One of the team's New Year's resolutions was to get back to the business of featuring our members on a monthly basis. We learn about each other and you get to know us too. We like that! March's featured member is Lisa Calabro of Crooked Moon Mosaics. Lisa is a newer member to the group and we find her to be absolutely charming. You will too. Her incredible talent is only matched by her humility. Lisa is funny, kind , slightly computer phobic and extremely good at her craft. Check out her shop for more of her wonderful work.
Lisa please give us a little background on yourself:
I was born right here in Rhode Island and raised in East Greenwich. I have always been exposed to art through my Dad who is an accomplished sculptor and jewelry designer. I did the normal kid things, ice skating, flute, and taunting my older sisters. High school was difficult for me and I became quite the partying rebel who barely graduated! The only thing I cared about was art. I would bunk my classes and spend most of the day in the darkroom developing photos! I won some big awards in drawing, photography and even store display while there, much to the frustration of my teachers who did not think I deserved them because of my behavior! I never made it to college (shocker) with the exception of a few art classes. I floated from job to job and eventually got married in 1987. I had two girls Amanda now 19, and Ellie now 16. I am divorced and remarried now. My art has had many faces over the years....photography, sculpting, drawing, painting, basket weaving, model making, cross stitching, sewing, interior design, gardening, stained glass, and now mosaics, the art I am most passionate about. Expressing myself artistically is what keeps me grounded, even through the most difficult times of my life.
When did you first become interested in your art form?
I’m not a big fan of the color blue (for decorating) but for some reason, blue glass always intrigued me. So I started taking some stained glass classes at a local shop about 10 years ago. I enjoyed it, but being a perfectionist, I found myself getting disenchanted. Not being able to make those solder lines perfect frustrated me to no end! Fast forward 6 years and I found mosaics quite by accident. Because I am a starving artist, I work at a restaurant waiting tables. We have about 70 feet of windows with a 10 inch sill. The chairs hitting the edge of the sill and the moisture from the windows sweating, were causing the plaster to break off. It looked horrible. I suggested a tile mosaic to fix it and next thing I knew.... I was making it! While researching how to do that project I found some truly amazing artists who pushed the envelope on what most people think of when they hear the word “mosaic.” I could not wait to experiment with the glass I already had and find my little niche in the mosaic world.
What inspires you?
Other mosaic artists inspire me most. There are some that are truly masters at what they do and I am just blown away by some of the mosaic masterpieces that they make! Creating something I love and having others love it also, is inspiring. I have gotten some really great feedback on my work and it makes me want to keep learning and fine tuning my craft. Being surrounded by shelves of jars, trays and boxes of my mosaic material inspire me when I walk into my studio. I usually don’t plan out my designs, I’ll pick a color scheme first and then just go through my tesserae, putting pieces together till I like it, then glue it down.
Does living in Rhode Island influence your work in any way?
I moved to MA in 2001 and just recently came back to RI to live. I felt very isolated and alone in MA so the contentment of being back home totally inspires me. Seeing all the amazing artists and artwork that come from this tiny state of ours inspires me as well.
What techniques do you use the most in your work?
In mosaics there are a few different techniques for creating a piece. I use the direct method where I adhere my pieces directly on the substrate I am working on. I also nip most of my glass with wheeled nippers as opposed to cutting with a glass cutter.
What do you find most challenging in your work?
What I find challenging is my perfectionism and trying to let go of it. It shows in my workmanship, which I’m proud of but it is also a huge frustration for me. Something that should take me an hour ends up taking me 3 hours! Perfectionism also leads you to question your choices. I can not tell you how many times I have nearly completed a piece and then ripped it all apart only to start over.
How did you find Etsy?
While doing a search for stained glass pendants I found LingGlass. I was instantly hooked on Etsy! I joined and listed my first buckle in April 2008. Etsy has really opened my eyes to the world of handmade.
Apart from your Etsy work, what do you do?
I wait tables at Haruki East Restaurant on the East Side of Providence. It’s not something I planned on doing for a main career but I actually enjoy it and have met some terrific people! I've been with Haruki for 13 years, I'm almost an expert on sushi! I enjoy gardening and hitting up the yard sales and flea markets to find vintage world globes and alarm clocks to add to my collection. I spend time with my kids, family and friends as much as I can.
What's your favorite place in Rhode Island?
It's hard to pick just one, but I would have to say Block Island. I absolutely love it there! The shoreline anywhere in RI. I love Federal Hill, where I can find a little piece of my heritage. The youth and eclecticism of Thayer St. The peace and tranquility of the farmlands in Jamestown and Exeter. I love the local controversial celebrities we have here (think Buddy)! I adore my home state of RI!
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