What techniques do you use?
All my work is reverse decoupage on glass. Once I've created a collage design, I affix it to the back of clear glass. I have created my own special glue. It is quick-drying and invisible, which is important with decoupage on glass work. Next I paint and seal the design with many layers of polyurethane. All my dinner pieces can be used, but they must be hand washed; they can't go in the dishwasher or microwave.

Mary Anderson creates one-of-a-kind dinnerware using reverse decoupage on glass. She has over 200 patterns, which are sold in stores throughout the country. Aside from her own designs, she creates custom-ordered pieces using photos and invitations. She also makes a line of paperweights, candleholders and coasters. She has owned her Manhattan-based company, Mary Nell's, for the past five years.

What inspires you?
I love making floral collages. I'm a city girl who never had a garden. Each time I create a plate bursting with clusters of flowers, in my own way, I feel I'm gardening. I love old photographs, so when I create using a client's photos, I almost feel I've become part of their family. I love designing, so when I discover a new paper, a new paint or a new image to incorporate into one of my plates, I feel like a kid with a new toy.

Where do your ideas come from?
Before I started this business I was a children's book author. I wrote 30 novels for children and whenever I did book talks throughout the country, the children would ask me this same question. My response then and now is “from everywhere and everything.” Looking at a painting, seeing a lovely piece of fabric, browsing through an old book--all these can inspire a new collage design, Sometimes I'll want to create some wild animal themes, at other times I feel in a Victorian mood, while at other times I may want to create a whole series of designs, surrounding a theme, such as childhood or tea.

What attracts people to your work?
I believe it's my sense of style, color, and subject matter. Many customers have also told me it makes them smile or touches them deeply, especially my photo collage plates. In general, I think most of my work conveys the fact that I enjoy doing it. I'd like everyone who buys my work to realize the joy and pleasure that I've had creating it.