I came to the mosaic industry through ceramic tile contracting and clay artist colleagues. Our business was remodeling kitchens and baths with ceramic and glass tile, and doing tile jobs most other contractors wouldn’t. This led to a reputation for being creative.
During this time, I met those clay artists who asked me to assist with school and public mural installations they had created. It was great fun and I volunteered to help. Then, after a year or two of volunteering, I landed a paying gig to cover for one of the artist installers, as they needed to go out of town. That was the beginning. Circa 1998.
From this beginning, I worked to incorporate mosaics into my contracting business and there was a market! It wasn’t huge, but it was there—I worked to make them mainstream through our business and have had some happy customers in the meantime. Even in the recession, mosaics grew.
Most of my work was architectural in nature until the clay artist—who had instructed classes for which I assisted—was moving out of state, so I approached the venues and inquired to see if I could take over for her. They were happy to give me a try. That was the beginning of my instruction career. Circa 2004.
I joined SAMA in 2007 as a vendor, when the conference was in Mesa, AZ. SAMA has been instrumental in fostering the art and craft of mosaic in such a way that the conferences are an incredible way to learn and develop a fellowship with other like-minded people. One of the greatest things about SAMA is the diversity of people and experiences the organization brings together.
While it does take considerable effort, planning, and costs to attend a conference—it is worth it. With materials, teachers, speakers, participants, and educational opportunities, one would be hard-pressed to find a better way to experience it all. I have missed only one since 2007—that was due to catastrophic illness—and I am looking forward to many more conferences now! My advice is: if you can only afford one vacation, make it to the SAMA conference. It will elevate you and your mosaics!