Alie Kruize – Mosaic Artist Spotlight



How did you get started in mosaics?

Seven years ago I started dabbling with a mosaic house number for our holiday shack. Obviously my four daughters didn’t think much of my attempts and for my birthday they booked me into a studio called ‘Workshed Mosaics’ in Western Australia, where I did my first mosaic project.  Paul and Lisa Petale were fantastic teachers and got me off on to a good start.

I feel so blessed that my girls exposed me to this wonderful medium.  I am forever grateful to them.

My first mosaic is still hanging on the wall of our holiday house and it’s pretty gross.  I have improved somewhat thankfully!!

How long have you been doing mosaics?

I have been doing mosaics for 7 years.  I am passionate about it and mosaic whenever I have a spare moment.  In a month I am retiring and we are building a new house with my own mosaic shed/studio. Can’t wait to get to work on all the ideas I have in my head.

Why mosaics?

It’s just something I love.  There are so many different colours and designs – opaque and translucent, glass tiles, brilliant metallic’s, cool and expensive marble, fabulously coloured smalti or broken ceramics.  I love the designing aspect and working out what tiles to use, the buying of tiles, the sorting of tiles then putting it altogether.  I love every aspect and feel am totally happy when I am working on a project.

I also love fossicking for tiles and materials at second hand shops, tips, roadside collection, old abandoned houses and my family and friends are always giving me treasures.  Even the grandchildren bring little gifts that they think I may be able to use.

How have your other interests, hobbies, career influenced your mosaics?

I have worked in many art forms – drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery and lead lighting.  These past pursuits have helped me greatly with the whole process of making a mosaic.

How or what inspires you?

Lots of things inspire me.

I live in a seaside town and get inspiration from the coastline, houses on the canals, nature, birds, sunsets, plants and gardens. I am always inspired by visits to Art galleries and exhibitions and also paintings and mosaics on the internet.

What makes your work unique from everyone else’s?

I’m not sure if my work is so unique but I do hand paint some of my own tiles to include in some mosaic projects.  I buy large greenware tiles and either paint the whole tile and then have it glazed etc and then smash the tile or I cut the tile into whatever size tiles I need and paint, glaze and have them fired.  This is something I really enjoy doing.

I also had  two opportunities to be invited as an ‘Artist in Residence’ at two schools in the Northern Territory.  The first one was at Gawa Christian School on Elcho Island, a very remote Island off the coast of Arnhem Land.  My brief was to teach 60 indigenous students to mosaic and to teach the community members living in Gawa, Nanginburra and Ban’thula.  Three large panels were designed by the local Yolnu artists.  It was wonderful to see traditional aboriginal art being created using a totally new medium.

The second School was in Nhulunbuy a remote mining town in Arnhem Land.  This time my brief was somewhat larger in that I had to teach 200 students from the age of 4 to 16.  The students made trivets, stepping stones, ply cut outs and the older students made a huge panel 1.2m x 6 metres.  I also ran a class for 11 adults.  The work they produced was amazing especially as they had never done mosaics before; this was such a highlight for me as I know that many of them will continue with this art form.

What is the strangest thing you have ever mosaiced?

I would love to mosaic strange things but haven’t had the time to do so.

Whose work mosaics or otherwise do you most admire?

Gustav Klimpt,  Elaine Goodwin, Irina Charny, Kaffee Bassett, Elizabeth De’Ath, Gordan Mandich, , Laurel Skye, Laura Rendlen, and many more.

Do you sell your work?

Yes and no.  I have had commissions from family and friends and end up doing the work for cost only as it’s a hobby and not my source of income yet.

What I would love to do once I retire is run small classes for mentally challenged people or people who are troubled in life.  If time permits I would like to do some projects and sell them rather than do commissions.

What advice would you have for other mosaic artists?

Many novices say to me they cannot design a piece of work and feel that their work is inferior because they have not designed it themselves. I always tell them that if it gives them pleasure and satisfaction keep at it because you can never copy of piece of work exactly and will always put your own ideas into the project.  Generally once you have done a few projects you will find that you will come up with your own ideas and if not why worry!!!

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The Mosaic Store Gallery

Marian Shapiro – Mosaic Artist Spotlight


How did you get started in mosaics?

In 2003 we were living in the USA and working in the computer industry.  My Australian husband decided he wanted to come back and live here, and we both decided to reinvent ourselves at the same time.  David decided to import Turkish tile to Australia and I started making mosaic. 

How long have your been doing mosaics?

Full time since 2004.  I started by going on a course in the UK and have continued my mosaic education ever since in various countries.

Why mosaics?

I love the way the materials work directly with light, either reflecting or absorbing it and the way that the look of mosaics can change at different times of day and at different seasons.  There’s also a satisfaction when you finish something and you know you couldn’t have achieved the particular effect in any other medium.

How have your other interests, hobbies, career influenced your mosaics?

I’ve always liked making things and went to art school a million years ago in the 1970s.  Later I worked in the theatre in stage management and lighting design before making a 20 year detour into the computer industry.  I am a sometime quilter, and the interest in fabric shows in the mosaic work.

How or what inspires you?

Oh all sorts of things.  I like to work in series as that enables me to explore an idea thoroughly.  Recent series include Forbidden Fruit; a series of plant forms inspired by nature but not limited by it and The DNA Sequence, which explores visual representations of DNA.  Many of my textile pieces explore the tension between making things appear soft and flowing from hard and unyielding materials.

What makes your work unique from everyone else’s?

I like to play with illusion and hidden meanings, to take the ordinary and twist things a bit.

What is the strangest thing you have ever mosaicked?

I’m not sure I’ve ever mosaicked anything that strange, but the strangest material I have ever used was carpet tile, when I was commissioned to do a piece for a carpet tile manufacturer.

Whose work mosaics or otherwise do you most admire?

I’m inspired by and admire lots of people, but I try not to be too influenced by them.  I think it’s very important to try and find your own voice, and vastly more satisfying as a process.  Having said that the people on my admiration list range from the painter Mark Rothko to the glass artist Dale Chihuly and the art quilter,  Jenny Bowker.  In mosaics, I always find it inspiring when people take the medium to a new and interesting place.

Do you sell your work?

Yes I do.  About 70% of my work is on commission, both private and public.

What advice would you have for other mosaic artists?

Well personally, I don’t feel you can go wrong by grounding yourself in technique and giving yourself a solid base to make your artistic choices from.  I try, but I’m sure I don’t always succeed, to do my best work in each piece.  Keep looking and keep learning; buy or borrow books and get involved in the mosaic world either physically if you are lucky enough to have a group or association, or join an internet mosaic group.

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Marian teaches regular classes and workshops in Sydney and is also happy to travel to teach.  Teaching commitments for later this year include Western Australia and New Zealand.  If you would like to be on her mosaic mailing list, drop her an email.

All mosaic work in this article © Marian Shapiro 2008-2012.  Not to be reproduced in any form without permission from the artist.

Show Us How You Made It

Mary Foley recently won our ‘Mosaic Garden Art’ Competition and has very kindly agreed to share how she created the ‘Fiesta Table’.

Glass on Glass (glued with Macglue)

This is a four seater glass topped garden table, but any size with a glass top is perfect for the glass on glass method I used. I started from the centre using a large round agate surrounded by a few more petal shaped agates in different colours. Then using some petal shaped stained glass in different sizes( mainly using scrap glass that l got from a leadlight artist) which I cut using an oil glass cutter, I just worked outwards leaving enough space for the tempered glass fill in. Before doing the tg area I glued the ball chain on the very edge and added the blue and green glass tiles for a border . Whilst laying the stained glass shapes of iridescent , textured ,and mirror , l added various size glass gems, fused glass pieces, iridescent nuggets, mini gems, glass rod, etc. The table was grouted by black grout.

I usually lay out my mosaic before glueing so l can have an idea of what it will look like, makes a bit more work but l find l shift things around a bit so then take a picture when happy and then proceed to glue using the picture as a guide of my layout.

Mary Foley

This is the first project in this section but we’d like to see many more. If you have a project you’d like profiled, please email the details together with a photo to

Legal Disclaimer: No warranty is implied by these instructions. Use at your own risk. Specialty Art Glass and its proprietors are not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of this information, or for any omission in the advice. Please wear appropriate safety equipment when cutting mosaic materials and using grouts and adhesives. Keep out of reach of children. This newsletter is copyrighted and is made available for personal use only. Please ask permission if you wish to copy any part of it.