Let’s Talk SHOP: Peggy Schuning

Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director

A photo of the artist, in side profile, laughing.
Photo of the artist. Courtsy of Peggy Schuning.

Mosaics have been created throughout the world since ancient times, and are still very much a part of the artistic community today! Artist Peggy Schuning is actively preserving the tradition while reviving and reinventing the medium through her contemporary abstraction. Her unusual style is sure to catch your eye! Natural slate prevails as her material of choice, allowing us to get closer to our roots in this digital world. This fine-grained rock forms when shale undergoes metamorphosis, which is an ironic analogy to Peggy’s journey looking for renewal in her own life while discovering this art form. Read on to learn more about Peggy and her fascinating work!

Why I Create

Mixed Media & Mosaic Art

As a modern mixed media and mosaic artist, I strive to uncover a masterpiece in the broken, discarded, or unused pieces of daily life. To dig deeper, this stems from a belief that everyone and every created thing has an element of magnificence within. When I initially embodied this mission, it was honestly to discover the beauty within myself. I had emotional baggage to unload and a destructive mindset to renew. This desire now allows me to search for the wonder in each person I come in contact with as well as turn fragmented items into tesserae for a mosaic. Using repurposed slate, marble, natural stone and stone tiles, hand-cut glass smalti, and other repurposed and found objects, my intent with each piece is to reveal the beauty of the element. Ultimately, finding the significance and artful story of seemingly exhausted objects inspires me.

My internationally-awarded instructors have promoted the beauty of superior craftsmanship in each of my artworks. My influences include the narrative and symbolic images of religious mosaic works made of stone during the early Byzantine empire as well as the Impressionist artists’ use of fragmented color application and portrayal of light in everyday settings. 

How I Create

First, I use a jigsaw to cut larger light-weight boards into smaller rectangular shapes to become substrates for each of the artworks.

Creating the substrate for the artwork. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Once I have a suitable sized base, I place larger pieces of repurposed slate within the substrate until I find a good composition.

Creating her composition.

I measure and then cut the slate with a small wet saw that is kept in the garage.

Preparing to cute the slate with the wet saw.

To further refine the cuts to follow the line of the slate, I use a scroll saw.

Introducing the scroll saw into the process.

The hanging hardware is added onto the substrate at this time, before any materials are glued on.

Placing the hanging wire.

This is a picture of a normal mix of thinset that I use to glue the slate onto the base. 

The material used to glue the slate onto the base.

Once the larger pieces are secure, I chose materials, including smalti, a hand-cut glass, to enhance the details of the slate.

The colors of the smalti, or hand-cut glass.

This next photo reveals the mosaic log which holds the hardie that breaks smalti and stone into smaller shaped pieces. You can also see the hammer I use, along with some sample pieces of smalti.

Breaking the larger pieces into smaller pieces to fit them into the mosaic.

Here is a close-up of the colors I’ve chosen to use for this artwork.

The color scheme chosen for this particular work.

I set each material, including the slivers of slate, to display its best edge or side and create movement to flow through the artwork. Each tesserae (the small block of stone, tile, or glass that forms the mosaic) is placed using tweezers, with thinset as the glue. Then, I put finishing touches on the entire piece.

Placing the tesserae.

Here is the completed slate mosaic!

Connecting the Continents, $410

To see Connecting the Continents, or more of Peggy Schuning’s artwork, come visit us at the Paradigm Gallery: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm!

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