Memorial Mosaic Mural Project in Jacmel, Haiti with Youth Using Salvaged Materials

Laurel True will be traveling to Haiti in June to work with local youth and adults and collaborate with Haitian and American artists to design and create a mosaic mural in partnership with the Art Creation Foundation For Children in Jacmel, Haiti.
Youth will collect materials salvaged from the devastation of the earthquake in January, which will be repurposed with love into a memorial mosaic mural commemorating the loss of life and homes and celebrating the healing and rebuilding in Haiti.
The project will focus on skill building and mosaic training for youth and young adults so that they may use these skills for future entrepreneurial development.
The mural will be centrally located in the coastal town of Jacmel, Less then 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. Subsequent phases of the project may include development of a seating area and gathering space for residents and visitors which will invite introspection and reverence for those lost as well as providing for a hopeful, inspirational and life affirming vision for the future.

Paradise, New Heart for SF General Hospital Foundation

Paradise 2009
Laurel True
Asphalt, glass, gold smalti, fused glass and mirror

Eight new large hearts and six tabletop hearts will be unveiled this Thursday, February 11th, at Union Square in San Francisco.

I was invited to create one of the large hearts this year, my fourth heart for the Heroes and Hearts Project since it's inception in 2004, which I completed last December.

I utilized asphalt, which I have been exploring as a medium for mosaics for about two years now, combined with glass, gold and mirror.

What I am exploring here is, I suppose, a quest for beauty in ugliness. Searching out the grace embedded in the grit. Of life, of experience, of reality.

I am working with the idea of deconstructing the concrete jungle, the street, the urban environment, to create something completely new, but that has a memory of where it came from.

There is a symbol in Ghana called Sankofa, which looks like a stylized heart. One of the meanings of this symbol is, in order to move forwards, we must recognize our past, and that we bring our experience with us into the future. The proverb that goes with this symbol says "return and fetch it".

I feel that the use of asphalt, set in a traditional Italianate style, forming a ribbon that wraps the heart, speaks to this motif.

Paradise is a concept, not a place. There is no destination. Only the journey. So the road is really where its at- metaphorically speaking. The inner and outer landscapes this road meanders through are what the journey is all about. We hope to find beauty along the way.

In Paradise, the ribbon of asphalt dotted with gold reminds one to look closely at the world and at situations for hidden beauty.

The juxtaposition of rough materials with beautiful, light catching materials highlights that grace and grit can coexist, and may actually rely on one another.

The large pod like shapes symbolize growth and life to me. There is something so beautiful and non- specific about this form to me- they feel fulfilling and universal and satisfying. I used a specific number of these pod shapes on Paradise to directly correlate with a symbol which is part of an ancient divination system, which speaks of inner and outer happiness.

More info:

I started a fan page for True Mosaics Studio on Facebook, where I will be posting more photos that on this blog.

Here is the link:!/pages/True-Mosaics-Studio/276758323289?ref=ts

Photo by Russ Osterweil

Facebook photo album of this project:!/album.php?aid=148224&id=276758323289&ref=mf

Help Fund a Community Mosaic Mural Project in Nairobi, Kenya this Fall!

Hello All!

I will be doing an artist's residency this fall at a glass workshop in Nairobi, Kenya during which I will be facilitating a community mosaic mural project with school children. I am very excited about this project!

I am funding this project in part through a really cool website called Kickstarter, which helps to facilitate funding for creative/ alternative projects.

Please consider supporting my project by following this link for more info:

If you know anyone who might be interested in making a micro-investment and supporting this project, please forward this e-mail to them!
My goal is to raise $3200 by September.

There are kickbacks for funders ;)

Thanks so much!


More complete info:

Facilitation and creation of a community mosaic mural with Kenyan youth at a Rudolph Steiner school outside of Nairobi as part of an artist residency.

My name is Laurel True. I am a mosaic artist and educator seeking funding to support a community mosaic mural project in Nairobi, Kenya as part of a youth project series called "Woven Stories".

I have been creating site-specific public and community based artworks for almost 20 years. Since 2006, I have been creating mosaic projects that highlight collaboration between youth in Africa and the US. I focus specifically in under-served areas of Oakland, CA and New Orleans, where I divide my residency. I have been facilitating community mosaic mural projects in Ghana, West Africa for the past 8 years.

This September, I have been invited to Nairobi, Kenya to do an artist's residency at a renowned glass studio called Kitengela Glass that also operates an alternative school primarily for Masai children. I will be working with the school children to design and create a large glass mosaic mural for the facade of the school.

The school where the mural with be sited serves as a model for similar schools across East Africa.
The philosophy at Kitengela is "recycling everything, paying fair wages, protecting our environment." In this vein, we will be using all recycled glass materials from the studio for the mosaic mural project.

In the community projects I facilitate, I value fostering creative expression while including viable job training. I believe everyone has endless resources of "creative capital" — an enthusiasm to learn coupled with new skills can often transfer into economic opportunity. One example is a pair of my young students in Ghana, who have gone on to start their own small business as mosaic artists to help contribute to their own school fees and their families’ economies.

I will use your generous pledges towards this project for travel expenses, art materials and supplies for a mural both at the school in Nairobi and a partner project in the US. Your contributions will also assist with transportation, local support, a small stipend for myself and and local assistants, and project documentation.

As part of the Woven Stories Project, I will bring back design feedback from youth as well as glass elements from Kitengela Glass in Nairobi that will inspire and be used the creation of a future community mosaic mural with youth at a school in Oakland or New Orleans.

I am excited about this and other projects in Africa and in the US.
Thank you for your support!

For more information, please visit my website:

Kitengela Glass website:

For information on my next project in Ghana please visit:


True Mosaics On the Road!

Please check out the True Mosaics Studio Website for a list of upcoming mosaic classes in Oakland, CA, New Orleans, LA and in Austin, TX this summer!

New Orleans, LA:

July 18 - 19th
Mosaics for the Garden — Tile and Glass
August 1 - 2nd
Tools and Techniques for Mosaics

Austin, TX:

August 8 - 9th
The Business of Mosaics

Oakland, CA:
June 13 - 14
Introduction to Glass Mosaics
June 20 - 21
Architectural Applications for Mosaic
July 4 - 5
Intro to Smalti
July 6 - 10
Mosaic Summer Camp for Adults FULL! Wait list available
August 15 - 16
Glass Fusing Extravaganza
August 22 - 23
The Business of Mosaics

See you this summer!

Mosaic Class in Austin, Texas

I will be teaching a one- day intensive Architectural Applications for Mosaics class in Austin, Texas on May 31st, 2009.
There are currently 3 spaces left.

Architectural Applications for Mosaics- Floors and Walls
Instructor: Laurel True

Please see class description on the IMA website:

Please note: This is a lecture and demonstration format class.
Bring a notebook to take notes please. Handouts provided.

Sunday, May 31st, 2009
One -day intensive format
9 am - 5 pm
Cost: $185
Limit 18 students

Bohemian Riot Mosaic Studio
(Tamara Kikel)
email for directions

There will be a 30 minute lunch break. Please bring a lunch with you.

You must pre- register for class by e-mailing me with your information:
Name, address, e-mail, phone #

LaurelTrue at gmail dot com

Please indicate how you will be paying, check, cash or cc.
Please note: there will be a $10 service charge for cc payments.

If paying by check please contact me and I will give you the correct address to send your check.
Pay by cc: Use pay pal (add on $10 to registration fee)

Cancellation Policy:
Sorry, due to the short turnaround time for this class, there will be no refunds for class cancellation given after May 20th.

Laurel True
True Mosaics Studio

New Work 2009

New Studio Work 2009- Laurel True

Current Exhibitions:

Visions/ Journeys, Solo Exhibition
Institute of Mosaic Art, Oakland

2009 Mosaic International, Group Exhibition
Museum of Man, San Diego

Please contact Laurel True for pricing information.

Emergence 2009
(After Klimt)
Copper and gold smalti, glass, handmade fused glass tesserae and tiles
Gold leaf frame
45" x 34"




Invisible 2009
Glass tile, smalti, mirror, dichroic glass, recycled glass from Ghana, stones
Silver frame
42" x 20"



Ten, Earth 2009
Mirror, stained glass, antique gold smalti, African clay, dichroic glass, cabochons
Bronze frame
24" x 16"


Two, Water 2009
Mirror, stained glass, glass tile, dichroic glass, antique glasscabochons
Pewter frame
24" x 16"


Rajasthan 2009
Copper and gold smalti, glass, mirror, antique cabochons
Copper frame

New Orleans Shotgun House 2008
Vitreous, dichroic and stained glass, mirror, antique cabochons
Pewter frame
9" x 9"


Magic Door 2008
Vitreous, dichroic and stained glass, beads from New Orleans, mirror, antique cabochons
Pewter frame
9" x 9"


Lancaster 400 2008
Asphalt, concrete, mirror, glass
24” x 18”
Charcoal metal frame


Crack/Peterson at Chapman 2008
Asphalt, concrete, gold smalti
Charcoal metal frame
24” x 18”

On display at Mosaic International Exhibit, Museum of Man

Skidmark/ E. 7th at Derby 2008
Asphalt, concrete, dichroic and antique glass
24” x 18”
Charcoal metal frame


Crack/ Lancaster 9846 2008
Asphalt, concrete, diamonds
Charcoal metal frame
24” x 18”

2009 Spring Classes In New Orleans

Time to get down to Beautiful New Orleans!
Spring is one of the best times to be there and there are lots of ways to combine business/ education with fun

Here's the info :


I will be returning to New Orleans for April and May and have a pretty extensive line- up of mosaic class offerings lined up, hosted by NOCG. Jump in, it's going to be a fun couple of months.

New Orleans is quickly becoming a very hot art destination with many up and coming galleries, public and renegade installations, art markets and of course music and food.

April and May are chocked full of festivals as well, including the (free) French Quarter Festival ( )
and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (

Classes I will be teaching by list.. see below for descriptions.

Mosaic For Three Dimensional Forms- Mosaic Sculpture
Architectural Applications for Mosaics- Floors, Walls and More
The Business of Mosaics - Doing What You Love and Making a Living at It
Beginning Glass Mosaics
Intro to Italian Smalti Mosaics- Contemporary Mosaics with Ancient Materials

All courses given at New Orleans Conservation Guild in the historic Bywater neighborhood.
For more information or to register please go to:
or call 504-944-7900

Info on True Mosaics Site:

Mosaic For Three Dimensional Forms- Mosaic Sculpture
6- week class
Thursday Evenings 6 - 8:30
April 9- May 21st
(Class skips April 30th)
$25 Materials fee (for piece the size of a 3 gallon bucket)
Students must bring own form to mosaic.

This exciting class focuses on issues related to covering three-dimensional, sculptural forms with mosaic. Class will cover appropriate substrates and adhesives, prepping three- dimensional forms to receive mosaic, types of materials appropriate for different surfaces, cutting, shaping and setting mosaic tesserae, correct spacing and laying of tesserae for a professional finish, safety considerations, grouting and finishing 3-D work.

Discussion will include important issues to consider when creating small and larger scale sculptural work as well as a discussion of various ways in which sculptural substrates can be created for both fine art and utilitarian work.

Students should bring in their own three-dimensional form to mosaic to the first day of class that is about the size of a 3-gallon bucket or smaller to complete in the 6-week course. Students may bring larger pieces and continue on their own at the end of the course with their own materials. Forms can be for interior or exterior use.

Some ideas for three-dimensional forms: Concrete birdbath or fountain (unsealed concrete only), large flowerpot or urn, sculptural piece or concrete form.

Students will have access to ceramic tile, glass, mirror and mixed media to use for their mosaic. Students are also welcome to bring materials from home. Lecture and demo will include information on tool use for a variety of materials.

Beginners and continuing students welcome. Minimum 4- Max 8 students.

Please note: this is not a sculpture class. We will be covering already made forms in this class and lecture, demonstration and technique will focus on mosaic setting. As stated above, there will be discussion about the creation of sculptural forms and different methods will be described by instructor and resources will be given for these types of projects.

Recommended reading for students interested in making their own concrete forms to cover before the start of class:

Making Concrete Garden Ornaments by Sherri Werner Hunter
Available online at Mosaic Studio Supply

Architectural Applications for Mosaics- Floors, Walls and More
Saturday 10 - 3
Sunday 11- 2
All materials included

Thinking about making a mosaic for your home? This is the perfect class for you. Instructor Laurel True has 18 years experience in the field of mosaics and has completed hundreds of permanent installations in homes, businesses, hotels, schools, parks and more across the United States.

This is a lecture and demonstration format course that focuses on wall and floor applications as well as other permanent installations.

Class will begin with a digital presentation of instructor's architectural work including floors, walls, back splashes, fireplace surrounds, floor and pavement insets, large scale mosaic murals and other site specific work in residential and commercial spaces.

Using a mock-up of a kitchen backsplash and an example of a mosaic floor installation, students are taken through the steps required to complete a successful and durable mosaic application.

Class will cover issues involving choosing the proper substrate, dealing with existing substrates, prepping surfaces, work styles and preparing the area to do a project, correct setting materials, choosing the right type of tile or other tesserae, designing for an architectural application, transfer techniques, methods of setting, including use of fiberglass mesh and other face and back mounted off - site construction methods , mixing thin-set and concrete based fixatives, grouting, caulking and finishing a permanent application.

Special focus will be given to dealing with architectural issues such as thresholds, trims, pipes, plumbing, fixtures and appliances, baseboards, expansion joints, sub flooring and more. Students should expect to take notes and will receive handouts with technical and resource information.

This is an important technical class for those who want to experiment with more permanent mosaic applications and do them right!

Students will see the process of creating a permanent mosaic installation with some hands-on opportunity. (Students do not make an individual project in this class).

Please note: This is not a setting class. It is expected that students will be able to combine this information with basic setting and mosaic skills they already have.

For more information or to register for this course please contact New Orleans Conservation Guild:
or 504-944-7900

The Business of Mosaics - Doing What You Love and Making a Living at It
April 28-30
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Evening 5:30 - 8:30 pm
Includes binder/ materials

This unique course is designed for mosaic artists who are considering formalizing their practice into a business and/ or moving into the professional realm with their work. This three- day course will explore how doing what you love and making a living can coincide successfully, and will focus on the nuts and bolts of having a mosaic business.

Seminar will include lecture, discussion, personal exercises, visual presentations and question and answer sessions.

Topics covered in lecture will include: developing, visualizing and manifesting personal, business and creative goals; establishing a market identity and specialization; pricing and marketing work; building an effective resume and portfolio; documenting, presenting and exhibiting mosaic work; contracts and commissions and applying for public projects.

Students will understand how to present their work and experience accurately and effectively, how to write design and production contracts and create proposals for architectural and public commissions, register a business and understand the basics of business structures, taxes and insurance.

This session would particularly benefit those who are considering going after or starting to receive commissioned projects, want to exhibit their artwork professionally, or are looking for information about how to proceed in the business aspects of mosaics. Class will include a discussion on how to market work in today's economic climate.

Please note: This class is in between the two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Another great reason to come to New Orleans!

Beginning Glass Mosaics
May 9-10
Saturday 10 - 4
Sunday 11-1
All materials included

A great introduction to glass mosaics! Perfect for beginners or continuing students.

Glass is a beautiful medium for mosaics! In this beginner friendly class, students will design and create their own glass mosaic piece.

Class will focus on designing for glass mosaics, introduction to different types of glass tesserae, surfaces suitable for glass mosaic, glass cutting tools, cutting and shaping techniques, lay patterns, fixatives for glass and appropriate applications.

Lecture will include a digital presentation of contemporary glass mosaics and instructor will present a literal visual encyclopedia of glass mosaic materials available to mosaic artists today- from low end recycled materials to high end specialty materials.

Students will design and create a 12" x 12" glass mosaic for interior display using stained glass and other glass media . No experience necessary, beginning and returning students welcome.

Mosaics for the Garden
May 16-17
Saturday 11 - 4
Sunday 11-1
All materials included

Beautify your garden with colorful mosaic art!
This class will cover the basics and beyond for exterior and garden mosaics.

Lecture will include info on substrates appropriate for exterior use and their preparation, fixatives, setting, grouting and sealing. Information on clay bodies and glazes for exterior use. Ceramic tile for exterior use will be used, which is a bit more challenging to cut than tile intended for indoor use.

This class is great for the beginner as we will be covering tools, cutting techniques, mosaic design and lay patterns...and is also appropriate for the student who has already experimented with interior or craft mosaics and would like to expand their knowledge to include exterior, garden or permanent installations.

Students will create a 12 ' x 12" mosaic stepping stone or flower pot to take home.

Intro to Italian Smalti Mosaics- Contemporary Mosaics with Ancient Materials
May 23-24th
Saturday 10 - 4
Sunday 10-1
$50 materials fee for smalti starter pack

Longtime professional mosaic artist Laurel True will introduce students to this wonderful, surprisingly easy to use material. As seen in the Vatican Mosaics exhibit this year in New Orleans, smalti is a beautiful, rich and reflective materials made from poured glass.

This exciting course will introduce students to the history of this exquisite glass material that has been used since the Byzantine Era and its uses in today's mosaic world. Class will begin with a slide presentation showing historical applications of smalti in architectural settings as well as how smalti is made in small batches by artisans today in Europe and beyond. Class will explore the unique light catching and reflecting qualities of smalti and how this material can be combined with other mosaic materials for exciting and rich effects.

Class will cover basic design, layout and visual understanding of a smalti piece as well as both ancient and contemporary cutting techniques. Each student will learn how to work with the hammer and hardie to process smalti, as well as gain an understanding of how to use modern tools with this material with as little waste as possible. Students will set smalti directly into a mortar bed for their project and will receive information on how to approach future smalti projects.

Class will finish with a digital presentation of contemporary smalti projects, both as fine art pieces and as integrated into an architectural setting.

Students will use Italian and Mexican smalti to create an 8 x8 mosaic wall hanging to take home. Smalti starter pack provided.

No mosaic experience necessary. This technique is significantly different from more contemporary styles of mosaic setting.


For more information or to register for these courses please contact New Orleans Conservation Guild:
or 504-944-7900

Mardi Gras Indian smalti mosaic by New Orleans student
Smalti Class

Glass Mosaic Fler de Lis by New Orleans student
Intro to Glass Mosaics Class

Sculptural mosaic heart by Laurel True
3-D Mosaics Class

Mosaic backsplash by Laurel True
Architectural Applications Class

Mosaic garden bench by Laurel True
Garden Mosaics

Smalti mosaic by Randy Sanders, New Orleans
Smalti Class

Recent Projects for TMS

Gaudi- Inspired Lizard for client in Nola. More to come...

Wow.. Ok.. a frequent blogger I guess I am not. It's hard to keep up here, but I am going to make an attempt because there is so much great stuff happening all the time and I am missing out on the opportunity to share what is going on and give kudos to those who participated in projects with me.

I am in New Orleans now (October/ November), and will have a separate entry for all that is happening here shortly (new studio, great classes, huge community/ corporate team building project, giant lizard sculpture and more).

Intro to Smalti Student- New Orleans class. More to come...

One of 125 mosaic benches created during corporate team building event in conjunction with Crescent City Art Project in New Orleans. More to come...

I fell off on the updates a couple of months ago but wanted to do a few posts with pics about the summer projects we did in True Mosaics Studio before I left for New Orleans.

I am officially spending about a third of the year now in New Orleans, where I have a studio and home. I am equally excited about projects here as in Oakland and have lots of cool stuff coming down the pipe in both locations.

I return to the Bay Area in early December and will commence designs on the facade for the new Firehouse 18 in East Oakland, a project I was awarded through the Oakland Cultural Arts Department last summer. This project will include community involvement on the design level and will be an exciting one to work on I am sure.

I will be traveling to Ghana in January with a fellow mosaic artist and IMA student Erin Rogers to do some project development there as well as visit friends who have become family. In February I will be traveling to India with my dear friends and teachers, Isaiah and Julia Zagar. Rumor has it that Isaiah and I will be leading a mosaic workshop in Madras, but no deets on that yet. I am just happy to be going to India for the first time in my life and I have always wanted to go.

Both the above trips are short- two weeks each- and I will also have a pretty full teaching schedule this winter, which I am looking forward to.

Here is a rundown of classes I will be teaching at Institute of Mosaic Art this December/ January:

December 6-7 th and January 3-4
The old favorite: Mosaic 101- Intro to Ceramic Tile Mosaics
I have been teaching this class for 14 years and I love it.

December 13-14th
Architectural Applications for Mosaic- Floors and Walls
We talk about all kinds of permanent applications in this class. Lecture/ demo

December 20-21st
Glass Fusing Extravaganza!
This class is awesome. Come take it and make tons of fused glass stuff in one weekend.
(No experience necessary)

January 10 -11th
Business of Mosaics
Probably the last chance before next summer to take this one. Lots of helpful info about aligning your creative and business goals and making it work.

January 17-18th
Intro to Smalti
People love this class. I love this class. A great intro to an inspiring material.

So.. that's a brief overview.
Project visuals and descriptions to follow soon starting back in August 08.

One last thing..

YAY OBAMA!!!!!!!


Tiki Tom's Mural for Mosaic Mural Making Intensive

Tiki Tom's Mural laid out on floor before installation:

I am teaching a Mosaic Mural Making Intensive (week-long) at Institute of Mosaic Art this week and we have completed a neat mural for a local restaurant and bar in our neighborhood- Jingletown- in Oakland.

Mural Dimensions 3.5' x 7.5 ft.
Materials: High- fire ceramic tile and mirror with handmade tiles.

There are 11 (!) students in this class and we set the mural in four days. I designed and coded the mural before class started using Tiki Tom's logo and business card as starting points/ inspiration. Also researched Tiki themed designs and riffed off some Tiki fabric for the design of handmade border tiles. My neighbors Saundra Warren and Cynthia Elliot helped make the tiles.

Students came from as far afield as Indiana and Wisconsin to participate in the class, which is geared towards intermediate/ advanced students and teaches them how to create a permanent large scale- mural on a mesh backing (in the studio) and install as a team on site.

We install this Saturday/ Sunday and then hope to celebrate with some Tiki themed beverages.

Mural design and facilitation by Laurel True and True Mosaics Studio. Mural production by students of Mosaic Mural Making Intensive at IMA, August 2008- all names to follow in next post with pics of installed mural.

Cartoon and coding for Tiki head and flowers.

Completed section.

Cartoon and coding for hut and palm tree/ flowers.

Completed sections put together with border tiles mocked up.

Students Diana White, Megan Cain and Malu Wu working on flowers.

Students Judy Toupin and Estelle Akamine working on Tiki head.

Day two, mural in progress. Students are working hard.

More pictures of students and in progress shots to be posted on the IMA flickr site soon.

Note: Tiki Tom's is not yet open and is located on 29th St. right on the Oakland side of the esturay at the foot of the Park St. bridge (going to Alameda). They say they will be opening in mid- September!

Lots of New Projects in True Mosaics Studio

Kefa- Coffee from Ethiopia to Jingletown 2008
Ceramic tile, glass and mirror
Kefa Coffeehouse, Oakland, CA
4’ x 10’ Mosaic Mural

Mosaic mural by True Mosaics Studio and students of Mosaic Mural Making Intensive at Institute of Mosaic Art. Design and facilitation by Laurel True. Production and installation by Kim Grant, Pam Goode, Jill Montgomery , Renata Kolarova, Karla Silva-Ruiz, Susannne Takehara, Laurel True and Carol Waldren

Additional production assistance by Deborah Block, Debbie Callen, Kara Graves, Delaine Hackney, Celeste Howell and Rachel Rodi and Lillian Sizemore. Handmade ceramic tile accents by Saundra Warren.

More pics at:

and on Kim Grant's Blog:

I have been working in the studio and on some cool side projects in the last several months but haven't had a chance to post...

Here are some photos of some of the posts to come profiling my latest projects:

The Wedding Cake Project July 08
aka Operation Gay Cake

6 ft x 4 ft Mosaic Wedding Cake Interactive Sculpture

Project conceived by Santiago Rodriguez.

Design and creation by Santiago Rodriguez, Madeline Behrens- Brigham, Lillian Sizemore and Laurel True
Production assistance by Randi Casenza, Jack Dynis and Ben Otis Dugger.

The Wedding Cake Project was created at the 580 Hayes Market Gallery in San Francisco as a performance art piece. The final product, a giant, 6 foot diameter, double layer, sculptural mosaic cake, will be sited at City Hall in San Francisco to celebrate marriage and all unions of love.

Couples are invited to stand on the cake and become part of the artwork, as the artwork becomes part of the celebration of marriage.

The Cake is headed to City Hall in August. More info/ photos:

Mosaic wall element for HGTV backyard makeover show June 08
More pics soon
(I did this in one day as a sting operation)

Nola WOW Mural- detail

Community Mosaic Mural done in New Orleans Bywater neighborhood in May 08.
More pics to come
Meanwhile check out a blogger who is really a true blogger: Kim Grant

Mosaic Suns are DONE! Finally.
Lots more pics to come.

Completed July 08

Sun Series... Making Progress...

Above: Smallest (Red Sun) all set and ready to be grouted.

My trusty assistant Jack.

Medium (Orange Sun) in progress. We ran out of orange tile and had to order more.. it's on the way!

Essential refueling process. Lots of squares to cut by hand.

My assistant taking a break.

It's hard to get good help these days.

New Exploration: Asphalt Mosaics

The Grace and the Grit - Asphalt Mosaics

This new series has been in the (conceptual) works for more than a year and I had the opportunity to explore this idea through participation in a group exhibit that is currently hanging at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland

The exhibit showcases the work of 10 artists living and working in the Jingletown Junction of East Oakland and how they/ we interact with, record, respond to living in an urban,
industrial neighborhood. It is a great show.. go see it! (Info below)

The designs for the mosaics I am exhibiting are based on markings in the roads and were
created using asphalt, concrete and other detritus collected from the streets. The whole series is really an exploration of the inward and outward journey, and, ugliness. And the inherent beauty fo
und within. And uncovering this.

I do a lot of work inspired by the urban landscape.. But this actually is LITERALLY the urban landscape. I have been collecting asphalt (I am calling it harvesting) for awhile and from different locations to use in my work, but all of the materials used in the work I am exhibiting in this show came from Jingletown Junction.. all of it. I walked around like a crazy lady with a "wagon" I McGyvered up and collected huge dirty chunks of asphalt, concrete, brick and some other crap that made its way into an installation I did on the floor of the gallery.

Asphalt is a tough medium to work with, you can't use traditional cutting tools so cutting is very labor intensive. An
d I used traditional Italianate setting styles in the works.. so it was time consuming and also rewarding to be simultaneously turned off by the material and also intrigued by it and finally seeing its unique and inherent beauty. A giant metaphor for life.

As I explore the concept of ugliness in many of it's forms, I am actually constantly reminded of the grace that resonates in the ugliest of places (even in asphalt).

The exhibit includes a series of works for the wall and temporary mosaic floor installation inspired by a circular sideshow (car spinout) skid mark.

Here is the blurb my art reviewer friend wrote about my work:

In her new series of mosaic relief panels, artist Laurel True turns away from more traditional mosaic materials such as ceramic, glass and stone, instead creating her works from asphalt, concrete and other roadway detritus collected from her East Oakland neighborhood.

True bases her works' designs on random and intentional road markings such as tar lines, cracks and skid marks made from sideshows and car spinouts. True's series is a visual and conceptual investigation of what beauty might be found in urban landscapes, exploring the ugliness, grit, solidity and underlying grace in both her materials and surroundings.

More About the Exhibit:

"Jingletown Junction" Jingletown is a migratory, semi-industrial zone located on the estuary of Oakland and Alameda. Ten artists, all who live and/or work here, all members of the Jingletown Arts and Business Community (JABC) have created artwork for this show, as it stems from our individual experience of living and working in an artists' neighborhood. Each artist uses his/her own medium and creative ideas to make pieces that concern the collaborative experience of this area. In a time when our neighborhood is undergoing rapid change, growing by leaps and bounds, it is our goal to stimulate awareness of and support for the rich and diverse population of working, exhibiting and performing artists, and other creative members of Jingletown.

The exhibit features the work of:

Alison McLennan, Fernando Reyes, Jill McLennan, Heather Whitehead, Russ Osterweil, Jan Watten, Jon Zax, Kathy Cronin, Bill Silveira and Laurel True.

PRO ARTS GALLERY 550 Second Street Oakland, CA 510-763-4361 Dates: March 18 - April 25, 2008 Artists' Talk: Saturday, April 5, 1 - 3 pm

Above: Crack/ Lancaster 9846
Asphalt, concrete,
24” x 18” x 1”, 2008
Laurel True

Above: Crack/Peterson at Chapman
Asphalt, concrete,
gold smalti
24” x 18” x 1”, 2008

Laurel True

Above: Skidmark/ E. 7th at Derby Asphalt, concrete, dichroic
and antique glass
24” x 18” x 1”, 2008
Laurel True

Above: Lancaster 400 Asphalt, concrete, mirror, glass
24” x 18” x 1”, 2008
Laurel True

Asphalt in it's natural habitat
Jingletown Junction, USA

Sideshow skidmark Derby at Chapman Sts.
Jingeltown Junction

Sideshow Installation/ Derby at Chapman
Asphalt, concrete, brick, metal, found objects
4’ x 4’ x 3” 2008

Laurel True

Detail Sideshow Installation

True Mosaics On the Road! May in New Orleans

True Mosaics on the Road: May in New Orleans... The rebuilding effort continues and New Orleans marches on in true survivor fashion.

Jazz Fest happens the last weekend in April - 24-27th and the first weekend in May - 1-4th this year and the lineup is great

Bywater Art Market is a wonderful artists market in the heart of the Bywater District, full of artists and musicians on Saturday May 17th (and every 3rd Saturday of the month).
om/bam/bam-photos.htm I will be teaching a couple of mosaic classes in Nola during the month of May.. come join us!

At New Orleans School of Glass and Printmaking in the Gallery District
Fine Art Mosaics in Glass: May 10-11, 2008

At New Orleans Conservation Guild in the heart of the Bywater
Mosaics For the Garden: Saturday and Sunday, May 24-25th, 2008

For more information on these classes please visit my home page

Photo above by Fine Art Mosaics in Glass Student 2006

True Mosaics and Institute of Mosaic Art on TV!

What is going on I do not know..

February seemed to be a very big press month for our mosaic businesses and I am not complaining one bit. Here are the details:

Institute of Mosaic Art (with a visit into True Mosaics Studio in same location) was on Channel 7 ABC yesterday on a show called View From the Bay.

The show is like a daytime talk show and they did a 4 and half minute deal on IMA. It turned out very well. The spot will be viewable for 90 days on the ABC website.. link below:

Sun Sculpture Series for Ocean Avenue in San Francisco Underway!

Sun Sculpture Series Underway!

To be sited on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco.

Wow has this been a long time coming. A little walk down memory lane below as we actually were selected for this project in 2004
and contracted with the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2005. I am not kidding. This is officially the longest running single (commissioned) project I have ever worked on.

This is/ was a percent for art project using Muni (public transportation system) funds in conjunction with an upgrade to the system along Ocean Ave. in the southern part of San Francisco. I was asked to propose a project and a location along Ocean Avenue. I had originally proposed two 10 ft tall sort of obelisk shaped sculptures with spheres on top, covered in mosaic. Something about the location was not going to work and after I was awarded the project I was asked to redesign and propose a different location for the artwork.

This morphed into a completely different proposal on my part and changed into three spherical shapes to symbolize suns. Ocean Avenue is really NOT sunny and very windy and pretty gray all around so I thought it would be good to get some sun down there in the form of art. So I designed three spherical sculptural forms to be covered in swirling warm colors.

One of the suns is 5' diameter, one is 4' diameter and one 3' diameter and they will sit on the crossroads of Ocean and Grenada (Grenada cuts in at an angle, making kind of a triangle). One Sun on each corner.

My final designs for the mosaic patterning on the surface of the sculptures were in an Italianate style, but funked up. I am now (lovingly) calling this style Nouveau Roman. Or maybe I should call it Roman Super Funk. That sounds a lot better- more professional.
Just kidding.

My designs were approved in early 2005. I am not kidding. And we are just doing these now. Talk about red tape - Jesus. You name it and it has happened.. permitting issues, insurance, the footings weren't right, engineering stuff, staff changes at the commissioning agency.. on and on.

But the good news is that we are on schedule to finish by the end of March (I hope) and have them installed. Exciting. These spheres have been sitting in our studio for literally years and thank God we have a big studio. They almost became invisible (if you can imagine) or like some giant gray furniture or a giant pile of laundry until the green light went back on and we were able to jump back onto this project.

Left: Naked spheres waiting in line

As with most of our projects, these designs are being built up in layers. First went on the mirrored swirls (essential) and then the cool color accent lines and then the "pods" of "flying saucers" as I like to call them. Now were onto the backgrounds. I am way into setting these squares. I am cutting them down using hand tools and a wet saw and they are not perfect squares. I an not really into working with prefabricated square tessserae. I like irregularity in my squares.

Below: Original design drawings and Right: Large Sun in progress

The forms were fabricated in a top secret location and are made of foam with steel and concrete and fiberglass. No I didn't make them myself - I hired this part out. Almost all of the tile being used is McIntyre (see next post for McIntyre commercial).

Below left: Concrete sphere with mirror swirls only
Below right: Here comes the sun

Below left: Detail of flying saucer pod shape
Below right: Medium sun ready for background.

Lafayette Mercantile Fountain Installed!

The rains finally gave us a window of time to get our mosaic fountain project fully installed the week before last. The install went very smoothly with only two of us. Awesome teamwork and thanks to IMA instructor Tracy Broback for her help during install!

We installed the bottom part one day and the sides and trim the second day and grouted the third day.
The ball on top I had already completed before the holidays.

Grout color was midnight blue (Custom) and we used Kerabond/ Kerolastic (Mapei) thin-set. The inside of the fountain had already been waterproofed before our install. The fountain is situated in a walkway area in Lafayette Mercantile and next to a new restaurant called Yankee Pier. They will evidently eventually have outdoor seating there right next to the fountain. I hope they have mojitos. (Speaking of mojitos, I have a recommendation for a great Cuban restaurant- but that is on my other blog..)

Anyway, it was a good project. Very fishy. Boy do people love an underwater scene. That is probably the theme I have worked with the most (for commissions) over the years. Water. Well who doesn't like water? I might put together a little book of underwater mosaics.

Left: Detail of side fishies and copper lights. Looking forward to seeing it underwater and lit up.

Below: Starfish cutting up side. I decided not to continue the background lay patterning from bottom sections to side sections, but it kind of looks like I did. Neat trick.

I can't really figure out how to get these photos to line up like I want (blogging is boggeling) so the rest are:

Full view from walkway above and detail of green fishy with swirling colors - oops where did that go? Oh well. it takes a lot of time to blog and I need to move on to the Project du Jour- which are a set of color drawings for some murals we are going to do downtown Oakland.

Production or installation assistance for this project by Nicole Bertoline, Tracy Broback, Joe Decker and Kim Larson.

***Next time I'll post our Sun Series sculptures in progress in the studio.***

All tile (ok 95%) for above project was high- fire, exterior grade made by McIntyre Tile. Sorry for the commercial, but our retail store, Mosaic Studio Supply (.com) at the Institute of Mosaic Art (.com) reps this line of tile. It is by far my favorite to work with and it has an amazing color range. And they created a purple especially for me that is my favorite color tile. I am using it as a background for one of my next projects.

My dog is bugging me for a walk. Over and out.

Article in Diablo Magazine

Neat! An article just came out about Institute of Mosaic Art and my work in Diablo Magazine, February Issue:

Kind of a weird coincidence that the title of the article is the same as the documentary about Isaiah Zagar by his son Jerimiah....

Pieces of A Dream

Photograph by Gabriela Hasbun

For those of us who can barely scratch out a stick figure on paper and are intimidated by any art form, mosaic might be the ideal medium. Even for beginners, the process of creating order (a pattern) out of chaos (broken shards) can be incredibly gratifying.

So says Laurel True, a mosaic artist who teaches this ancient art to students of all levels. In 2005, after 14 years of teaching increasing numbers of students privately, True opened the Institute of Mosaic Art—one of very few such centers in the United States—in Oakland. She found a dilapidated building in the Jingletown arts district and, with the help of her students, transformed it into a neighborhood jewel, covering the walls, inside and out, with colorful mosaic murals and fresh sweeps of bright paint.

Since opening two years ago, the school has welcomed more than 4,000 students and visitors from such far-flung places as Australia, Chile, Germany, and Japan to be taught by True and visiting instructors. The art of mosaic has a kind of universal appeal, according to True. “It’s accessible, it’s appealing, it’s tactile, and people love the idea of putting pieces together,” True says. “I see people coming to it from both the right side of the brain and the left. Some projects require a particular format, a set of rules, and a lot of measurement and order, while other approaches can involve much more spontaneity.”

Courtesy of Laurel True
In her own pieces, True prefers to mix her media, using fused glass, ceramic, and other materials that fit her intended theme. Take, for example, her signature form, the shotgun-style house—a one-room structure with no halls. One of many that she’s created stands near the entry of the institute. At a height of about five feet, it’s covered in shards of reflective glass inside and out, with 32 eyeballs (a recurrent image in her work), representing her age when she created the work. The words know thyself (uttered by an ancient Greek oracle) are spelled out in colored letters across the structure’s doorway. “The house itself is a metaphor for the mind,” she says. “This piece, to me, is about self-reflection.”

True’s own self-exploration has taken her to the other side of the world—Ghana, in West Africa—where she teaches mosaic art to students of all ages. Over the years, she and 50 pupils there have completed seven mosaic murals and sculptures that depict traditional symbols and folkloric themes passed down through oral historians. A few of her most devoted students, who started with her as children, have parlayed their skills into a viable trade and now receive commissions for their work. “I’m so proud of these kids,” True says. “And I don’t have this view that I came in and gave them this giant gift. It’s more the other way around. I feel really woven in and attached to a lot of people there.”

Courtesy of Laurel True
True’s approach to life is much like her chosen medium. “I don’t make decisions based on anything logical,” she says. “I move through the world in an intuitive way, and the pieces somehow end up fitting together in the end.”

The Institute of Mosaic Art ( offers daylong, weekend, and weeklong classes for students of all levels. To see a map of Laurel True’s 22 mosaic installations in the Bay Area, go to
This article appears in the February 2008 issue of Diablo Magazine

Our Latest Installation: Lafayette Mercantile

In honor of the fact that we were supposed to install this project this week (and the second week of December) I will post pics of latest project: A mosaic fountain for Lafayette Mercantile, a new upscale shopping plaza in downtown Lafayette. (Is there a downtown Lafayette?) Anyway..

Left is me with sample board that was submitted to design firm and client. We are on job site here in November
to take a template of inside of fountain so we can create an exact scale drawing to use a a guide for mosaic creation.

We were approached by a design firm in San Francisco to develop designs for the inside of a fountain with a sea theme. They wanted starfish, fish, swirls (no mirror) and they wanted Roman. I proposed a what I have been callin
g a "Nouveau Italian" style.. meaning a contemporary riff on Roman style using ceramic tile cut in square (and other geometric) shapes. The style is more organic for me and I like it better than a straight Roman style. I follow traditional setting "rules" but then I "embellish" them. And use larger tesserae than the tiny squares, adding accents in a contemporary carved/ fitted style.

We have completed and installed the ball at the top of the fountain. The rest is sitting in the studio waiting to be installed. I had to do the ball on site because it couldn't come to the studio. I actually enjoyed being out on the job site because I rarely do projects outside of the studio anymore (unless community projects) and I enjoy talking to passerby and the other people on the job site.

Here are some in progress shots. Design was made in sections on fiberglass mesh backing. We use a temporary, water soluble glue to affix the tesserae to the mesh, which becomes part of the installation.The sections get installed in to a mortar bed at one time like a giant puzzle.

To left is the ball at the top of the fountain. This part is finished, grouted and sealed. We used midnight blue grout.

More pictures of this project later in the month. We are hopefully going to install the inside sections (bottom and inside walls) next week.

Then we move onto a set of murals for downtown Oakland and a set of sphere shaped sun sculptures for an SF Arts Commission.