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“Shell Chic” Artist Visits Marco

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A-13-1The Marco Island Center for the Arts welcomes nationally known artist, photographer, teacher and author Marlene Marshall to their 2013 season educational lineup. Marshall will be teaching two workshops: Making Bits and Pieces Mosaics on February 16th and 17th from 10:30-3:30 pm and Shell Chic on February 18th, again from 10:30-3:30 pm.

Shard art, pique assiette (French for “one who eats from others’ plates”) or mosaic making is an ancient technique that dates back to Roman times and is still an essential ingredient of art and architectural design today, a good example of which is Antoni Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

Marlene Marshall mosaic table. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Marlene Marshall mosaic table. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

The term mosaic specifically refers to a design that is made up of small pieces to create a larger pattern or image. In this intensive two-day, 10-hour workshop, students learn to create a design, cement, and grout colorful broken pieces of china, glass, shells and other found objects to common household items–a garden urn, a birdhouse, a picture frame, a mirror, a small garden table and more. The more beautiful the china, the more beautiful the mosaic.

Marshall started working with mosaics in the 90s, at a time when very few artists were doing similar work. She had always liked beautiful things, had a good eye and enjoyed dabbling in antiques. “Victorian pieces of mosaic started surfacing—the most charming, delightful things—and I thought, I can make use that,” says Marshall. When she sold her first pot, which was covered in shards of Sheffield, Blue Willow and other china patterns, she could not believe it. “I thought I could actually make these and make money. So I started… (and) it became a bit of an obsession, because it gave me a reason to stop at every tag sale and buy all these great dishes.”

In the second workshop, Shell Chic, Marshall applies her mosaic techniques to sea shells. Like mosaics, the popularity of collecting shells has ancient origins and spans all cultures and classes of society. What started out as a practical use of shells—as a food source, currency, jewelry or as tools, vessels, and religious objects—eventually evolved into decorative sophistication, which included displaying shells in curio cabinets and using them to adorn rooms and household objects.

Mosaic bowl.

Mosaic bowl.

“People discovered that collecting and designing with shells is an interesting and romantic hobby,” says Marshall. “Memories of peaceful beach vacations become ravishing decorative items when glued to lampshades and screens.” The curves, sculptural ridges, knobs, spines, surface textures and wonderful natural colors of shells guarantee that no two projects will be exactly alike.

Eventually Marshall wrote a book about her craft, Making Bits and Pieces . Her second book, Shell Chic, offers step-by-step and practical instructions for shell projects and design ideas that will work in any home decor. In her latest book, Woodland Style, Marshall focuses on using easily found materials, collected on walks in woods or fields, in dozens of creative designs for a natural home décor.

Marshall lectures frequently and conducts workshops at museums, art schools and private organizations around the country. Her mosaic and shell designs, as well as her paintings and collage works, have been exhibited and sold in galleries and museum shops throughout North America. She is a graduate of the New School for Social Research in New York City, and holds a graduate degree in alternative therapies from Greenhouse Inc. in Cambridge, MA.

The fee for Making Bits and Pieces Mosaics is $220 for members and $275 for nonmembers; the fee for Shell Chic is $112 for members and $140 for nonmembers. For more information on these workshops, call the Marco Island Center for the Arts at 239-394-4221 or visit www.marcoislandart.org.


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