Category Archives: My Mosaic Journey

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

 

Mosaics for Sale

People often ask if they can buy my work and the answer is a resounding YES PLEASE! I do have various outlets and you can always buy direct from me, and of course I do take commissions.

Coasters

Coasters

When I first started to make mosaics all those years ago, I started off with coasters and trivets. They were ideal items to have in a shop – the sort of small, low price item people would buy as a gift or for themselves.  As my work progressed, I moved onto garden pots and small wall hangings, again ideal for a shop so it was great to be in All Original, a local shop specialising in designer/maker items.

Range of mirrors

Range of mirrors

I them started making mirrors and door numbers and once they went into the shop I received lots of requests for commissions. Again, they made perfect gifts and were very personalised for the recipient. After 2 years I decided it was time to leave All Original as I ended up having to make to sell rather than make to develop and progress my skills as a mosaic artist.

9 years on from that first, tentative mosaic and I am still learning and hopefully progressing all the time. I have moved on to making much larger items for both indoor and outdoors. Wall hangings, pictures, glass-on-glass and now I am doing a lot of work on slate. I now work mostly to commission as each piece is very specific to the buyers requirements. I am in 2 Galleries in Northumberland and I would like to find a local Gallery as another outlet to display and sell my work. If you know of anywhere or anyone that you think may appreciate my style of work, please get in touch via my Contact Page.

 

 

 

CAPITAL RING

We now have the 9th stage of the Capital Ring under our walking boots. Starting at our most local point, we started to climb towards north west London. I suppose that the clue was in the description: Horsenden HILL, Sudbury HILL and finally Harrow-on-the………HILL.  Yes, it was one of the highest legs of the walk, also the furthest point, 10 miles from Charing Cross. A great section though and from now on we are into unknown territory.  We are half way now and hope to finish within a year.

The ‘Eyes’ Have It.

I am very aware that my mosaic style tends towards the abstract and interpretive rather than figurative or realism. I am not very good at drawing so this is probably reflected through in to the subject matter of my mosaics. I have mosaic friends who do amazing mosaics that could easily pass as paintings. I, on the other hand, feel I am more of an expressionist, going by my instincts and gut feeling rather than any formal rules and structures. I often let the mosaic take its own course, maybe by using an unusual tile or a piece of glass that I love and letting it build from there. Or it may be a colour or a curve that I want to convey and then I let the flow of the piece take over.  Therefore I tend to shy away from mosaics of buildings or people, as you would expect them to look recognisable, like the real thing and I don’t have that skill……… yet.

P1050571However, when I made the sun/moon mosaic, I knew it needed a face so I had  to give it a go. With this mosaic the main focus was the radiating rays and the face was  the ‘link’. I am quite pleased with the result even though it does have ‘piggy eyes’ ! So far it is one of my favourite pieces.

Babooshka

Baboushka

I had the idea that I wanted to make a silhouette with long, flowing 1960s style psychedelic hair. I copied the face from a larger mosaic at South Bank Mosaics that they  kindly gave me permission to do. So Baboushka was born.

I then wanted to make a similar piece but without the ‘wildness’ of Baboushka. Someone much more mellow and placid. I started by putting in the eyes then the nose and finally the mouth and was delighted with the results. She looked exactly as she should, peaceful, tranquil, almost transcendental – Jennifer Juniper just as described in the Donovan song. But, when I filled in the rest of the face she took on a rather angry, disgruntled look and has ended up totally different to what I expected. I am not sure why, maybe the angle of the pieces I had laid gave her ‘frown marks’.

Jennifer Juniper

Jennifer Juniper

I am now making another sun/moon, again it needs a face. This time I didn’t over think the process but went with my instincts. I am really pleased with this eye – I think it looks very realistic and I am hoping I can make another so I have a matching pair – otherwise I shall have to change the image to a cyclops!!P1060138

So hopefully I am learning all the time and getting better at interpreting the image I want to get across.

Glass on Glass

P1050885With art, as with most things, it is very easy to keep within your comfort zone. Do what you know works, what is safe, the easy option.  However, when I discovered mosaics 8 years ago, one of the key things that got me really interested was the huge variety and different styles of mosaic that were out there. As such an ancient art form, mosaic has taken on a huge variety of guises as it has passed down through the centuries. Various cultures that have developed techniques and styles have added their influences and style to pass on to future generations of mosaic artists. I love the huge scope and potential this wonderful art form offers. The only limitation is the imagination.

Although I do sometimes play it safe, I try to experiment with different styles, techniques and materials especially if I have the time to spend on a new main piece. This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while: glass on glass.

P1050895

I have made it over a period of time in my weekly sessions with Kitty. As always, Kitty was on hand to offer her help and expertise. She guided me in mastering the art of silicone glue (very sticky, very smelly). She also helped with the ‘flow’ of the piece and suggested different types of glass tiles which I feel really enhance the piece. I was keen on doing something very vivid with blues and greens and we managed to find some lovely pieces of glass some see through, some shiny. I am delighted with the result and the piece is now sitting on my hall window with the sunshine streaming through it. I need to find a permanent home for it but for now, it’s lovely catching it every time I go up and down the stairs. I have had a lot of compliments on it so am keen to make some more pieces, in other colour palettes. 

What next – any suggestions? Watch this space.

LONDON ACTIVITIES

100 Years of Vogue at the V&A. A wonderful exhibition charting the centenary of this iconic magazine.  A real journey through social history. Although most people regard it as a fashion mag, it actually covered the economic, political, cultural and social climate of the day in each edition.

The Capital Ring

The Capital Ring

Part 3 of the CAPITAL RING – Grove Park to Crystal Palace. A fantastic walk taking in the Downham Woodlan Walk, Beckenham Park Place, crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line and ending up at Crystal Palace with the dinosaurs. This was the longest section of the Capital Ring circuit and it was the perfect day to do it, sunshine all the way.

 

Crafty Beggars TV Appearance

The second series of Crafty Beggars in the House starts on Tuesday 12th April. Yours truly is the first guest on the first episode and this is my first TV appearance – so great excitement all round.

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It was great fun to film and the lovely producers and presenters; Julie Peasgood and Wendy Turner-Webster were very friendly and encouraging, making the process very easy and a relaxed experience as they kept asking questions and prompting me the whole time.  My ten minutes of fame flew by and now I can’t remember what I said so I will be watching it from behind the sofa, through my fingers and hoping it turns out OK!

Do tune in – the first episode is being shown 5 days next week as follows:

Tuesday 12th 8pm
Wednesday 13th April 10pm
Friday 15th April 7pm
Saturday 16th April 3pm
Monday 18th April 2pm

 Community Channel via the following TV platforms…

Freeview 63 – Freeview HD 109 – Sky 539 – Virgin 233 – BBC iPlayer – Freesat 651 – TVCatchup – TV Player – TV Guide – YouTube – BT Vision