Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Better Know an Austin Artist: Holli Brown of Holli Brown Mosaics and Dish It Out!

Welcome to another installment of my Ask an Austin Artist Some Random Questions™. At first glance it might seem like an interview, but upon closer inspection, you'll find it's really just some stuff I wanted to know. I especially wanted to know about the reuse part. You know I dig that. A big thanks to all the artists who made the time to participate in this series. I've loved getting to better know each of you.

Holli Brown, Holli Brown Mosaics & Dish It Out!
Could you provide a brief description of your work?
My work is in mosaics, I re-use vintage collected dishware! I make everything from mirrors, pavers, guitars, and jewelry. To see me at work, check out my new video on YouTube.

What inspired you to start breaking your dishes?
Wow that is a good question, my main beginning with using dishes was the availability and the range of styles, I love to find, dig and collect the dishes, So as my collection moved from my kitchen to the studio I embraced the look and style and I also think that re-using something that is often thrown out is a great way to do my part in the world or upcycling
Do you ever have a hard time breaking something in order to use it in a mosaic design?
I do quite often have a hard time, either I enjoy just looking at it whole so much, if this is the case I will hang it up, put it into the kitchen plate rotation or just stick it away with the thousands of other plates I have. Another hard thing sometimes is if the plate is to thick or very old and brittle, it will crumble when cut, or if to thick it is almost impossible to get the shape correct.
What are your favorite sorts of things to mosaic?
I just finished an old metal percolator for my new Americana series. I have been craving the odd thing out lately to mosaics. Toasters, blenders, odd shaped vases, using chunky knobs and handles. So really my favorite is the items that are for fun not so much function, but art.

What is the most difficult project you've completed?
I had a private commission of a large furniture item and had to cover the whole thing--even underneath--with tiny itty bitty pieces of glass, mirror and china. The size of tile was smaller than your pinky fingernail. Thank goodness for tweezers.

What things do you find the most inspiring and do those translate into your work?
I am inspired by all things old, funky colors, shapes and styles. I also am semi-obsessed with Americana, maps and travel stuff.

What material would you like to work with or what skill would you like to learn that you haven’t yet?
I would like to travel to Barcelona and take a 5 month mosaic class using only smalti, which is a very hard, high fired glass that comes in little cubes and can only be cut with a hardie.

You are stuck on a desert island for a year and can only take 3 things to make with--what would you take?
Well, depending on climate (I will assume warm) I would take a monster sized roll of aluminum foil, for water purification and an oven. Also a large and sharp machete for food, shelter and random crafting! Last thing would be a flint for fire!

How do you reuse materials in your business?
I reuse old dishes, bowls and cups. I also try and reuse base items, mirrors, frames, flowerpots, etc.

Have you discovered any new talents while running this business?
New talent? Well, I have learned that I can do more than I think I can on average and also have taught myself all sorts of new techniques.

Do you teach classes?
I do teach classes, kids, adults and private. More info and pics here.

The holidays are upon us. Which items do your customers like best for gift giving? 
This year I am offering mosaic kits (which are great affordable gifts) price range $30-$45. My Dish It Out! series includes necklaces, bobby pins and brooches using modern and vintage dishware--all of which make great gifts. I take private orders for customers who have a family heirloom (pre-broken) and can make them necklace sets. They make great gift for aunts, nieces, sisters, mothers and grandmothers.

Any other info you would like to showcase? Run another business? Teach classes? Run marathons? Teach classes while running marathons?
Another fun thing I do for clients is create personalized guitars. They can include special images, words and pictures. I can even create a look from certain eras and use specific colors.

I would like in my free time (ha ha ha) to sew more, while walking backwards around my house ten times in the rain with a book on my head and a dog chasing me!

See more of Holli's work on her website and her blog.

Holli's Dish It Out! pieces are also available in select Austin shops:

Creatures Boutique  1206 S. Congress, Austin TX  78704   |   512/707.2500

Lovely   1106 S. 1st,  Austin, TX 78704   |   512-291-7132

Upcoming Shows
Shops and online venues are great in lots of way, but sometimes the best way to see the full breadth of an artist's work is to catch one of their shows. Holli has a few coming up:

East Austin Studio Tour
Saturday, November 21, 10am - 5pm
Sunday, November 21, 10am - 5pm

Creatures Boutique Holiday Bash
Thursday, December 10th, 6pm - 9pm

Cherrywood Art Fair
Saturday, December 12 10am - 6pm
Sunday, December 13, noon - 6pm
Maplewood Elementary
3808 Maplewood Ave, Austin, Texas
For more info:

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