Friday, August 26, 2011



I continued the tradition of walking the antique malls with my young son.  On one such outing, we had chosen an assortment of unique antique china dinner plates.  I gently spread them out on the counter for him to admire all the different colors and patterns, when the sales lady came over and commented on how wonderful they will look as a collection on our wall.  At that moment, my son yells out, “oh no, we don’t hang them, my mom is going to go home and break them!”  A horrified look crossed the woman’s face.  As she exclaimed, “OH NO!”  I was afraid that she wouldn’t sell me the plates.

What do I look for?
I am looking for good prices, of course, but also a plate with character.  My sister-in-law the CHEF will tell you that most foods look best on white, therefore most china is white!  So, I search out those plates with COLOR!  My favorite colors are the rich reds, 23 karat encrusted gold and warm, textured greens.  England makes the best china, I search out the Royal Albert Crown, and the Noritake from Japan.  Heritage Hill from Pennsyvania makes warm, earthy country inspired china, just to name a few of my favorites!

 I am asked all the time, how can you break these beautiful plates into pieces.  And the answer is, I don’t!  I carefully cut the plates into very even, rhythmic pieces and them neatly place the pieces all back together, keeping the integrity of each plate.
It is the history, the untold story hidden in each piece of china that fascinates me and then the retelling of these stories by combining them with other beautiful memories in my own unique way to create my work of art.

Back at the studio, I like to organize all my plates, my palette-on shelves by color and pattern.  I use every little piece of the china once I cut into a plate- preserving even the smallest gems for future work in plastic bags that I then organize, by color, in bins throughout my studio.  It is recycled art!

As a child, visiting my grandma Lily, I was in awe of her large rubber band balls and aluminum foil stacks- it was my first look into recycling and it made a huge impact on my life.  I have always been conscientious about excessive materials in our world and active in finding new ways to reuse discarded materials. They now call it repurposing and I am all about repurposing everything into art.

 The collecting and handling of the fine china is what makes my pieces so distinct.  My use of antique china is what provokes the past lives, history, and stories in my work.  For me it is the feel of each plate, the fine quality of the old china, the longevity of these fragile plates, the delicate crackling of the surface, that gets me excited and my creativity flowing.

Tip: When cutting a plate in even pieces begin in large chunks, think of the plate as a pie, slicing it first in half, then in fourth and so on.  Then go back and cut each pie wedge in half again until you have the desired sized piece.

anecdote:  NEVER mention that you are shopping for plates to mosaic, or they just might NOT sell them to you!


  1. Susan, I am all too familiar with noses being turned up at me for the dare mention of a hammer to a dish. Even at Goodwill I am sometimes shunned. I am also a story telling mosaicist. The story may not be totally clear to the audience without a statement, but once the statement and the piece of art are put together, the entire piece falls into place. I also find myself spending weekends looking for smaller unique glass containers to hold my "tesserae" as well as "icons" and other unique pieces to add to my ever growing collection of beads, buttons, odd, ends, and this and thats. I find also lots of inspirations in children's game boards and coloring books. Being a spiritual being, I too look for things that inspire me spiritually, or that enlighten me. I am inspired by your little blog, and just signed up as a new member to read it often, and hope that others will check out my blog after connecting together here. You have a great sense of unique style in your mosaics, and that , to me, is what makes them so special.

    While I am here, I would like to mention that I just invested in a new cutting tool for chine/ tiles/ dishes. I will do a blog on the tool, what it does, and show some cuts. It is just amazing. You may have it. It is a glass/ porcelain cutter (wheeled/ unoiled) on one side, and a breaker on the flip side. also, it comes with a hack saw blade to cut fine shapes into the dishes or tiles as you desire. I will blog this then post it to your wall. I am very excited that I found your blog, and I look forward to talking to you more in the near future.

    Spiritual peace and much happiness.

    Rayna Clark
    mosaic artist/ author

  2. Susan, your writing, philosophies and art just sing to me!