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Mosaic Dress Up with Susan Wechsler

Fashionista? Clotheshorse? Designer? Mosaic artist? Only Susan Wechsler can help you put it all together.

Unadorned dress forms by Susan Wechsler.   

Unadorned dress forms by Susan Wechsler.


Wechsler, a multi-media artist who was a theatrical costume designer in New York City earlier in her life and remains a passionate collector, found her “signature style” as a mosaicist when – who else? - her mother suggested that she make a mosaic on a dress form. Her intricate, playful, and just plain gorgeous mosaic dresses attracted attention nationwide. Soon, she was manufacturing dress-form substrates specifically for mosaics and turning her intimate knowledge of costume design into a specialty mosaic class. Now, you too can indulge a love of all-things-fashion in the mosaic medium.

A sample mosaic dress by Susan Wechsler.

A sample mosaic dress by Susan Wechsler.

Wechsler’s classes have been runaway successes in such fashion-conscious cities as Los Angeles, but also at mosaic conferences such as the 2015 CMA summit in Ashland, where her students made bold and beautiful mosaic masks. In her three-day workshop coming up at the IMA over the July 4th weekend (ending July 3rd) she’ll share her mosaic dress making secrets.

Her students always come away with a creation that is more than pretty, more than just a decoration – a dress they couldn’t otherwise have made. Even for experienced mosaicists, it wouldn’t quite happen without Wechsler’s experience and guidance.

The workshop begins when you register for the class. Susan works with each student in advance, sending them on a search for personally meaningful pieces to tell their unique story.

 “I adore shopping at flea markets and antique malls,” she says. “It is in that search for the perfect object that my mosaic inspiration begins. When I discover a discarded treasure that I can re-work into something beautiful, my spirit soars.”

Once students gather their own treasures, she consults further with them via email, Facetime or Skype.  They discuss their vision, inspiration and palette to ensure that they have everything needed to complete their one-of-a-kind mosaic dress. Wechsler also brings additional materials to the workshop.

Wechsler’s palette consists of antique china, beads, charms, jewelry parts, rhinestones, ball chain, metal findings, frames, pearls, stained glass, porcelain flowers, glass tiles, gem stones and much more. There is often a “pique-assiette” element to the dresses, when broken china is integrated.

“I honor the integrity and history of each piece of china by carefully cutting and then placing the patterns back together. My true creative desire is to inspire and be inspired by others,” she says.

 On Day One of the workshop, she demonstrates some basic techniques, and helps participants lay out a plan for their dress, given their chosen materials. She then works with each student to further design his or her piece.

 Over the next two or three days, they complete the mosaic layer of the dress, often discovering new visual options while staying true to their design. Some are able to grout it on the third day, and if not, they will at least have seen a demonstration of grouting so that they will be prepared to grout when finished setting all their pieces.

 “My years as a New York City costume designer taught me how to use colors, patterns and textures to tell compelling stories that evoke different times and places throughout history,” Wechsler says.

Red dress: Plan and execution.

Red dress: Plan and execution.

Come tell your story at the Institute of Mosaic Art.  Everyone is welcome to take part in this fun and utterly absorbing experience. The three-day workshop runs from July 1-3, from 10-a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Enroll now at to give yourself the most lead-time for preparation.

Register by May 16, 2016 and use Coupon Code EARLY5 to receive a 5% discount on tuition.