Francesca's Profile

About

Welcome to Studio Fresca! Thank you for your interest in my work. On this page you can find out about: 1) Me; 2) My Work; 3) the Mosaic Making Process; 4) Recycling; and the obligatory Artist's Statement. For Shop Policies, please click on the link for those on my Shop Home page. If you don't find the information you need below or you have further questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.


1. A BIT ABOUT ME

I am an eclectic artist and multi-disciplinary designer who enjoys a semi-nomadic life due to my husband’s unique profession and work schedule. We have been fortunate to travel in nearly 30 countries, in nearly 30 years, and that exposure to other places, other peoples and other cultures has definitely had an impact on my work, as well as on my life. For the past several years I have been migrating…

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  • Born on January 1
  • Joined October 1, 2007

Favorite materials

recycled, repurposed, salvaged, china, dishes, flatware, smalti, tempered, stained, vitreous, glass, tile, stone

Shop

About

Welcome to Studio Fresca! Thank you for your interest in my work. On this page you can find out about: 1) Me; 2) My Work; 3) the Mosaic Making Process; 4) Recycling; and the obligatory Artist's Statement. For Shop Policies, please click on the link for those on my Shop Home page. If you don't find the information you need below or you have further questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.


1. A BIT ABOUT ME

I am an eclectic artist and multi-disciplinary designer who enjoys a semi-nomadic life due to my husband’s unique profession and work schedule. We have been fortunate to travel in nearly 30 countries, in nearly 30 years, and that exposure to other places, other peoples and other cultures has definitely had an impact on my work, as well as on my life. For the past several years I have been migrating between Vermont and various other places, such as Kauai, Florida and California and I find the different environments stimulating and inspiring.

My professional work includes graphics – both print and web; design for residential and commercial interiors; architectural enhancements and faux paint finishes; residential architecture; jewelry design; documentary and artistic photography; design and creation of home furniture and personal fashions; and mosaics.

For the last fifteen years, my primary focus has been on “artistic redesign” — reusing, recycling and re-purposing discarded resources into beautiful and useful objects. I’m passionate about making the most of our earthly resources. I consider myself both an artist and a designer because I’m interested in creating unique and beautiful things that work well as art pieces and which are also useful and functional. I want to accomplish this by the most effective and efficient means possible, which for me nearly always involves recycling resources. I also love browsing, digging and sorting through junk piles, salvage yards, thrift stores and trash heaps. It not only stimulates all my senses, but it sparks my mind when I find strange or mundane objects and then think of an unusual or creative way to use them.

I am the former owner and principal of ARTiculate Communications and Design, a full service design studio based in Vermont. Books, brochures and posters my company created are still in use by the state of VT and have been cited and recommended by the National Geographic Society. I hold a BA in Liberal Arts and also teach Art at a local high school academy. I am a strong supporter of art in public spaces and work on many community mosaic projects. I create my pieces for the love of it, market them to show people how truly useful our "trash" is, and I sell my work in order to support myself and my participation in all the pro bono public art projects in which I am involved — although like many artists I often find myself giving it away to friends and family when they admire or comment on it!

WEB SITE: www.studiofresca.com
MY BLOG: www.studiofresca.blogspot.com

You can also find me on Face Book in the Fan Pages under Studio Fresca, link: https://www.facebook.com/StudioFresca and I do sometimes twitter @studiofresca.

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2. ABOUT MY MOSAICS

While I work in a variety of media, I’ve become particularly enamored with mosaics. Mosaic creation involves both right and left brain attention since they begin with artistic design concepts and end with cutting, shaping and maneuvering tesserae into place — rather like a jigsaw puzzle — to complete the concept. Mosaics, as art and architecture, have a fascinating and ancient history and, given the relative inertness of the materials used, they can survive for centuries — even in harsh conditions. Mosaics have very defined “positive space” (where the tiles or tesserae are laid) and “negative space” (where the grout lines are), which makes working with them especially interesting to me. Mosaics, by the nature of the substrate base materials used (whether a flat board, square box or curved vase) and the types of tesserae used (whether flat tile, curved rocks, ridged seashells, irregularly shaped bolts or malleable bicycle chains) lend themselves to works that are multi-dimensional and strongly textured, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I employ several traditional methods when making my mosaics including "direct" (basically laid face up and grouted over the top); "indirect" (basically laid face down on paper and grouted and/or glued to a substrate then turned face up, paper removed and grouted again over the top); "grouted" (using a cementitious material to fill the spaces between tesserae and hold the piece together); "groutless" (Italian method using small, tightly packed tesserae that are left ungrouted); and "pique assiette" (French term loosely translated to mean "stolen" or "broken" plate, which involves tesserae or tiles made from broken or cut dishware, china and pots). I also use non-traditional methods, materials and objects such as flatware, beads, findings, fittings, statuary (and parts of statuary), fossils, old jewelry — and anything else that catches my attention — along with resins, epoxies and custom cement mixes.

While it often makes the process more difficult and time consuming, I especially like using recycled materials (rather than newly purchased) for my mosaics. The challenge of effectively using what I find, instead of purchasing exactly what I think I might need, somehow elicits a deeper creative response in me as the process becomes as much about art as about visual problem solving. However, the problems inherent in trying to cut, nip, break or grind, old, weathered, chipped, cracked and broken china, tiles, porcelain, mirrors, plates, etc., into exact tesserae, identically proportioned tiles and accurate shapes, has prompted a new patience in my working attitude. The “used” nature of these recycled resources often makes them quite difficult to work with as no matter how carefully I make my cuts, the salvaged materials have a tendency to break along old stress points, crumble in weathered portions and shatter along invisible (to me, anyway) time-worn fracture lines that defy my best intentions. While this is sometimes frustrating (and it certainly makes the process more time consuming) it does make every cut, score, nip and snap an adventure into the unknown. Despite this challenge, giving these old materials new life is infinitely rewarding and I love finding, handling and working with them.
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3. ABOUT THE MOSAIC MAKING PROCESS

(NOTE - this is for the "direct method", which is the method I use for most of my work sold on-line)
1. Find or discover the materials and decide on the design concept.
2. Choose a substrate base material. If using green MDF (environmentally safer medium density fibre board), I nearly always draw and cut out an original pattern by hand, making the mosaic substrate base my own creation rather than a manufactured clone. I also use tile, cement board, wood, vases, cement forms, etc., as substrate base.
3. Prepare the substrate base. When using MDF this involves sanding, coating the front with reflective silver paint (so that light refelcts back out from transparent tiles and tesserae), putting several coats of black enamel on the back and sides to seal the piece and give it a nice finish. Unless the piece is especially large or involves heavy tesserae, I generally use 1/4" MDF so that my pieces remain light and not too thick, which makes them easier to display and use.
4. My tesserae and tiles are hand cut, usually from recycled and salvaged china, dishware, glass and tile. Each individual tesserae is then further hand shaped, with more cutting and nipping, and is sometimes ground on the edges or back, to fit well into a particular pattern or specific space on each individual mosaic.
5. Tiles are glued to the substrate, usually using permanent, transparent adhesive.
6. After the adhesive has had several days to dry, I grout each individual mosaic by hand. Since I used recycled and salvaged materials, this step often also involves "carving out" the grout away from individual tiles that are of less thickness than others so that they show to their full advantage and provide an added dimension to the piece.
7. After the grout has had time to cure, I seal it with grout sealer. I then title, personally sign and date the back of each individual piece. Then I seal the back with clear lacquer for longevity.
8. In most cases, mounting hardware is attached so the piece is ready to hang or install.
9. Then I send my work out into the world!
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4. ABOUT RECYCLING

I really do believe it is important to pay attention to, and value, the vast resources we have — so many of which are wasted — and to remind ourselves, and each other, that we can create such beauty, function and uniqueness out of what would otherwise be dumped in our already overcrowded landfills. I find my materials at the local dump, the recycling and resource redemption center, along the roadside and in dumpsters everywhere. I also purchase used materials at thrift stores and bazaars run by non-profit organizations because I love knowing that my shopping is supporting these important community efforts. I also occasionally purchase used materials from other mosaicists who have their own on-line shops and offer materials that either I can't find locally, or which really intrigue me. I believe recycling and art can, and should be, a rewarding part of everyone’s life. Here's hoping you're doing and getting some of both! And for a truly liberating and imaginative exploration of the current challenges inherent in our quest for healthy sustainability, check out the Story of Stuff at www.storyofstuff.com
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5. ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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