Art shop owner creates mosaic in Safety Harbor

Melissa Haist is about to complete her 40-foot, 25,000-piece mosaic bench behind her boutique and art gallery.

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla .– Melissa Haist is understandably grateful to the dozens of people who helped bring her “Pandemic Project” to life.

“I registered 135 names, of people who signed up, but there are also people who came in, so I guess even more than that,” the Safety Harbor artist said.

Haist owns Tupelo on 4th in downtown Safety Harbor.

She opened in 2014 and sells a variety of art items in her shop and even has an art gallery. She was honored to win the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for how her store has beautified her city.

And that was before the giant mosaic bench.

“I’m tired of cutting tiles at this point,” said Haist, who worked on a 40-foot-long community bench behind Tupelo.

The idea for the bench was inspired by Haist’s studies in Spain. She spent her first year of college there where she marveled at the work of her favorite architect, Antoni Gaudi. He made many mosaics in Barcelona and his style became Haist’s inspiration for his mosaic bench.

She brought this style back to Florida and got to work creating a Sunshine State themed piece of art.

“I am very happy with it. Yes, there were so many points where I was like ‘I can’t do this’, but little by little it happened, “she said.

The project was supported by a community grant. She also received tons of help from volunteers. According to her tally, more than 130 people have helped set tiles for her bench since she began designing. When completed, the bench will consist of almost 30,000 pieces of individual tiles. Haist hopes everything will be over by October.

“When they see it, a lot of people say, ‘I want to learn how to do this.’ So that’s fun. I love the way it turned out,” she said.

Tupelo on 4th is located at 135 4th Avenue North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695. Haist plans to resume teaching mosaic in his studio this fall. If you would like information about these courses or a chance to volunteer to help complete the bench, you can email Haist at [email protected]