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

Living and Breathing Mosaics

The Deep Sea              by Ilana Shafir
The Deep Sea by Ilana Shafir
Awakening by Sophie Drouin

Last week I spent four incredible days at the annual Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) conference. I was able to totally immerse myself in mosaics by participating in workshops, attending lectures, interacting with other mosaic artists, and viewing a wide range of mosaic artworks.

The above mosaics created by Ilana Shafir and Sophie Drouin, artists that I have had the privilege of taking workshops with,  have wonderful texture and beautifully utilize stone,  my favorite material. These pieces and many other amazing mosaics are currently on exhibit in the  Mosaic Arts International 2012 exhibition at the Lexington Center Museum & Gallery through April 27, 2012.

Nature’s Palette

I photographed this beautiful palette of flowers and foliage last week on my walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden. The vibrant composition of color and texture was designed by a master gardener, but made possible by nature.

The color palette of gemstones I use for my mosaic art jewelry is also made possible by nature. To see a sample of nature’s beauty as reflected by natural stone mosaics visit Gray Raven Designs.

The Arrival of Autumn

I am always looking for inspiration for my mosaic art. I might find a colorful leaf and take a picture for future reference or purchase stones just because I like the color.  Somewhere down the road I know that the images and stones will come together.

I’m constantly on the lookout to expand my collection of minerals and stones to use in both my fine art and mosaic art jewelry. The stones in this collage I purchased at the annual Society of American Mosaic Artists vendor show. I was drawn to these calcite stones with their various shades of orange and think the colors are perfect to welcome autumn. To purchase these or similar pieces, please visit my online shop.

If you have pictures or stones you would like made into custom earrings, pendants, or cuff links, feel free to email me and we can collaborate on something unique.

A Single Leaf


 Up Close With Nature by Wendy Gray Raven

Something as seemingly insignificant as a single leaf can serve as inspiration for a piece of art. This series of images expresses just that, showing my design process for a mosaic based on a leaf  I photographed at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. The top right image shows the actual leaf; below it is a sketch for the design, followed by the work in progress. Using marble, stone, handmade ceramics, and Italian smalti I reinterpreted the leaf into a mosaic.

The Garfield Park Conservatory, designed by landscape architect Jens Jenson, is an amazing place to enjoy plants and flowers from around the world. My family spent many hours at the park exploring exotic ecosystems, public art exhibits, and a pond full of turtles. Unfortunately, the June 30th Chicago hailstorm caused extensive damage to park’s structures, plants, and equipment. Visit their site, Garfield Park Conservatory, to learn more about the conservatory and the fundraising efforts to restore it to its former glory.

Uninhibited Creativity

Children are universally seen as being pretty creative, whilst us adults struggle to recall how we did it, all those years ago. If we can learn from them, if we can regain their open wonder and talent, what new ideas we could bring into the world! –author unknown

I love working with children. Their lack of inhibition in the creative process is wonderful and inspirational.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with this 13-year-old student over the summer. She was a delight to teach as she eagerly learned about mosaics.  Without hesitation she jumped right in exploring the possibilities of different materials, colors, textures, and compositions.  She is pictured above with a small sample of the numerous wonderful mosaics she created.

For information about mosaic classes and workshops visit The Art Center of Highland Park.

From Chess Board to French Cuff

I was asked by a young couple to create unique earrings and cuff links for their bridal party. Working with the bride and groom we found the perfect combination of stones–moonstone, labradorite, and black onyx–to create the elegant look they wanted.

In order to make the cuff links extra special for the groom I wanted to use stones that had some significance to him. I was able to obtain onyx chess pieces from a set his grandmother had given to his parents 20 years before. The set was no longer complete, but the pieces could find new life as cuff links, a meaningful “something old” to adorn the men’s cuffs.

The gallery above shows the transformation from chess piece to micro mosaic cuff link.

For  information on custom wedding party jewelry and accessories, contact us.

Agate Landscape

     Agate Landscape by Wendy Gray Raven

The inspiration for most of my work has come from nature. Prior to designing mosaic art jewelry, I focused on fine art mosaics using primarily natural materials.

When I saw this piece of agate pictured on the right, I was drawn in by its beauty and saw within it a landscape. Using marble, granite and smalti  I re-interpreted what I saw and created my own “Agate Landscape.”

Nature continues to inspire me, and my love of natural materials is reflected in my jewelry, like this pendant created with  opal, labradorate and moonstones.

To view more nature inspired  mosaic jewelry visit Etsy.