BEAT – Less than a MONTH to go.

The BEAT Ealing Art Trail event is picking up momentum and is less than a month away. Yikes!

BEAT – Borough of Ealing Art Trail, is taking place over 2 weekends in September.  I am delighted to be taking part this year and have all sorts of great ideas and specials to offer visitors that come to see me at VENUE 45.

The brochure is now available and I am distributing them far and wide, especially in the Pitshanger area.  Its a lovely pocket size full colour brochure that shows all the artists with an individual profile, information on opening times, maps and anything else you may need to know about the event. If you want a brochure or if you can take a batch to your work place, school, community group, sports team etc. just give me a shout. The more we get out the better and it would be nice to promote the event in other boroughs as well.

There is also a great website that has all the above info for visitors and lots of helpful advice and tips for us artists. Hints and Tips on exhibiting and how to make the most of Social Media have been particularly useful to me.

Along with showing my work I will have mosaics and cards for sale.

I will also raffle a mosaic at £1 per ticket and all the monies raised from this will be going to the Log Cabin Charity, where I made several mosaics on a voluntary basis.

As it is my fist BEAT I want to make it as interesting for visitors as possible as well as enjoying the experience myself. If you have any great ideas, or you have exhibited before and can offer me any tips do let me know. In the meantime I am busy, busy, busy making mosaics and planning and plotting on how to display everything.

 

 

 

10 YEAR CELEBRATION

This month I have been making mosaics for 10 years.

Little Whale logo stacked 400x400I felt this was a good reason for a special celebration so I enlisted the help of my good friend and very talented film maker, Angela Kay of Little Whale Media. Her brief was to make a video that captures my passion for mosaics, with an insight into the skill and intricacies involved in mosaic making. I also wanted her to show my 10 year mosaic journey whilst capturing my personality. A big ask!

Angela rose to the challenge and has produced this short video. I am delighted with the result and certainly feel she has met the brief and more!  What do you think?

Here is the video – An Artist’s Story

 

What people have said about the video:

“I have just seen the video ! A fantastic piece of filmmaking it brought tears to my eyes.Never did I think that I would be the person who sent you on this journey I am really proud of what you have achieved over the last 10 years”. Brilliant!!!!”  Julia Downer

“Absolutely brilliant ~ both sides of the camera!”  JB

“I think that the video is beautifully made.  It so easily captures the professional aspect of your work……All the shot locations in and outdoor enhance the passion you have for your work……You should be so pleased with this video, a great piece of film to have but also I hope a tool for future good things as you continue on your mosaic journey.”  ND

“Well, you are both incredibly talented! What a beautiful, informative film. I can’t believe how much I have learned and how complete the information is in such a succinct format. …….Simply brilliant! …… You both deserve to go viral!”  HS

 

The Marple Mosaic – Happy Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the MARPLE MOSAIC – 2 years old. I thought I would show you the original blog I published about the piece.  Since then we have remained in regular contact with Hilary and Pauline with Skype calls and visits. I have developed a talk on the mosaic entitled ‘From Inspiration to Installation‘ and I have had an article about the mosaic published in the BAMM magazine ‘Grout‘. The Marple Mosaic continues to receive visitors and praise.

It all started back in February 2015 when I got an email from Hilary and Pauline asking if I would be interested in being commissioned to make a large outdoor mosaic to go into an inset in their walled, courtyard garden.  We then talked on the phone and got on so well that I instantly agreed even though we were not sure what the piece was going to be. Over the next couple of weeks ideas and sketches were discussed and emailed and we very quickly agreed on a piece that we all liked. I could then go shopping for supplies!P1040916

Once I started work we began to Skype so they could see the progress, although I tried to only show snippets rather than  the overall piece, to keep them guessing!  I have kept a pictorial diary of the whole process for them. We have become firm friends during the process and found we are all straight talkers, have similar interests and enjoy a good laugh.

P1040930sOnce it was ready, Alan and I were happy to deliver it and take the opportunity to have a few days in Buxton en route which coincided with our wedding anniversary (Alan honestly said he didn’t mind). On arrival we had a grand unveiling with a bottle of champagne to ‘toast’ the new addition! The WOW factor was incredible and obviously very rewarding for me as I really enjoyed making the mosaic and was delighted they were so happy with it.

Hilary and Pauline had the mosaic installed the next day and we had a trip over to see it in situ and get some photos before we came back to London. I love making commissions and although they can be a bit stressful and worrying, it is all worthwhile when you get the reward of seeing the reaction and praise that shows how happy Hilary and Pauline are with their piece of mosaic art.

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Ealing Art Trail- BEAT

beat

Although the Borough of Ealing Art Trail (BEAT) doesn’t take place until September, I am already planning and plotting.

WHERE – am I going to display my work

WHAT – pieces to show, WHAT pieces are for sale, WHAT else am I offering???

HOW – am I going to hang my work, HOW do I ensure people come to see me

The other two ‘W’ are easy:

WHEN – September Saturday 9th & 10th and 16th & 17th

WHY – great to be part of a local art initiative, a great opportunity to get my work seen by a larger audience, feel part of the local art community, may get some commissions and sales, offer people a wider awareness and knowledge of mosaic work.

Cards of my various mosaics

Cards of my various mosaics

So although it is a long way off, there is a lot to be thinking about and being such a well organised person, I like to get myself well prepared.

I have already signed up and paid my registration fee. I have already realised that as most of my work is currently in various Galleries I will need to prepare some new pieces. I want to be able to show a good range of my work – large and small, indoors and outside pieces, glass and ceramic, abstract and contemporary. I don’t mass produce and each item is unique so I am aiming for quality rather than quantity.

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Glass on Glass Tree

So, you can see why I am plotting and planning already. If you have been involved in a similar event I would love to hear your suggestion or top tips, or more importantly, things to avoid!!

Please put the dates in your diary and I look forward to welcoming you to the art trail.

Adhesives and Grouts

Getting the right tools for the trade is essential for all artists and craftspeople. You should always buy the best materials that you can afford as the quality shines through in the final artwork.

When people see a completed mosaic, hopefully they see a beautiful design, skilled artistry, lots of patience, love and care built into the piece. However, the ‘back room boys’ are also very important – the adhesives and the grouts. In fact they are literally the cement that binds the piece and if you use poor quality materials, no matter how good the mosaic is, the end result will be poor and may not stand up to the test of time.

Fellow BAMM member and mosaic artist Jane Bracey arranged for a small group of us to go on a training day with BAL – Building Adhesives Ltd. Based in Stoke on Trent, they are the market leaders for tiling, delivering innovative products and service solutions for over 50 years. Although their main trade is to tilers and floorers, the mosaic world also form a key part of their business so they were delighted to offer us a day of training in the use of their products.

11 of us arrived to be welcomed by David Rowley who has been with the company for 27 years and was to be our trainer for the day. After a short presentation on their history and  key products we were dispatched to Research and Development. Here we were shown how they put together the various components that make up the adhesives and grouts and innovative ideas for future products. This whole area was fascinating and it was great talking to real scientists. Did you know that they can use rubber, sand or glass in adhesives?  There are a whole range of varying strengths, flexibility and durability to take into account when selecting your adhesives.

We then went to visit Quality Control where it was explained to us how they are able to identify an exact batch of product from a tiny sample using advanced techniques. So although their products are of the highest quality, if there were any problems, they would be able to break down all the component parts in order to resolve the problem.

An excellent buffet lunch – with a huge range of cream cakes – was followed by an afternoon of practical, hands-on demonstrations from David. He said it was quite a novelty training us as obviously their key clients are tilers, floorers, etc. By running this course BAL was able to appreciate the obstacles and challenges us mosaic artists have to overcome and how they may be able to specifically adapt various products to meet  our unique needs. There are a lot of us out there so we do form a huge potential market for them.

As David has been in the business for so long he knew all aspects and was an expert in anything tile related – including grouting. When he wanted to demonstrate various grout techniques I just happened to have my Green Man mosaic which David used as the ‘one I prepared earlier‘. So my Green Man has now been professionally grouted by the Grout Guru.

After a factory tour and collecting our Goodie Bags (which included enough grouts and adhesives to mosaic a football pitch) we all made our way home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we all learnt so much. David was happy to answer our numerous questions and queries, some of which even challenged him but he always came up with a solution. Additionally, it was lovely to meet so many other BAMM colleagues. We have all been in touch since and visited each others’ websites and Facebook pages. All our work is so different and seeing their beautiful range of mosaic work emphasised to me yet again how many different styles of mosaics there are and how there is room for us all in this exciting art world.

 

The Green Man and Penkhull

I have always loved the image of The Green Man. It is probably the strong connection to outdoors, woodlands, leaves and of course the lovely vivid colours of greens (my favourite), browns, tans and oranges. I also live in an area which has a traditional May Day celebration led by a Jack-in-the-Green. So it was inevitable that at some stage I would want to mosaic a Green Man.

I looked up various images  in books and the internet to get an idea of the different styles and the proportion of greenery to actual man. As always, I started off with an idea and then went completely off kilter. I put in the eyes first then the red mouth. As  I put the ‘green fronds’ and built up the face it seemed to turn into a Green Women! Then I got stuck – the problem was there was no getting away from the fact that I needed to add a lot of leaves,  and I have never done leaves before. As always, Kitty was on hand to help and offer advice. She suggested the lovely bronze tiles which gives it a special sheen and she also showed me how to cut leaves. After 16 hours of mosaicing, he was ready to grout. To be continued on next the Blog…………

We have been staying a few days at Stoke on Trent. We have some friends in the area and I was also booked in for some mosaic training at BAL (Building Adhesives Ltd.)

Our friends Sarah, Lisa, Paul and Bruce live in Penkhull which is a delightful small garden village a stones throw from Stoke. Penkhull was created on the same co-partnership principles as Brentham Garden Suburb.  Originally started in 1910 by Stoke- on-Trent Tennants Ltd. the plan was to have 250 – 300 houses but due to the intervention of the first world war and the subsequent prohibitive costs of building meant that only 95 house were completed with another 22 added much later in 1939.

It is the most delightful place and sitting in Sarah’s garden, overlooking the rooflines of the other house felt like we were ‘home from home’. Lisa’s lovely cottage house reminded us of our first  Brentham  home in Fowlers Walk. She has the added advantage of being able to walk from her garden into her allotment which overlooks the whole estate. As Penkhull sits on a hill the vistas and views are stunning. It is a charming place and we have (unofficially) twinned Penkhull with Brentham.

All of them are part of Doomsday Morris, a traditional English village morris dancing side. They have danced and played at events and celebrations all over the country and have also performed abroad. It was therefore appropriate for them to have an interest in my Green Man and they had been following the progress of him on Facebook. I decided he also needed a trip away so he came to Penkull. Luckily he got their full approval and was considered an authentic Green Man!

The last day of the trip was my training course which I will report about in the next Blog and you can also see the completed Green Man.

If you are interested in having Doomsday Morris play and dance at your event or perform a traditional ‘Wassail’ blessing they would love to talk to you. Contact them through the above Facebook link or their WEBSITE

Quaterley Review

The first quarter of 2017 has been fairly quiet on the commission front so I decided to take the opportunity to catch up on ‘admin and organising’ so I would be all set up for the busy season – which is starting already.

BEAT. I sent in my application form and have been accepted to take part in BEAT this year (Borough of Ealing Art Trail). Last year was the first but unfortunately I couldn’t take part as I was doing the Maggies Centre Cancer Walk. The art trail event is over 2 weekends in September. I will have a range of indoor and outdoor mosaics to view and for sale. I will also be happy to answer any questions people may have and I will be taking bookings from anyone who may want a beginners lesson. Watch this space for more info.

STUDIO. I decided to have a bit of a change around in my studio. It is quite a small space so I have always had to be creative in its usage. I have a bench the full width which is great when I am working on one piece, but does get a bit crowded if I have more or I have stacked up pieces ready for grouting. I have now put the bench away and have a oblong table in the room. It gives me much more space for working on and I am able to have several pieces on the go at once, with their relevant tiles, cutters etc. It means I have to squash round a bit to get the tiles down from the shelves, get my backing boards, glues etc. but so far it seems to be working.

FACEBOOK. I have had a mosaic Facebook page since my nephew set me up almost 4 years ago. Although I have a steady following, there were so many areas of FB that I found really confusing and I also wanted to use it more efficiently – time to call in the experts. I booked a couple of hours training with the very informative, knowledgeable and patient Shelley from Ealing Mums In Business.

Within 10 minutes of her arriving  Shelley identified a whole section of potential clients that I wasn’t targeting. She really helped me understand Facebook in a way that made me see how I could be using it more efficient and effectively. Since her training, I have signed up to some local groups and my ‘Likes’ have already increased significantly. I have also had a lot of interest in lessons and commissions. Do have a look at my Facebook Page, its an ‘Open Site’ so anyone can view it. Do give it a ‘Like’ if you want to see more regular pictures and info.

 I now feel set up and re-furbished, ready to go forward with a busy and exciting mosaic year.

Outdoor Mosaics

Outdoor mosaics can really enhance a garden, courtyard or patio area however large or small. They are hard wearing and durable and can usually stand extremes in temperature. They add a different dimension to the space and fun. Mosaics are still the ‘undiscovered art form’ for a lot of people so if someone does have a mosaic indoors or outside, it is usually quite a talking point.

Hopper

I have made a large range of outdoor mosaic art. I love talking to the client and finding out what they want from their outdoor space and what feel they would like to create – a sense of fun, calmness, a real show stopper?  These lizards are made on large flat stones and can easily sit in a bed or on the patio. This one is called ‘Hopper’ and lives by my sisters pond. Several of Hopper’s brothers and sisters have gone abroad and live in France, Spain and Brazil. I have also done ducks, flowers, butterflies for beds.

Dolphin

Steven’s Dolphin

A large outdoor piece I made a few years ago was this dolphin on a large slab of York stone. It was a commission for a local friend as a wedding present for his wife, and secretly placed in their newly landscaped garden – no pressure then.  Luckily she liked it, whew! Mosaic stepping stones are very popular and again, I have made quite a range. You can really have fun with them and they can be  quirky or traditional, its totally your choice.

To make a real impact you could have a piece of mosaic art hanging up outside against the brickwork, fence or set in to a wall. Quentin (my first commission) and the French Cross are both on a converted Benedictine Monastery in France. The Sun/Moon panel is in the O’Grady Court residential home and was a present from me to them. The glass-on-glass piece would look stunning in a conservatory with the light shining through to show it off to its full sparkly glory.

The Marple Mosaic

Of course, my biggest outdoor piece is The Marple Mosaic, which I am really proud of. It was commission by a couple who found my website. They really liked my style of work and felt we had shared values. The piece is very geometric  (which is not my usual style) and is my biggest piece and challenge yet. The clients absolutely love it and we have since become good friends.

If you think a mosaic could enhance your outside space, please give me a call to discuss the possibilities. No obligation, I am always happy to chat ‘mosiacs’. You can also visit my Outdoor Gallery to get more ideas.

 

Mosaic Supplies – Part 1, “Essentials”

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.

Newly bought tiles

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.

Washed, dried, sorted –  ready to use

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

Kate & Joe at Mosaic Heaven

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.

 

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Current Projects

When people ask me what I am working on at the moment I usually have to say “actually, I am working on three pieces” as it is very rare for me to only have one ‘work in progress’ on my studio bench.

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p1060499I am not sure why this is, I think it has something to do with liking the variety and diversity the different pieces offer me.  I am usually working on one main, complex piece which will be challenging for me. It could be a complicated picture that requires a lot of intricate cutting and shaping, or it may be a new technique I am trying to master. I then have a ‘fun’ piece that I switch to when I want a bit of a rest and to ‘play’. Finally I will have something using a totally different technique e,g, glass-on-glass which means I am using a totally different medium. I could be working on all the pieces in a single session or I may just pop into the studio for 10 minutes while waiting for supper to cook.

p1060504This ‘scatter-gun’ approach works very well for me. Its not that I am procrastinating as friends will vouch, I am a very focused person and you usually have to drag me away from my mosaics. I think it is rather more the case that I love doing mosaics so much that even when I have spent a long time on a complicated piece, I still want to mosaic but just have a change  of scene.

p1060331If I am working on a very large commission or I am up against a tight deadline, then I would probably work on that mosaic on a seperate work area, spending a dedicated amount of time each day on the piece. However, I would still sneakily turn my chair round to my main work bench in the evening for a little play about!

These pieces have all been on the go recently and most are now ready to go.

  • Auntie Irene’s Butterfly which is to go outside and catch the light, so lots of sparkle and bling
  •  a peacock on a re-cycled kitchen cupboard shelf without a background – so a different style of mosaic.
  •  my second beach picture – I don’t often do ‘scenes’ but this gives me a change to practice my drawing
  • a few glass-on-glass pieces because once you pour out the special (expensive) glass glue, you want to make sure you use up every last drop!