Portland Mosaic Tour

In January NEMS launched its first community project. Over 30 members made mosaic leaves from templates provided by Amanda Edwards. Amanda and crew installed these mosaics on a mural at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland, ME.


We visited the installation in early June as part of a Portland, ME mosaic tour. The tour started at Amanda’s Studio in Cape Elizabeth, Maine with light refreshments and a meet and greet. From there, participants visited the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) where they went on a special tour of the facilities and viewed the tree mural with heart-shaped leaves created by NEMS members. The mosaics in the mural were awesome, as you can see from the great pictures taken by Su Bailey.


But that’s not all. From RMH, everyone headed to downtown Portland for lunch and a walking tour of Portland’s Old Port and Art’s District lead by Amanda. The program ended at Allagash Beer, where Amanda installed a 92′ floor mosaic along the mezzanine overlooking their bottling facility. Everyone had a great time touring the facility and, of course, tasting the beer.



Artaic Tour


NEMS members recently participated in an exclusive tour of Artaic, a company located in the Seaport’s Design Center. Artaic uses design software and robotic mosaic assembly systems to fabricate large custom architectural mosaics very quickly.


We had a lively discussion with Founder & CEO, Ted Acworth who discussed how the firm came to be and how it sources suppliers. He described several of the projects they’ve fabricated and was interested in feedback on how the software could benefit mosaic artists. Graphic designers showed us how to use the software to visualize and manipulate an original piece of artwork, illustration or photo into a mosaic and how that mosaic will look using different materials and grout colors. Then, we took a tour of the robotic assembly system. Mosaic tile is loaded into sleeves and the software tells the robot where to place each tesserae in a square foot frame.


Ted makes the software available to artists for free. You can check it out at www.artaic.com/tylist.


NEMS Offering Scholarships for SAMA Conference

The Benefits of going to a SAMA conference

A message from Deb Aldo:  Dear NEMS Members- As the Co-Chair of SAMA I’d like to give you a bit of background on my mosaic journey and let you know about some of the benefits of attending the conference.  I started to make mosaics in 1997. Back then there were no associations near me, no one teaching classes, just books in a library which were dated and dog eared but fascinating nonetheless.  When I started, my work was not very good. I worked in the landscape and construction industry, earning my degree in Landscape Architecture. I joined SAMA and quickly found others who were on a similar mosaic related trajectory. SAMA provided an opportunity to focus on what I wanted out of mosaics: The pursuit of general knowledge, history, process and technical skills. To my surprise, I actually became a “real” artist.  I took classes for years at the conferences and was the recipient of the Robin Brett Scholarship, a terrific learning and traveling experience. Becoming a professional mosaic artist occurred in part because of SAMA. As some of you may know I work locally and nationally and on large scale architectural installations with a specialty in pebble mosaics.  Not everyone who makes mosaics wants to make a living at it. For many it is an escape and release from daily stressors. Even if you make mosaics as a hobby they are a creative endeavor, they feed the soul, they help get us out of ourselves and deeper into ourselves. Art makes people happy, so does making it.

Here are a few other reasons that you should get to this conference while it is in your backyard!

 1. The conference is NEVER less expensive than when it’s local. Yes, we know, New England is a big place but considering that both Detroit and Philadelphia were close, both were still a plane ride and a hotel stay away. Drive or train in and out, stay with a friend. This may be the only time SAMA will be in New England.     “Are there any NEMS members who would be willing to host out-of-towners so they do not have to pay for a hotel?” Glynda Benham, SAMA Boston 2018 Co-Chair

2.  Connect  with other like minded individuals. Some are regular folks, some are more “name brand” but everyone is willing to share their company and their knowledge. Many who have gone to multiple conferences are still friends with folks we met at the first conference.

3.  World class instruction, business classes and just for fun classes. You can learn new skills in a matter of days.

4.  Cory Huff is speaking this year. He is an artist and  mentor on marketing and the business of art. He’s an excellent speaker talking about useful information! A must see.

5.  There are two major exhibits at the conference- IMA and the Invitational. The participating artists have been honing their craft for years. The is a range of styles, materials, storytelling, intellectual process or just breathtaking beauty to behold. The exhibits are filled with creative original work. Looking at their art is an inspiration which often leads to an urge to make better art because you now know what better is!

6.  A mind boggling array of events, only  a few are listed here: Meet up Meals, Mosaic Salon where SAMA members can sell their non juried work. Volunteer opportunities, Tours in and out of Boston, a swag bag filled with info and mosaic goodies, events both at the conference and throughout the city.

7.  Mosaic Marathon- The opportunity to have social and mosaic experience on a large scale public project. Anyone at any level can show up and work for an hour or for days on end.

8.  The Cafe, and other lecture series, Professional Development, hours of relevant lectures all mosaic related.

9. Total immersion into the mosaic world for a few days. With lasting impressions and resulting friends!

10.  NEMS is offering a scholarship of $150 off the conference fee to the first 10 people who register with SAMA. Provide proof of registration from SAMA and  NEMS sponsorship fund will reimburse $150. First come first served, preference to those who have NOT been to a SAMA conference. Available to NEMS members with current registration.

A few words from the new Vice President of NEMS and another of our members who is a long time conference attendee-
I had the opportunity to go to the SAMA conference last year in Detroit.  I am relatively new to the mosaic community and did not know what to expect.  What a got was more than I could have imagined.  The opportunity to be with others that have the same passion. Seeing the exhibits was absolutely amazing.  I met people who truly enjoyed discussing their art and how they  work.  The other fun thing for me was the vendor marketplace: I was able to see and touch before purchasing new materials. found the vendors to be very  knowledgeable.  With the conference in Boston this year it is a tremendous opportunity for us all to go!” Beth Goulet

“If you’re connected with NEMS you have taken the step to meet people in the New England area who are involved with making and appreciating mosaics. Going to the SAMA conference extends that step to the next level:   Those NEMS members who are professional mosaic artists, who teach their techniques and show their work nationally and internationally are almost all SAMA members and have been attending the conferences for years. NEMS greatly benefits from their expertise and from the associations they have made with other professional, talented mosaic artists from around the country and the world. At a SAMA conference you are right in the thick of it, shoulder to shoulder meeting people you wouldn’t otherwise, seeing pieces of art up close that you usually see in a book or on your computer screen. Being exposed to art and artists working in the highest level of mosaic art is an experience not to be missed.”  Carol Cataldo


Fabulous Faces in Translation

Carol A. Krentzman, a mosaic artist, and Helen M. Salzberg, a collage artist, teamed up to create a body of work called “Fabulous Faces in Translation.” Carol used Helen’s specially created collages to design and create her mosaics. The video “Two Women Making Art” tells their histories, shows them working in their studios and tours their recent exhibit at The Center for Arts in Natick.



Annual Meeting

NEMS celebrated its second year at an Annual Meeting on November 5, 2017 in Framingham, MA. Fortyeight members gathered for a program that included a critique of mosaic art made by nine members. Cynthia Fisher, and Cathleen Newsham were the critique team that provided feedback on what worked in each piece and made suggestions for improvement.

At the annual meeting, we elected a new slate of officers for the organization. They are:

Michael Ferriera, President

Beth Goulet, Vice President

Terry Bromfield, Treasurer

Mary Bowles, Secretary

We also introduced the co-chairs of all committees as well as our new webmaster, Cassie Doyon.


Amy Marks discussed the results of the annual member survey and suggested that the new officers address two issues: making the exhibition process more inclusive so all members can participate and create programs in regions outside the Boston metro area. In addition, members wanted more programs that would help them improve their mosaic skills and techniques.

We updated everyone on the SAMA Conference and introduced our first community services project at Ronald McDonald in Portland, ME. In addition, we introduced the concept of an All member exhibition at the Somerville Museum this winter.

We ended with a talk on photographing mosaics with your mobile phone by Carrie Fradkin.

We ended with snacks, networking and viewing members’ mosaics in the Salon. A great end to a great year!


Ayer Mansion Tour

Earlier this year, 30 NEMS members went on a private tour of the mosaics and stained glass at Ayer Mansion, Boston’s Tiffany Treasure. Our tour guide provided us with stories about the family who commissioned the building and put the project in historic context. After the tour, we were treated to a catered reception. A wonderful event. Thanks, Suzanne! If you missed it, you can go on a public tour. See schedule at http://www.ayermansion.org/Visit.html.

Here’s what we learned. The Ayer Mansion was built between 1899 and 1902 for businessman and art collector Frederick Ayer. It is the only surviving residence created by American artist and designer, Louis Comfort Tiffany.  

At the Mansion, we viewed the Tiffany-designed stone and glass mosaics, graceful metalwork, Favrile glass vases, custom furniture, intricate plaster work, and elaborate art glass windows as well as exterior mosaics.

Tiffany was influenced by the art of the East. We saw this in the rich Near Eastern patterns and color combinations in his mosaics and glass.

In the entrance hall of the Ayer Mansion, Tiffany combined mosaics and stained glass to transform an ordinary hall into a sumptuous, luminous stage set, perhaps intended for amateur theatricals and musicals.

The mosaics of the apse-like stair opening are composed of semitransparent glass backed by metallic foil to reflect light, creating an iridescent effect. The three-dimensional effect of the tromp l’oeil pavilion on the stair landing was created through Tiffany’s characteristic use of “plating” or layering clear and opaque glasses to add depth of color and three dimensionality. The adjoining marble engaged columns, raised on a slightly projecting plane, further add to the optical illusion.


2018 SAMA Conference will be held in Boston!

The New England Mosaic Society is thrilled to announce that the Society of American Mosaic Artists’ (SAMA) 19th Annual Conference will be held in the beautiful and historic city of Boston from March 13-18, 2018.  Local conference co-chairs Deb Aldo and Glynda Benham have been hard at work on the conference bid since last summer, combing the city for the best locations to host the Mosaic Arts International (MAI) exhibits.   

Holding the conference in Boston has been a dream of Deb’s since 2008, when the late, and much beloved, Bill Buckingham, and former SAMA Board Member, Ed Kinsella (from MA), talked about putting together a bid committee. However, Deb’s dream had to be put on hold until 2015, when several New England artists at the SAMA conference realized that if Philly could have its own mosaic society, then why not us?  Instead of just covering a city though, we went crazy and decided to cover all six New England states since our members are scattered over a much larger area…..and so the New England Mosaic Society was officially born in March 2016, and we now have nearly 100 members.

As well as getting a new organization off the ground, we decided to push ahead with bidding for the SAMA conference, thinking that it would be at least 2020 before it might come to fruition.  Boston is a very busy city where most gallery locations plan and book at least 2-3 years in advance.  Pulling off the conference bid within a year of NEMS’ formation AND with less than two years’ notice to locate appropriate gallery space for MAI is a significant achievement.

Deb and Glynda addressed the SAMA membership at the General Meeting in Detroit on Saturday May 6, 2017 following the announcement that Boston would be the next host city.  Dressed in lobster and tricorn hats, they gave the audience a quick introduction on “how to speak Bahstun”!

If you are interested in volunteering to help with conference, please send an email to NEMS.SAMA.Boston2018(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gmail.com with “Interested in volunteering for SAMA” as the subject line.  Please provide a brief description of what you think your skills are.  We need volunteers that can 100% commit to following through and staying on task.  Volunteers will be needed during the next 10 months, and then before, during, and possibly after the conference, so also let us know what your preference is for a time commitment.

Stay tuned to SAMA’s website www.americanmosaics.org and NEMS website www.newenglandmosaicsociety.org for more details as we get closer to the conference date.

Pricing Your Mosaic Work, presented by Cynthia Fisher of Big Bang Mosaics

March 11, 2017, Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord, MA

Cindy pointed out that her perspective is not that of a pricing professional, but reflects her experiences as a professional mosaic artist.

Mosaic making is a very hard way to earn a living. It can be useful to write a business plan for your business, but you need to be very proactive about marketing yourself and getting work. And since mosaics are so labor intensive, you cannot expect to make the same hourly rate as a painter might, for example.

There are many things to consider when pricing your mosaic art.

The time it takes you to make a square foot of mosaic

Log ALL your time from sketch to completion, including time with client, purchasing materials, etc.

Direct cost of materials per square foot: substrate, material, adhesive, grout, sticky paper, use of tools, etc.

Your goal is to pass on your costs for the project.

Ask your accountant if you have questions about how to account for some of the costs if you aren’t sure.

Shipping costs should be kept separate and charged separately. Make sure you tell the client that this will be a separate and additional cost. (If you make shipping containers, you should not be charging your artist fee for that).

What you want/need to earn per hour to cover your direct and indirect costs

Indirect costs include:

Not all your hours as a small business owner are billable.

You can charge more than usual cost per hour to account for some of these costs. Include:

Health insurance, disability, life insurance

Company match on 401k

Mileage reimbursement

Cost of paid continuing education, training, conferences

Coffee, snacks, and periodic lunches

Regular raises and bonuses

Vacation, sick days, holiday pay

Business expenses of home office

Cost of transporting materials (not shipping, though), restocking

What do you want to earn per hour? You should think about:

Your expertise (eg., you are expected to make a mosaic that won’t fall apart)

Years of experience

Cost of learning from/eating your mistakes

Knowledge of what price the market will bear

Subjective, depends on location, demographics, size of selling environment, etc.

Making money on low-end items is difficult

You could do the reverse and think FIRST about how much the market will bear and then design/create your work around those limitations.

Additional things to consider in pricing:

Learn what market prices are for the types of work you do.

Sonia King’s general price (a few years ago) was $300/hour installed for public installations. Public installations usually support a much higher cost/hour than projects for individuals. (This is similar logic to the price an illustrator charges a publisher for artwork that goes in book with a large print run vs. a piece that is sold to an individual.)

Galleries: 50:50 is standard ratio of distribution of money received on artwork. This means you have to price your work at double the price you already established (which, because it’s a mosaic, is high by comparison with painting, etc.) Make sure to double your materials costs as well. Thus it’s hard to put mosaics in galleries and have them be affordable.

Remember that you should charge as close as you possibly CAN to the real price. If you undercharge, it hurts the art community at large because good artists who price based on real costs won’t be able to sell by comparison with what you charge.

Establish a first payment in case you don’t complete the job. (eg., the whole cost will be $3000, and the initial payment will be $300, which includes certain deliverables).

Really important to tell your customers what goes into your pricing so they understand, before you even get to the selling price.

Try to be flexible about what you do (e.g., fill only part of the allotted space to save the client some money; use paint for the background, etc).

You can also sell prints of your mosaics, etc., if you want to sell something at a lower cost. Can be helpful if you are trying to make a living. Of course a print sacrifices lose some of what makes mosaics special (e.g., 3D, light reflection).

Advice from the audience: Create a contract that spells out what you will do, as specifically as possible, and what’s included. Anything outside that is out of scope and requires renegotiation.

Pricing form from state of New Hampshire Liquor Authority (See Appendix A or link to original online:


Pricing formulas:

Formula 1: Square feet x dollars (per sq foot)

Formula 2: (hourly wage x hours spent) + cost of materials

A Walking Tour of Mosaics of the South End of Boston

One of the most popular events was a walking tour of mosaics of Boston’s Southend led by Lisa Houck and Suzanne Owayda. In case you missed it, here are the details on each mosaic, complete with Google Map links so you can go on your own tour anytime you like. Enjoy these unique and beautiful mosaics of Boston’s South End!

A Friendly Flock Touches Down, Artist: Lisa Houck  Frieda Garcia Park, 38 Stanhope Street, Boston

https://goo.gl/maps/MgojDcqZnep  2 panels, 8 x 8 feet and 8 x 22 feet, Mexican smalti, Dedicated April 29, 2013

Lisa Houck created these mosaic murals by working with children from three area organizations: United South End Settlements, Ellis Memorial and the John Hancock Childcare Center. The children created drawings, prints and collages of birds and these birds were incorporated into Houck’s design of fanciful trees to create a magical forest for this children’s park. The mosaic was fabricated by Unicorn Art Studio in New York, and was packed into crates and stored forover seven years before the park was completed and the mosaic was installed. The design for the park changed during those years, requiring the creation and design of an extra section of the mosaic. The project was funded by John Hancock Insurance Company.    More info: http://www.publicartboston.com/content/friendly-flock-touches-down




Betances Mural, Artist: Lilli Ann Killen Rosenberg

Villa Victoria, Aquadilla Street, Boston, 


14 x 45 feet, Concrete and clay tiles, mixed media, Completed 1979

The Villa Victoria housing community was founded in the early 1970s, when a group of South End residents, most of Puerto Rican descent, lobbied to maintain their community in the South End despite widespread gentrification and redevelopment of the area. After its completion in the mid-1970s, Villa Victoria was hailed as an unusually successful housing complex, thanks to its desirable living spaces and close-knit, active community. Residents founded and participated in a variety of programs including tutoring, gardening, and operating a closed-circuit television channel.

This mural was created with the support of the Villa Victoria tenants’ association, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, to embellish the Villa’s central gathering place. Lilli Ann Killen Rosenberg, assisted by Nora Valdez and Roberto Chao, created the mural with the help of Villa Victoria residents, children as well as adults, who made the ceramic tile pieces. Ms. Rosenberg traveled to Puerto Rico before
making the mural to “gain a better understanding of the culture and history of this community.” The mural features Ramón Betances, known as the ‘father’ of Puerto Rican nationalism for his revolt against Spanish rule. It also includes images of Puerto Rican history and references to the culture of the Villa Victoria community.One of its inscriptions reads, “Let us know how to fight for our honor and our liberty,” referring both to Betances and his struggle for independence and to the more recent political activism that inspired Villa Victoria’s founding. Rosenberg’s technique, as described on her website, was “to embed a variety of materials in concrete using color and texture, sometimes carving into the concrete or casting with it.”  
More info: http://www.publicartboston.com/content/betances-mural


St John Baptizing Christ, Artists unknown

St John the Baptist Hellenic Orthodox Church, 15 Union Park Street, Boston


Byzantine-style mosaic made of smalti; fabricators and date completed unknown.

Byzantine medieval art began in the mid 1400s with mosaics decorating the walls and domes of churches, as well fresco wall-paintings. This approach was taken up in Italy, especially in Rome and Ravenna. A less public art form in Constantinople was the icon (from the Greek word ‘eikon’ meaning ‘image’): holy images made with encaustic wax paint on portable wooden panels, which were developed in the monasteries of the Eastern Roman Church. Icons were filled with symbols and flat areas of color and didn’t try to be realistic.

St. John the Baptist church was designed in 1861-62 by N.J. Bradlee. It was originally a Unitarian Church where Edward Everett Hale—an abolitionist preacher who wrote Man Without a Country—preached. At the turn of the century, the building became Temple Ohabei Shalom, which served the Jewish community until 1929. Since then it has been the St. John the Baptist Hellenic (Greek) Orthodox Church.

The center mosaic depicts St. John baptizing Christ. The hand of God and the dove are important symbols. These depict the Holy Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, which is represented by the dove. The inscription says “The Baptism” in Greek. The two side panels depict angels.

LandWave, Artists: Shauna Gillies-Smith, Michael Kilkelly, France Cormier

Peter’s Park, 1277 Washington Street, Boston

More info: http://www.landwave.org/LandWave/Home.html

2-7 feet high and 48-49 feet long (650 sq feet total area)

Completed 2011, Mosaic glass tile on a sculpted concrete surface

LandWave is located on the southeast edge of Peters Park on a linear strip of land between the baseball field and the Washington Street sidewalk. The installation commemorates the historical location of the very thin neck of land that once connected the Shawmut Peninsula to the mainland.

The mosaic recalls the site’s evolution from water to land. Two wave-like landforms are covered on one side with green groundcover, while the other is covered with a range of blue mosaic tiles that emulate the texture and color of a wave, creating a metaphorical wave of land and water.    More info: www.landwave.org


Community Fabric, Artist: Christos Hamawi 

Josiah Quincy Elementary School, 885 Washington Street, boston

https://goo.gl/maps/ZMv3oRhL1rR2Completed 2016

Community Fabric is comprised of sixty unique hand-cut glass tile panels and designed to simulate a stitched fabric quilt. The mosaic “fabric” represents the stitching together of many different aspects of our community into one. While diversity is a key theme of the mural, the core message is unity. Christos Hamawi completed several of the more complex mosaic panels in his studio and collaborated on the construction of the remaining panels with over 150 students from the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. Most students worked in teams, guided by Christos in the entire mosaic creation process, and taught about the history of mosaics. Students followed a detailed design guide crafted by the artist and were challenged to interpret the designs and color schemes as closely as possible using the available mosaic materials. Christos then combined all sixty panels together as one.

“We need to continue to support arts education to help foster the artistic temperament that shapes and defines our culture, promotes peace and prosperity, enriches our community, and builds bridges of understanding around the world. This mural is dedicated to all those that contribute their time, skills, and resources to help make our community stronger.”  -Christos Hamawi, June 20, 2016  





The Living Seasons, Artist: Christos Hamawi

Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Oak Street between Washington and Tremont Streets, Boston    https://goo.gl/maps/ZMv3oRhL1rR2

Porcelain and glass tiles, over 2,000 hand-cut pieces, Completed 2013

Christos Hamawi’s influences include ancient Greek, Roman, and Moorish mosaics, as well as ceramics. He is also very interested in Iznik ceramics which he saw in Istanbul. He has traveled to Greece, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, and Spain and has found inspiration in all of these places.

Hamawi used Tec Superflex exterior grade flexible cement to adhere the tiles to Hardy concrete backerboard. He loves this material for the climate of the Northeast. Hamawi said, “My goal is to ensure that my mosaic murals last hundreds of years.”

More info: http://www.publicartboston.com/content/living-seasons