Lynchburg Living Editor Shelley Basinger: Dotti, there are very few people teaching and specializing in mosaics. How did you develop an interest for it?
Dotti Stone: Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s,
I started doing some stained glass commission work while having a career doing portraits, weddings, and corporate photography in Northern Virginia and D.C. until 2005. In the early 2000s, when I went to visit a cousin in Rochester, we went to an art show and I saw some mosaics there. I thought, “This is kind of interesting,” so I started taking some classes.
SB: What intrigued you the most about mosaics?
DS: The history of it goes back so far, thousands of years, and it’s such a solid, durable artform. There are a lot of excavations going on in parts of the world, and they uncover these magnificent floors. That’s what I love about mosaics. You can make things that go on the wall, sculptural works, or, in some cases, you can walk on them. It became a passion of mine to get this out to people, to appreciate the history and enjoy it as an art form.
SB: You are able to do that through your mosaics classes at Bower Center for the Arts in Bedford.
DS: Yes, I teach beginner kids all of the way up to more experienced adults. A lot of people enjoy just taking a pot and putting a lot of different colors on it. But in all of my classes, I try to get more into the art form of it. Even with kids, they like to play with things, but they like to see something that takes on some shape.
SB: What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve created so far?
DS: “Breaking Down the Barriers to Cultural Diversity” is one of my favorites (see photo at top). It was a part of the Immigration exhibit the Bower Center hosted last year. When we did that exhibit, we had no idea what kind of response we would get. But it was very well received.
SB: And coordinating exhibits like that one is another role you play at the Bower Center?
DS: I’ve been associated with the Center since 2009 or a little before. I started teaching a class at that point. Then, somewhere along the way I became the exhibits manager. There is an exhibit committee, and we plan what exhibits we are going to have. Several years ago, Bower Center began reaching out to artists in other states to participate in one or two annual national juried exhibits, in order to diversify the artwork the community can enjoy in addition to following their favorite local and regional artists.
SB: What are you working on now?
DS: I’ve been working on a mandolin that I’ve had for ages. I mosaicked a travel guitar and a violin. At one point, I wanted to do a cello, until I realized how many square feet I would be working with!
SB: That would be a LOT of work! How do you plan out your mosaics?
DS: I usually start with a few sketches, but when I want to be able to move or resize one or more components without constantly redrawing, using a computer facilitates these design changes, experimenting with color, plus enlarging to the final size to make a “cartoon,” which is mosaic vocabulary for the pattern.
SB: Seems like patience is important if you are interested in mosaics.
DS: It does take a long time to complete a piece, and you do have to have patience. The time doesn’t matter if it’s really something you are just drawn to and, as warn I my students, it’s very easy to get hooked on mosaics.
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