The Art of the Second Act

Sybil Sage finds a new career in pique assiette, the French mosaic style that loosely translates to ‘broken plates’

I’m at the age where a new bracelet, if inscribed, would read, “I take Lipitor.” By the same token, a new necklace won’t materialize because I’m good in bed — but rather as a device to summon help should I tumble out of it.

My age bracket was not an asset as I considered how I might start earning money again to deal with the devastating financial catastrophe confronting my husband and me. I don’t need benefits and won’t take maternity leave, so I tried to be optimistic as I responded to every job posting on Craigslist that didn’t ask for a bank account number or bra size. I soon realized why so many Americans over the age of 55 were becoming entrepreneurs: We’re the only ones who see us as viable.

Friends tried to be helpful. “You could organize other people’s lives,” was proposed more than once — despite the fact that I haven’t yet put our son’s baby pictures into albums, reasoning that by waiting another three years, I could include his law school graduation photos.

“How about selling those beautiful mosaic things you make?” Hmm, that idea resonated. For years, I’ve been buying plates, finding unusual patterns such as Warhol Campbell soup cans, the London Metro map, and musical instruments. Using nippers, I create tiny shards and combine them with handmade tiles, glass gems, mirrors, words extracted from plates, and other surprises.

Getting a website marks this as a serious business. With bubble wrap, grout, and tools everywhere, our home looks like Home Depot. I am the designer, purchasing agent, press representative, marketing manager, quality control, shipping clerk, and cleaning crew, proud to be mistress of my domain, I hope my virtual friends will recommend the site to their virtual friends and help me go viral so I can become too big to fail.


One Response so far.

  1. avatar Lily Tomlin says:

    Like me, you’ve probably spent countless hours online searching for the right cremation urn that reflects what’s been on your mind over these last few years — maybe one that’s artfully adorned with pictures of John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Rudy Giuliani, John Ensign, and other elected officials whose sexual activities were so well documented. That urn now exists. It was created by comedy writer turned mosaic artist Sybil Sage, who embedded tiny photos with meticulously cut pieces of red, white and blue American flag plates. She’s done other urns and vases that playfully comment on political, economic, and environmental issues, in what Sybil calls her Breaking News series. There are also less quirky, beautiful, hand-made, one-of-a-kind functional art items —mosaic vases, picture frames, planters, lamps, and candlestick holders — available on

    For no obvious reason, people who’ve appeared on television generate public trust, which is probably why Suzanne Somers speaks for bioidentical hormones, William Shatner for Priceline, and Sally Field for Boniva. I’m now lending my credibility and support to, urging you to visit her site and to save it for when you need something special. You can commission Sybil to create an item to your specifications and even have it personalized. If a favorite dish breaks during a major earthquake or a fight with a sort-of loved one, send her the shards and she will give them a second life in a process she calls “Happy Endings.”

    Sybil is turning her hobby into a business because she and her husband took a major financial hit. Despite having had a successful career as a comedy writer (we met when she was hired to write for one of my specials), Sybil found it impossible to get back into the field. “How is it,” she asked, “that at the age of 90, Justice Stevens would still be trusted to make life and death decisions on the Supreme Court, yet I, a comedy writer in my 60’s, am too old to write an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’?”

    It’s inspiring to know someone who can laugh about her troubles. When I told Sybil I admired her resilience and determination, she quipped, “I don’t want to be admired. I want to be envied.”