Mosaic artist Cathleen Newsham can take bits of broken pottery, pebbles, shells, old buttons, even pieces of jewelry, and transform them into exquisitely crafted works of art. A former graphic designer and art director (she created on-air packaging, film production, and branding for clients such as The History Channel, A&E, The Discovery Channel, and The Food Network, among others), she started experimenting with mosaics while remodeling her home more than a decade ago. “I had seen a beautiful mosaic sink in Seattle and wanted one similar for my powder room,” she recalls. But when she discovered it would cost $15,000, she decided to do it herself.
Her knowledge of stage lighting gave her the tools she needed to understand color and lighting. To learn the fundamentals of laying stone, tile, and glass, she followed her tile installers as they worked around her house, pestering them with countless questions. “It took a lot of research and experimenting to find the right materials,” she says. “There are literally hundreds of adhesives to choose from, and several different companies make grout for a variety of applications. And I needed materials that could withstand extreme heat and cold—the sink had to be functional as well as beautiful.”
Indeed, it was both—and Modern Mosaics was born. From sinks, Newsham expanded her business to include elaborate backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, garden displays, flooring, furniture, lighting, and more. A recent client commissioned her to create a Coney Island rollercoaster scene to cover an entire wall in a bathroom. Newsham surprised them by neatly inserting the family riding the Cyclone into the design.
Newsham can match any color palette in her creations—the client can simply give her paint and fabric swatches or marble and tile samples. The mosaic pattern can mimic wallpaper, a contemporary painting or design, or something as subtle as the gradual shadings of the blues found in the ocean. She sells to interior designers, architects, contractors, plumbing suppliers, and retailers. For more information, check out her website: modernmosaicarts.com