Next time you need to spruce up a corner of your home, consider commissioning a local artist to create handcrafted pieces for your abode. Melissa Miller of Melissa's Motifs is an artist from Des Moines, Iowa, and has professionally created art in the style of pique assiette (a type of mosaic that uses found objects) for the past 10 years. Check out our interview with her and be sure to take a look at her website and galleries.
THKIA: Tell us a little about what makes your artwork so unique.
Melissa: My work is unique because it contains customizable elements. For instance, many mosaics use tile or glass shards, but most do not incorporate other found things, which are the essence of pique assiette mosaic. Coins, jewels, and Capodimonte flowers give the pieces a rough-hewn look, more similar to a grotto than the picture-perfect, mass-produced mosaic tables we see in discount stores.
THKIA: According to your website, you are very particular about the pottery shards you use for your art. How do you choose the pottery pieces?
Melissa: I generally use only damaged antique china because the colors, textures, and glazing of those old pieces give them more of that weathered look that I love. Older china is also easier to cut with my tile nippers, and cuts into more interested shapes. Newer dishes tend to shatter, and I've even found that some of the color of those dishes actually wipes off in the grouting process. I do make an exception in some cases, however, for customized pieces, such as a kitchen table that matches the everyday dishes and accents of a particular kitchen.
THKIA: How did you get started with this? What drew you to this kind of artwork?
Melissa: I learned about pique assiette from a book I picked up at a bookstore, Making Bits and Pieces Mosaics. After several years of working at it, I started showing my work at local art fairs. I now sell mostly wholesale to galleries and stores in the United States, Canada, and Hong Kong. I also work with interior designers, and recently completed a patio table for an historic bed and breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina.
THKIA: What resources do you need to create pique assiette mosaics?
Melissa: I have created an e-book that I've improved and adjusted from my own experiences and several years of teaching this craft in Des Moines. The feedback I've gotten indicates that people feel this book is more detailed and descriptive than most books found in book stores.
Remember to check out Melissa's website for more information about Melissa's e-book and see examples of her work.
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All