My mom’s tribute…..


A few weeks ago my mom passed away after a 12 year battle with Alzheimers Disease. My father preceded her in death from this same horrible disease in 2003. At that time, in the last days of his life, I began a mirror/altarpiece as a tribute to him. I had purchased two identical mirrors twelve years ago from TJ Maxx and had hung on to the second mirror to create a companion piece when my mom passed away. The symbolism of using a mirror appealed to me as we are truly reflections of our parents in so many ways. Also creating a mosaic has so much meaning with all the pieces coming together to create a whole…..

After spray painting the ugly flowers away I was left with a nice silver finish!

After spray painting the ugly flowers away I was left with a nice silver finish!

Toning down the silver paint!

Toning down the silver paint!


I just recently finished my mom’s mirror and wanted to share the process of its creation. It was truly a cathartic experience to make tiles and embed them with bits and pieces of my mom’s jewelry and doodads, all representing her. She was a very kind and generous women with an adventurous spirit that took her around the world to the most remote places. (I think she passed on that love of travel to many in the family!) This is an early picture of her looking very Judy Garlandish! Always a smile on her face!

IMG_0990When I first began my mom’s mirror, I began with a similar title to my dad’s mirror. His piece is called “The Long Goodbye” and anyone who has had a love one suffer from dementia or Alzheimers knows what this means. You begin to lose that person long before they physically pass. My mom’s mirror is titled “Another Long Goodbye”. Using alphabet stamps, I was able to stamp out the title onto a clay slab. Then I used Rub n Buff to highlight the letters.IMG_9091IMG_9092An interesting thing began to happen along this artistic journey. While my father’s mirror tended to be on the dark side (images below) with an emphasis on death and disease, my mom’s mirror became all about life and living….I didn’t intend this at the beginning, especially with the title I started with. But as the piece unfolded, I think it reflected my mom and her optimistic outlook and I think I must have already sorted out a lot of feelings when I did my dad’s mirror that did not need revisiting!!

My dad's mirror, "The Long Goodbye"

My dad’s mirror, “The Long Goodbye”


Detail of my dad's mirror.

Detail of my dad’s mirror.

Next I began working on the top portion of the frame. Being a companion piece, I did want there to be some continuity and added the glass tile along the top edge. These days a crown shows up in just about everything I do and so it was fitting it was front and center. Below the crown is a band of vintage pearls that I glued on with Weldbond glue. I added a tin and glass nicho from Mexico which now holds my mom’s obituary. I also did the same thing on my father’s mirror and it is so nice to always know right where his obit is and that it has a place for safe-keeping for the future. I collaged a map into the interior with a detail of Ireland which is where her family was from. (Her maiden name is Harp-like the beer!) On the top part of the nicho is a small compass, very fitting for my mom the adventurer!

IMG_9094I will share a few of the other tiles I created.
IMG_9239I had an old box and inside of it I put a picture of my mom and in front of it is a globe that actually has room to spin. (I like this kinetic part of this mirror!) The door can be left opened or can close.

IMG_0994The above picture shows progress in a few areas! I made lots of random tiles at different times, not knowing exactly how they would all fit together. I incorporated pieces of her jewelry like this elephant (below) that was her earring. My mom earned a nickname after taking all of her kids and grandkids on a safari to East Africa; she became known as Mama Tembo which means mother elephant. There are quite a few references to ‘Ma Tembo” in this mirror. It was the journey of a lifetime!
IMG_9099IMG_9238I ran out of room on the frame of the mirror for her name which I thought should be in the center so I actually glued it onto the mirror portion! This mirror is over 3 feet tall by 16 inches wide.

IMG_9244My mom was always wearing a gold frog that was a reproduction of a Pre-Columbian gold frog she had seen on one of her travels to south America. I had to add a gold frog to my mirror. The frog’s mouth is open and that is where I am placing a small vial of her ashes.


My mom on our African safari!

My mom on our African safari!

I also added a band of small glass tile creating a black and white border around the mirror itself. This has the effect of repeating the look of the black and white words around my dad’s mirror. I later added Quin gold paint to the white tiles to tone them down a bit and make them look more vintage.IMG_9243

It was fun placing all the tiles on the frame and arranging all the pieces to fit. Through the years I have been drawn to rubber stamps with map themes and quotes about travel….and I finally had a place to use them! In the end, the mirror was done just in time to be displayed at her “Fiesta of Life” party! 

I loved creating this mirror/altar for my mom. It will hang proudly in our home as a reminder of the incredible woman she was and the family she started that continues to grow!IMG_0991









35 thoughts on “My mom’s tribute…..

  1. Wow, Laurie! What a tribute you’ve created. Seems so fitting and personal. I have literally been thinking of you. Now, I think that I know why.
    You have been through so much. My MIL is in the same terrible trap right now. There comes a time, when you just want them to be free, and now both of your parents are Whole again.
    Now, is a time for your rebirth and freedom, and the time to enjoy your beautiful granddaughter. Life certainly goes on, doesn’t it?
    You’re a good daughter.
    I know that your parents must have been Very Proud of you.
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful mirrors…xo Laura

  2. Dear Laurie
    What a wonderful tribute to your parents and a tangible link to them. I lost my Dad to Alzheimer’s, although I was lucky in that he passed away before the disease proper really changed him, but I do sympathise. These beautiful creations were such a positive outcome from a sad time.
    Best wishes

  3. Hi Laurie,Thank you for sharing a very intimate experience. the mirror is so inspirational for me. I don’t know if you remember during my workshop with you, my Mom was ill( never diagnosed) and I did her as my queen.
    The way you feel about your mom is amazing. She sounds like an amazing person in all ways. be well and take care of yourself. No matter what, you can never have your Mom long enough. making the Mirror as a tribute to her must have been helpful with your grief( I hope so).
    I’m still working with poly but, my mosaics are taking president right now.I think my next project might be a mirror in honor of my Mom. Thanks for the inspiration to do so.When she was sick, I had started making tiles with quotes she used to say. So, I have a beginning.

  4. Laurie, this is a remarkable tribute to your dear Mother. I like the pairing of the two mirrors, each with their own personality. It’s another type of marriage, isn’t it? Congratulations on work well done. You have done good and honorable work in the name of your parents. I’m sure they continue to be proud of the family they began.

  5. Laurie, your tributes to your parents via the mirror rather takes my breath away. It seems an elegant way to remember wonderful pieces of them, even though they themselves lost those memories through disease. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  6. this is such a beautiful post and tribute to your mom and most incredible love you have expressed in your mirrored altars. May your spirit be refreshed as well after these long goodbyes, and may this new season bring much release of joy and peace into your life.
    Blessings in Christ

  7. Laurie, a heart-felt thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences with your parents, and for taking us through some of the processes you used to express your most poignant thoughts. You are and always will be…my creative mentor.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your mom and dad and such a wonderful thing to have that you created for them. So inspiring and your parents must have been wonderful to have turned out a daughter like you! Thanks so much for sharing. Hugs and tears to my eyes and heart!

  9. Laurie, I am so sorry for your losses. You really honored your parents beautifully. I read this post with tears in my eyes knowing how hard that long goodbye is. We are going through it with my mom too. Much love to you and your family.

  10. So, so very beautiful and full of love. Truly shows what a wonderful life she had and how lucky you were to be her daughter.

  11. Thank you for sharing this piece and your journey in creating it. What a wonderful way to keep your parents beside you, remembering them as they would want to be remembered. Once again, you are an inspiration to all of us.

  12. The mirror and the tribute are beautiful. I found emotions coming up to surface for both of my parents who have passed. My mother over 36 years ago from cancer and my father 12 years ago from dementia. So glad you embodied the essence of who she was/is. Now she is truly free having released the body temple that no longer serves her. Thank you for sharing! Many Blessings!

  13. Laurie I am so sorry for your loss. What beautiful pieces to commemorate your parents. I know how hard it is to loss both parents to that horrible disease. It is such a long goodbye indeed.
    Thank you for sharing. Both pieces are gorgeous.

  14. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. I love how you were able to work through some feelings and memories while creating this lovely and personal piece. It is a phenomenal treasure. Thank you for sharing the story along with the artwork. May this work continue to bless you.

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  16. Laurie, thank you so much for sharing with us the intimate feelings around these two mirrors. I’ve always admired your dad’s tribute since the publication of your book and knowing that now he’s next to your mom in the same tribute and loved way, makes me admire you more. The family that started with your parents remains close and continues to grow full of love. Enjoy every single day you share together as we never know when will be the last one. Love, Janis.

  17. Hi Laurie.I’m saddened to hear about the passing of your Mom. What a journey it must have been for you all. I do sympathize and empathize as well. As I told you in San Miguel,my Dad and I went through the same thing,for 7 years…a long and ardous battle for sure,but with many precious memories. Your mirrors for both of your parents are such lovely,heartfelt tributes,and will be an important part of your family’s heritage for generations to come. How lucky they both were to have you as a daughter!
    Hugs to you and Leslie both!
    XO Sue

  18. Hello Laurie,
    You made a beautiful frame in memory of your mother, I realy like it. I am also making memorypices, I do not make so big works , yet:) My memorypices are much smaler, they always have some pices from the past, god memorys and for me it has been a good way to work thru the sorrow and memories. My mom had Alzheimer too, so I know a litle of your struggel, it is an awful diseas.
    You have to excuse if I express myself clumsy, my English is not that good.
    You inspire me and I am looking forward to Your lesson in the rertreet.
    Best regards

  19. I am so moved by this tribute and memory keeper
    you have a wonderful sense of spirit and i am so glad I have taken your classes and checked your blog today

  20. Laurie, I am so moved ( to tears) after reading about your mother. Isn’t it nice to know that we are never alone but are all truly connected in some way or another! Love to all who read this post….thank you for sharing your heart with us.

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