Piece by Piece Participant Artists Create with Smalti in December

In December, instructor Ellen Dinerman led a workshop where participant artists used smalti, an opaque glass material often used in traditional mosaics in churches and large-scale public work. Piece by Piece recently received several generous donations of the special material in both Mexican and Italian types as well as a Chinese version. Smalti is known for its vibrancy and imperfections which gives mosaic a painterly effect. “Smalti is such an unusual material,” said instructor Ellen. “It’s really different from stained glass and it’s different from other materials we are often using in the studio.”

Piece by Piece artist working in Smelt

Using patterns based on traditional quilts, Piece by Piece, participants selected two to three colors, allowing them to focus on cutting techniques and placement styles. In addition to using basic nippers, artists were also able to try the more traditional hammer and hardie for cutting the pieces. 

Piece by Piece artist working in smalti

Each artwork was as unique as every person explored this material--some using larger pieces while others cut almost micro-sized shapes. This has been a workshop that many participant artists had been looking forward to, and the entire group was fully engaged, enjoying the feel of a new material. “I just love how bright it is,” said one artist. “It really shines when you place it at different angles.” Another artist enjoyed how smoothly it cut. “Each cut is so clean and it’s fun to work with.”

SMalti piece in progress

Look for the finished pieces on our website soon!

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