Friday, September 12, 2008

Elsie Gaertner – The Making of Stella

Not since my entry about mosaic artist, Tammy Sullivan, have I had the opportunity to show you a step=by=step pictorial of mosaic work in progress. Today, I am pleased to present the creation of "Stella" by Elsie Gaertner, a self-taught mosaic artist from Corpus Christi, Texas.


When Elsie was given this mannequin, it was covered with the pink, the symbol representing the fight against breast cancer. As she was working on her and getting to know her, it dawned on Elsie that "Stella" was bald, and that there was obviously something missing on her left side. "And there's just something about how she's protecting her other side... She's like a breast cancer survivor, right? There's something in me that thinks she's not through telling her story."

The turning point for me was when I discovered flickr around March. I had been learning mosaic on my own until then, but flickr opened up a whole new world to me. I've met so many incredible mosaicists, and by studying their works in progress, I've learned so much. There's such an incredible sharing of information on that site. I've made it a point to search out as many as I can find, because I draw so much inspiration and information from all of them. Since that point, I've experimented a lot, and have taken on quite a variety of different types of projects in an attempt to learn as much as possible.

Stella started out at a garage sale. I saw the mannequin and admired her, but was unwilling to spend the money the lady wanted for her. She asked me why I wanted her, and I told her I'd wanted to try my hand at mosaicing a mannequin. She was so intrigued by the idea that there on the spot she commissioned me to do it for her. Then, she started dragging out all this jewelry that she had for sale and asked me to try to use some of it for her. So, in the end, I walked away with a free mannequin, a box of jewelry and my first commission.

I started at the bottom and worked my way up, literally and figuratively on that one. I worked on the torso, while I tried to figure out how in the world I was going to do her hands and face. But as I worked, and with the encouragement of all my new flickr buds, the magic happened, and Stella was born under my hands. It was an amazing and exciting process. I learned so much, and had so much fun with her. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hang on to her very long after she was done. The new owner was most anxious to have her back. But I really enjoyed the experience and was glad I got a lot of pictures of her in progress.

You may see other Elsie Gaertner mosaics at her flickr photostream.

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