Before I Was An Artist, #6 / by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last weekend, I moved the contents of my warehouse—a spare bedroom that I took over years ago to store not-commonly used mosaic materials, saws and tile cutters, various substrates and 3-d objects awaiting mosaic attention, project rejects and failures, and other miscellaneous mosaic and non-mosaic stuff—into a guest bedroom. This was in anticipation of our upcoming remodeling that includes taking out half of that warehouse/bedroom. It's at the end of the hall and we'll be opening up that area as it leads into the new studio wing.

Moving all the warehouse contents was like a trip down mosaic memory lane as I transferred inventory by phase of my mosaic history. What a nice collection of 4" x 4" glazed ceramic wall tile I have, in bright and pastel yellows; orange; lipstick red; pink; burgundy; cobalt, navy, and sky blues; eggplant; lime, forest, and true greens; gray; black; brown; turquoise; periwinkle; and, of course, white and off-white. These, along with my assortment of porcelain pool tile and the thick unglazed, miserable-to-cut, bathroom porcelain that I relied on before I discovered Cinca and Lyric, reflect my first year or two of mosaic adventure.

The crate of various dishes and cups, combined with bins of broken ceramic and porcelain vases, pots, and other decorative things, establishes a moderate picassiette inventory reflecting a couple-year period in the early to mid-2000s. Then there's the stained glass and gems—early 2000s—and mirror and Van Gogh glass, with which I worked extensively from around 2003 - 2007.

From 2000 - 2006, I was focusing primarily on decorative pieces, but ventured into a few wall art pieces, which I shared in post #4. Through the decorative work, I was developing style and method. I can see that now as I am looking back and reflecting over the course of my mosaic path, even though I was not aware of it at the time.


At the same time, my technique was becoming more and more refined. Why? Partly, I believe, because it was appropriate for the elegance for which I was unconsciously striving. But also because of an idea that I embraced: the more fine, the more logical; and the more logical, the more perfect. (Funny that I equate logical and perfect. Or that I connect logic to technique. It's got to do with the way that the pieces meet each other, but I'm meandering.) 

An invisible force,  like some kind of gravitational pull, attracted me to line and pattern, simple design, and minimal color palette—my rules of design, so to speak—of which the vase at left is an example. 

Like an organizing principle, these rules of design both gave birth to and were made manifest through a methodical approach to evaluating what needed to be done. The result, more often than not, was geometric and elegant.

Upon the discovery of mirror glass and Van Gogh glass, I discovered that I could cut such glass into various, and often small, geometric shapes and combine them to make intricate and sparkling patterns (see bottle collection below), beautifully suited to decorative projects like bottles and mirror frames. Again, applying this technique required a methodical, mathematical approach that I found very satisfying. 

And there it is. I am a perfectionist. Or, let's just say that perfectionism has long been like a ghost in my life; it is at once both a thing that chases me and a thing that is just ahead of me. It chases me as I run from the truth that it cannot be achieved, and it is right in front of me, taunting me and demanding that it must be achieved. 

Perfectionism seemed like the—dare I say—perfect companion to me in those first years, for about the first decade, and, indeed, I believe it was a good friend. It was always ahead of me, daring me to get ever more close. And so I did. However, I did not see it in my rearview mirror during this time. I don't know if that is because it was not there, or because I wasn't looking behind.

That was before I was an artist...