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Check Out Sandy Caruso’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandy Caruso.  

Hi Sandy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My story begins in the fifth grade! With many detours and another beginning in 2002… 

I loved art. All the fifth-grade teachers in Pittsburgh could choose one student to attend free art classes on Saturdays at Carnegie Mellon. This class was called Tam O’ Shanters and an interesting tidbit is that Andy Warhol attended these classes. My mother faithfully drove me to these classes every Saturday morning from the suburb to city. She was not a morning person and only said, “You better become an artist!” 

I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and wanted to be an illustrator. I trudged around Pittsburgh for 3 months with my portfolio and that path didn’t open up. Impatient to begin my life, I impulsively took a marketing job, involving lots of travel and ended up in Cincinnati. Sales, floral design, and store display were some of the detours I took, but in every job, I found some way to be creative. My love of antiques eventually, led me into being a small business owner in the middle of this journey. I loved being my own boss. However, the event of the Internet changed the antique business a lot and it wasn’t joyful for me anymore. 

In 2002, I saw some mosaic art, made in a style called “Pique Assette” (using broken China) and I was so intrigued. I took a class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Community Education, and have not put my nippers down since! 

Experience was my best teacher because there were no other classes and no internet at that time. In 2010, I gathered up the courage to apply to The Hyde Park Art Show and got in, which gave a big boost to my confidence. Rented an “official” studio for three years, but found that my at-home studio was best. Began teaching mosaic classes for the Art Academy of, Cincinnati, Community Education in 2012 at The Barn, a wonderful art facility in Mariemont. 

Making mosaic art and teaching it brought my JOY back! So, the last 20 years have found me being a small business owner again…Sandy Caruso, Mosaic Artist. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Life is not going to be a smooth road; we wouldn’t learn anything that way. For example, the disappointment of not becoming an illustrator helped me explore other creative areas and discover a much better fit. One big challenge for a small businessperson is that YOU WEAR ALL THE HATS! I work in my studio making art and also spend much time building awareness of my art, photographing it, and using social media. Setting up art show displays ahead of time in my garage. Buying, painting, repairing props. Packing/loading heavy, breakable mosaic art into a truck, getting to a show, and doing it all over again. Eventually, you learn to streamline processes. 

I did all this when I had my antique business so that helped. Another big challenge is figuring out where to sell…galleries, art shows, online, or your own shop….it takes time to explore these options. How to price your art. How to make enough money to pay bills. How to survive disappointment and rejection, and keep on plugging. 

A particular challenge for me was accepting commission work. (So, I don’t). I know what’s inside me and what I want to create…I don’t want to make a mirror that matches someone’s couch. I create because I NEED to…and create my best work when I’m working at my own pace and keeping stress at bay! 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I make mosaic art, using a style called Pique Assette, which uses broken China and found objects and then applied to a base/substructure. My first love was fiber and I’m very influenced by that. I call what I do, “ceramic quilting” because that’s how it feels to me. The ceramic pieces seem like Hard Fabric. I find most of my supplies in thrift stores and love the “thrill of the hunt”. I let objects “speak” to me….one day I saw an ugly green metal teapot and knew that it could be transformed by mosaic design. 

I have always been fascinated by transformation. I love before and after photos. I love the repurposing aspect of my art…taking items that have been damaged, rejected, or discarded and giving them a new life as something else. 

I think many artists develop a “style” …my style evolved…I am totally color-driven in all areas of my life and that’s where most of my mosaics start, with color choices. I am also very interested in texture and accomplish this often with adding three-dimensional pieces to my mosaics. 

Currently, my favorite mosaics are my “Tiny House” series…I use birdhouses and embellish them. My work is intended for indoor use, and decorative use, so, No Birds dare live in these houses! I have mosaiced lamps, tables, frames, candlesticks, dress forms, children’s furniture, tree shapes, and anything with cats! And I am working on a toaster now, yes, a toaster! I asked my advanced students to be willing to take on a surprise project, a new challenge and they agreed, so we’re all applying mosaic designs to toasters. 

What next? Who knows? Every day is a new day to create 🤗 

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I was fortunate as an artist with my studio at home to be able to continue making art. It was an opportunity to slow way down…to stop being in a hurry and cramming everything in. It was an opportunity to experience a lot of gratitude, to enjoy my garden, and just be quiet. It helped clarify what we really need and what we can live without. If we had not been compelled to stop everything, we certainly wouldn’t have. 

Contact Info:

  • Email: sandylou1031@gmail.com
  • Instagram: sandyluvsmozaics
  • Facebook: Sandy Caruso, Mosaic Artist

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