Tag Archives: mosaic inspiration

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.


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.


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.


Rosanna’s Blog


You may have noticed it has been a bit quiet on the Blog front recently.  That is because I have been away on a Cross Country ski-ing holiday in Austria. We had a fantastic time and I am pleased to report that all my limbs are in tact and where they should be – which has not been the case on the past 2 ski holidays!  (email me for gory details!!).

Norweigan Moonlight

Norweigan Moonlight

Its lovely being away from it all in the mountains with the clear air, silence, stunning views, snow and sunshine. The scenery is breathtaking and I certainly get inspired in that environment. I hope to be able to translate some of my photos into mosaics over the next few months. The first time I went cross country to Norway I was inspired to make this piece, entitled ‘Norwegian Moonlight’.

I will have lots of exciting news to report over the next few months but I thought this would be a good opportunity to ask you, my Blog Followers, what you like to hear about in my Blogs. Since starting the Blog in 2014 I have mostly written about events, commissions and my mosaic journey.  I have a lovely loyal following which seems to increase every month – so thank you everyone.

What was it that attracted you to my Blog?

Which of my Blogs do you like best – stories, pictures, inspiration, events, commissions?

Is there anything I don’t mention that you would like to hear about?

How can I make sure I keep your interest and you find my Blogs informative, fun, readable?

Do let me know, after all, you are the ones I am writing for so please help me to keep you reading.





Artistic Development

Studio-1_180I’ve always known I’m artistic but had never found my medium. I can’t draw, paint or sew, I certainly can’t play a musical instrument or sing (well, not in public at any rate).  Having a hectic job and a busy social lifestyle I was content to let my arty side manifest itself in my cooking and gardening. I love colour and had an office full of coloured pens, inks, pots of acyrilic paints – but what to do with them?  I was content to look at them and add to the collection now and again. I did like ‘colouring in’  but there has never been any colouring potential for grown ups apart from ‘painting by numbers’ Hmmm, I certainly missed a gap in the market there didn’t I!!

That is why I will always be eternally grateful to Julia who introduced me to mosaics and BINGO, I’d found my medium.


I am now in my 8th year of mosaic making and having got a good grasp of the basics, I am ready to develop to the next level. However, being a very practical person, I am not very good at making a mosaic ‘just because I want to’. I tend to need a reason – e.g. its a commission, its going into the shop/gallery.  That is partly why I have done exhibitions – not because I think my work is so marvelous the world and his wife ought to see it (although it is nice if people do like and appreciate my work), but because it gives me an outlet and reason for making pieces.  It is necessary to have an outlet as there is a limit to how many mosaics you can have round the house and garden!

However, if I want to progress my work, I have to experiment and try new methods and techniques. So my artistic resolution for 2016 is to make a new piece ‘because I want to’, ‘because I want to learn a new technique/style’, ‘because I have a lovely tile I want to use’, ‘because I want to try a colourscheme’ or just because’ without having an end home for the piece. I am hoping that once made, it will find a home for itself anyway.

P1050666This has been the case with Baboushka as I liked the idea of the silhouette with flowing hair. Where she will end up, goodness knows. My next venture will be glass on glass because I want to learn how that works.

Wish me luck with my resolution.  As I often (jokingly) say ‘I am going to work really hard at being spontaneous’!


London Activities: 

January and February are usually film fest time for me.  So far: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl.  To come: The Revenant, The Room, The Hateful Eight.



This is my first completed mosaic of 2016.


Last year I had in my mind that I wanted to mosaic a female silhouette with long flowing hair – very 60s and psychedelic.  When I was at South Bank Mosaics last October for the BAMM Conference, I saw a beautiful mosaic on the wall that had a silhouette with birds flying from it that made the main mosaic. I asked David Toothill (Artistic Director of South Bank Mosaics and Chair of BAMM) if I could use the silhouette image in my own mosaic, and he kindly agreed.

She was going to be made in very muted colours using ceramic flat tiles. As I worked on her at Kitty’s weekly sessions, she became affectionately known as Abigail (from Abigail’s Party).  As usual,  I couldn’t resist using more colour than I originally planned and the flashes of gold and bronze were added.  I then went to see Donovan in concert and promptly renamed her Jennifer Juniper.  However, oldies like me will remember the lyrics to that song  ‘lilacs in her hair…..hair of golden flax’  she was such a gentle soul that didn’t fit the ‘wild child’ that the mosaic was turning into. Once the piercing black eyes and the red lip slash were added, she became much more menacing – the type of women that would play a nasty trick on her husband ‘she wants to test her husband, she knew exactly what to do’  (from Lyrics by Kate Bush) so I then realised that she was a perfect BABOUSHKA!

I may still make a Jennifer Juniper. Sadly, I am now also thinking I may need to make another one and call her ‘Jean Genie’ in tribute to the great man, as that is one of my all time favourite songs.


A great start to the year with an exhibition by the brilliant and mind-bending  MC Escher at The Dulwich Picture Gallery. 

Lumiere London this weekend – the UK’s largest light festival with spectacular art works, interactive installations and 3D projections.


Picture of the Year 2015

So here is my favourite picture of the year – The Marple Mosaic.

The Marple Mosaic

The Marple Mosaic

Several reasons: my biggest commission to date, my first geometric mosaic which turned out really well, a fantastic story, made great friendships with the clients Hilary and Pauline, moved me up to the next level of mosaic making.

Runner ups:

My Sun and Moon because I really love this mosaic and see it every day on my shed. Rufus Reindeer because I didn’t want a ‘cartoon’ animal and think I have the right level with him.




The Butterfly Blog

P1050616Here is the butterfly I made as part of the Meadow House mosaic butterfly project.

Meadow House, based in Ealing, is a specialist palliative care service funded by the NHS.  Meadow House work hard to ensure a welcoming and nurturing environment for patients and their visitors. It offers 3 levels of service:  planned/review of care, symptom control and assessment and end of life care. There are 15 single rooms all with en suite facilities. There is a conservatory which is fully equipped to allow patient beds to be accommodated there if the patient would like to spend time out of their room.

P1050617My chum Anne and I have been going to a mosaic workshop with Kitty Hartnell along with several other people for a few years. We are all keen mosaic makers and the sessions with Kitty help us all improve our mosaic skills, encourage and inspire each other and have a good chat and catch up whilst working on our mosaics.

P1050622When Vicky Pearson (a volunteer at Meadow House) went to visit Anne, she saw the large mosaic butterfly that Anne had made. She commented that it would be lovely to have some butterflies as ‘room plaques’ for the 15 rooms at Meadow House.  Anne discussed this with Kitty and the idea was born to get the group to make the mosaic butterflies as room plaques as a voluntary project.

P1050621Vicky  and Nicky  Cockayne (Ward Manager) were delighted with this idea and gave a list of all the butterflies (including some moths) to Kitty, who then set about cutting them out of plywood and drawing them up ready for us all to mosaic. It was agreed that we would make the 15 butterflies outside of our normal mosaic sessions so 16 of us met as and when we could on various dates over a 6 week period. Some people made a whole butterfly, others mixed and matched. They key aim was to get them all mosaiced, grouted, painted and ready to hand over to Meadow House before Christmas. It was a great team effort and we all enjoyed it very much.

P1050624On Wednesday 3rd December the butterflies were ready to fly away to Meadow House.  Nicky and Vicky arrived at Kitty’s to be greeted by the several of the mosaic team, a celebratory glass of fizz and a table full of beautiful, vibrant mosaic butterflies.

Nicky said the butterflies exceeded all her expectations and she was delighted with the results, which will definitely make the rooms at Meadow House more homely for the patients and their visitors.

A big thank you must go to Anne and Vicky who had the ‘chrysalis’ of the idea. Also thanks to the mosaic gang who gave their time so generously – it was often quite challenging for a creative group who are used to doing their own thing, to have to make the butterflies authentic and symmetrical – which Kitty insisted upon! However, the biggest thanks goes to Kitty who so keenly agreed to the idea, provided all the materials, cut and drew the shapes and steered and encouraged us all making sure we used vibrant, colourful materials therefore enabling the project to ‘hatch’ into these 15 beautiful mosaics butterflies.



COMING SOON:  a look back to the highlights of 2015.

Current Mosaic Projects

Multi Colour Large Panel

When people ask me what I am currently working on, I always have to think about my reply. The truth is, I am usually working on 2 or 3 mosaics at any one time.

I always tend to have a large complex piece on the go (usually a commission), then another medium size mosaic that I may be making to go into one of the galleries.  I often have a ‘fun’ piece also sitting on my work bench which is my ‘light relief’ mosaic.  I love mosaicing so much that even if I haven’t got a reason to be making a piece, I will be playing mosaics anyway!

P1050547At the moment I am negotiating a commission with a client so am ‘between mosaics’ if you like, so this gives me time to play with my fun piece. It is a large slab of stone, 2 foot high traingular shape. I am calling it my ‘Totem Pole’ and it will sit in the middle of a flower bed in my back garden. I want it to be very vibrant and eye catching, so I intend to use a lot of glass in it as well as the mosaic tesserae. I have started at the top with a ‘sun’ and rays flowing down. Not sure what the next section will be but I will keep you posted. I know it will take a long time but there is no rush and that’s what is nice about having a fun piece, I may just spend the odd half hour on it as and when.

So it is quite quiet in mosaic terms for me but I have to admit it is nice to have a rest after all the excitement of the Marple Collection Exhibition. Once the commission is finalised it will be back to full steam ahead and will be snipping away.


I would like to do a Q & A Blog 

If you have any mosaic questions you would like to ask or any technique or aspect you are interested in knowing more about – please drop me a ‘Comment’ below or send me an email and I will answer in a Blog. 



Mosaic Shed Art

P1050573I spend so much time making mosaics as commissions, for galleries or exhibitions that I very rarely make a piece for myself. However, when I got my birthday garden shed, I knew I would be making a mosaic to go onto it. Initially I was going to make a ‘welcome’ sign with the shed name but as I couldn’t decide on the final name, that piece remains on hold.

As I was planting the new garden beds around the shed I suddenly spotted the perfect place for a mosaic,  a long triangular inset just above the door. I knew instantly the style of mosaic I wanted and could picture it in my mind. The problem was transposing that complicated idea into such an odd shape, keeping my original concept of the image but making it suitable as a mosaic.

P1050572Alan was in charge of cutting the exact size board, it would be wedged into the inset so no room for any error whatsoever – no pressure then! We used Wedi Tilebacker Board (the lightweight cousin of Hardie Bakker Board) which is a very flexible compound that can be cut with a Stanley knife but is meant to be robust enough to go outdoors and is weatherproof.  It is the first time I have used it so we shall see, best to experiment on myself rather than a clients commission!

Once I got going I really enjoyed making the piece. It was done in two sections initially and then we used wooden kebab sticks inside to join the pieces together, plus lots of glue and then gaffer tape. The whole structure was very precarious but I needed to mosaic continuous lines and not have an obvious join.P1050571

Here is the finished piece in situ – I am delighted with it and am looking forward to having the winter sun shine on it as there is a lot of ‘sparkle’ potential.

REQUEST: Let me know what you think – could ‘shed art’ catch on?

COMING SOON: Mosaic Mishaps!

The Commission – Getting Started

My stepping stone

My stepping stone


As I have such a lovely commission to work on, I thought it might be interesting to share the process with you.  So many people ask me how do I get started, what preparation is required, what materials do I use – so here goes, a beginners guide to getting started.

My Client and I discussed various ideas initially and soon agreed on a design that we both liked and thought would look stunning in the allocated outdoor space. It is based on a piece I have as a stepping stone in my garden, but on a much larger scale. We both like the same strong bold colours, it has to look colourful but nothing too garish, a bit of sparkle but not bling. Time to go shopping!

Alan getting all the Angles

Alan getting all the Angles

As it is to go outdoors I have decided to use Hardie Bakker Board which is a composite material, similar to MDF but for outside use and is weatherproof.  It is going to be a very geometric pattern, so Alan is called upon to use his mathematical skills and compass to ensure all the angles are correct and in proportion.

You can use all sorts of materials to mosaic with including bathroom tiles, crockery etc. but for most of my work I use proper mosaic tiles, called ‘tesserae’. You buy them from specialist suppliers on small sheets either on mesh or brown paper.  The first stage is to get the tiles off the backing, usually by soaking, then you need to wash them to remove the glue and dry them. I then put them into containers for easy access and I am ready to start.

Tiles on mesh and paper

Tiles on mesh and paper

Sorted and Drying

Sorted and Drying






As the piece is too large for my studio, the dining room has been purloined. I have now started to play with placing the tiles to get an overall impression of colour matches and combinations. Once I get going I will give another update.

Ready for action

Ready for action

REQUEST: Do let me know what you think of this Blog and if you have any mosaic questions, it is always nice to get your feedback.

COMING SOON: Update on the Newcastle Gallery and Richmond Open Studios







My Mosaic Story – Kitty’s Workshop


Metal sculpture by Kitty Hartnell

So having got interested in making mosaics I started to buy supplies and materials and made various mosaics from projects suggested in books. However, I really wanted to join a group of other mosaic makers in order to learn more, get ideas, swop tips and techniques and be part of a group. I tried to see if there were any groups locally but most were ‘art groups’ that didn’t really fit the bill.


Mosaic Poppies by Kitty Hartnell

Now isn’t funny how, when you want something, it often materialises. Purely by chance, I went to a charity craft evening run by Kitty Hartnell, a metal and mosaic maker. After chatting for a while Kitty told me she runs a weekly workshop, for people of all levels interested in making mosaics, and invited me along to a session.

Since becoming a regular at Kitty’s weekly mosaic workshops, I know my technique, style and confidence have improved greatly. Kitty does not give lessons as such – we are all at different stages and make what we want. However, she provides constant advice and guidance and will teach a skill or technique as requested. She is brilliant on colour and texture and always seems to find that ‘special’ tile that really makes the mosaic come alive.

St. Marys Lighthouse

the ‘fence’ !

I am not artistically trained so Kitty – in her gentle, understated way – has really helped my work to progress – I have learnt so much about scale, formation, structure, colour and materials. She has really helped me with my artistic ‘eye’ especially on perspective, scale and structure. The first time I made a mosaic based on a photo, I spent 3 hours putting in a ‘fence’ and 10 minutes de-glueing it, so at the end of the session I had an empty board! The following week Kitty helped me with the perspective and now people always comment on how good that fence is and how it makes the piece so realistic.


Mosaic by Kitty Hartnell

Kitty won’t accept the phrase ‘that will do’. So even when I make mosaics at home I can hear her words in my ear, sometimes annoyingly, so if a piece is wrong, I can’t ignore it – it won’t do!

Have a look at her website to see the beautiful mosaic and metalwork pieces that Kitty makes.