Big Falls Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape

Use of Natural Stone in Landscape Mosaics

I recently saw some stained-glass mosaics by artist Debra D’Souza, and they reaffirmed my belief in the mosaic business and actually cheered me up after a day of work poop. To explain why Debra’s mosaics make me so happy, I first have to explain a problem that really haunts me as a retailer of arts and craft supplies.

Flame Lake Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape
Flame Lake Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza 24 x36 in

Not Rocks with Fake Skins

Most of the stones you see used in mosaic artwork are rounded river rocks, which is fine when they are unique stones collected from beaches and hikes and real life, but all too often they are the epoxy-coated or urethane-coated river rocks of the same type of stone from the same factory no matter where you buy them, which is really sad to me.

For starters, that polymer coating isn’t going to age gracefully over time, and the rocks are a generic commodity with clones everywhere.

When the most commercial-looking and least-archival materials in your mosaic are the coated rocks you added to give your artwork the look and feel of naturally gathered materials, something has gone wrong somewhere.

What has gone wrong is that most craft retailers sell cheap junk without regard to durability or sustainability or even the aesthetic quality of the art. As long as people will buy it, most craft retailers don’t care how fast the materials are discarded or how much your artistic experience is cheapened, especially if you are a child.

If you doubt this, notice how poorly made most craft kits are and how the emphasis is on packaging.

Split Rock Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape
Split Rock Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza 24 x 18 in

At Mosaic Art Supply, our strategy is different, and not just because we are artists and have to live with ourselves. We figure we are better off as a business to encourage excellence in ordinary people’s artwork and to promote contemporary mosaic as a fine art.

Showcasing mosaics from talented artists like Debra helps with that. Take a look and get inspired!

Real Rocks in Real Art

This week I saw some rough-cleaved shingles of stone used in some stained-glass mosaic landscapes by artist Debra D’Souza, and it really made me think about how found stones of different textures and shapes could be used in mosaic, especially to simulate things like cliff faces and boulders in the landscape, buildings even.

Barn Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape
Barn Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza

I really can’t stop imagining things rendered in stone that way now.

I look at Debra’s Barn stained-glass mosaic (above), and I imagine a “similar” composition with a large boulder in the left foreground and mountains rising diagonally above the tree line on the far right. If the silo (or house or houses or city) were “bricked” from stone chips, there would be stone at near, middle, and far positions along a line of site.

It’s the same when I see photos of things in mountain landscapes right now. My mind starts planning how they could be rendered using a combination of stained glass and rough-cleaved stone. I think Debra transmitted something viral to me with her art.

Afternoon at the Falls detail Stained Glass Mosaic
Afternoon at the Falls detail Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza

See More of Debra’s Mosaics

Mosaic is definitely a medium of visual art where you can learn a tremendous amount of the process merely by looking at the finished results.

You can see many more of Debra’s mosaics at her website.

I noticed that many of Debra’s landscapes have the cold northern light of Wisconsin as part of their verisimilitude. As a southerner who worships late summer afternoons, I was drawn to the warm lighting in these two:

The Oak Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape
The Oak Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza 26 x 40 in
Meadow Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape
Meadow Stained Glass Mosaic Landscape by artist Debra D’Suza 18 x 48 in

In Defense of River Stones

I love tumbled oval river rocks and think they are magical. I’ve always picked them up, and I’ve always been in awe of how long some of them took to form, particularly when the stone in question is a hard stone like basalt, which could have literally taken thousands of years to be shaped and smoothed into an oval. I love to use these stones in my found-object mosaics.




14 responses to “Use of Natural Stone in Landscape Mosaics”

  1. Carlissa Maree Harris Avatar

    This is soooo beautiful…truth be told, a class assignment [many years ago] involved recycled glass shards & enamel paint…this has awakened new interest & enthusiasm.

  2. Kathy Avatar

    These are beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Laura Rendlen is another artist who uses rocks in mosaics beautifully.

  3. Lisa Avatar

    Love your blogs. Brings a smile to my face and gives me something to think about. Thank you.

  4. Paula Latovick Avatar
    Paula Latovick

    Thank you, Joe. These mosaics are truly remarkable.

    Could you please talk a little about how one would go about breaking up natural stone into workable pieces, specifically as to how to get thin “slices” that will fit into a mosaic of mainly glass without rising up too high from the platform? Do you suggest a saw?

    I appreciate your posts and it’s always fun to see a new email from you!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      We will be introducing a new line of stone 6mm thick and the tool to cut it. It is a professional rendering system from Turkey. We hope to have it here in less than 2 months. We are very excited.

  5. Valri C. Avatar
    Valri C.

    These are wonderful. Even before I got to your comment about them having you re-vision things rendered a similar way, I had said to myself… “Holy cow. Now I HAVE to do this!”
    I will be pulling out my jars of rocks and stones and other similar things with a whole way of considering what I can do with them.
    I am also going to have to go rock-hunting…
    Thank you for sharing. And thank you to Debra for making such beautiful work that will improve my own!

  6. Nita van Ammelrooy Avatar
    Nita van Ammelrooy

    Love the artwork you post on this blog. I really like it when you put in the dimensions of each piece. Gives me a better idea of how large the individual glass and tile pieces are which helps me understand how the level of detail is achieved. ie, in the post about the pet mosaics, how small the pieces are that make up the pet’s eyes.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I don’t have those dimensions, but I understand exactly what you mean and why they are important for understanding what you are looking at. In the case of these mosaics, the sizes of the individual glass pieces are very small. She uses an out-of-production fusible glass that has very fine details and mottling not seen in other glass. That is why her mosaics look so fantastically complex in terms of incidental visual interest.

  7. Nicola Jesse Avatar
    Nicola Jesse

    Hi, I am new to your blog-ha, ha-when I FINALLY realized your emails were
    attached to these informative pages. Thank you. Real inspiration. And
    you have answered several questions I did not know I had-I have been
    doing Glass Mosaic for about two years and Just discovering All the
    variety of the Mosaic Art Form. I see years of fun ahead of me.

  8. Bea Avatar

    HI Joe – I have been doing mosaics for several years but very low volume over those years because of other obligations. My question all along has been the same and I’ve never gotten a really good answer.
    I give away mosaic projects as gifts frequently and I am always concerned about sharp edges hurting the recipients. What I have done in the past is rub over the edges with a diamond-dust sanding block – it seems to dull the edges but I’m still worried about injuries. Even when I hang projects I keep as my own, I am super cautious when handling the edges and hanging mirror frames, etc. I am doing a dimensional five-sided block as a gift right now (using glass) and there are many edges and corners. I know some of them will be protected when I grout it but not all of the places where edges come together (especially the corners). What is the best way to either prepare the glass before applying it or dull it after applying it to the surfaces? I have already finished two of the sides of this block so those will have to be after-the-fact applications but the rest could be done before applying the glass. Thank you for any suggestion you might have. I have enjoyed your blog and refer to your posts frequently for answers – I appreciate that you have categories available to search. (I am already on your list of new post notification so don’t need to be added again.) Thank you, B

    1. Claire Carton Avatar
      Claire Carton

      Might want to pick up a rotary tool and some diamond grinders. But I’m an amateur so hopefully joe will answer.

      1. Joe Moorman Avatar
        Joe Moorman

        Hi Claire,
        I’m not the best person to ask about those. Someone at one of the lapidary websites or social media groups could give you an expert answer that was current. Sometimes brands get bought out, and they stop having the quality they were known for, and so an up-to-date recommendation is best when buying equipment.

  9. Claire Carton Avatar
    Claire Carton

    THANK YOU. I am a rock hound as well as an artist. And I get SO MAD when I see rocks (for sale! For a lot of money!) which are dyed and or coated. No, not all rocks are shiny. If you want a shiny rock, pick a shiny rock! The diversity of rocks is what makes them exciting and helps us identify them and understand how our entire earth was formed.

  10. Trisha Pollard Avatar
    Trisha Pollard

    Joe, you have inspired me to incorporate pieces of petrified wood (55 million years old, from our ranch in Freestone County, Texas) into my mosaics. I’ve been researching mosaics for a year now, while working on my new Petwood fireplace-surround design for our new house, and now that that’s installed, I plan to start my mosaic hobby! I have hundreds of pieces of leftover petwood to use!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.