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A little piece of heaven

Beverly Thomas Jenkins engages in the fine art of mosaic from her studio overlooking the parks behind Jonesborough Presbyterian Church and the International Storytelling Center. It’s a great way to watch nature at work and the perfect place to fit tiny pieces of colored glass and tile into delightful compositions.
Currently, Jenkins’ work bench holds her newest piece of art in progress, a mosaic inspired by roses in luscious shades of pink. The flowers are springing up in front of a turquoise gate that mimicks teh one Jenkins saw on a visit to France.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, the image takes form beneath Jenkins hands with the addition each piece of colorful cut glass she puts into place.
“The piece itself tells me what it wants to be,” said Jenkins, who is a founding-owner, with her husband W. Herman Jenkins, of Main Street Café and Catering. “The type of glass also determines how it can be used in a mosaic. Some things I want to be clean cut, like the gate, but others will be free-form and natural like the pink roses.”
Jenkins’ studio is filled with vibrant color. Next to a big stone fireplace, richly colored slabs of glass stand at attention awaiting the diamond cutter’s edge. Tiny tiles in many colors, baskets filled with cracked and broken china, and “found” objects dripping with potential pack the shelves her brother built for her.
“I haven’t experimented with the found objects very much,” she said. “But as you can see, I’ve got lots of things I’m thinking about using. I did that one [pointing to a piece made from soft blended shades of cream and green,] using a real pocket watch that works.”
In the center of the room is an oblong table covered in cobalt blue tile with an elongated star at its center. The beautiful craftmanship is not that of her own — Jenkins’ parents made the table in the late 1950s.
“My father is an artist, and I grew up around art,” she said. “That table is what got me started. I needed to find my own art form, and it was mosaic that did it for me.”
It took Jenkins a while to find the art medium that gave her the perfect outlet to express herself.
“You know: are you a painter, do you work with wood, do you sketch? What is the thing that makes you happy when you do it? I found mine, and it fills me,” she explained. “In the beginning, it was, ‘How do you do this?’ But now it’s growing into an artistic form of personal expression.”
Next door to the studio, sits Jenkins’ gallery. Painted in European style of rich glazed shades of warm red clay, the walls form a perfect backdrop for Jenkins’ colorful works of art that includes anything from an aquarium and a rich spray of flowers on a faceted background of cut white glass, to a stylized big red heart. Light glancing off the cut edges gives the artwork a multi-dimensional sense of movement.
“It’s so fun. You work with your heart, your mind and how you feel,” Jenkins said. “It just comes out from there. If I can inspire someone, that’s great, but I just do it because I like to do it. My work is hectic; this calms me down and I have a product to show for it.”