Category Archives: Mosaic Art

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.

P1030894

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!

 

Becoming an Artist – a lightbulb moment.

Triptych on Slate

Triptych on Slate

When I had been doing mosaics for a relatively short time, I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to take part in various exhibitions. To be honest, this was probably down to my pushy personality rather than my skill in mosaic making. I am a ‘doer’ and am good at spotting and grabbing an opportunity, so when the NT Osterley sent out a invite asking artists to apply to exhibit – I filled out the form!

At these early exhibition lots of loyal friends and family came along, as well as a good number of the public. I remember my friend Sue came along, she is a writer and a very creative person. She asked me where I got my inspiration from – I was quite embarrassed by the question and fobbed her off with the response ‘Oh, I don’t know really’.

Babooshka

Babooshka

I was later discussing this with the person running the exhibition and he asked me why I had such trouble answering. When I thought about it properly I realised that I was embarrassed that people thought I was an artist and had ‘artistic inspiration’ – as I didn’t feel I was an artist, I felt a bit of a fraud and  had blagged my way into holding exhibitions when there were thousands / millions of much more talented people out there – proper artists. I wondered when I was going to get found out!!

South Street Exhibition

South Street Exhibition

He said to me “Rosanna, you are an artist, look at what you have produced. Everyone else sees you as an artist and now you need to accept it yourself and start acting like an artist”. That was a huge light-bulb moment for me and from that day, I took his comments on board and I became that mosaic artist.

So now when people ask me what I do I have no qualms in saying ‘I am a mosaic artist’ – it may sound a bit grandiose but I don’t have a problem with that at all. I know there are millions of creative people out there better than me, a few not as good. Some people like my work, some don’t. But that is a choice and a personal preference, it does not detract from the fact that I am an artist.

Rosannas Mosaics London

As importantly, I then went home and really looked into what does give me my inspiration as, to my surprise, these mosaics don’t just appear out of thin air. Once I opened my mind to the question loads of answers came flooding in. So Sue, to answer your question, I am now very clear where my inspiration comes from and that will be addressed in another Blog later on – and ‘thank you’ for giving me that ‘mental  nudge’ which led to a huge shift.

A New Year, A New Gallery

I made the executive decision a couple of years ago that an appropriate showcase and relevant outlet for my mosaic art work  would be in galleries – not stuffy arty ones but ones that had a good range of  mid to high price unique and lovingly made art and craft – the types of galleries I like to visit and I often buy from.  Galleries where you often get to meet the artist and can share in their inspiration and passion for their work.

ss2I am delighted that 2017 has given me a New Year and a New Gallery. Not only is TOWER HOUSE GALLERY a new venue for me, it is a brand new Gallery that opened at the end of last year.

 

p1060468 TOWER HOUSE GALLERY is based in the picturesque harbour village of Seaton Sluice in Northumberland. This delightful octagonal shaped building is Grade 2 listed. designed by Sir John Vanburgh and built around 1720, it has been the Harbour Masters House, a public reading room and more recently a private residence.

The building is now privately owned and has now been transformed into a Gallery. It is being run by Proprietor and Resident Artist: Rose Di Mascio.  Her stunning watercolour and acrylic artwork is on display and is inspired by nature with a surrealist and mythological twist.  You can see more of Rose’s work on her website and you can also read more about the history of the Gallery on the website as well as following it on Facebook.

 

The octagonal shape of the Tower provides a perfect display area and is ideal for showcasing local artwork. I am delighted to be part of this exciting new venture and hope that a lot of people will not only discover this lovely gallery with beautiful artwork, but also the joys of the Northumberland coastline as well. 

 

 

Pictorial Review of 2016

Welcome to 2017 and my first Blog of the year. I hope this year is HAPPY, HEALTHY, SUCCESSFUL and FUN for you all.  Here are my pictorial highlights from 2016 – in no specific order. Let me know your favourite picture.

Festive Wishes

Rosanna

I created my first Blog in  July 2014 when this website went live. I have tried to post on a fairly regular basis every 2 – 3 weeks. I usually write about my latest commissions, exhibitions and events and anything else I think might be of interest. I always get lots of comments (mostly via email rather than direct to the Blog) and because my posts automatically go straight  through to Facebook I get a lot of interest from there and that often attracts new Blog followers (vice versa).

Please let me know which Blogs you like the best – is it my ‘journey and inspiration’ or about new commissions and my charitable mosaic work. It could be information on events, exhibitions and galleries I am involved in.

Rosanna's Mosaics Logo

Is there anything specific you would like me to Blog about – it could be more info on techniques, top tips etc.  Maybe you would like a ‘series’ on something? Do let me know as you are the guys that read it and I am always keen to increase my followers.

My First Mosaic

My First Mosaic

This is my last Blog of 2016 so I would like to thank you all for supporting me during 2016 and wish you a very happy, healthy and fun Christmas. Enjoy all the festivities in whatever shape and form they may take and I look forward to seeing you all in 2017.

Rosanna xxx

 

O’Grady Court Sun/Moon Mosaic

P1060116Regular readers will know that earlier in the summer I did a voluntary project in the half term holiday with OPEN Ealing  and the local children. We collectively made a mosaic tree and then donated it to O’Grady Court sheltered housing in Ealing.  It was a great community project to be involved in and O’Grady Court invited us all over for an unveiling session providing a delicious buffet brunch.

the mosaicI was so impressed when I met Birgit and Gasper and they told me all about O’Grady Court and the facilities. They obviously loved the mosaic tree so I offered to make them another mosaic as a present. I returned a few weeks later and discussed options and eventually we came up with the idea of one of my sun/moon mosaics. I wanted to give them a piece that was nice and bright and would sit in their lovely outdoor garden.

P1060138I had made one sun/moon before for my garden shed but this one was going to be much larger and brighter. I started by drawing in the face and the first things I mosaiced were the eyes. I am really pleased with them because they are the most realistic pair I have done so far. I then did the nose and slash of a mouth. Then p1060262the fun part starts, putting in all that lovely colour and bling. For this I used a lot of coloured stained glass so I that I could have really large, bright coloured sections. I then “filled in” the gaps with iridescent tiles, glass beads, metalic tiles and anything else that I thought would add to the piece and make an impact.

p1060371So having completed and delivered the mosaic, I went along on Friday for the unveiling. As well as Birgit, Gasper and all the residents, Maud from Open Ealing came along and proceedings were introduced by the regional Manager. After a lot of compliments were made and photos were taken, I talked about the inspiration for the piece and how I went about making it. It was a beautiful, bright morning and the mosaic glittered and sparkled in the sunlight – exactly as I had hoped it would. We then went inside for a lovely buffet and I had my first mince pie. I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of stunning autumn flowers – my perfect colours.  I really enjoyed making the piece for all the residents at O’Grady Court and I know from their reaction and kind words that they really like and appreciate their sun/moon that will look down on them for many years to come.