Sophia Othman

Mosaic art & Concrete Sculpture

Posts from the ‘Mosaic Sculpture’ category

cast concrete fossils pebbles and glass gems mosaic by sophia othman bay area mosaic artist sculptor
Playground Water Feature by Tom Arie Donch. Mosaic by Sophia Othman

This mosaic was done as a collaboration with Tom Arie Donch for one of his playground structures.  The mosaic is an interactive feature – it is covered with sand and children can dig the sand away to discover fossils, shiny glass gems, and pebbles.  

Right side of the very long mosaic begins with a spiral of blue glass with starfish at its center
Middle portion of the very long mosaic with more concrete fossils
Left end of the very long mosaic with scallop and ammonite concrete fossils

The water feature has a gentle slope allowing water to flow from the top right down through sand and mosaic treasure and flow off the sculpture on the far left side.  

Highest part of the mosaic where the water flows out from under the concrete starfish fossil

Dragonflies have enchanted me all my life.  Their iridescent wings, their magical flight patterns, jagged, powerful for such a small creature, and yet still elegant.  They are formidable predators in the insect world, gorgeous yet deadly.  They eat mosquitoes so they are an important part of the natural abatement for mosquitoes and other flying biting insects we don’t find very beautiful.

The greens grays and browns of this garden mosaic rock seat blend gently with a natural setting.  The glass and iridescence add a touch of magic to the art piece.  The pebbles add a grounding element to the mosaic’s design.

My first degree is in Geology, i have a lifelong love of rocks and the natural world. I chose to decorate a natural rock with a mosaic that is an ode to dragonflies and their iridescent beauty.  I used glass tile in gentle green and gray and white colors, some with iridescence.  I chose a design mimicking the layering of sedimentary rocks and how animal fossils end up petrified in rocks.  The central green ceramic dragonfly was cut from a broken pottery plate i had been keeping to use in mosaic art.  It has finally found a home as a utilitarian geological mosaic art piece.  The rock serves as a soothing point of beauty in a garden and also as a small bench seat.

Mosaic Studio Tools

This rock weighed close to 200 pounds so i was able to work on it in my studio using a hydraulic heavy duty cart so.  This way i could stand comfortably while i pieced the mosaic.  A wet tile saw or ring saw is useful to make curved cuts in ceramic tile.




iridescent stained glass, vitreous glass, pebbles, shells, mirror, and small glass bead tesserae mimicking sedimentary rock layering.


Mosaic Planters Tree of Life Napa River Waves Sun Moon Butterfly

Community Mosaic

In 2012 a group of community leaders and volunteers spearheaded an effort to decorate some of the Historic Downtown Vallejo planters with mosaic.  They collected donated tile and organized various volunteer groups from the community to help in the effort.  Several months after they had completed their project I was able to contribute mosaic work on three bare planters.  I had a few friends help me piece, install, and grout the trio of mosaic planters.

Mosaic Design

We designed the images to be large and bold,  easy for beginners (my volunteer friends!) to render in mosaic.  The design is context based and has a geomorphologic and natural history framework based on the beautiful nature surrounding Vallejo.  We wanted to tell a visual story of the natural beauty that surrounds Vallejo.  We also wanted to imbue the mosaic with imagery of joy, hope, and prosperity for the future.  The three planters have a circular cross section so the design elements circle the pots and lend themselves to a linear storytelling approach for the design.  The design elements flow one to the other other in a natural way.

Beginning with an abstract mosaic representing the Napa River, the mosaic blends in to a mosaic of sailboats on blue wavy water.


planters mosaic sailboats napa river waves water public art community art

Mosaic Planters – Napa River & Sailboats

As you walk around the planter, the land of the city of Vallejo is represented by a Tree Of Life with a Blue Bird of Happiness,  evoking the ideas of hope and prosperity.

Mosaic Planters Tree of Life & Blue Bird of Happiness

The soil under the tree becomes a shore against more water. The mosaic word “Vallejo’ is of course floating on blue wavy mosaic water, since the town is surrounded by three major bodies of water.  The Carquinez Straight to the East, the San Pablo Bay to the South and West, and the Napa River to the West.  The mosaic continues on the next smaller planter with the watery theme as larger mosaic waves in blue tile, representing the bigger water of the San Francisco Bay.

Mosaic Planters with Blue Waves & Vallejo City Name

The next design element is a yellow mosaic sun/sunset, followed by a mosaic moon, mirror mosaic stars, and swirls.  The mosaic’s thematic movement goes from land to water, to sky and the heavens.

Mosaic Planters with Waves Sunset Moon Stars

The next design element is an abstracted Monarch Butterfly, which soars high above the moon and star, representing transformation.

Mosaic Planters with Monarch Butterfly Sunset & Moon

A Glimpse in the Mosaic Studio

We pieced the mosaic in the studio on fiberglass mesh.

Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Section in Progress in Artis’s Studio

The mosaic sections fit together like a puzzle.  Here is an image of how they look before we install them in a cement mortar bed applied to the planter’s vertical surface.

Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install – Napa River Sailboats

Mosaic Sections Before Install – Making sure they all fit – Tree of Life

Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install  – Sun Moon Stars Swirl

Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install on Planters – Butterfly

The rims of the planters were pieced on site in the direct method with glass gems, flat round glass pieces. During the installation many children passing by with their families were able to add a few glass gems to the rim.  I loved this impromptu contribution of joyful youthful energy and enthusiasm to the mosaic planters.

Glass Gems for Mosaic Planter Rims – Children in the community helped

The glass gem rims turned out beautifully!

Mosaic Planters Sun Moon Stars Monarch Butterfly

Mosaic Credits

Production of these three mosaic planters was entirely volunteer driven.  Production assistance by Siram, Koko Yaeger, Kathy Vinson, Theo Reynolds, and Kemper Stone.