Why I changed 9 to 5 with a mosaic hammer

For me, safety was always first.

A safe job with a safe future, a safe salary I get for a good position in a good company, with good prospects for an even better position. A job that at some point also allows me to combine family and work, with nice colleagues and a nice atmosphere.

Why I wanted all this?

Perhaps because financial security in my family was never really existent. And I had the impression that I needed it a lot. If I had this safety, all the rest would be alright. Perhaps because we get taught when we are young that a good salary, a house and a car are important in life. That they make us happy.

I believed in that. Until I understood that nothing is secure in life. Except the fact that happiness doesn’t come with security. Or in other words: My life had become quite boring.

After 2 months I felt blocked in my new job as an online manager, which had seemed perfect to me in the interview: family company, decent working hours, good salary, nice working atmosphere, canteen with freshly cooked food, colleagues who seemed very sympathetic to me (and they were it!).

A lot of people would be happy with job conditions like these. The point was that what I was doing in this job didn’t intrigue me at all. Like in the positions before, my work was so abstract that its value was unclear to me. I created presentations with concepts that – if I was lucky – were implemented in two years. And I was coming to the office in the morning with a lethargy I felt ashamed for.

Again and again I found myself in meetings wondering: ‘I want to finally talk again about things that really interest me! I want immediate feedback and see immediately what I have done. I want to feel that I have turned a brilliant idea into a brilliant thing. I want to finally do something concrete with my hands and not only use them for the keyboard of my computer! ‘

After six years of study, including countless internships and part-time jobs and five years of professional experience as a project manager I had realized what I needed to do. I had to go back to my roots. But what in the world were these roots?

No matter what I did as a child and teenager. There were always creative processes. I created things with my hands. Clothes for my Barbies (who has once carded a pair of pants with 1 cm legs width, knows what that means), small stuffed animals, comics, origami birds, figures from found objects in nature. What ever.

So I asked myself when I had created something with my own hands lately. I remembered the picture frame I made for my sister’s wedding. From pieces of broken majolica tiles, washed round by the sea, found on the beach of Ischia near Naples. And suddenly I thought, ‘Hey! Instead of leaving my safe job, I could make a first step back to my roots and visit mosaic courses in my sparetime! ‘

‘I could attend some mosaic courses’ turned into a deep passion for what mosaic art is today. ‘Why is there so few information about mosaic art online?’ turned into ‘I’ll start a blog about mosaic art!’ The ‘instead of leaving my safe job’ turned into ‘I will leave my damn boring job and go study mosaic art in Italy to start all over again’. I was finally in my element. And felt like waking up from a long sleep. Full of energy, which hardly let me sleep at night. Full of ideas about what I wanted to do the next day.

Approximately two years have passed since I first used the mosaic hammer to cut glass. About the same time I published the first blog post here on mused-mosaik.de with the aim to promote mosaic art and give interested people a platform. A year ago I quit my job in Germany and came to Spilimbergo to learn how to make mosaics in a triennal formation.

Everything I’ve done in the past 2 years, interviews with artists, working with other mosaic makers, videos about what mosaic is today. They pass like the blink of an eye, as easily as it feels doing them. I no longer have to force myself to do things. Because I genuinely care for what I do every day.

I’m not saying that leaving my comfortable security cushion was easy. On the contrary: In the first months of my training I had many moments where I doubted everything: ‘Was this really the right way? Will I be able to pass all the three years? What will I do afterwards? How will I make money if my savings come to an end? ‘

Sometimes I couldn’t tell up from down. I had so much become used to my safe and warm position that I felt unable to deal with financial difficulties or not knowing how I would stand there next year. Suddenly, I was responsible for my future and the way I wanted it to be.

I had to practice intrinsic trust in my decision to defy all obstacles. And there were a lot. Months of continuous rain in Spilimbergo, very un-Italian closed people, empty sidewalks that not even a dog would have stepped upon in winter. The doubting people at home, who would not stop asking me: ‘And are you really going to complete the three years of education?’

After a while, I learned to turn obstacles into challenges.

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

This sentence became my motto during the first year here in Friuli. And in the second year of the training, I feel stronger than ever. I know that the path I have chosen is waiting with surprises left and right. And certainly not everything will turn out as I suspect. But that is exactly what I had missed in my life: The indeterminacy, the unexpected, the coincidences. The feeling that in some magical way, suddenly everything fits together.

And how it fits together! In the summer I completed my first internship with a mosaic artist. We want to work together long term and are currently working on a common project. One of my videos is part of the final selection of an international video competition and currently on display in the museum MAR in the mosaic city Ravenna. Several collaborations with online shops, art lovers and tool manufacturers have evolved for my blog.

What I’m doing with my hands as a mosaicist and reporting as a blogger for mused-mosaik.de is certainly not perfect. But there is a development, I learn every day. I know that I move something and that many people enthusiastic for mosaic art follow my postings.  That exciting projects with mosaic makers and creative people from other areas are waiting for me.

Nothing can outweigh the goosebumps moments that I have had in the last few months. No million euros. No house, no car. I have found my niche in this world. And it feels damn good. I assure you that.

This post was written for “Dein Weg”, an ERGO Award.

Photo: Pierre Planchenault

Update from 3 November 2014: 
With this post I have been chosen for the final round of  ERGO-Award “Dein Weg”! From 17 to 28 November 2014 you can vote for my blog and help me to make it more popular!  As soon as the voting starts, I will post the link here.

Update from 17 November 2014:
You can now vote for mused (just search for my name in the selection of articles: Miriam Bastisch) until 28 November 2014!

Update from 31 November 2014:
Voting is closed and I have been awarded the 5th prize! Thanks for all of you that voted for me and my story!


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  1. says: Edna

    Keep On Miriam. You are such a huge inspiration for me.
    I get a lot of emails everyday but when i see one of yours in me email box its the one i read first.

    1. says: miriam

      Wow, Edna! Thank you, this is really great to hear! Good to know that mused news are so welcome and appreciated by you!

  2. says: Magda


    I knew there was a story as passionate as this behind your blog and your quest for mosaic art. Even if I don’t make mosaics anymore, I know exactly how you feel.

    My life today wouldn’t have been the same, if it wasn’t for mosaic. Even if I no longer make them.

    PS: I also made clothes for my Barbie. :)

    1. says: miriam

      Magda, I think everyone who has experienced what making mosaic means will always be passionate about it no matter what comes. Makes me laugh that you made clothes for your Barbies, too :-)

  3. says: Nancie Mills Pipgras

    When I saw you in Spilimbergo last year, the “rightness” of you being there was written all over your face. You are a bright and enormously talented young woman. I look forward to seeing your continued success!

    1. says: miriam

      Nancie, thank you for your kind words. In fact it felt I needed to come here from the first time Ruth from MOSAIZM told me about the school. And it is getting more interesting all the time.

  4. says: Camila de Oliveira Boschini

    Hi. I’m live in Brazil and I feel the same, but here study mosaic is difficult becasuse don’t have schools and the some courses are so expensive. You are luck and one day I’ll study in Italy. Congratulations.
    Best regards

  5. says: Dionne

    An enjoyable read Miriam and can relate to so much of what you spoke about. Thanks for sharing and allowing a little more of you to shine x

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