By Angela

Mosaic Projects

A young woman I know had been terribly betrayed by her husband and best friend. Her world was shattered when, after they decided to divorce, he moved in with her best friend.

Struggling to make sense out of what happened, she bought some paints and went about decorating her dishes with symbols representing memories and feelings related to her marriage. Dreams, beginnings, endings, pain, separation, love, hate, promises made and broken. After all the plates were painted, she loaded them in her van and drove to a brick building.

Having obtained permission from the building’s owner, she began the cathartic process of smashing the dishes against the bricks and then stomping on them. When she finished, she swept up the pieces and placed them in a box to keep for a future craft project in which she would use the pieces to create a mosaic tiled piece. Symbolically, the pain within the hurtful phase of her life was released and the pieces arranged differently to transform the hurt into something new, something beautiful.

Inspired by her example, I decided first to learn how to construct a Mosaic stepping stone project offered through an organization called PLAN, which provides a variety of services to their clients with disabilities. This is the stepping stone I made by gluing a variety of materials – small river rocks, pieces of colored glass and flat-sided marbles – on a poured and hardened concrete square, and then grouting in between the spaces.

I had so much fun gluing items onto the square, I sought a 2nd mosaic project. I found a terra cotta frog on sale for half price. I bought a container of small flat-sided colored marbles which I glued onto his back and a container of broken pieces of colored glass which I glued onto the top of his face. Then I grouted him and painted him green.

Next I bought some different colored ceramic tiles to break into pieces and make more mosaic projects. Though I haven’t yet figured out what I’m making next, I did have fun breaking the tiles and some old dishes. Since I have difficulties bending over to pick up the broken pieces, I placed the item in a couple of plastic bags which were tied shut and experimented with different ways of breaking the items – throwing them on the sidewalk or up against the house, hitting them with a hammer, stomping on it, etc.

So how are these projects healing?

  • Picking up small pieces of glass or tile helps with fine motor skills
  • Applying the glue to the mosaic piece and gluing it to the stepping stone or other item helps with eye-hand coordination
  • Arranging and gluing these pieces in one’s own way promotes self-expression and creativity; if one uses someone else’s directions or pattern, one practices following directions.
  • A person can work on therapeutic goals like fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination and have something tangible to show for it.
  • Breaking something can be cathartic.

Making a mosaic project is much like life after brain injury. Something beautiful (i.e., the old me) was shattered into unrecognizable pieces. To transform to a new me whom I like, I must sift through the broken pieces and find the ones that sparkle, shine, are the right shape or add interest to the new me. While my new creation will be different and still something of beauty, I need to keep in mind that these broken pieces are still vulnerable. This vulnerability requires the application of glue and grout.

The glue is something that comes from within. It is the courage to admit that everything and everyone changes and to find the pieces of me that I like and want to develop now. Grout provides the remaining stabilizing force. My grout includes all my external supports – people who help me with my living environment; doctors and therapists who join me in a respectful partnership towards recovery; friends who still find things about me they like and enjoy – basically, a mixture of people who love, respect and encourage me.

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Glass Mosaic Projects

My mosaic projects have taken a shift. A friend sent me some pictures of her dog, a beautiful standard poodle named Magic. That inspired the idea to try making a mosaic of him from broken pieces of colored glass. Here’s the end product.

My friend liked her mosaic so much, she asked me to make one for a friend of hers whose favorite cat had just died.

© Angela Cramer, 2008

Tags: TBI, traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury, post concussion syndrome, handicapped artist, disabled artist, pet mosaics, therapeutic hobbies, crafts, therapeutic benefits of crafts


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