Looking for something unique? Mosaic Madness is a business that creates decorative finishes and mosaics for the home.
Owners Connie Owens, Jessica Lizotte, Cheryl Ingram and Jennifer Hopwood all are Rhode Island transplants who happen to be members of the same family. Owens attended the Rhode Island School of Design and did decorative finish training in Louisville, Ky., with well-known decorative artist Martin Allen Hirsch. All of the Mosaic Madness artists primarily are self-taught.
Mosaic Madness creates a little bit of everything - bowls, mirrors, tabletops, heads, guitars, fireplaces and much more. A table with a mosaicked top, inspired by American Indian textiles, is priced at $400. One of the biggest and well-known pieces is named "Birtha."
TARA D. McKINNEY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Jessica Lizotte, left, and Connie Owens, two of Mosaic Madness’ owners, show off some of their decorative work.
Birtha is a wicker mannequin that was filled in with concrete and covered with plaster and glass mosaic pieces by Jennifer Hopwood. Birtha's body has an ohm symbol, a female symbol, a lotus flower and a tree of life. The unique piece tends to inspire the biggest reactions from people. Birtha is for sale for $3,000, but the piece is not accessible to a lot of patrons. Most are interested in talking about her, but end up buying something useful.
"People will come up and say they think Birtha is offensive, but I tell them that she's not embarrassing, but really beautiful. That sparks a great conversation right there. We do have pieces that are more user-friendly or reasonable for the average person. Each one is one of a kind. Many of our pieces are utilitarian," Owens said.
The business went through a rough period last summer when Owens' mother died. She felt overwhelmed with grief and did not want to continue creating. Owens was ready to give up the business, but was approached by Judy Olinsky, of the Williamsport First Friday committee. Olinsky convinced Owens that Mosaic Madness needed to be part of First Fridays.
"We closed up the studio over the summer when I lost my mother. That was huge. Judy called and I thought, 'OK, I'm not done.' That turned things around for me and sparked my creativity. Now I can't stop doing it. I have First Friday to thank for making our business more accessible for people," Owens said.
Showing their work at First Fridays really jump-started the business. Once people saw the mosaicked vases, tables and other pieces, they wanted installations for their homes. Mosaic Madness has experienced a fairly steady flow of commissioned work. Bowls, mirrors and trays always have been popular items, but the best sellers at art shows are mosaicked heads. The heads range from $75-125, depending on the materials used and the time involved in creating the piece.
"One of the pieces I did was a tray with a dragon. It's a huge piece with lots of little details made from textured glass. I painted the back of the glass purple and silver and I hand cut each scale. The idea almost exploded in my head and I felt like I had to create it. That piece really represents me and who I am - my fire and passion is in that dragon on that tray," Lizotte said.
Lizotte, Owens' niece, always loved arts and crafts, but never considered herself an artist.
"It's all her (Owens') fault! I had never done mosaics in my life, but one day one day Connie handed me an apple and some tile pieces and said, 'do this.' I've been doing it ever since," Lizotte said.
Lizotte does more of the fine detail work such as beaded mosaics. She also handles most of the retail end of the business and customer interaction. Owens focuses on the creative aspect of the business, making a lot of pieces and handling installations. Hopwood does most of the behind the scenes work, creating, but staying out of the spotlight. Ingram does all of the above. According to Owens, the business is going in a new direction.
Mosaic Madness recently closed its Third Street studio and moved to Owens' basement in Loyalsock Township. Owens recently became a member of the PA Crafters' Guild, which allows the business to submit pieces to be juried and shown at Eagle Rock Gallery. The public will be able to purchase Mosaic Madness pieces from the gallery.
"One thing I believe is that you don't have to have a formal education to consider yourself an artist. If you create something and it speaks to people. You are an artist. It isn't always about sales. If someone critiques your work, you just learn from it. If you aren't selling your work, it's OK. As long as your work does something for you and makes an impression," Owens said.
To view more pieces and installations by Mosaic Madness, visit the Mosaic Madness facebook page.
For more information on how to get custom design service for interior or exterior installations, contact Connie Owens at 772-8217 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Jessica Lizotte at 401-793-0956.