Mosaic artist Morrine Maltzman’s studio in Scottsdale is a veritable explosion of color, texture and tactile delights. Turning traditional mosaic art on its head, Morrine utilizes a seemingly limitless cache of objects she finds locally and around the globe. India, Italy, China, Czechoslovakia and Etsy are just a few of her sources. “I am always trying to find a new angle, incorporate a new technique, or use material I haven’t tried before,” says Morrine. “I lay awake at night thinking of all the options available to me. I start visualizing, with no idea of what I’ll come up with.”
Using wood, glass, and Plexiglas as substrates, her results are both beguiling and whimsical. Frequently spending entire days in her studio, the artist is immersed in a creative bubble that never seems to burst. Her inspirational wellspring comes from photographs, her imagination, and the natural beauty of life – namely flowers, plants, buildings, trees, landscapes and even items such as cowboy boots. Morrine also creates soulful Jewish-themed art, creating Jerusalem style buildings and hamsas. “I try to put Jewish themes that are significant to me in my works for bar/bat mitzvahs or wedding presents,” explains Morrine. “Trees of life or hamsas make great classes for all as they cross over to many religions.”
Morrine’s studio overflows with diverse supplies that coalesce into beautiful “objets d’art.” A sampling of these supplies include papers, resin, beveled and stained glass, buttons, pearls, pottery, fabric, metals, gold leaf, sand, glitter, micro beads, rhinestones and even handmade beads. “Smalti, a chunky Italian glass, provides a truly unique touch that adds a different texture to my work,” explains Morrine. “Sometimes I incorporate ‘fireplace glass’ which is thicker and resembles puzzle pieces. I’m also fortunate to receive real copper pellets from a metalsmith I worked with in Michigan.”
Morrine has developed her distinctive style by adding whimsical elements such as cufflinks, earrings, old jewelry and even heirlooms. “I re-purpose whenever I can,” she says, “and I let my materials speak to me.” To achieve effects that are even more cutting edge, Morrine has recently teamed up with glass-fusion artist Sue Goldsand, to create Jewish art with additional flair.
Striving to empower others to create bold and beautiful artwork as well, Morrine teaches classes in her studio and many other venues in the Scottsdale community. She also coordinates mosaic parties at private homes. “Of the many workshops and classes I’ve taken, Morrine’s is by far the best,” says student Sue Lawler. “She is so talented and creative and willing to share all her knowledge. Not only did I learn different techniques – I also had a lot of fun.”
Morrine’s quest for new frontiers has led to the creation of colorful and eclectic commissioned pieces for temples, senior centers, and private residences. Her most recent commissioned work is a resplendent and contemporary 38-inch round Jewish themed mosaic with Jerusalem style buildings around the rim. Her resume will soon contain more distinctions; she’s been hired by Temple Kol Ami in Phoenix to teach a one-day hamsa class, on December 10. Also, she’ll be teaching at the Limmud one-day Jewish themed conference in February, a yearly, multi-faceted event. “The thing I find so wonderful about Morrine is she is constantly striving to expand her creativity,” says Sandy Adler, a Limmud coordinator. “She is a wonderful teacher.”
A native of Michigan, Morrine possesses a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. After attaining the status of a professional musician, her career flourished as a piano teacher and also as an entertainer at Jewish functions and weddings. Eventually, she discovered a passion for mosaics. Studying with Yulia Hanansen, a renowned mosaic artist in Ann Arbor, MI, Morrine began creating pieces in her home that caught the eye of friends and neighbors. Soon, she was creating fireplaces, outdoor fountains, wall hangings and even backsplashes. “I have collaborated with other artists on large projects for hospitals and schools,” she explains. “Also, I started to teach classes in my home. Teaching has always been my passion. I’ve always been a teacher since age 20. I love sharing everything I know – my suppliers, my resources. I love seeing what my students create – they always put a fascinating spin on their work.”
Giving back is a strong theme in Morrine’s life. She helped design and implement mosaic projects for a children’s Relay for Life team in Michigan. These mosaic projects hang in Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.
Since moving to Arizona, Morrine has traveled back to Michigan twice to teach classes at senior centers. Residents create small hamsas or small Jerusalem cities. “I love teaching senior citizens,” says Morrine. “They hold a special place in my heart. When you can show them that they can create something that they are proud of, it makes them so happy.”
For more information on classes, call 248-701-5570 or visit mosaicsbymorrine.com.