Mosaic Sphere to Mended Pieces
Hanansens move, Huffmans move in
"I have a lot of people walk in here and say, 'I'm sorry you're going out of business,'" says Mosaic Sphere owner Yulia Hanansen. It was an easy mistake for shoppers to make: she had put everything in the store on sale in early August and had begun boxing up all her equipment. But she's not closing, just relocating her business to Baltimore, where her husband has taken a job at Johns Hopkins. And a new business, Mended Pieces Mosaics, moved in almost immediately.
Mended Pieces owner Tricia Huffman is a former student of Hanansen who'd been hoping to be an instructor at Mosaic Sphere. "I've been doing mosiacs out of a barn on my property for five years," Huffman says, and also teaching mosaic classes. Hanansen approached her, says Huffman, and said "'I'm moving to Baltimore, do you want to take over the space?' And I said, 'What, are you kidding?'"
Huffman says she's been doing mosaics since she was a kid. "My grandmother was an artist, an oil painter, and she let me break up dishes in her house and do mosaics on her furniture," she says--then laughs, because she went through a ton of dishes. "I wouldn't let my kids do that!" She's also been selling her pieces at outdoor fairs for years, including the State Street Area Art Fair.
The name Mended Pieces Mosaics doesn't mean Huffman's in business to fix people's broken mosaics, although she'll do it if asked. "Mended Pieces Mosaics means bringing pieces together to make something beautiful," she explains. And she's not just talking about bits of glass and tile: "I take bicycle parts, machine parts, thumbtacks, fingernails, shells." She's made mosaics on mirrors, tabletops, panels, furniture, and almost anything else you can think of.
Huffman is currently working on a mosaic of a five-foot-tall angel of the apocalypse made of mixed media, and it's stunning. The angel's skirt is done in the fashion of Gustav Klimt, and incorporates teeth, bones, crosses,
crucifixion nails, watch crystals, BBs, gemstones, and pearls. The wings are made of large oyster shells. "When it's finished," she says, "it'll be front and center in the store window."
She also does ceramics, an art she learned from her father-in-law, Dale Huffman, eighty-six, who was a master potter and glassworker at Greenfield Village for forty-five years. He's a partner in the business along with her husband, John, a skilled tradesman at Detroit Diesel who does ceramics in his spare time.
Huffman's been working part time as a dental receptionist, but she quit the office job in mid-August to run the store full time. Her husband's keeping his job, but he'll be working with her in the store, teaching classes in tile making. They dig the clay they use to make the tiles themselves. "We live on three-and-a-half acres of St. Clair clay, and we can't grow a damn thing," she laughs, "But boy, can we dig clay!"
Huffman generally charges $35 for a two-hour class, but the cost can run as high as $600 depending on the materials used. In the $600 class, students work with gemstones and pearls.
Musing on the name of her business, Huffman says "mended" has another meaning when it comes to working with mosiacs. "It's kind of like healing, because it really is good for your soul. When I'm working on one of my mosaics, I am just at peace with everything."
Mended Pieces Mosaics, 100 N. Fourth Ave. 277-7584, Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon.
[Originally published in September, 2009.]
On September 28, 2009, Sally Mitani wrote:
Great photo Adrian!