Ann Shelby Valentine

Pique Assiette Mosaic Artist, PanAm Flight Attendant

Pique Assiette Mosaic Artist, PanAm Flight Attendant

The artist explains, "I love working In the three-dimensional, tactile pique assiette medium, using my hands and sense of color with the discarded ceramics."

The Flight Attendant philosophizes: “We are like the Shakers,” Valentine says, “ When we are gone, it’s over. There will never again be another group of PanAm Flight Attendants.”

From Antonio Gaudi to Kaffe Fasette, the Sangrada Familia to the Watts Towers, artists use the found objects and discarded ceramics of Pique Assiette

Ode to Coffee

Pique Assiette Style

Pique assiette is a style of mosaic that incorporates pieces of broken ceramics - plates, dishes, cups, tiles - and other found objects into the design. For the artist one of the joys is the appeal and expressiveness of pique assiette, taking in ideas of lateral thinking, humour, the art of recycling, and the significance of found objects.

Ann Shelby Valentine often remarks that one of the pleasures is working with tactile pieces in three-dimensions.

According to The Joy of Shards, there is a long tradition of using discarded materials in the creation of something new. This is particularly true of building materials.  A prime case of the pique assiette principle is in the reconstruction of medieval stained glass.

Influences and Innovators

Antonio Gaudí: Most famous of the style’s originators was the Catalan Antoni Gaudí who developed unique and highly individualistic designs. He is famous as architect and designer of the Sangrada Familia, Roman Catholic Church in his native Barcelona and other major art works of the 20th century. Gaudi is considered a leader of the Art Nouveau movement. He  worked with Josep Maria Jujol to produce stunning ceramic mosaics to cover buildings and other objects. Gaudi became famous with his eye-catching mosaic style, using purpose-made and waste tiles, but also incorporating broken crockery and other found objects, which was a revolutionary idea in formal art and architecture.  One of Gaudi’s major achievements was covering the Sangrada Familia with beautiful mosaic designs.

Artists like Klimt, Chagall and Kokoschka were inspired by Gaudi and used mosaic in their work.

Raymond Edouard Isadore: The primal Pique Assiette artist may have been Raymond Edouard Isadore, who covered his entire house and garden with mosaics of broken crockery between 1938 and 1964.

Sabato Rodia: The Watts Towers in the Watts District of L.A., is a collection of 17 interconnected structures, two of which reach heights of over 30 m. The Towers were built by Italian immigrant construction worker Sabato “Sam or Simon” Rodia in his spare time over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. The sculptures' armatures are constructed from pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh, coated with mortar. The main supports are embedded with pieces of porcelain, tile, and glass. They are decorated with found objects, including bed frames, bottles, ceramic tiles, scrap metal and sea shells.

Kaffe Fassett: Well known as a textile designer, Kaffe Fasette picks up found objects, shards and adds colored grout to Pique Assiette is his book Mosaics: Inspiration and Original Projects for Interiors and Exteriors. Authors: Kaffe Fassett  and Candace Bahouth.

Male pilot speaks, in the TV series PanAm

“They don’t know that they are the new breed of women. They just had the impulse – to take flight.”

PAA 707

Christmas Memory Circa-1971
Another Real PanAm Memory

Maybe literally it was Christmas Eve; a 707 charter into the US (AIr Force?) military base near Tokyo - not Narita - 3 cockpit, only 5 flight service, everyone's pretty junior. I'm the only purser.  It's cold and very late at night. Jet lag so deep I fell sick. I can smell that brown sauce that had been on the entreés stuck to my shoes as I walk onto the crew bus.

I slump into a seat, wading up my tote bag and purse to make a head rest - As the others board, I'm almost already asleep, my cheek against the very cold window glass, when I look up in the dark Japanese sky and see truly beautiful stars.  Bright, clear, they're gorgeous - guess there wasn't much light from the ground.

So, I (not so very softly) sing out loud:"Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining" - pause, all quiet - when in the seat in the row right behind me, a fellow crew member, female, (also, not so very softly) sings: "It is the night of our dear Savior's birth" - pause, all quiet --- and then we both just start singing, together: "Long may the world in sin and error pining" and before we get to the next phrase, the girl across the aisle, a row back, joins us - "Til he appears and the soul's felt its worth."

Then the other two (of us cabin crew, sitting a row or so even further back) come in with: "A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn" 

Now, NO pause, right in time, the first officer and the engineer, spread out across the whole back row, IN HARMONY: "Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels' voices, Oh niiight diviiine, oooooh night when Christ was born, Oh Niiiiiiiight, diviiiiiiiine, oh night, oh night divine."

And THEN, half asleep, opposite me, on the row alone, on the other side of the aisle, the Captain says: "Sing it again."

And so, we did.  All together, all the way through again, in harmony - 2 altos, 3 sopranos, tenor, base.

And at the end, not a sound.  We all slowly started falling asleep as the crew bus was warming up and moving on the loooong drive towards Tokyo.

p.s. I had a least a dozen little wooden Santas we used for service decorations from off the trays in my tote bag - remember?  Wish I still had them.  

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