I have seen mosaic work before but never really thought about all that goes into it until I met Monika, the talent and powerhouse behind MyEuropeanTouch. Looking at her work is like walking through a romantic candy store.
Monika is originally from the northern part ofGermanyand has traveled all around the country but has lived in the States for over 32 years. She arrived in 1981 but is still close to her German friends. She was born just after WWII so Monika did not have your average childhood. Her talented parents had to make due with little so their creativity was a means of providing for their family. In her words, Monika remembers a childhood in Germanyof hunger, fun, trips to the country with potato salad and Knackwurst. I played in half fallen in bunkers, and in homes and apartment homes that were toppled over. My parents found a home for us in one of these buildings, where one site of the apartments where still somewhat usable.
“I remember being cold all the time, no glass, or cracked glass in the windows covered with newspaper or old woolen military blankets. My first winter coat was made from old army coats my mom took apart. (Scratchy wool) An old wood burning cast iron stove in one room, wood collected from the ruins around us kept us warm. My dad warmed up old bricks on that very stove to take to bed to warm our feet and bodies. Daddy also made pots for cooking out of old steel helms that soldiers wore for protection. I remember eating from dishes that had the “Hakenkreutz” on them found by my parents somewhere. Soldiers Canteens were our soup bowls. My parents were very resourceful to make a life for us after such great destruction. Daddy later traded home grown veggies for flower, flower for a chicken, and little chickadees for a turkey and so on. We ended up with a pig, gooses, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, a large veggie garden in the back of the ruins, and Mom and Dad did their own slaughtering, canning veggies etc. I had to help with cleaning out and plucking chickens at age 6. Daddy slaughtered the pig. I had to help make sausages and all kinds of other delicatessen.”
Monika tells of playing with shards of broken china from famous makers that she found in the ruins of buildings and trying to put them back together again. She even asked her father to help by making a flour and water paste, which didn’t last too long, but allowed her to have semi complete pieces for a short time and eat her imaginary dinner. This love of beauty never left Monika as she still uses broken plates to create new art…though now in a very different way from her childhood. Her work has come full circle from childhood and transformed itself into one of her many passions.
Monika’s parents, as I said were very creative and loving. She remembers her mother’s love of music and all things beautiful. Monika tells of a time her father secretly made her a dollhouse but told her he was building a rabbit hutch in order to keep the Christmas surprise! Monika learned many crafty things from her grandmother; everything from cross stitch and crochet to knitting and sewing, watercolor and charcoal.
In addition to being an amazing mosaic artist, Monika also sings in a choir, solos, duets and recently joined a Senior Choir of 46 members that perform for nursing homes singing songs from the members childhood. It is a ministry of joy for Monika and I’m sure for the lucky few that get to listen. She shares her home with her darling cats who allow Monika to stay and work there…gotta love cat attitudes!
As I said, I had no clue what went into mosaics or that there were different types out there until I met Monika. The process she uses is called Pique Assiette or Tesserae and is a process that involves cutting vintage and/or damaged china and porcelain as well as stained glass to create amazing mosaic artwork which is always one of a kind. Each cut piece is carefully placed and glued solid before being grouted permanently. Monika admits that the grouting part is not one she enjoys because she does not like getting dirty! She will wait until she has a few pieces ready to go so that she can only get dirty once.
Monika began selling her creations after encouragement from a friend. She began working craft shows and was shocked that people liked her work enough to pay for it (and I can see why!). She has slowed down the in person craft shows and is now proudly selling her work online, which is wonderful for those of us that don’t live close enough to buy in person.
I know that I have not even touched the talent that this lady possesses so I would encourage you to check out her work for yourself. Her main selling sites are easy to find on HandmadeArtists as well as on ArtFire. You can check out her Facebook page as well as her blog and even find her on Flickr.
On a personal note, Monika has become a friend and I really appreciate all her support of the members of the handmade community no matter where they sell. She is always positive and uplifting and ready with a joke, though sometimes in slaughtered English! She is a joy to know and I really appreciate her friendship.