Today we’d like to introduce you to Toni Shaw.
Toni, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My journey as a mosaic artist began roughly 18 years ago. I never considered myself an artist because I can’t draw. At that time, I had a two-year-old and a one-year-old and I just wanted to get out of the house, lol. Over the next few weeks, I took several classes through the Learning Annex, and one of those was a mosaic class. I instantly fell in love with mosaics because I felt I could create something artistic from a bunch of disparate, broken pieces.
I immediately began to buy mosaic books, and equipment, such as glass saws and grinders, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve taught many private mosaic classes and I’ve also taught mosaic classes at West Los Angeles College through their Extension Program. In 2017, I was commissioned by Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills to create a piece for their largest medical office.
Soaring Over South Los Angeles is a 9′ x 3′ homage to South Los Angeles. It features images of the Vision Theater, the Macy’s at Baldwin Hills, the Coliseum, the space shuttle Endeavour now housed at the California Science Center, and our famous palm trees. In addition to being a mosaic artist, I began making candles in 2016, and have been selling them ever since at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Farmers Market every Saturday and at various pop-up events throughout Los Angeles County.
Has it been a smooth road?
My journey as a candlemaker did get off to a rough start, Once I felt I could make a candle that other’s would purchase, I needed to find a place to sell them. I set my sights on the farmer’s market at Baldwin Hills because I live near Leimert Park. I took samples to the market manager and completed the application process.
However, I was not immediately notified of my acceptance. It took roughly four months of persistence in following up with the market manager before I was notified on August 27, 2016, that I could have a spot.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with House of Mosaic – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My business, House of Mosaic, has a dual specialty which aligns with my two passions. Mosaic art and candlemaking. With regards to mosaic art, I make custom art pieces for the home and office. Most of my work is commissioned which makes it truly special because it is one of a kind. In addition to wall panels, like the piece I made for Kaiser, I make vases, mirrors, and other specialized pieces. My candles are made from a coconut-soy wax blend which is all natural. Unlike paraffin wax, it does not add carbon to the atmosphere. The wicks are cotton as well. With over 20 fabulous scents including fruity, floral, earthy, and relaxing, we are sure to have something for everyone.
Whether I am working on a mosaic or candles, my customers can rest assured that they are receiving the highest quality and care. I have ripped up glass from mosaics because they were not placed just right. I am my biggest critic, and if I don’t like something, I will not stop until I am proud and feel confident putting my name on it. Additionally, there are not a lot of Black women mosaic artist in the greater Los Angeles area.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love LA! I am a Los Angeles native. I like the weather the best. I also like that there is so much to do throughout the City. I am close to the oceans if I want to chill and relax. In the winter, I am two hours away from the snow. There is a ton of hiking options. We have amazing food representing the diversity of the City.
We have to do something about homelessness in Los Angeles. There is no excuse for Skid Row to exist. So many times I see people saying, “not in my backyard” when it comes to building housing for the unstably housed in our City. These people need to realize that everyone who is homeless is not drug addicted. So many people are being pushed into homelessness because of the high cost of living and gentrification.
We also need mental health services and facilities. Every city needs to be willing to build housing and work to help these people, human beings, get back on their feet and back to being able to contribute to society. Ignoring them won’t make them go away.
- My candles are $10 for a 6 oz travel tin.
- Website: www.houseofmosaic.com
- Phone: 310-625-2924
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: houseofmosaiccandles
- Facebook: houseofmosaic/la