Daily Inspiration: New Orleans Artist Creates Mosaics Using Recycled Mardi Gras Beads

Where Magazine Cover Featuring Stephan Wanger's MosaicAlthough our Blog is dedicated to inspirational design, every once in a while we become infatuated with a piece of art– like these beaded mosaics created by New Orleans-based artist, Stephãn Wanger, who transforms discarded Mardi Gras beads into massive works of art.

This summer, Wanger will set a new Guinness World Record for the largest mosaic made of beads with his Crescent Skyline work, which has an overall area of 240 square feet (about the size of seven ping pong tables) and uses nearly 1,000,000 beads. Crescent Skyline will be unveiled as the main piece in a larger exhibit called “A Million Greetings from New Orleans” on display at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans between July 30 through August 3. Wanger’s piece called The Titillations of New Orleans was also featured on the cover of Where (New Orleans) magazine earlier this year (see above, right).

A self-taught artist, Wanger owns Galeria Alegria where he displays small works of art and takes commissions. As an avid recycler and Louisiana enthusiast, his main focus is to develop art dedicated to New Orleans and Louisiana culture.

Arist Stephan Wanger“Using beads instead of glass or stone in mosaics gives the state of Louisiana two advantages,” says Wanger. “First, we tackle 2,000 tons of annually discarded Mardi Gras beads and recycle those. Secondly, each art piece created out of Mardi Gras beads becomes a permanent promotional work for the incredible beautiful and unique state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. I believe that the State of Louisiana has an incredible opportunity to become well-known for mosaics made out of Mardi Gras beads. It’s truly unique in the world.”

With painstaking attention to detail, Wanger develops each piece out of discarded materials like doors, and sorts through thousands of pounds of Mardi Gras beads, cleaning and sorting them based on their size, color and textures. He spends as many as 90 hours stripping, sanding, repairing and staining the discarded doors that serve as the mosaic’s base, and another 120 hours to execute the bead work.

The “A Million Greetings From New Orleans” exhibit will also include a special project called “A Taste of Louisiana” in which Wanger partnered with elementary school students at Rudolph Matas School for more than a year to develop 12 mosaics dedicated to Louisiana cuisine. (The “A Taste of Louisiana” exhibit was unveiled earlier this month, read more here).

Campaigns such as these are the key to success as a creative professional, he says. “My tools of the trade are press releases, Facebook, monthly email campaigns, bead sorting parties, teaching children, and donating art as fundraising tools to worthy organizations,” he says. “It’s very exhausting but worth it.”

Wanger’s “Walking to New Orleans” piece will be auctioned by the Tipitina Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the music community in New Orleans and Louisiana.

See more examples of Wanger’s work at http://www.galeriaalegria.com.

Find the “A Million Greetings from New Orleans” exhibit on Facebook here.

Mosaic Detail

Updated on July 6, 2011 Watch the video below featuring Wanger’s process:

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Author: Mani O'Brien

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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