Maria Grace Furtado’s dream has always been to share the joyful experience of creativity with others. On a leap of faith last December, she quit her job as a real estate agent to open a mosaic studio and store, Abundance Coastal Designs, in Bristol.
Maria began her own journey in mosaic art five years ago, after taking a class on stress relief. “It gives me joy to make something and see it go from an idea to a finished piece. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done,” she says. Her work is coastal-themed, incorporating starfish, sea glass, tile and pottery pieces that she gathers during relaxing walks on the beach.
The studio now allows her to bring the joy of mosaic making to others. “It’s a privilege to make other people happy,” she says. “Most people never use their creative side. Often people say they are not creative. Then they are shocked when they make something they are proud of.” Since December, Maria has taught 150 students, ages 6 to 80.
The studio’s classes include two-night “Mosaic Mingles,” during which students bring wine or champagne and Maria supplies music, food and materials, including plaques, mirrors, frames, stained glass, mosaic tiles, beads and grout. Maria also rents out the space to private parties. Students often bring their friends and loved ones for a night out “making something.”
Maria reports that students will sometimes change before her eyes in class. “They let their guard down, relax and allow themselves to think creatively,” she says. “They start to glow.”