Totems at the Austin Mosaic School

Last September’s class at the Austin Mosaic School, September 28-30, was a huge success and I am so happy I have been invited back to teach again May 17-19, 2019. The project this year will be constructing a totem. I created the totem above, “Caterpillar’s Dream”, for the San Diego Botanic Garden’s 2018 Sculpture Show. It sold the day of the artist’s reception and I went on to complete another, and after that one sold, another. Now I am fascinated by this art form and can’t wait to share with students everything I have learned from creating these, as all three were done using different techniques. A huge part of my creative work is all about problem solving. This project was so much fun to work on because it was so challenging. The best thing about that is that when the work is complete, it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment and so much pleasure in the results.

Here are some photos of my students’ work in the Austin class last year. We created sculptural flowers for the garden using ceramic tile that was made to order for each individual student. Everyone was really pleased with their results.

If you are interested in the totem class, you can register on the Austin Mosaic School’s website by clicking here:!/May-17-19-3D-Mosaic-Totems-with-Marsha-Rafter/p/128738095/category=0

Amazingly Beautiful Mosaic Benches


My first mosaic bench class was a huge success! It was a big project and many of the students’ designs were very complex with regard to cutting the glass. The completed benches were stunning and everyone was so happy with their results. I will be scheduling another bench class in the future. If you are interested, send me an email to let me know you would like to be one of the first to be notified, as this class filled in a couple of days.


Marline Pallais’ very geometric and colorful bench.


Gina’s flower garden bench. She is getting so good at cutting glass.


Linda Bergen’s very whimsical flower garden. She was a beginner. Love the bright colors!



Fran Senchek and her sun and rainbow bench. Makes me happy.



Gwynne Henry’s beautiful koi bench. She likes little pieces and she cut every one of those little rectangles.


Mary Ann Theim and her whimsical fish bench. It was based on one of her drawings from long ago.


Nancy Okun’s beautiful koi bench. She worked on her skills cutting and laying glass using a style referred to as keystoning. It’s time consuming and difficult. She did a great job.

Chelsea’s gorgeous winged heart bench. She grouted hers later at home, in gray.


Wendy Graham completed her bench on Tuesday mornings in the studio. She created a very personal piece based on her love of gardening and her and her husband’s astronomical signs. They are stargazers and he has a gigantic telescope he built himself.



Mandalas at the Center for Creative Renewal

On April 21, & 22, I taught a class for creating mandalas at the Center for Creative Renewal in Encinitas. The owner, Ellen Speert, has lived here for almost forty years. She and her husband have lovingly poured their hearts into creating a very special place- not only to live, but for her art therapy, and for workshops – taught by herself or by other visiting artists. The mandalas created this year were all spectacular. These are some of the photos of the mandalas and of the garden.


This is the view from the patio where we work.


During the day, if you want to take a break and do a walking meditation, there is ample time to walk the labyrinth.


There are lovely seating areas throughout the garden for relaxing or for having your lunch.



Interesting sculptures are scattered throughout the garden.




The garden is on a slope and has many levels.




Next year I will be teaching mandalas again, March 9th & 10th. Come join in and treat yourself to a day in this magical place.

My History in Tempered Glass Mosaics

Until 2004, I worked exclusively in clay. While attending a week long architectural ceramics class, I met a woman who was going to the Society of American Mosaic Artists’ Conference in San Francisco that year. She invited me to come, and on a whim I decided to join her. As a part of the conference, I took a class with the founder of the Tempered Glass technique, Ellen Blakeley. She is an amazingly talented artist. You can see her work here. 

After that class, I was hooked and my first years creating in mosaics was all tempered glass. Most of the work combined clay in the piece in some way. What I love most about the technique, is how it makes your mosaic become almost three dimensional. It’s a layering process and all the color you see in the piece is mostly underneath clear glass. You can incorporate photos, paper, ribbon, fabric, leaves, and anything else that is perfectly flat.

Below are some photos of work I have created using tempered glass. Come join in for a super fun weekend of learning and creating.

Commission piece with a handmade ceramic dragonfly with tempered glass wings surrounded by a field of tempered glass with mirror tile accents.



This butterfly combines a ceramic butterfly that has tempered glass in the wings. It’s set amid a field of tempered glass with beautiful art papers incorporated. It measures 30″ x 30″ and was purchased by a gallery owner in Half Moon Bay who I was represented by.



This is my favorite piece I have made in tempered glass. The ceramic heart at the top was made after 9/11. I had a friend call and say she was having people over to build an altar and grieve together over what we had lost. I saved the heart and incorporated it into this piece. I really should never have sold it, as it held such special meaning for me.



This Tree of Life piece incorporates a ceramic tree, polymer clay birds and leaves, and real fern leaves. The dimensions are 32″ x 46″ and it was purchased by a collector in Auburn, CA.



I’ve created lots of ceramic dragonflies in my pieces using this technique. This was one of my first bigger tempered glass pieces and it incorporates ribbon, glass gems, foil, and real hosta leaves. This one was purchased by a collector in Nevada City, CA and is  24″ x 24″.


This tree frog and branch are ceramic and it are surrounded by a field of tempered glass with a border of glass gems. It was commissioned by a collector in Nevada City, CA and is 20″ x 20″.



This coffee table combines a slate center surrounded by tempered glass. It was a commission for a family in Grass Valley, CA and is 30″ x 48″.


This bowl is representative of what you can do in this two day class. This is one of my favorites and is 16″.

Sculptural 3D Mosaic Flowers

Rosie Eckberg

The weekend of August 4-6 was my first 3D Sculptural Mosaic class. I wanted to share some photos of the work done that weekend. The project was not meant to be completed in the two and half days, so some students took their projects home to complete and others are coming to Tuesday morning classes to finish. The results are all so different and all so beautiful. I have scheduled another class for October 27-29th for those who were unable to make it. Hope you’ll join us next time!

Mary Beth Casement

Pam Jara

Gina Rubin

Trina Johnson





A Week With the Italian Master Giulio Menossi

What an experience! I was so fortunate and happy to have had the opportunity to attend a workshop at Casa Valencia in Tijuana, February 2-11, with Italian Master mosaicist, Guilio Menossi. His talent and gentle teaching style amazed me! I have watched and appreciated his work for years, and was so lucky to have seen a post on FB about the workshop. There turned out to be several cancellations the week before, so we were to lucky there ended up being only two of us in the class. I had lots of one on one time with Guilio and the information, skills, and inspiration were perhaps the best of any workshop I have ever attended.

Monday morning when we arrived, we were given our substrate, which was a very three dimensional heart made of plywood. We began Monday morning with Guilio teaching us the fundamentals of andamento. Once we had the fundamentals down, Guilio explained that with the knowledge we’d gained we could choose to break those fundamental rules but still use them within our own style.  It was such a  different and new experience learning from someone who did not speak English. Fortunately, Aida and the other student spoke some Italian and were able to translate for me.

After lunch, we selected our base color, selected our smalti and began working with the hammer and hardie. I wish I could’ve had a week there to practice prior to creating the piece since I haven’t worked in this style of mosaics much at all. Not being skilled with the hammer meant that a lot of smalti is wasted from bad cuts and that it took much longer to make progress on the piece.

For six days I worked from 9:00-6:30 on this piece. Every single tessara was set into colored thinset, using a pair of tweezers. To say it is tedious work is an understatement, but I loved it! And most of all I am so happy with the outcome.

Aida Valencia was such a wonderful host for the workshop. Her working studio was the location, and so we were able to watch as she and her studio employees worked on a large and beautiful commission piece of Jesus. Every night Aida took us to one of her favorite local restaurants. The food was always so delicious- even the Chinese food! Hotel Palacia Azteca, where I stayed, was very nice and being only a block and a half away it was a very easy and safe walk.

I can’t wait to go back and visit Aida. I know we will enjoy being friends for years to come. I am already working on getting my Sentry pass so that crossing back into the US will be quicker.

What a joy to have a full six days immersed in nothing but the work. Here are a few photos.

My completed heart.

A detail shot- making color selections.

Guilio and I enjoying our tamarind margaritas- a first for me.

Aida, me , Guilio, and Tere Ramos.