By Regine Schlesinger

(CBS) — Artists have been creating mosaics for 5,000 years but the only U.S. school for mosaic art is here in Chicago.

WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger reports at a large studio under the “L” tracks in Ravenswood, Karen Ami teaches the art of creating beautiful mosaics. She fell in love with it as an art student.

“You’re taking all these broken, discarded, odd pieces and you’re creating something whole and complete. And there’s something very satisfying about that,” she said.

Ami studied with the great Italian masters and in 2005 founded The Chicago Mosaic School.

“Within four months of opening, I realized that we were going to have to move to larger quarters,” she said.

At her facility at 1806 West Cuyler, she now teaches the art of mosaic to some two thousand students a year, from amateurs to professionals. They hammer and chisel, using a variety of materials, including something called smalti.

“This is a Byzantine glass material and actually, the school acquired almost six and a half tons of the leftover glass from the St. Louis Basilica which is the largest mosaic installation in the United States.”

Ami teaches the art of mosaic to some two thousand students a year, from amateurs to professionals(Credit: Regine Schlesinger)

Ami teaches the art of mosaic to some two thousand students a year, from amateurs to professionals(Credit: Regine Schlesinger)

Her own work just won the top prize in France at the world’s prestigious international competition for mosaics.

“Last year in 2014, I was part of an exhibition called the Prix Picassiette. It included about 200 artists from all over the world.”

Ami says making mosaics appeals to the kind of people who like jigsaw puzzles.

“Growing up as a child, I loved to line up stones on the beach. I loved to do jigsaw puzzles. So I like to take different elements and put them together in a design.”

For more information, visit chicagomosaicschool.com.

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