Until she was in her early 30s, stained-glass mosaic artist Tatiana Isotov had never considered a career in art. “I started doing mosaics when I shared a yard with someone who was making them,” says Isotov. “She taught me how, and then I kept on doing it by myself.”
Isotov was raised in Eugene, Ore., with a German mother and a Russian father, who taught at the University of Oregon. “I grew up in a very formal European family where we were pushed to excel in academics, languages and music, but I never took a single art class,” she says. After studying sociology and anthropology at the University of Oregon and earning a master’s degree in university administration, she taught English overseas, did public relations for the American Red Cross and worked in academia before becoming a full-time artist.
When Isotov began selling her art, she sold it at the Saturday Market in Portland. “The first time I went to the Saturday Market to see if I could sell my works, I made $600,” she says. “I realized I’d finally found something I was passionate about.” Isotov estimates that she’s made more than 7,000 pieces of stained-glass art.
Today Isotov works out of a studio behind her house in West Linn, Ore. She specializes in three types of mosaics: fireplace surrounds, decorative art mirrors and wall hangings based on myths, folklore and other spiritual images. The wallhanging(right) is an interpretation of a famous Buddha sculpture in Japan, known as the gentle Buddha. To create her wall hangings, she lays out the pieces of glass on a prepared wooden surface and, once she completes the design, her husband, who helps her in the studio, adds the grout and copper beading. “I’ve done a lot of custom spiritual mosaics, such as Krishnas or Virgin Mary triptychs,” she says. “I really enjoy the planning and all the research that goes into creating these pieces.”