Out Artist Lori Erdley
Cape May, NJ is the historic Victorian seaside gem of New Jersey where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The entire city is a National Historic District with about 600 preserved Victorian buildings. From exotic wines, restaurants, and jazz festivals held year ‘round, it’s definitely a place like no other. But as of lately, it’s the art that has really caught the eyes of both tourists and native Cape Mayans.
Long before organic, before skinny jeans, Instagram, and Cape May Mosaics, there was Lori Erdley. Lori was born and raised in Long Island, N.Y.
“I grew up very close to Jones beach. Early in my childhood, I was influenced by my father who would always take me beachcombing,” Lori said. “We would look for treasures together and as I grew older into a teen, I was more fascinated with the sea glass, then the coins, and then jewelry, so on and so forth. When I started collecting sea glass as a teenager, I would melt them into ceramic pieces in the kiln and that is where my love for colored glass began. “I created really cute dishes and ashtrays with melted glass inside, they were beautiful.”
Lori loves the beauty of colored and stained glass combined with an eye-catching background. Many of her creations are eco-friendly. Lisa Erdley (Lori’s wife) is also part of the team and contributes in woodworking, hardware development, and drawing out the original sketch to be combined in the finished glass art piece. She recently started to join in with the mosaic work, because of high demand. Lisa is the head chef at The Mad Batter restaurant in Cape May by night. Together they create beautiful, unique glass art.
“We are motivated by our passion for the end result. Something that in its own unique beauty, will speak to someone,” Lisa said. “I often joke and say that MOSAICS is my mid-life crisis,” joked Lori.
Pam Huber, the owner of The Mad Batter restaurant, was a major influencer when it comes to Rainbow Mosaics. She taught classes at her house that Lori and Lisa both attended. “She helped me understand and create. I fell in love with colored glass again. It was like a long-lost love. Once Lisa joined in with the wood, everything got up and moving, the two have never stopped looking forward. The dynamic-duo filled their studio up with boxes of colored glass from broken stained-glass windows, sea glass, broken plates, etc… and never looked back.
“My wife Lisa has been a chef now for 30 years. She loves to create, whether it be in the kitchen or the mosaic studio.”
While the couple make anything from wall art, ash trays, picture frames and more, a huge part of their displays have been musical instruments. Every March for Cape May’s Singer Song Month, the two put up beautiful displays at The Mad Batter. “Many years back I was driving, and I had seen that laying there was a guitar in someone’s trash. So, I did a U-turn and went back for it.” Lori said. “That was the beginning of our recycled and repurposed musical instruments. It was a rewarding trash-picking experience,” Lisa raved. Well, it is true, and these two artists have proven that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.
Their unique art and sense of style caught the eye of a Grammy Award winning artist and the rest has been history. Bailey, the daughter of recording artist and Grammy Award winner Melissa Etheridge, had seen some of the art on social media and thought that one of their guitars would be a perfect get for her mother’s birthday. She explained in great detail how to design it with a rainbow background and her mother’s symbol. Lisa said “in one word, we feel blessed. To know that our work is a sentimental bond from daughter to mother is extremely rewarding.” NYC Pride magazine had traveled to Melissa’s home last fall and used the guitar that Lori and Lisa created for her as the cover shot. This year, in honor of 50 years since the Stonewall event, and World Pride, Melissa Etheridge sang at the event on June 30, 2019 and had the guitar art on display for over 6 million audience members.
Lori and Lisa’s success and wishes for their art community have certainly blossomed. It’s difficult today to imagine Cape May or The Mad Batter without their art.
“It’s a wonderful journey creating art to be part of someone’s home, business or life…. you just need to keep faith and patience in your pocket, and wonderful things will arise. We are looking forward to whatever comes our way in this journey, it’s a beautiful open road,” said Lori.
Upcoming Displays for Cape May Mosaics
- October 10th- November 7th/ The Mad Batter restaurant (in the back of the terrace)
- November 7th-December 7th/ The Mad Batter restaurant (in the main dining room)