Shelly Hamill transformed her former career into a new creative and artistic business. Enjoy her portfolio and find out more by visiting her website.
I haven’t always been a tile mosaic artist. Between 1994 and 2010, I was a wedding planner. After so many years and so many weddings, I began to crave something more permanent. While my business was thriving, I was eager for something to enjoy longer than an evening. The cake gets eaten, the flowers die, the music is played – the only thing left after a wedding are the photographs. Weddings are a bit like installation art!
Now I work as a mosaic artist full-time. I’m known for my tile mosaic dress sculptures. The first dress sculpture I ever did was a life-size wedding dress. I think in some way, it was cathartic, I needed to get the weddings out of my system. That first piece served as a bridge. I moved on to smaller pieces but continued doing dress sculptures. A chance Thanksgiving platter accident led me to using china rims to replicate ruffles.
Over the years, numerous friends and family have suggested I pursue making wedding dress commissions. I always shied away, fearing an inability to replicate lace. Recreating a gown of fabric with folds and drape is difficult enough using a medium of hard tile and china and so much of what makes a wedding gown special are the beads and lace. I just couldn’t get my head around doing these gowns justice in mosaic.
Recently my two worlds collided when a Mother of the Bride requested a commission mosaic sculpture of her daughter’s wedding dress. With now more years of experience and my confidence having grown in my medium, I accepted the challenge. I’ve become a little less ‘precious’ about the dress sculptures. My personality is to want them to be as exact as when I do a mosaic portrait. But these sculptures are more interpretations. Some details are really close, and others are more an idea from the gown. There is no doubt they are a replica, but they are unique on their own.
I have just finished two commissions for a father whose daughter and son were both married this past summer. I recreated the daughter and the daughter-in-law’s gowns as gifts from the father. He said he wanted the sculptures as something the women could enjoy every day in their homes. I’m currently working on a commission that will incorporate organza flowers and an overlay of tulle. Not only is this a special piece for using real fabric over the mosaic, we are also using the family’s china to make the skirt of the gown. This is a wonderful way to commemorate the family in the sculpture.
This part of my business is now booming. The sculptures are beautiful as gifts for the bride both on the wedding day and after the festivities whether you are getting married now or you were married 50 years ago. I love being a part of weddings again!