Category Archives: Mosaic Development

Review of 2017

As 2017 is drawing to a close this seems an ideal time for my annual review.

My First Mosaic

It has been a busy, challenging and enjoyable mosaic year for me. A significant highlight being I reached the 10 year anniversary of mosaic making – which all started with that small coaster made in Julia’s outdoor  studio. I will be celebrating this along with setting out my ideas for my 11th year in 2018.

So highlights for 2017 include:

A visit to Stoke on Trent to have an “Adhesive and Grout Training Day” by  BAL British Adhesvives Ltd. We also teamed this with visiting our friends Sara and Lisa in nearby Penkhull. As they are members of Doomsday Morris this tied in neatly with my Green Man mosaic making phase.

 

BEAT Ealing Art Trail was a great event for me with over 260 visitors. I loved being involved in this event and will certainly be taking part next year.

 

As well as giving a lot of one day Beginners Mosaic Lessons‘, I have had several commissions – 2 of them birthday presents for ‘Mother-in-Laws’. I have also ventured into making  ‘glass-on’glass’ pieces which I have really enjoyed and would like to develop more next year. Here is a selection of favourite 2017 pieces.

 

So I think I can now put my ‘nippers’ and ‘tesserae’ down and take a well earned break and start on the Christmas activities. Thank you for your support and encouragement during the year. I will see you all again early in 2018.

Enjoy the festivities.

Rufus Reindeer

 

 

 

Starting Up A Small Business

My long term Business Adviser and friend Glenda Shawley of The Training Pack has recently had her first book published.

“Founded After 40” – How to start a business when you haven’t got time to waste – is a rich source of information, advice and help which leads you through the challenges of setting up a locally based business one step at a time. It highlights the pitfalls to avoid, decisions that need to be made and actions to be taken.

I met Glenda many years ago at my first networking event (I was shaking on arrival) and had just started my own free-lance business. She provided me with lots of invaluable help on setting up, marketing and PR. She has been just as supportive when I changed from ‘business’ to ‘creative’ and set up Rosanna’s Mosaics.

To get some ‘on the ground insights’ for her book, Glenda interviewed several small businesses that she had helped, including myself. It was fascinating to see myself quoted and it made me take time out to reflect if those comments from a while back are still relevant today.

PRICING:  Giving a price, whether for a piece of business advice, a service or a piece of art is always hard, this is what’s in the book:

“Pricing is still a big issue for mosaicist Rosanna Henderson, as it is for many artists. She recognised that there is a price cap on what people are prepared to spend at craft fairs and that made it really difficult to make money.  Now that she works mainly by commission she has a better formula for working out her prices but it’s still difficult to charge for all the time involved’.

I still think this stands today and it opens up the whole topic of ‘why is artwork so expensive’ which I will tackle in a future Blog.  The other area were I am quoted concerns my core aims and values – definately worth its own Blog.

So, you know what is coming up in future Blogs, if you want to me concentrate on any other specific topics, please let me know.

Glenda’s book is available now,  do visit her website.

However do you price an outdoor piece like this – 4 foot long and 2 foot wide?

 

 

 

Mosaic Lessons

I will spend this weekend giving Mosaic Lessons, mainly to people that showed an interest at the BEAT Ealing Art Trail. I run lessons on an ad-hoc, request led basis and like to have 3/4 people for the standard lesson. However, I am able to work with larger groups if someone wants a tailor made workshop.

The standard lesson is very much a beginners, basic guide to Mosaic Making.  I am not a great one for theory being very much a hands-on, practical person. So we tend to get stuck in straight away with the nuts and bolts of cutting,placing etc.

It is always quite hard to recommend what people should make as their first piece and, to be honest, I still haven’t found the magic answer to that. I generally find that people do tend to be rather over ambitious in their enthusiasm and ideas for a first piece. A friend that came for a beginners lesson bought a picture of Van Gough’s Sunflowers and asked if they would be able to make that in their first lesson – I said “I’ll be really disappointed if you can as I couldn’t and I’ve been doing this for 10 years!” Needless to say, they did make a sunflower but a very, very simplistic version.

I also like to make it clear that a mosaic is it’s own art form and the end result is not going to look like a watercolour painting or a photograph, it is it’s own interpretation. I hope the above does not sound negative but I like to give people a realistic expectation of what they should be able to achieve. The mosaic art form is quite different to what people expect.

I aim for a fun, informative day. I give out lots of information, tips and ideas. It is quite a full on day with a lot to get through.  As the lessons are based at my home studio it means I have lots of examples of my work to show as well as all the different styles, tiles and embellishments that I use. People go home at the end of the day quite tired, having learnt a new skill and clutching their prized new piece of home made art.

If you are interested in having a lesson, send me an email and I can send you an Information Sheet with more details.

I am really looking forward to welcoming my ‘students’ this weekend for a great lesson and hopefully some of them may get hooked and end up with a website and Blog of their own, just as I have!

Quote from previous attendee:  

“If you are looking for a Basic Mosaic Course for Beginners, Rosanna is your person….she will lead you, very professionally, through everything you need to know to make your first mosaic…… it is a very “full on” day, but at the end of it, you will come away with your own magical personal mosaic” – Linda Edrich

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

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.