Category Archives: Mosaic Development

My Mosaic Studio

The room I use as my mosaic studio has gone through several reincarnations since we bought this house all those years  ago.

The demolition starts!

When we moved here in 1990, although the house was in good order structurally, it did need a lot of DIY and had to be decorated throughout. The ‘small room’ had Superman wallpaper which was infused with Vicks Vapour Rub! For a long time is was a storage space for all the packing boxes, hoover, ironing board etc. – the usual ‘dumping ground’.

When I went self employed in 2004 it became my home office.  Filing cupboards came in and a long workbench, lots of room to spread out my personnel reports, training courses etc. As I got involved in mosaics in 2007 I had a small shelf where I kept the odd few bits of tiles and glue that I had. Well (and I think you know where I am going with this)…….mosaic materials started to grow and mosaics in progress shared the bench with personnel reports. As I cut back on my professional work the mosaic commissions increased.

Lots of shelving

Time to re-decorate and install some serious storage space. One of the problems is that I need to see everything I have so Alan (my lovely hubby and ‘Mosaic Roadie’) put in open shelves so I was able to store all my mosaic tiles and paraphernalia within view and have easy access. Changes continued over the years with the addition of a re-allocated bookcase and kitchen display unit and of course, mosaic supplies continued to grow.

Following my recent glass-on-glass course I realised it was time for yet another refurbishment so I could have a bit more room for my large sheets of glass.  So Alan stripped the room back to the shell, our friend CJ did a great repair and painting job. We then had a few visits to IKEA.

 

 

The result is a lovely newly decorated, opened up studio. 2 work areas (one for glass, one for traditional mosaic) and I even have a small desk for my computer! It is still a small room but it is amazing how you can fully utilise the space with a bit of creative thinking. I am absolutely delighted with the results and appreciate how lucky I am to have a dedicated work area.

I think I have the perfectly designed studio now and cannot see how it can possibly be improved however………….I am always one to keep my options open!!

A celebratory drink then back to mosaic work.

 

 

Mosaic Lessons for Beginners.

Although we are only a quarter way through 2018 I have already given mosaic lessons to 10 beginners.

I run a one day Beginners’ Mosaic Lesson, not on a regular basis but ad-hoc as and when people request them.  Once someone is interested and a suitable date confirmed, then I will see if other people would like to join. I have built up a small waiting list and I also go onto the local Facebook Groups.

Phil with his allotment number

I stated giving lessons a few years ago when people said they liked my mosaics and would I show them how to get started.  I have done a lot of training in my past professional life so am not daunted by  running lessons. Over the years the format has been tweaked and changed and at last I can say I am confident I have the correct format.

In doing a one day lesson there have been a few problem areas that I have struggled to get right. Firstly, some people are a bit over ambitious – they go on the internet (which is a wonderful thing but……) see all the lovely mosaic art and assume they will be able to achieve those results in a day.  Some can but others can’t – the more complex a piece is, the more cutting required – and that is the hard/fiddly bit. Until they start on their piece it is difficult for me to judge how easy they are going to find it, by which time they may already have in mind a very complex design.

Gilly & Claire

Secondly, I used to have a huge range of ‘base’ materials for people to select from, all different shapes and sizes. I did this because I wanted people to see the range of items that can be mosaiced. However, this often gave the problem of too much choice – where do I start, indoor or outdoor, decorative or functional? And this was before they even thought of a design. Also, people like to go big and then found they ran out of time. Ideally the aim is to go home with a completed mosaic.

Thirdly, in order for the mosaic to be complete, it needs to be grouted. To make a mosaic, give it time to dry, settle and then to grout and clean it is a big ask in one day. Should people come back another time, should it be a 2 day course, should I demonstrate grouting and they do it later at home? All my lessons always ran over time. People were wanting to stay to finish, which was not a problem but…… as it was every lesson there was obviously a common factor involved – it must be me!!

Sue and sister Fiona

My friend Sue recently had a beginner lesson with her sister Fiona and I asked her for some honest feedback. The comments she made have been constructive and invaluable. The key point that stood out was that I needed to “manage expectations”.  Whilst I don’t want to rain on people’s creative parade, I did realise that I needed to keep a tighter rein on things, after all, I am the one who is aware of poential issues.

Maureen, Christine, Vali and Paula

As is often the case, once you realise the problems, it is quite easy to find solution. I now issue all people with the same base, it can go indoors or outdoors and eliminates all that mind-boggling choice so early in the day. People can still be as complex or basic as they want on their design. I have also made several samples so they get ideas, see different style and techniques and therefore have an idea of what they may expect to achieve in the time available. I know that if someone is really struggling to complete their piece in time, I can always help out at the last minute as I know the piece isn’t too big to get finished.

This model seems to be working well and the recent sets of lessons finished well within time with all pieces grouted and completed. Happy new mosaic makers and a happy, relaxed teacher!

If you would like to come on a lesson drop me an email and I can send you an Information Sheet with all the details. I usually have 4 per session but can cater for larger groups as requested.

 

“I had a really enjoyable day being creative and with wonderful support from Rosanna.”  Gilly Lodge

“I had a great afternoon creating with Rosanna and am still enjoying the tangible results of my work! Rosanna guided us expertly in selecting materials and with techniques and tips to get the best out of our chosen designs. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”   Phil Duncan

“Thanks so much for a very enjoyable and packed day yesterday. We are both thrilled with our mosaics – mine has buffed up nicely and I keep looking at it and touching it!”  Sue Elliott

 

Glass Mosaic Course

A couple of weeks ago I went to Devon for a 2 day glass mosaic course with the brilliantly talented Sue Smith of Sue Smith Glass.

Glass on Glass Tree

I had dabbled a little bit with glass-on-glass mosaics last year and featured a few of them at the BEAT Open Studios event. The response from visitors was very encouraging so I decided to use money made from my BEAT sales to invest in a glass mosaic course. I had seen Sue’s work on-line and was following her on Facebook so she was the natural choice of teacher to help me learn a new medium and to extend my mosaic glass skills.

A 2 day course turned into a very pleasant  4 day break staying in the lovely Fishermans Cot pub in Tiverton.

There were 3 of us on the course which meant we got lots of personal attention and tuition from Sue. The first day we learnt about the glass and the tools, cutting basic shapes to make a small piece. On day 2, once we were all more confident with the glass, cutters and glue gun, we were let loose to raid the material boxes and we all took the opportunity to make a larger mosaic.

 

P1070214

Getting stuck in

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Sue’s Sunflower

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Sue’s Rose

Sue is a brilliant teacher – she explained all about the materials and demonstrated the  tools with great patience until we were all happy with the techniques and different styles and forms. She showed us how to cut odd shapes that then created perfect flowers and how to put a design together. Sue was very generous with her time and materials, letting us use a whole range of beautiful glass and mirror as well as glass beads and enhancements.

A lot of her work was on show so we all took inspiration from her beautiful mosaics. Below are some of her pieces – do visit her website to see more: www.suesmithglass.co.uk

 

The lesson took place in the local community hall which was a great venue – very spacious, warm with easy parking. There was a fully equiped kitchen so we were able to store things in the fridge and use the microwave for lunch, fresh coffee was on the go all day along with biscuits and snacks. We were able to spread out, with tools and glass scattered all around us, we were all very enthusiastic and our creative energy seemed to have no limits.

Now that I am back home and trying to put things I learnt into practice, I keep wanting to ask and check things with Sue……sometimes I have had to email her to ask a question and she has been more than supportive, giving full explanations and providing links to suppliers. I am finding it very different to my usual mosaic making and I think that will be a title for a later Blog! In the meantime, here we are (l to r: Susan, me, teacher Sue, Maria) proudly showing off our new glass masterpieces.

P1070215

 

 

 

A Mosaic Celebration

My First Mosaic

We start 2018 with a celebration of 2017 when I reached my 10 year mosaic making anniversary. It all started on 29th July 2007 when we went down to Bexhill-on-Sea to visit our friend Steve and meet his new lady friend, Julia. Although I didn’t think I liked mosaics and was very reluctant, Julia encouraged / cajoled / persuaded me to make a small mosaic piece. No cutting involved, it took me all afternoon but I LOVED IT and was immediately hooked. The rest, as they say, is history.

To celebrate and commemorate my 10 year anniversary the very talented film maker Angela Kay of Little Whale Media has made a video showing my mosaic story. I am delighted with the film and will be promoting and sharing it this year so please have a look, let me know what you think and share it with your friends and contacts.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.


 

If after watching you feel inspired and it has heightened your interest in mosaics, then keep reading my Blogs which will show my activities and adventures during this year. I will start off with a new style of mosaic making that I have recently  been introduced to – coming soon……….

 

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.