I was just in Oregon where I visited my family and gave my sister, Kim, this little mosaic I had secretly made for her. More than a year ago she gave me a pendant that belonged to our mother who passed away in 2013. She asked me if I’d use it in a mosaic for her and it sat in my studio awaiting inspiration. I drew many, many designs, mostly of dragonflies, which remind Kim of Mom, but none of them were working for me and the pendant.
I then got the idea to use our mom’s art to inspire my own design. She had a fun, playful, and happy style of drawing that was so loose and relaxed and easy, I just love it. She drew houses and still-lifes of vases with flowers and bowls of fruit. She drew women’s faces and landscapes and lots and lots of animals, mostly cats.
One of my favorite things she would do in my childhood is make hand-drawn cards for my sisters and I and place them on our pillows to find after school. A birthday card with two cats became the starting point for my design. This was her trademark style for funny characters and animals - dot eyes on happy faces, little hatch marks along the sides of their bodies. Simple, yet so expressive.
She also played on Photoshop and many of her creations were of cats holding balloons, like this one. I realized I could use Mom’s pendant as a balloon, with the little loop acting as the balloon knot. So, I had my idea!
The next challenge was the cat. I could’ve traced it to ensure it looked just like hers, but I wanted it to be from my hand so I set out to try and duplicate her cat with the ease and lightness she drew hers with. That sounds simple but it wasn’t! I must’ve drawn fifty of them (and got many stiff looking cats with little personality) before I felt I captured the expression and sureness of her lines.
I then transferred the design onto a sweet little sassafras wood slice – it smells so good! And I love how the bark edge creates a fun framing around the cat. I decided to use beads for the little hatch marks and wire for the whiskers and balloon string.
Mom frequently put belly buttons on her animals, so I made sure he got a little millefiori belly button. I put my favorite blue flower millefiori circling him to tie in with the blue beads and belly button. It took awhile to decide on the background, but I ended up choosing a light tan glass cut in lines to mimic how she would often draw on lined paper, including on her grocery lists!
I grouted it, put a little hanger on the back and it was finished the day before I left for Oregon. I waited for a quiet time during morning coffee to give it to her. I hope that every time she looks at it she will remember the sweetness, playfulness, creativity, and all the wonderfulness of Mom, as well as the love I have for the both of them!