Austin School of Mosaic Art

Global Mosaics: 
Inspirations, Materials and Techniques from
Around the World

Saturday, August 11, 2018
10 - 5 pm
$225 Materials included
To register contact: Austin School of Mosaic Art


In this one-day workshop, artist Laurel True brings techniques, materials and philosophical approaches she uses in her projects around the world. This workshop is designed for students to explore both inner and outer landscapes when making a mosaic piece.

“Whether traveling to another country or across town, personal journeys are an essential part of life and personal growth. Creative expression is a beautiful tool for helping to integrate our experiences, allowing them to organically become part of who we are, and bringing to life memories and inspirations that we can access again and again.”

I have designed this workshop to facilitate an exploration of creative expression in both personal and global contexts. I will guide students through a process of taking their inspirations from out in the world and distilling them into a beautiful piece of personal mosaic art.

We’ll be working with all kinds of colorful glass, mirror, clay, mixed media and building materials as well as hand-collected materials from my travels, including many non-traditional (strange and wonderful) surprises.*

Materials are the special focus in this workshop, as they really are markers of not only history and experience, but can also be symbols of identity, hopes, and dreams.

We will discuss ideas around creating mosaics with collected and recycled materials, working with the inherent qualities of chosen materials, and finding beauty in simplicity… and experiment with deconstructing our materials to find the beauty within (what a great metaphor). We’ll talk about finding inspiration in our surroundings and recognizing and working with symbols that speak to us - whether a pattern on a piece of fabric, colors of the sunset, a tiny flower popping out of a crack in the sidewalk - all of this becomes part of us and our visual experience.

Creating art helps us to synthesize and digest our awesome experiences.

I will demonstrate various approaches to mosaic creation, including different setting styles, working with or without a mortar bed and integrating texture, pattern, color into our work, with a focus on how diverse elements can be combined into a cohesive mosaic piece.

I’ll offer students prompts that will encourage them to reach into their own global experiences or inspirations that come when sitting in their own backyard. However we choose to explore the world, through travel or in our minds and imaginations, we have myriad inspirations that are waiting to be manifested into physical form. 

Technical lessons will include recognizing and using materials that are appropriate for indoor and outdoor display (permanence and impermanence), and we will review the proper adhesives, application, surfaces and arrangement of pieces for these projects. 

I will demonstrate how to use best utilize your mosaic tools when working diverse materials, i.e. how to get the best cuts with the least amount of effort, etc.

Other points covered:

  • Organic and intuitive approaches to mosaic making 
  • Translating sparks of inspiration into creative expression
  • Unique combinations of materials from the natural and urban landscapes
  • Unusual cuts, unexpected setting methods
  • Dealing visually and technically with found, scavenged and recycled materials
  • Giving collected treasures a home outside of “storage boxes for special stuff”.
  • Working with a central point
  • Exploring asymmetry and symmetry 
  • Embedding using tinted mortar beds (I’m bring earth pigments from the South of France)
  • Being resourceful…including how to make your own smalti
  • My “left hand” theory
  • Approaches to non-grouted mosaics 
  • Breaking the rules (creating your own “alternative facts”)
  • Cosmically connecting to your work…alchemy of the inner and outer

Materials + Meaning

I encourage students to bring materials they have collected from their travels or everyday life to this workshop. Using these materials can be a powerful reminder of the beauty and joy we experience in life. 

Through our experiences and memories, we imbue everyday objects with meaning, marking a place and time in our lives. These objects hold an energetic vitality that infuses artwork with meaning, history, identity and other special-ness.

Students will receive a prepared substrate on which to create their mosaic - primed
and painted with earth pigments. Approximate size: 10” x 10”

* Some examples of the non-traditional materials I’ll be bringing for students to use: refuse glass and mirror, cut asphalt, concrete, terrazzo, tesserae and beads from West Africa, brick and ceramic salvaged from floodwaters after Katrina, window and sea glass from Haiti, hand-made glass melted from old bottles in Kenya, shells, beads, Himalayan salt, Spanish glass tiles, clay tiles from Mexico, glass eyes from Turkey, Italian, Chinese and Kenyan smalti, camel dung shaped into stone-like tesserae (!), earth pigments from French ochre quarries, gems, antique cabochons from Europe, reflective and refractive (dichroic) glass.. and more!

Looking forward to having this experience with you!

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”  — Rumi

Laurel True is founder of the Global Mosaic Project and True Mosaics Studio. She has spent the past 25 years journeying to different parts of the world to teach and create mosaic artwork to diverse communities of students, artists and volunteers.