Community Art Projects

A Gold Award Project

Meet Kat.  Katarina Marie Hernandez.  Kat is a Girl Scout who is working toward her Gold Award, the most prestigious scouting award there is.  I never made it to Girl Scout.  I was a Brownie who refused to fly up! I thought the term sounded stupid.  Boy, was I ever wrong about that.  Over the years I have come to have great respect for the Girl Scouts and their training.  And so, I am humbled to be asked to be an advisor for a Gold Award.  I also like that Kat and I have such similar names.  My middle name also happens to be Marie.


Kat's project:  Restoration of Mosaics at Calvary Hill Cemetery, Dallas, TX

The mosaic monument was fabricated by Kat's Great Uncle, Joacquin Medrano, under the supervision of Octavio Medellin.  Octavio Medellin was one of the founders of the Creative Arts Center where I now teach mosaic art classes.  Octavio Medellin's grave is found facing this very monument.  Kat's project will restore the sections of mosaic that have come apart.  She will honor her ancestors by caring for their creations, and she will provide our community with a piece of history so readily forgotten.  If not for Kat and her Gold Award Project, the mosaic monument would have been torn down as it continued to need restoration.  It's time now to SAVE THE MOSAICS!!!

Kat has her work cut out for her.  She says she will start a blog so I don't want to say too much here until she does.  Once started, we will link our blogs to keep you posted on the project.

Small Hands - A mosaic bench project how-to


A few years ago, Cyndi Barnes and I worked with children at the Dallas Day School.  Working with small children on mosaics requires a good plan, an easy design and organized steps. The process was delightful with these things in place.  Here's an overview of how we work with the little ones.

Our project was a mosaic bench that could be auctioned off at the school fundraiser.  The concrete bench was purchased by the school for us to work on.

We supplied the design, materials and experience.

Step 1: create a paper template of the bench surface to be mosaicked.

Step 2: create a design.

The children were ages three to four and a half so we created the design for them in order to make the process as easy as possible.  There were 45 children in three separate classes so we divided the design, also known as a cartoon, into three sections.

Step 3: Measure how many tiles you need by placing them across the cartoon.  Add extra.

Step 4: Incorporate interesting shapes.

We knew we might be working with some children who are sight impaired.  Special butterfly shapes and leaf shapes were cut out on the Taurus Ring Saw. 

Step 5: Organize!  Colors of precut tiles were set up in divided containers for each classroom.  Each section of the cartoon was cut and placed on a separate board.  Each section of the cartoon was covered in contact paper, sticky side up.

Step 6: Show up early to the school and let the mosaickin' begin!  Each child working on this mosaic placed one gold tile in the sky, representing their work on the project and symbolizing them as stars in the sky.  The children were handed small amounts of pre-cut tiles that they placed on the sticky contact paper.  No glue, no cuts, no mess, just fun.

Step 7:  Adjust the mosaic as needed.  It is easier to turn over the upside-down tiles than to complicate the process for this age group. Do this in the privacy of your own studio.  Cover each section with a mosaic mount film.

Step 8: Day 2 at the school.  Have the children watch while you thinset their work to the bench.  Go over the process step-by-step so they learn.  Remember to remove the contact paper from the bottom of the mosaicked design! These children were very excited to see us work.

Step 9: Cover the mosaic to protect it from the heat, if outdoors.  Let the thinset cure overnight.

Step 10: Day 3 at the school.  Begin the project by having the children watch.  Remove the mosaic mount film.  Re-set any loose tiles.  Mix up grout, describe the process and apply the grout to the mosaic.  Ask the children to assist  in cleaning the mosaic.  Two children at a time were given the opportunity to clean using paper towels.  They lined up and took turns until the mosaic was bright and clean.

Final steps: After the children have gone off to other activities, grind off any sharp edges.  Wait a few days and come back with a sealer.  The mosaic bench project is now ready for the fundraising event.

This project was part of the

Creative Arts Center of Dallas'

community outreach program.

Good Morning Texas & Big Mosaic Flowers

Friday, October 1, 2010 Katrina Doran will be on Good Morning Texas!  The show airs at 9 AM on WFAA Channel 8.  You can watch the show later that day on-line at

Katrina will be talking about the sculpted flowers on display at the 2010 State Fair of Texas that 

she created with her students from the Creative Arts Center of Dallas


Big Tex and Big Flowers

We are finishing up the flowers for The State Fair of Texas.  During the year, I taught classes at the

Creative Arts Center of Dallas

on Sunday afternoons where we learned to create armatures for mosaic flower sculptures.  The flowers are about to bloom and will be on display at the

State Fair of Texas

.  Here are photos of some of the near-completion works.  These blooms still need their centerpieces.  Stop by the fair and see all the ambitious works of my dedicated students.

Flowers in order left to right and top to bottom: Jessica Smith hibiscus, Jessica Smith lily, Leian Burttschell hibiscus, Patricia VanBuskirk hibiscus, Sue White hibiscus.

Mosaics at Visual Expressions Art School

Mosaic classes at

Visual Expressions Creative Arts School

include learning how to construct and apply mosaics for outdoor surfaces.  We are designing Texas-themed works for the concrete post supports around the school.  In an earlier blog post, I supplied a photograph of the jack rabbit created by Patricia VanBuskirk.  Today I am proud to display my armadillo, the crow by Joyce Ward and the lovely work of

Kelli Howie

who is making hand-made ceramic tiles with the names of Texas cities.  Kelli is one of the art instructors at Visual Expressions.  I highly recommend taking a field trip to Cedar Hill to check on our progress every now and then.  Have lunch or dinner at the  Ranch Steakhouse or

Vera Cruz Cafe

and take time to tour the school.  Classes and workshops are offered for both children and adults.


I teach mosaic class Friday mornings in Cedar Hill at

Visual Expressions Creative Art Studio

.  The facility is a new, ranch style building set inside a Texas landscape. I am working with the art teachers and some of the students as we create mosaic applications for the concrete supports surrounding the exterior of the school.  We have lots of room for people to join us as we create our Texas-themed mosaic patterns.  Here is a photograph of Tricia VanBuskirk's jack rabbit.  Other completed mosaics include the names of Texas cities all made with hand-made tiles by Kelli Howie, a crow and cardinal by Joyce Ward, bluebonnets at sunset and an armadillo.  Come out and see us and keep stopping by as we continue to mosaic all around the school.