The Way I Do Things

Posted on | Friday, September 16, 2011 | No Comments

“My thrift knows no bounds!!”

Thrift stores are where it’s at. (For everything)  Plates, bowls, ceramic sculptures, statues, ashtrays, bolts, coasters, mirrors, basically anything that can be broken with a hammer, is fair game for me.  I strongly believe that art has a different meaning and higher value (to myself anyway) if it is in some way made from something that has been discarded by another person.  Eww!?! Trash you say? Well…yeah…kind of.  You won’t find me diving in the dumpster, (most likely), but most of the boards I use are from left over, broken down furniture, or something my father (who is a carpenter) is throwing out.  Left over scraps from the lumberyard, an old dresser I don’t want anymore and is beyond painting condition.  Broken plates, busted knick-knacks, I’ve often called the supply stores in town for any cracked or broken floor tile.  Creating something that is, in my mind’s eye, aesthetically pleasing from something that was previously ugly, beyond use, or no longer served its purpose is extremely satisfying…and cheap!  Believe it or not, the term starving artist is here for a reason.  (Could it be from spending too much of that hard earned cash on crap at Goodwill to just take home and break?  Doubt it.)  And telling the girl at the cash register that she doesn’t have to wrap that glass because, “I’m just going to take it home and break it,” is, I have to say, oh so fun.

When I shop I look for colors and patterns mostly, then a main focus for the piece.  Next, LET THE SMASHING commence!!  I use both randomly broken pieces as well as specifically cut pieces.  Generally, I at least have a decent visual of what my mosaic will eventually look like. If I don’t have a certain plan, I use a color scheme instead, and see where it takes me.  I incorporate circles in most of my mosaic pieces.  I find the curves of the tile and glass all together in a pattern very pleasing to the eyes, but it gives the piece unity as well.  Sometimes I sketch basic patterns, curves, or lines onto the board before I begin, sometimes I don’t. Beginning a piece with no guidelines or pre-conceived notion about what I want to do with it can be exciting and challenging.  Unlike painting, where sketching your subject matter prior to getting the brushes out is almost a must, mosaics can just sort of take you where they want to go.  Because random broken shapes are being placed closely together onto the board, the tile just sort of fits together like puzzle pieces.  Playing with shapes or color Scrabble.  

Patterns and symmetry are often my best friends.  

Chaos and error are pals of mine too.

Grout. Sand. Seal.

The general feeling one gets while looking at one of my pieces is my ultimate destination.  I want the viewer to have a strong emotional response, whether they are pleased, curious, amused, or disgusted, I want them to feel something. 

Reach out and touch it, feel the rough, winding surfaces.  

Look at your reflection in the mirror.  

See how the light plays upon the gloss and color of the tile. 


Sasha Johnson is a studio artist at Athens of Indiana Arts Studios & Gallery
Stop in to see her work on the upper level of the gallery.


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