In 2012, Connie Williams and her husband moved to Alabama’s Gulf Coast from further inland. After purchasing a new home, Williams planned a complete remodel to revamp the space and adapt it to her style. During her design search, she wasn’t quite finding what she had envisioned for her new home, which is when she took things into her own hands and created her own business, known as Custom Mosaics by Connie.
“A relentless search of the Internet for sea turtles for my kitchen and bath resulted in nothing,” Williams explained. “At that point, I decided to try and make something myself. My mom was a ceramics instructor throughout my childhood, so I knew the basics. I decided to get creative and see what designs I could come up with on my own.
“I made and installed sea turtles in the kitchen and bathroom,” she went on to say. “We then decided to sell that home and some interested buyers fell in love with my sea turtles. Our home sold in two weeks. That one remodel has resulted in mosaics for backsplashes and shower inserts of all kinds. I’ve never installed tile for a living, only for myself during home renovations.”
Each mosaic that Williams produces is hand-cut from ceramic clay, kiln-fired and glazed — and customized to each customer’s specifications. “I start out with a 25-pound block of clay and individually cut each piece,” said Williams. “Each mosaic is one-of-a-kind.”
Some of Williams’ staple designs, which are inspired by nature, include sea turtles, blue crabs, blue herons, dolphins, fish, hummingbirds, jellyfish, marlins and sailfish, octopi, parrots, palms, tree frogs and tropical fish. All of these “focal” designs are available in a range of colors. Other creative ideas, such as surfboards, mermaids and wall mirrors, can be customized any way you’d like. However, Williams is also open to creating any type of design you can think of.
“I make many, many ‘filler’ tiles at a time and try to keep all different colors in stock,” said Williams. “As for the ‘focal’ pieces, I try to keep most of those made and in stock as well. Therefore, when an order comes in, I can just pull the focal piece a customer wants and have the mosaic completed in just a couple of days.”
For the last six years, Williams has had tremendous success with her business. Most of her mosaics take around two weeks to complete, unless they are already in stock. “There is a process,” she explained. “The clay has to dry slowly to keep it from warping.”
In Williams’ current home, her sea turtle designs have stolen the spotlight, especially in the master bathroom, where she created a sea turtle-themed shower. “The goal was to feel like you were actually among sea life while in the shower. A ‘day at the beach’ kind of feeling,” said Williams. “This space was originally a 5-foot garden tub, which we removed and replaced with a 5-foot shower. The mosaic is the focal piece of the entire bathroom, and is 20 inches tall and 32 inches wide. This particular mosaic has been one of my most popular design inspirations thus far.”
It only took Williams a couple of days to complete the matching border and finalize the mosaic, which was already in stock. “The only challenges we faced along the way of this shower was that originally, we were going to use tiles that matched the wall tile for the border,” she explained. “They were going to be a smaller version of the large gray tiles. However, at the last minute, we decided to make the matching border. I was really glad in the end that we did. The color it added to the all-gray shower was breathtaking.”
Although she isn’t a professional tile installer by any means, Williams said the installation of her mosaics require a very simplistic process. “They are adhered to mesh, so all one has to do is add mortar to the wall, press the mosaic on, let it dry and add grout,” she said. “This is very DIY-friendly.”
Williams continuously receives praise for all of her custom designs throughout her home, but the sea turtle mosaic stands out as her most popular and requested design. “After the completion of this shower, I have had many orders,” said Williams. “Each mosaic is unique, but this has been the inspiration for many designs.”