Spring Artisan Gallery 2024
Pet love, a ravishing new Vegas casino, hand-cut genius and pre-mounting magic spark creativity in tile setting projects
by Lesley Goddin, Editorial Director and Senior Writer
It is our delight to present a fantastic collection of amazing tile projects in this Gallery section. The love for pets is strong with two artisans creating very different projects that honor or celebrate furry friends. As Fremont Street in Las Vegas is experiencing a renaissance, we see how mosaics play an important part in capturing the old-time glamour of Old Vegas and transforming that into a luxurious contemporary experience. Sometimes mosaics aren’t part of a project, but skills learned in an artisan tile setting training CAN be utilized to make the install go much smoother – see how that worked out for one of our featured artisans. And a dedication to hand-crafting an amazing floor chock full of precision and craftsmanship draws much admiration and respect from peers. Journey with us through this issue’s Gallery and be amazed and inspired! – Lesley Goddin,
A doggone amazing project!
Trevor Hook of Evansville, Wisconsin’s Hooked on Tile took part in the inaugural Artisans Revolution in Tile (A.R.T.) Training last summer, where he and 14 other A.R.T.isans made a 107-piece koi mosaic.
Come November, Hook took a deep dive into crafting this perky, adorable Golden Retriever mosaic, completely out of glass tile, for a longstanding customer who breeds Golden Retrievers and wanted a stunning design for a new show dog training facility.
Hook has yet to invest in a ring saw and advanced wet saw, so with this 100% stained glass project, he made all cuts with a 7" inch Rigid wet saw outfitted with a glass blade. For the inside curve of the nose pieces, Hook used a glass grinder minimally where the wet saw or angle grinder couldn’t fit, since “ironically it chipped the glass pretty bad, so it was very frustrating,” he said. He got cleaner saw cuts with the saw than with the shaper. The result is a playful pup inset into porcelain wall tile with the added bonus of LATICRETE SpectraLOCK Dazzle Glow Grout, which adds a whole new dimension to the project. Puppy love? I’d say so!
What happens in Vegas...gets reported in TileLetter Artisan!
The first new hotel and casino built on Fremont Street in Vegas in 50 years is the Circa Resort and Casino. And what better way to adorn this venue that has roots in the classic Vegas of the past with a dedication to building a new legacy than to commission one of the country’s top mosaic artists to welcome visitors with her vision and creativity.
“I was so honored when the Circa designers commissioned me to do the entire entryway into the casino and also the first floor ballroom entry,” said Allison Eden, owner of Allison Eden Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“This was such a labor of love as Las Vegas is one of our largest portfolios of work in the country, and I was so excited to infuse yet another casino with our handmade mosaic art.”
Eden said that while chatting on the phone with the owners and designers from JCJ Architecture about the mood board they had sent her, she was inspired to draw up the entire ballroom design. “I knew exactly what it had to look like – in golds and blues – with a hint of a Mid-Century Modern feel,” Eden said.

“The entry way to the casino was adorned with our beautiful gold and brown Ombre – all made by hand – and custom ceramic tiles inlaid into the wall with a beautiful saying across the whole mural ‘Make History Leave a Legacy,’” she said. “What a beautiful quote as you enter and leave this epic building!
I’m always so honored to work with such unbelievable design teams to make visions come to life. I truly hope that with each project we create, we ‘Make History and Leave a Legacy.’”
The paws that delight
Mosaic artist extraordinaire Cherie Bosela runs Luna Mosaic Arts in Orlando, Fla., and has created many stunning mosaic murals in the area. For this client, Flora Family Vet, Bosela worked with the veterinary staff to completely personalize the mural with paw prints of employees’ dogs and cats to create the “pawmade” tiles. Each pet also got their name on their paw print. “I love being able to add a personal touch to the mural,” Bosela said. Both of her girls’ pup paw prints are included too.
Bosela used Mexican smalti and handmade tiles to create the mural, and worked with the client’s budget, choosing to paint the background to stay within budget. Taking a hybrid approach of paint and tiles allowed Bosela to use Mexican smalti and create the paw print tiles.
Pre-mounting saves the day!
Another A.R.T.isan tile setter who attended the A.R.T. training last summer sponsored by NTCA and LATICRETE was Josh Vassallo, of Vassallo Tile & Stone in Wimberley, Texas. On a recent shower project, Vassallo demonstrated that artisan tile setting skills span a range of uses. Though this project wasn’t a mosaic art piece, Vassallo used what he learned at A.R.T. to pre-mount sections into 18" x 36" pieces for the ceiling of a steam shower. Using the pre-mounting methods taught at the class – and detailed in the NTCA Reference Manual, Chapter 6 – spared him from having to install every single piece of tile individually on the ceiling, while trying to line it all up and keep it all flat. “That would have been a nightmare,” he said. “Because of the methods I learned, the install went very smoothly, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!” Though the client wasn’t up for a mosaic in this project, Vassallo said, “I will continue pitching every single client for a mosaic piece.”
Circle game
Back in February, Mike Moreno, owner of The Artisan Tiler, Inc., in Lompoc, Calif., shared a photo of his amazing 200 sq.ft. Saltillo floor with a circle and star pattern in the Tile the World Facebook group. What made the lippage-free floor in his home more astounding was that every single circle and star was hand-cut on a 10" wet saw from 12" x 12" Super Saltillos by Moreno himself, over the course of about a week.

Nearly 100 comments poured in about the jaw-dropping project that featured 225 circles and 210 stars cut from about 330 sq. ft. of materials.
Not surprisingly, amidst accolades like “Respect,” “Patience”, “Crazy,” and “Sick,” commenters suggested ways to streamline the process, like creating a jig or using a hole saw. But Moreno said, “No jig, folks. I traced everything – cutting one circle and one star and tracing all the rest.”
He admitted that that cutting wreaked havoc on his blades. “There was SO much back cutting that it wore the metal down and grumbled the diamond ring,” he said, adding, “An entire half of the side yard was plastered in Saltillo-covered overspray. By the end of a day cutting, I looked like a saltillo statue.”
Grout was CUSTOM’s Saltillo mix – just sand and cement, old school, with no pigment.
Moreno noted, “This work is therapeutic. Keeps the mind focused. It’s meditation.”
And to one comment about how he could have sped up the job, Moreno explained, “Work like this isn’t about production. There are reasons people do work like this that go a lot deeper than ‘How many square feet can I cram into a day?’ Every single piece of this tile was hand-crafted, from the wet clay in the ground to the floor in the picture. Every step, every process this clay went through was a labor of love and respect.”