The Artist: Susan Crocenzi of Grass Valley |

The Artist: Susan Crocenzi of Grass Valley

Career: Mosaic artist.

Describe my art: I create bold mosaics that incorporate unusual materials such as tempered glass, handmade polymer clay tiles and semi-precious gemstones.

How long have I been doing it? Five years.

Why I do it? Mosaics fascinate me. All those itty-bitty pieces coming together to make interesting and beautiful images and patterns. No wonder it’s been around since ancient times.

What do I hope to accomplish? I hope to have my work seen more. I also want to do more permanent installations in businesses and homes. This spring I’ll be doing a large installation in an Austin, Texas, business center.

Exact message: I usually have a pretty exact theme when I work. A piece I call “Epic” (featured in Mosaic Art Now Magazine, Feb 2008 – and pictured in attached photo) came about after many kayaking excursions to Spaulding Lake. I realized that no matter how you tell the story of water (personal, environmental, cultural, for example), it’s always an epic story. Others will bring their own experiences and sensibilities to my work; I love that.

Special training: I’ve studied with several award-winning artists in Oakland at The Institute of Mosaic Art in the areas of architectural installations and tempered glass mosaics. I also attended last year’s convention sponsored by The Society of American Mosaic Artists.

Favorite part of it? Innovation thrills me. I get very involved in coming up with a design, combination of materials or use of color that is unusual and beautiful. I also love to grout. And I have to admit, I love shopping for gorgeous tesserae (the little bits of material, such as tile, stained glass and gems).

Time it takes: Mosaics is one of the most time-intensive art forms. Let’s say each small tesserae needs at least five minutes of my attention (purchasing, prepping the base, designing, shaping, adhering, grouting and sealing). Then step back and estimate how many little pieces make up the whole. Well, that gives you some idea of the time involved.

Is it hard work? Mosaics is a pretty forgiving art. It doesn’t take much skill to create a gorgeous stepping stone. But mosaics can also be fine art. And this is where skill, talent, training and passion are essential.

What about the future? I’m going to teach classes out of my studio in Grass Valley. Other comments: I have a Beginning Tempered Glass Art class scheduled for April 13, 1-5 p.m., and April 20, 1-4 p.m. Go online at for more artwork and information on classes.


To suggest a creative talent who should be profiled in this feature, contact Pam Jung at or 477-4232.

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