Whenever you get a new interest or hobby, be it sporty, musical, physical, creative and you start getting involved, you find there is a whole world out there that exists for that activity. It was the same for me when I discovered mosaics.
When I started to have an interest in mosaic I
went to the local Hobbycraft store and bought a jar of mixed colour mosaic tiles. I didn’t have any cutters so just used them whole to make a mirror – a lot of mosaic newbies make a mirror as their first piece. However, it wasn’t until I was having a weekend at Bath and discovered the mosaic shop on Poultney Bridge that I realised there are specialist mosaic suppliers. As I entered the shop it was an Aladdin’s Cave of mosaic tiles, a riot of colour – I was hooked! I bought loads of tiles, plus cutters, plus glues and a book. They also sold ‘templates’ almost mosaic by numbers. I bought this template and all the tiles required and made my first serious piece. I still look at the piece now and am amazed by the complexity – I can see 3 hundred zebras leaping across the wilderness! Can you?
I tend to use the small mosaic tiles called tesserae. They come on sheets of plastic mesh or brown paper and are 2cm square. You can get glass ones which come in literally hundreds of gorgeous vivid colours, some sparkly some iridescent, or ceramic matt ones in lovely muted shades of greens, tans, browns etc.
I always enjoy ‘going shopping’. I then have the lovely messy job of unsticking all the tiles before, washing and drying them. Although time consuming and some would say tedious, I love this preparation, it is like a ritual to prepare the materials and myself for the next mosaic. Once the tiles are clean and ready they get batched up and added to my current stock -obviously colour co-ordinated.
A main supplier for me is Mosaic Heaven based at Market Deeping, near Peterborough. Joe and Kate who run Mosaic Heaven are great people and I love visiting their warehouse. A lot of their business is via the internet but I like to go in person so I can feel and see the tiles – it usually means I buy more! They always have time for a chat and to show me their latest developments with their website
or changes to the warehouse. Kate usually encourages me to look at ‘new lines’ that have come in since my last visit. I never say no and of course, I usually buy something that wasn’t on my shopping list (clever Kate!!). They were brilliant when I was doing the Log Cabin Community Mosaics and donated a lot of materials from the project. I have referred a lot of people to them and have always heard back how helpful they were.