Making a Little Magic – Part 1

If you ever have the opportunity to venture to South Philadelphia, you may want to spend some time getting lost in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a 3,000 square foot glittering tiled mosaic masterpiece completed mostly by a single man — Isaiah Zagar. Part museum and part labyrinth, visitors can’t help but to marvel at tiled pathways, colorful nooks, and poetry weaved throughout the entire structure.

Making a Little Magic

 In the hopeless attempt to capture just a tiny bit of its beauty, here are a few photos of this magnificent space.

Making a Little Magic

It is truly breathtaking. Once, while standing outside of the front gate to this space, I saw a few people drive by with the windows down — one of them pointing and saying excitedly, “Let’s stop here! Let’s stop here!!!”.

Making a Little Magic

How did he do it? I wanted to learn to do this. To be part of this. To create magic… like this!

Can you imagine my pure delight upon learning that Isaiah Zagar offers weekend workshops on how to make mosaic murals?? Do you know how quickly I signed up for one? Local homes and businesses donate walls for the workshops led by Isaiah, and by the end of the weekend a unique work of magical art has been created!

Making a Little Magic

I counted down the days, until finally… it was time!

(This happens to be Isaiah’s dog, Blue, who enjoys keeping Isaiah company in the studio. Blue is also an expert at posing for photos.)

Making a Little Magic

After meeting Isaiah, and a few brief introductions of the other attendees, we began with Isaiah walking us through the process of cutting mirror to make tiles. Each mirrored tile is cut by hand, and together we cut up buckets and buckets of mirror tiles!

Making a Little Magic

Next, we took a short walk to our installation site — near 6th and South Streets. Isaiah had started the mural for us with a fantastic painting, large tiled medallions, and a perimeter of mirror tiles. After he demonstrated the proper tile gluing technique, we all got to work!

Making a Little Magic

The process itself is quite forgiving, and Isaiah is very encouraging! With clear perimeters and instructions for our group, we were able to complete the tile gluing process in just one afternoon!!

Making a Little Magic

While everyone was out getting lunch, I snapped this photo of Isaiah because it seemed he just could not help himself from gluing on tile. Did you know he has completed over 200 murals??

Making a Little Magic

Coming up, I’ll share what happened during the second day of the workshop, introduce you to some of the other attendees, and I’ll share a few photos of Isaiah’s warehouse space that can only be described as “jaw dropping”.

Making a Little Magic

To learn more about the mosiac mural weekend workshop with Isaiah Zagar, click here.


  1. Dear Valerie,

    I like my walls just the way they are, if you follow me. 😉


  2. This looks so cool! Have you taken the girls? We are just north of philly so I am excited to check it out!

    • My girls haven’t seen it yet, but I am planning to take them sometime soon! When I was there, I saw lots of kiddos roaming around. Very family-friendly! Have fun!! 🙂

  3. I would have DIED to be part of this workshop, Valerie. What a fun experience and such a gift to the city of Philadelphia!

    • Rachelle! You would have really loved this!! If you ever find yourself in or around Philly, let me know & we will go exploring together! <3

  4. this is incredible!!!

  5. It does look magical! It reminds me a little bit of the Grotto of the Redemption in Iowa, which is one of my favorite magical places in America. The grotto is an enormous structure with many rooms that’s all built out of gemstones, fossils, stalactites, crystals and petrified wood by a priest many years ago (and kept up by other priests after his death). He spent his whole life creating it in honor of the Virgin Mary. It’s incredible to visit and the story is incredible too. They estimate that it would cost $4 million just to replace the gemstones today, and it’s just outside to wander through. I have some pictures here if you want to get an idea of how amazing it is.

    They’re such different places with different mediums and different purposes, but somehow both projects seem so similar in many ways. 🙂