Shop Local!

While the stones and minerals used in my work are from all over the world, my favorite place to purchase them is Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop in Evanston, Illinois. I discovered Dave’s years ago with my daughters. Not only did we find a wide range of beautiful stones, minerals, and fossils, but also the Prehistoric Life Museum in the basement.  Over the years, my daughters and I have introduced many of their friends to the wonders of Dave’s. I now have the pleasure of exciting my fellow mosaic enthusiasts with a visit to the museum and shopping the wonderful finds Dave’s has to offer.

Amethyst Stalactite slice from Brazil
Fossil Fish / Diplomystus dentatus from Green River Formation, Wyoming, USA
Pyrite specimen from Peru
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Student Inspiration

As an instructor at The Art Center of Highland Park, I am able to share my love of mosaics with students with a wide range of experience. Some are brand new to art and others have fine arts degrees, though for most this is their first time working with mosaics. This art form has unlimited possibilities that we explore together, and it is wonderful to see the different directions taken.

One of my students, Cindy Robin, has helped me grow as both a teacher and an artist. Her creativity and talent amaze me.  Whenever I introduce new concepts or elements, Cindy jumps in and lets loose with her imagination, vast collection of materials, and skill. Below are just two samples of her wonderful work.

Offerings by Cindy Robin
Our Roots are in the Earth by Cindy Robin

Stone Paradise

I love to work with stones and have been encouraging my mosaic students at The Art Center of Highland Park to explore the wide variety of color, texture, and beauty found in this material. The 36th Annual Gem, Jewelry, Fossil, and Mineral Show and Sale, sponsored by the Chicagoland Gems and Minerals Association, provided a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time in stone paradise. Several hours and pounds of stone later, we left with our treasures. Black spinel, hessonite garnet, labradorite, iolite, carnelian, and tanzanite were among my finds for my mosaic jewelry. I also came away with quartz, chrysocolla, apatite, and fuchite for future fine art projects.

Chrysocolla, Peru
Fuchsite, Brazil



Suburban Gem

Yesterday, I visited the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, a  small, wonderful museum in Elmhurst, outside of Chicago. I went with other mosaic enthusiasts to explore the museum’s gem and mineral collection. Not only did we enjoy viewing the raw and faceted stones, we were captivated by the extensive jade collection and other beautiful carved stone objects.  One of the highlights of the museum is this beautiful gold and gemstone castle.

Castle Lizzadro by Willliam Tolliday (18k gold, faceted diamonds, Brazilian agate slab, amethyst, malachite, azurite, and vanadium specimens)
Carved Chinese jadeite pitcher, early 20th Century



Glitz of Choice

On a recent visit to Washington, DC, my daughter and I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. One of our favorite exhibits showcased minerals and gems.  While my daughter couldn’t wait to see the beautiful cut and set stones, I was drawn to the stones in their natural states. Below are two of our favorites.

Marie Louise Diadem                   Turquoise, Diamonds, Gold and Silver

Marcasite                                                                                    from Indiana, USA

Nature’s Stone Landscapes

Quartz (variety: "Landscape" Agate), photo by Chip Clark
Greenskin Jasper, Turee Creek, Western Australia, photo by Hans Gamma
Banded Agate, photo by Richard Weston

I am constantly amazed and inspired by the beauty and artistry found in nature. The landscape images in these stones draw me in and evoke a sense of awe. To me, nature is the ultimate artist.