Local mosaic artist and instructor uses broken glass and repurposed materials to create timeless treasures
story by Sue DeWerff photography by Jason HookTurning trash into unique and beautiful treasure is something mosaic artist Betsy Heath is passionate about. Heath, who lives in Indialantic, says she loves to create art with such items as stained glass, vitreous glass tiles, colorful ceramic tesserae (glazed and unglazed ceramic pieces) and other broken pieces of interesting glass. She also has found that items including bottle tops, corks, buttons, sea glass, figurines, rocks, shells, beads, small wooden vessels, letters and numbers, pottery chards, as well as old china dish wear can be incorporated to create beautiful and interesting art. A graduate of the University of South Florida, where she received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Heath has traveled a winding road from creating her own fine art to working in galleries to co-owning and being creative director for an advertising agency in Venice, Italy. “Since my high school days, when I was introduced to mosaic art, I have always wanted to become more involved in creating art in this discipline,” says Heath. “After moving to Brevard 11 years ago, I began helping neighbors and clients as an interior designer. I ended up taking on a remodeling job to design a kitchen for one of my clients, and thought that doing a mosaic over the flat-top stove would be amazing. “At the time, I had not touched mosaic art since high school. Fortunately, the work I did turned out to be a defining piece of their kitchen, and fortunately my client was very pleased,” she continues. “Several years ago, I reintroduced myself to pottery and began making tropical Florida designs such as fish, lizards and turtles, among other items, to incorporate my newfound love of mosaic,” explains Heath. “I also began taking classes to further my work with clay sculptures. It was during this time I met Valerie Karas, owner of Indian River Potters’ Guild. Not long after, I was offered an opportunity to instruct classes in mosaic art at the Guild.” And for the past two years, she has done just that. BREAKING INTO THE ART During her classes at the Indian River Potters Guild located on Guava Avenue in the heart of the Eau Gallie Arts District, Heath strives to teach her students to be spontaneous when creating mosaic designs. Her classes are open to anyone looking to expand their horizons in creating unusual and different pieces for their home or offices. Heath’s instruction focuses on the use of different types of adhesives, applications and usage of proper mediums, including ways to prepare, form and cover two- and three- dimensional items, many of which may be common household fixtures or furniture. DÉCOR RE-VITALIZATION Modern-day mosaic work has evolved throughout centuries. By 200BC indigenous materials such as pebbles, shells and terra cotta were used on ceilings and walls. Today, concrete benches, outdoor patio tables, kitchen and bath countertops and backsplashes, coffee and end tables, planter boxes and birdbaths — almost anything in the home — can be re-vitalized by affixing mosaic materials to them. “The designs can be grouted or left ungrouted, depending on the look one is hoping to achieve,” says Heath. “Creators of mosaic art can now be spontaneous in their design and material usage, and there are no limits or boundaries. “I learned a lot about interior design from my mother who was an interior decorator for more than 20 years. I guess creating is in my blood,” she continues. Heath has sold her mosaic works to many local residents and galleries, as well as Brevard and Palm Beach county businesses. One of her murals that she admits was both challenging and fun now is part of Scott’s on Fifth restaurant in Indialantic. The jungle-themed piece, a truly unique design that has become a conversation piece at the fine dining establishment, includes a mosaic window that she said brings the entire look to completion. b To learn more about mosaic classes taught by Betsy Heath at the Indian River Potters’ Guild, contact Valerie Karas at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit IndianRiverPottersGuild.com. For commissioned work, contact Heath at email@example.com or call (321) 266-9521.