Elizabethton artist completes third mosaic in series featuring local landmarks

It takes time to create something, whether it is a wooden carving or an imposing monument. It takes even longer to improve on that art and expand the craft. For a local artist in Elizabethton, the time spent is more than worth it.

Karen Hitchcock recently finished her third mosaic, which currently sits in a little picnic area in the heart of downtown Elizabethton. The series started with a mosaic of Sycamore Shoals roughly two years ago.

“I wanted to do these mosaics from places of interest,” Hitchcock said. “These are places tourists like.”

Hitchcock said the mosaics are the first half of a six-part series she is doing on various landmarks in the Elizabethton area, the most recent being the Covered Bridge, after mosaics featuring Sycamore Shoals and the Tweetsie Train.

Each mosaic is about six months of work, from the initial idea to when the city hangs the completed art.

She said she starts with taking several photos of the subject at different angles.

“I then draw on a 3’ by 5’ board what I want it to look like,” Hitchcock said. “That is when I decide on the materials I am going to use.”

Hitchcock said she gets her materials from many different sources, including local antique shops. She also receives a grant from the Elizabethton Arts and Cultural Alliance, though she did not disclose how much she receives.

Once the pieces are properly arranged on the board, she covers it with grout, a kind of cement that fills in the cracks between pieces. After that, she cleans off any flaking grout and seals the whole thing. She said friends typically supply her with the frame.

“After that, the city takes it and hangs it up,” she said.

Hitchcock said she receives lots of praise for her artwork.

“They really seem to love it,” she said. “People enjoy seeing landmarks from the area.”

Hitchcock worked as a glassblower for about 18 years, but decided the craft was too expensive. Her experience with mosaics is recent by comparison.

“I have always loved glass,” Hitchcock said. “I love the feel of it and what you can make with it.”

She said it is rewarding to see all the effort come to fruition once the work is done, and seeing other people’s reactions to her work inspires her.

As for the remaining three pieces in the series, Hitchcock said she typically figures out her next pieces one at a time, though she has already begun work on her next piece, this time featuring the Blue Hole Falls.

“I have a few things in mind for the others,” she said, though she chose to keep those a surprise.

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