Nancy Howells and I exchanged a few emails and figured out that we had met initially when she brought a couple of friends into Institute of Mosaic Art, where I once worked as administrative coordinator and chief xerox executive ;-). Nancy and I recalled that I had given her group a little tour of the facilities that day and that we had engaged in a nice conversation. It felt good to reconnect. (Note: To date, approximately 7% of my blog entries have been about artists I met or heard of while working at IMA, some of whom are now friends. For this, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. Thank you, IMA.
Institute of Mosaic Art, a store, gallery and venue for mosaic education, will join many other artists and studios for the East Bay Open Studios coming up. Check it out for some real art fun!)
These days, I work from my own studio right across the street from IMA and am very active in the various groups and organizations that put me in more constant and direct contact with the artists whom I feature here. Some are individuals I find on the internet. Some I meet at art openings. Some I read about in art publications. Others, such as Nancy, are referred to me by readers who feel the artists’ stories will be of general interest. In any case, my life has been enriched by these experiences and I hope you, my readers, are enjoying finding out about them.
Can you see yourself in a garden by the ocean breaking plates for pique assiette mosaics? How about taking a glass mosaic class?
Photo by Stacy Alexander
Nancy Howells offers these classes and more at her Painted Chair Studio in Santa Cruz in the $55-75 price range. (She also teaches her students how to make custom colored grout for that perfect mosaic match!)
Since John and I enjoy making mosaic furniture, I went on the prowl for other artists who do this as well. When a friend recommended Nancy, I felt like I’d struck gold!
Nancy Howells is a self-taught mosaic artist, initially inspired by the mosaics she saw during her travels in Spain, Australia, and the American Southwest.
She expresses her playful vision using her handmade tiles and broken plates to cover everything from shoes to large installation sculptures of furniture and whimsical animals.
Nancy's work has been displayed in a number of galleries from San Francisco to Pacific Grove since 1994, and also at the San Jose Museum of Art. Her studio, where she creates her mosaic pieces, and teaches classes in mosaic art, is at her home in Santa Cruz.
Nancy says, “…in the last few years I have included ceramics in the mosaic art, so that I can create the things that I may not be able to find - my new favorite thing is my "food collage" in mosaics, which include platters of "ceramic" food on a backdrop of mosaics. “
“When I started making ceramic items for myself, others wanted them too, so I keep a small "studio store" in my studio loaded with kitschy ceramic pieces, everything from the Eiffel Tower to ceramic word plaques - that other artists use to add to their mosaic work! It's all just really too much fun. The comment I most enjoy hearing from students and visitors is that this is the kind of life they would like, an art studio & beautiful garden near the ocean....I think that you can imagine what you want and then just make it happen.....of course, no big income comes with being an artist...!”
Reasonably priced hand-made tiles are available at Nancy's Painted Chair Studio online shop:
One of Nancy’s more admirable endeavors has been the Cradle Project:
"In June of 2008 one thousand cradles and cribs made by artists from around the world will fill an abandoned warehouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico"
The Cradle Project is an art installation designed to represent the plight of the estimated 48 million children who have been orphaned by disease and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The Mission is to promote awareness and raise financial support to help fee, shelter and educate these children.
Meera Lester, co-author of a book that features Nancy’s work called, "Adventures in Mosaics: Creating Pique Assiette Mosaics from Broken China, Glass, Pottery, and Found Treasures" says, "Within the art form every artist's style comes through. "It's a true expression of things that appeal to you."
Nancy Howell’s work will appeal to you. I can almost guarantee it!
Here is a list of Nancy's current clases:
Broken Plate Mosaic Workshop ($55 with $5 material fee)
Super Broken Plate Mosaic Workshop ($65 with $15 material fee)
Furniture Painting Workshop ($70 with $15 material fee)
Glass Tile Mosaic Workshop ($65 with $15 deposit)
Full Circle Broken Plate Mosaic Workshop ($65 with $15 material fee)