Creative Block


A lot of artists deal with moments where they can’t find the inspiration or motivation to start or finish a project. This can be creative block, but this feeling of not knowing where to start or go can go beyond making a piece- it could be not knowing how to get your art more exposed, or not knowing how to price your pieces. If you ever get to this point, it can be daunting and overwhelming. Below are some tips on how I personally deal with these moments. I’m tailoring these tips to visual artists, but really, they can be used in a variety of situations.

1)      Just start- Sometimes doing anything beats doing nothing. Want to make a new art piece but don’t know where to start? Why not get cozy with your sketchbook and sketch/doodle whatever comes to your head? When Edwin and I are trying to come up with new designs and neither of us know where to start, sometimes I will sketch mini designs of whatever pops into my head in 2 inch x 3 inch rectangles in my sketchbook. Guess what? Sometimes we end up really liking some of those sketches and they become our next mosaic piece. If you have goals that go beyond making art such as how to get your art more exposed, just pick somewhere to start. Apply for a show, join a group for artists, or research how other artists go about it.

2)      Take breaks- Have you ever tried to come up with an idea or solve a problem, and the more you thought about it, the more convoluted and confusing it became. *Raises hand*

A lot of us can tell when our thinking has become unproductive and is doing more harm than good. Sometimes you just need to run away for the moment and take a break. Read a book, admire the artwork of others, watch your favorite show, or exercise. Doing this can not only relieve any tension you may feel, but it can also get your creativity flowing in unexpected ways. I get inspired from nature, other artists, and pure randomness. You never know where your inspiration may be lurking.

3)      Set aside a time to allow yourself to address the problem- You can really love a project or idea but learn that certain aspects of it don’t work. This can leave you not knowing what to do, sometimes to the point where you feel as if you could put that project you love on hold forever. If you know there is something you ultimately want to do but are dreading parts of it, set aside a time where you focus only on those parts. That way, if you decide to take a break from it, you won’t feel guilty or anxious because you have a designated time to properly address it.

4)      Bounce ideas off of others- Talk to other artists, critique partners, or anyone who you think will get your creativity flowing. You might not only cure your block, you might realize that others have or have had the same issues as you, which can be comforting as they help you figure out solutions.

5)      Just keep going- Even if you have no clue about the end result of your project, idea, or endeavor, just keep going. If you are passionate about it and are open to seeing how things unfold, you will learn as you go. You will also experience the satisfaction of seeing your idea through, which could lead to more opportunities and possibilities.

Why We Mosaic


I like mosaics because there's an aspect of them that is just so imperfect to me. Each little cut is never the same and a lot of times you cut and get what you get. Somehow, all those not so uniform pieces come together to make something unique and beautiful in spite of the imperfections.

I was initially attracted to mosaics because of what I just described. It was freeing to find an art form that didn't feel as constrained as the other ones I had studied. It was also freeing to know that no matter how my cuts came out, I could still make something visually attractive. I feel as if mosaics have their own rhythm of progression, and quite often pieces unfold in ways I wouldn't have imagined. Each piece holds a little element of surprise.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, kids are often attracted to our art pieces which makes me ecstatic because that childlike, fun, lighthearted quality is something I hope to capture both visually as well as in my own spirit. I mosaic because I like doing things with my hands and I like objects I can look at solely for the purpose of looking at them. I love things, shapes, and ideas that are playful, colorful, and downright strange and fantastical. I like concepts that are cute, loopy, crazy, curvy, abstract, and also simple. With mosaics, I feel like I am giving others a peek into my personality. 

I’ve often asked Edwin why he likes making mosaics and why he continues to do it. His answer- it’s fun and challenging and he values what visually comes out of sitting for hours and gluing tiny pieces side by side. Mosaics capture the essence of his creative and detailed nature. He enjoys the problem solving behind putting small pieces together to make a larger design.  He often jokes that if we never sell another mosaic he’ll be happy because he’ll get to keep them all for himself. He takes joy in what he does and values his craft. I believe this should be at the heart of every artist.

I mosaic for my personal pleasure but I also mosaic because I want to share my passion with others. I want to inspire, I want to influence, and I want to evoke pure and positive emotions. I want someone who has never mosaicked before to see one of our mosaics and be inspired to make mosaics too. I hope someone sees how Edwin and I collaborate and gets inspired to start a small business, pursue a creative endeavor, or team together with a kindred soul who has a shared passion or vision.

Each artist has a story behind why they make their art, and each artistic endeavor should be celebrated and enjoyed. You never know who is taking courage and inspiration from what you do and how you do it.



Art & Meditation


I’m a believer in meditation and mosaic making has given me another opportunity to practice it.

At our shows people will often come up to us, touch our work, and comment, "It looks so therapeutic." I have to admit I was a little shocked when many viewers made that as their first comment about our pieces. Somehow, these viewers identify breaking glass and putting it back together to assemble a design as something that is meditative, and it is for both myself and Edwin.

Meditation to me is the ability to be fully present in whatever you’re doing. We all have those times where we find ourselves with clear minds and at peace with the moment. Our worries disappear and are replaced with a sense of calmness. That’s what happens to me when I’m designing a mosaic. I am fully focused on the piece and design, and a fluid process naturally unfolds. During this process I am able to be aware of the moment without unnecessary or distracting thoughts, and I believe this to be the essence of life. If I take my approach to mosaic making and put it on a large scale, it would be living life in a state of presence and acceptance of the moment. This ultimately leads to more peace. When I practice meditation I am more productive without extra effort. Meditation gives me the tools to manage my thoughts and energy in a more useful way. 

Over time, I've learned that being fully connected to whatever you’re doing is the easiest and best way to declutter your mind. I know sometimes it can be difficult to pull away from all the distractions of life and find time and space to meditate, but the benefits of meditation are endless and it can be practiced in a variety of forms. It can be incorporated into activities that you enjoy, and if you're willing, also into those that you don't.

Making mosaics has strengthened my meditation practice, and it continues to make gratitude an integral part of my existence as I realize all the opportunities that it continues to bring.


GOALS blog photo.jpg

Recently we attended a workshop about artists as entrepreneurs, and it really helped put our goals as artists into perspective. When we first started making art we knew we wanted to share and sell it with others, but that’s about it. After our first year with our small art business, we are now thinking about where we want to be in a year or two as well as long term.

We realize now more than ever that our goals are our own, success is our definition of it, and our visions are something we have to stay true to in order to feel good about what we’re doing.

We know we love making art, we know what type we want to make, and we know what level of business we would like for our artwork short-term. As we continue our artistic journey, I would like to share some of the things that can be and have been useful to help us achieve our goals.

Celebrating success: I’m part of a wonderful Facebook artist group that makes it a point for each member to be able to share their weekly succeses, and recently I’ve been thinking more about this concept.  Although Edwin and I tend not to share our successes with other people, we can do a better job of highlighting them between each other. Did we sell a piece? Did I finally write that blog post or update the website? Did we connect with another artist or did we experiment with our work? Most importantly, are we learning and growing? It’s easy to overlook the seemingly small things but those are what really count and can potentially add up to something big. Celebrating small things also helps to keep the excitement going about what we’re doing and makes us more aware and appreciative of our progress. It's a way for us to stay fully engaged in what we do, and also a reminder that we are meeting mini goals all the time.

Doing a little each day: The days are hectic and it’s easy to let them slip away without doing all that we want or need to do. It’s also easy not to do something when it seems overwhelming. We've been making weekly/daily to-do-lists and each day we tackle something on it, even if that just means beginning something, or doing a little of a big project each night. This has been incredibly helpful and keeps us focused and motivated to see ideas through. Checking off mini goals each day eventually leads to realization of a larger one.

Planning Financially and Otherwise: A big part of the entrepreneur workshop we attended was about financial planning for artists. We are now forcing ourselves to be more specific about our monetary goals when it comes to our artwork. We believe that the clearer our goals are, the better we can plan to meet them. It's also exciting to have that conversation with one another about how we can reach specific goals. It's interesting to see how our general goals can be the same, but when you really break it down, it's fun to note the differences in how much art each one of us wants to make this year, how much we want to sell, and how we want to go about doing it. We also have non-financial goals that are equally as important. It's great to share our ideas with each other and become more aware of our expectations. Ultimately, we both agree that any sort of progress is success.

Minding Our Business: This one encompasses all the previous ones. Nothing is more important than focusing on what you love and seeing that passion grow and manifest in a variety of ways to open doors. We do our best to nurture our little business and give it time and attention consistently. Although it is already March, the year is still young and we hope to implement many successful business practices as it progresses. :)


Fun in the Community


From craft shows to café exhibitions, we are learning more about the area where we live and play. Mosaic making has brought us many lovely and fun opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have known. It also makes me think about how I would like to contribute to my community and how others such as children are exposed to art and how important it is. We are fortunate that our mosaic making has led us on the great path of getting to know our community better and connecting us to it.

As discussed in our previous blog Mosaics Everywhere! mosaic making has made me more aware of the joys, beauties, and artwork of where I live. It also makes me elated when someone purchases our work and is proud that it came from a local artist. I especially love it when children are drawn to our work and ask to touch and feel it. 

When I started making mosaics I did it because it was interesting and, in my personal experience, less talked about than other art forms. I never thought how art would connect us to other people but it is the part that I am enjoying the most.


Mosaics Everywhere!

We never noticed how many mosaics are in our local community until we started doing them ourselves. Edwin and I adore public art and hope to become public mosaic artists. With our interest in public art, it has been amazing to realize that mosaics are all around us. I always get excited when we are out and about and see a mosaic that we had no idea existed.

I first noticed public art mosaics in Silver Spring when I walked through the pedestrian passageway to get to my classes at Montgomery College. Soon after, I noticed that the back of the benches in downtown Silver Spring are decorated with broken glass. The big stairway next to the fountain in downtown Silver Spring used to be decorated with mosaics too.

When I spot mosaics, I like to look them up, try to find the artist, and learn more about their style and how they got into the art form. Some of the mosaics we see don’t have the name of the artist, making it all the more interesting because we are left to wonder about its story.

Seeing mosaics is inspiring because it is proof that mosaic art is alive and well and is integrated into so much of our community. I have posted photos of some of the mosaics that we have snapped while we were out to show how common they are.

We hope to find many more public mosaics and we hope to one day do some ourselves. :)

The Galaxy Apartments (8025 13th Street, Silver Spring, MD, 20910)

The Galaxy Apartments (8025 13th Street, Silver Spring, MD, 20910)

Glenmont Metro Station (12501 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20906) 

Glenmont Metro Station (12501 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20906) 

The Silver Pass by Arts on the Block (Georgia Avenue between Sligo Ave and Blair Mill Rd. Silver Spring, MD 20910)

The Silver Pass by Arts on the Block (Georgia Avenue between Sligo Ave and Blair Mill Rd. Silver Spring, MD 20910)

One of many mosaic benches in downtown Silver Spring by Arts on the Block

One of many mosaic benches in downtown Silver Spring by Arts on the Block

From a Model to a Rainbow,  Sam Gilliam, 2011: Takoma Park Metro Station (327 Cedar St. NW, Washington, DC 20012)

From a Model to a Rainbow, Sam Gilliam, 2011: Takoma Park Metro Station (327 Cedar St. NW, Washington, DC 20012)

Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20012)    

Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20012)



Every week feels busy. Scratch that, every week is busy. Starting our small business has been a whirlwind and we are, of course, still learning the ropes. With every day being so busy, we try to take time out for ourselves and do little things we enjoy- you know, so we can still stay sane. Self-care is so important. Between both of us working full-time, having a small business, and me working on my other passion- a children’s novel- we have to find time to do things that relax us and play. :)

1.      Soccer/running- Edwin loves soccer, I love running. Some days after work we will go to the park down the street and either run or play soccer. An hour or so of being outside and being in the moment with physical activity helps to relieve stress and keep me balanced. I love working out and used to do it a lot more. Now I find myself with less energy and time, but I still try to do it as much as possible.


2.       Meditation- I’ve practiced little by little over the years and I can see the difference. I am more able to stay in the moment and keep focused. When we have time we like to go the Meditation Museum and practice/learn about meditation.


3.       Baking/Making snacks: I love to bake. I find it relaxing and at the end of it there is a sweet treat to eat. I find that baking clears my head, slows things down, and keeps me in the moment. Plus Edwin always gets excited when I bake something. It’s a win-win.


4.       Hiking/nature- If it involves physical activity I’m usually in. If it involves physical activity outdoors, well, what can be better than that? I like hiking so much because it’s a great way to get moving and also enjoy nature. Other things we both enjoy are gardens and watching/spotting animals. I love how we’re always excited to see a bunny, a deer, or a chipmunk. :)

5.       Doing something new: Getting out of the routine is refreshing and needed. Luckily, we have a dear friend who is always inviting us to events and encouraging us to get out and enjoy ourselves- the mosaics will be there when we get back. Whether an activity is new for one of us or both of us, it’s always fun to share an experience that we’ve never had together before!

The Art of Making Mosaics Together

I remember coming home from class one day and telling Edwin about the new craft we were learning-mosaics. 

I was intrigued by them and so was he. He helped me work on a project, and then a week or so later we made another one just for fun. While most of my crafts class was vowing to never do a mosaic again, Edwin and I were thinking about all the mosaic making possibilities. After trying our hand at a few more "just for fun" mosaics, we really got into it and decided to start our own business. Edwin and I love working together and I want to share how we make it work. 

Patience for the art form.

First of all we have to practice patience for the art form. Mosaics take a ton of work. There's designing, cutting glass, choosing color schemes, and grouting and finishing the mosaic. We put a lot of time into each of our mosaics. Sometimes I think we are moving too slow. Sometimes I feel like I've been looking at the same unfinished mosaic for weeks. Chances are, I probably have. Mosaics are an arduous task, and depending upon design size and glass cuts, it can take quite a bit of time. Although mosaics can be a time consuming undertaking, we love doing them and we love seeing our finished products. Our love for mosaics allows us to have patience for them. 

Understanding each other's working styles.

Edwin and I make it a point to acknowledge and respect each other's working styles.

When I cut glass I like to cut a bunch in advance. Edwin cuts glass tiles as he goes, one by one (bless his soul, I don't know how he does this). Interestingly enough, this is a very efficient way of working for him.

Edwin and I think differently about some things, but ultimately we both have a passion for mosaics and want to make interesting work. Everything else is a matter of learning, acknowledging, and respecting each other's processes. Our differences often allow us to have interesting conversations and give us the opportunity to see things in a new light. 

Being open to each other's ideas and allowing freedom and independence.

Working in a pair is so much fun because we are always brainstorming together. We also constantly tweak our work depending upon suggestions from one another. Oftentimes we come up with neat collaborative ideas that we would have never thought of by ourselves.

On the same token, it is also important for us to have freedom and independence. We don't always completely agree on each other's ideas or even understand them. Sometimes the way we make it work is by just letting the other person do their own thing. Later we can show each other the results. We then can have a discussion about what each of us thinks does and doesn't work.

What we are learning is that experimenting is great, and when in doubt that is usually what we do. When we experiment we always learn something new. Even if the new thing learned is to never do what we did again. 

Knowing both our weaknesses and strengths/likes and dislikes.

I'm terrible at color schemes. At least I think I am. I love designing, but when it comes to color schemes I always have trouble.  Edwin on the other hand has a natural knack for colors. His skill in color definitely makes up for what I'm lacking. With that being said, Edwin doesn't like transferring designs to the wood. This is something I love and find relaxing. It's so nice to have one another to help with weaknesses and dislikes, and also enhance our strengths. It makes mosaic making all the more enjoyable.

Just having fun.

All in all, making mosaics is something both Edwin and I enjoy. We feel lucky to be able to do it with someone we love. :)