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

Taking Hammer to Stone

My favorite tools for creating both fine art mosaics and micro mosaic jewelry are traditional Italian tools called matellina and taglioli (hammer and hardie).

I first learned how to use these tools  while taking an ancient Roman mosaic reproduction workshop given by Matteo Randi at The Chicago Mosaic School.  We were taught how to cut marble and smalti (Italian glass) to create the tessera (pieces) that were incorporated to create a mosaic. I have since enjoyed using my hammer and hardie to open up and explore all manner of rocks. Today I use these traditional tools to cut the gemstones used to create my contemporary mosaic jewelry.

If you would like to see my current gemstone micro mosaic art jewelry please visit  Gray Raven Designs.

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.