Thursday, June 13, 2024

Madly creative with mosaic

Danielle Fernandez – Photo Wayne Martin

American artist Danielle Fernandez is known to break the glass ceiling when it comes to creating mosaic art with broken glass and tiling. The skilled artist who enjoys playing with light and geometric patterns has had a long-standing affair with mosaic art for almost 30 years. FARIDA MASTER visits her home studio, Mainly Mosaic in Maraetai to get a sneak preview of the whimsical to wildly exciting projects she is working on.

Danielle’s studio is a woman cave of art, creativity, and brilliance. It’s her happy place as she goes hammer and tongs with grout, tiles, marbles, and glass. She can mosaic anything she wants.

Every artistic piece in the studio be it three-dimensional wall art, stained glass mosaic sculpture, wall sconces, decorative tables, planters, letterbox, or birdhouse – has an enchanting story.

Of Spanish and Italian descent, Danielle’s energy is infectious as she points to the newest edition of vintage Christmas ornaments which cheerfully announce that Santa is on his way. The studio is filled with a magical glow as she switches on the fairy lights in the multihued stained-glass lamps, hanging lights and jars.

On a side table is a line-up of beautifully cut, stained glass mosaic jewellery.

Word has it that Danielle has been approached by a mother-in-law-to-be, of a Hollywood stunt double to design a custom-made wedding present and a suncatcher for the bride with a huge fan following.

Danielle has been commissioned to make three necklaces for the wedding ceremony that is scheduled for early February with people flying in from all over the world.

Whilst working on multiple bejewelled pieces of art, the one that jostles for attention is Danielle’s pet project. It’s a breed apart!

She’s been working long hours on a unique mosaic artwork for a kennel known for high quality, pedigreed dogs. At the last count, she has worked with approximately 1700 pieces of sculpted smalti (traditional enamelled glass mosaic material) in the border alone.

Danielle had to source the smalti from Australia and the US, as she couldn’t get the exact colours in New Zealand.

“This piece will be placed at the entrance of the kennel. It will be embedded in the floor,” she says about the kennel that does path-breaking work on genetic modification to create superior body structure for Cane Corsos.

“When I asked the owner what he had in mind for the mosaic, he said surprise me,” she smiles.

Danielle has her share of high-profile clients, and sometimes they are willing to wait their turn for the specially commissioned work to be done.

There’ve been a few occasions when the American artist who now calls New Zealand her home, has been oblivious of how rich and famous her clients are. In one instance, it was only when she asked a client the address for the work of art to be delivered to, did she realise that he happened to be a top executive of Ryman Healthcare Group, one of New Zealand’s biggest listed companies that operates 45 retirement villages.

“I told him later that had I known who you were, I would’ve been a nervous wreck and not done as good a job,” she laughs.

Having recently returned from a four-month holiday with her daughter in the US, Danielle is thrilled her work will be exhibited at DiRasa House of Diversified Arts at Monteclair, a brand-new gallery in New Jersey that will soon open its well-designed doors.

“I met up with the CEO Yuhanna William and Chief Development Officer Seun Ajayi and they are happy to showcase three of my mosaic paintings including Elvis, Madonna and Barbara Streisand,” she shares.

The pop art is part of Not just another pretty face series of three-dimensional sculptures created with fragmented tiles and jagged glass.

“The gallery is also exhibiting my jewellery and stained-glass mosaic-lit pieces of art. I love to be remembered for my lights,” enthuses the artist who was recently part of the Franklin Art Trail that includes 40 artists.

“I was the first person in Maraetai to be a part of the Franklin Art Trail,” she says.

Danielle enjoys sharing her art with those eager to learn. She hosts regular workshops at her studio Mainly Mosaic Maraetai. Her website/blog Mosaics Mostly inspires and teaches people interested in DIY craft.

The books she authored ‘Brilliant Stained-Glass Mosaics’, amply illustrates simple mosaic techniques to create stunning designs for both home and garden decor.

“I have taught hundreds of people in the States and enjoy teaching people how to create something beautiful for their homes with ceramic, tiles or stained glass here at my studio,” she says.

Danielle who finds true joy helping others with their creative process is also looking forward to conducting mosaic workshops at Uxbridge in the next year.

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