an overall tone to the piece, or create a flow by using spaces that are bold, or subtle, or in juxtaposition with one another.”
Finally, a big reason she finds mosaics so enjoyable is that they really require both left and right brain attention, as well as full body engagement, (involving heart, head and hands!): ” I am creating a vision I see in my head by physically shaping and fitting a variety of pieces together — sort of like a puzzle — in a form of visual problem solving. So, I get to create “art”, but I also get to play with all these fabulous puzzle pieces made of stone, tile, glass, rocks, metal and other wonderful materials that are shiny, glossy, rough, smooth and colorful…”
Francesca has had quite an assortment of careers in her lifetime. She started by studying Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara and worked with Radiation Analysis in the Environmental Sciences division at the infamous Livermore Lawrence Laboratory in California. Eventually Francesca ended up in teaching — including several rewarding and challenging years working with “juvenile delinquents”, which then led to counselling. From there she somehow found herself working in journalism, which was a natural segue into graphic design – she owned a small graphic design and communications company and still likes to take on part-time projects in graphic arts. “Now I’m studying for yet another career change (in health and patient advocacy) and hope to work with marginalized populations and community programs once I complete my research and clinical practice.” On top of all of this she is also working with her mother creating clothing from recycled materials and salvaged neckties. “I get to do the designing and she does some re-designing and the actual sewing.”
Francesca was born (literally and proverbially) with a restless heart. “I have a cardiac condition that causes frequent arrhythmia (which keeps life interesting…) and I have a need to go “walkabout” on a regular basis. Luckily I found, and have been married to my husband, Dave, (a long-board surfing air traffic controller who is perfectly happy living life as a nomad) for 30 years. We have been fortunate to travel in about 30 countries in those 30 years and we were blessed with a (now grown) daughter who has not one iota of interest in rambling around the world and is quite happy to be living on her own where she can stay put.” Funny how that happens 🙂
Depending on the year, the season, her school schedule, her husband’s job contracts, the weather, and their mood, they can be found living in their homestead in Vermont (which they designed and built themselves out of about 60% recycled materials), working on the island of Kauai (where Francesca can mosaic outdoors all year long!) or travelling around somewhere in the world where they can visit galleries, coffee shops and junk yards. However, she can most frequently be found under the influence of expensive tea and cheap chocolate!
You can check out more of her work and musings on her website.
One of Francesca’s current projects is a mural in the cafe of a high school in Vermont. Each student has a 1 foot square “canvas” (with a black tiled border) in which to create their own composition. I look forward to seeing this project evolve!
Finally meet Francesca, pictured with her husband and daughter: