Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Six years ago, my husband and I embarked on a month-long trip to Europe. Confident that I had matured quite a bit since my last trip to a non-English speaking country, we nevertheless played it safe and chose Spain as our destination. (Both being fluent in Spanish couldn't hurt in case I hadn't.)

We did venture into France for two days (couldn't understand a thing, but I loved it anyway) and then Portugal for an afternoon where it sounded like everyone was mispronouncing Spanish. I made quite an effort initially to understand what was being said, but eventually gave up and looked at my feet instead. Or rather what I was walking on. Up and down the sidewalks were squares with tiny pieces of tile arranged into mosaics. I was smitten. Sidewalks had been transformed into works of art. I was determined to similarly transform ordinary objects in my life upon returning home.

I bought an old lamp and vase from Goodwill, visions of mosaic tributes to famous paintings playing through my head. I went to Lowe's and picked through their free box of broken tiles. I bought myself some tile nippers. I even happened upon an amazing mosaic supply store in San Francisco a few years later, salivated over the gorgeous tiles and smalti, and added 20 pounds in tiles and colored grout to our return-trip suitcases. But I never, ever even started a mosaic.

I consider myself fairly competent at a wide range of art-related hobbies, but every time I attempt something in which I have no experience, it is an almost insurmountable task. Am I afraid to waste my time trying something new and not succeeding? If so, I think I spend a lot more time daydreaming about doing it than I would if I simply plunged right in and failed a few times before getting it right.

Fortunately for me, my mom has the utmost confidence in my abilities in all things artistic. Last year, knowing of my theoretical obsession with mosaics, she asked if I would do one on the walls behind their wood stove. I'd love to, I said. So she bought all the supplies I would need and then waited expectantly. Accountable to someone else besides myself, I couldn't put this project off indefinitely. And so I began.
 It came together so quickly, especially since I was working against the deadline of my return-trip home. It was like magic, placing tiles on the wall and seeing them morph into a picture. Once again, I was smitten by mosaics.


  1. That is so amazing!!! I am so impressed!

  2. jennie, you inspire me with all your creative ability! i love it! i'm so sad you guys are moving at the end of the summer. you have been so wonderfully helpful with all my projects lately!

  3. I am thoroughly impressed. thoroughly.

  4. So am I.

    By the way, it was so good to see you.