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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: May 2010

Glittering Shards

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Community mosaics and commissions

 I'm not sure I ever properly posted pictures of the beautiful, and very large community mosaic I was involved in making at our local parish of St. Anselm's in Tooting Bec. We were in full flow making it this time last year in time for the church's centenary. Well, here it is! We just got back from church this morning and every time we go, my kids want to go up to it, touch it, talk about it, ask me to point to the bits I made. The mosaic is a lovely representation of community and history as well as images of faith. It was overseen by Tessa Hunkin of Mosaic Workshop fame and was made by a core group of people from the parish - taking two years! Well worth it don't you think?

I took these shots of the mosaic partly to show the background to a lovely lady who has commissioned me to make another (not quite so large, but still rather big) mosaic as a memorial to her dear husband who died nearly two years ago, leaving her and her two children behind (one yet  to be born). I have not mentioned it here before as I wanted to respect her privacy as its such a personal mosaic - it will go on his grave and has images that represent his life - but when I mentioned this to her she graciously said that of course I could talk about it here as it is my art. So here's a little look at the mosaic which has been totally occupying me for the last two months. What a privilege it is to be making it. 

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mosaic Stones and Hanging Mosaic Tiles

In my quest to make mosaic a toddler friendly art and craft I have  used lots of different materials that have no sharp edges (I made a long list of these materials here). I was really excited to discover these soft glass tiles recently which has launched our toddler / little children mosaic into new realms. They are made from melted down glass so all the edges are smooth and the pieces are irregular so you can make shapes without needing to cut. All the joys of colour and the reflectivity of glass - yay!

The other day, I set about using our new discovery so here's two new little-kiddie-friendly mosaic projects for you to try- making mosaic stones and mosaic hanging tiles.

To do these projects you will need:

  • soft glass mosaic tiles (see here for US supplier,  here for Europe / international supplier and here for a UK supplier)
  • stones with a fairly flat surface
  • small tiles as a base for the hanging mosaics (we used leftovers 5x5cm, 6x6cm and 10x10cm)
  • white craft glue (PVA / Weldbond or equivalent)
  • grout, protective gloves, a plastic tub and stirrer.
  • d-ring for hanging and some "hard as nails" glue
I brought the rainbow mix of the soft glass tiles which gave us the added bonus of a sorting game to start our activity! The children loved this and spent a lot of time putting the tiles into their own colour pot (there is something so absorbing about sorting isn't there?). We were then ready to start gluing.

I demonstrated doing a flower on one of the little tiles and then let my two (aged 3 and 4) just do it their own way - I was really impressed with their creations, particularly Toby who is only just 3 and still developing his fine motor skills. Isabella then also made a stone with just yellow tiles - very pretty against the sandy colour of the stone.
 Toby carried on with the flower theme and made another while Isabella went into freestyle! She tiled a 5 x 5 and 10 x 10 cm tile (and I did one too carrying on the flower theme!).
 The next day, we got to grouting the hanging mosaic tiles that Isabella and I made - a bit of a landmark as this was Isabella's first grouted mosaic!
 We used charcoal grout (though a grey shade will also look good). I always use powdered grout for my mosaic work (you can also use white grout and tint it with acrylic paints to any colour you like). Always wear a mask when mixing your grout as you don't want that powder in your lungs.
Mix it to a smooth, thick paste. Then, with your gloves, rub it into your mosaic, getting the grout into all the gaps. Isabella loved doing this! Lots of squidgy fun!
After a couple of minutes, take some kitchen roll and slowly start wiping the excess grout away (Isabella took these photos of me cleaning up my mosaic!) to let your mosaic emerge. Once the grout has dried (the next day) you can give it a final clean up, shining your lovely mosaic to make it glimmer.
(Isabella's first grouted mosaic!)

To hang your tile mosaic, put a large blob of "hard as nails" (glue that is a nail substitute) on the back of the tile and embed the d-ring into it. Once dry, it will be solid and ready to hang!

I love making little mosaic stones with vitreous tiles too - I have made quite a few over time, fun if a little fiddly cutting the teeny pieces with tile nippers to make up the images (the dove of peace is my favourite).
 I keep some of them as paperweight / memento's whilst others I turn into hanging stones. Quite a few of these are currently in a window exhibition, alongside some of my smaller pieces of wall mosaic art, at the Sprout Community Arts gallery in my local neighbourhood, until 5th June. If you are local, do pop along and see!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Handprints revisited

 Recording the hand prints of our wee ones is such an impulse, don't you find? I guess most of us have done the almost obligatory hand (and feet!) in the paint splodge paintings with our children at various sizes. Or plaster of Paris...or even casting them in that gooey putty that sets in minutes and gives you all the details of the lines on your hands (we had that done with both of ours, framed and hung proudly in the living room)
 But yesterday we rediscovered the humble photocopier. Remember when the photocopier first came out? (oh, you don't ehmm ok...). Photocopying body parts (nuff said!) provided much larking around in offices everywhere.

Well, look what all four of us did en famille yesterday! Tee, hee. Such fun!

I really like it and am thinking of ways we can use the little hand print copies...I thought some see through iridescent paint would be a good start, or collaging them into a tree? Any ideas? What do you think? And have you tried other ways to immortalize those little hands and feet?

Talk about collaging, I am loving the possibilities that Amelia's experimental art course has opened up for me. She gives us ideas and exercises for lots of different visual art forms of which collaging is one (its photography this exciting!). Its not like the possibilities of the humble piece of paper were unknown to me before, its just that I didn't really think about it too much. Amelia's course has prompted me, inspired me and got me doing stuff and playing with art in a way I wouldn't have thought of. She's just opened up booking for the summer course and I really commend her to you - its really very good, whether you are already creating, a blocked creative or a yet to be uncovered creative person. You do the course at your own pace, at a time that suits you and as part of the course, you to become part of an online community to share your creations with - always a huge bonus in my book (**waves to the other experimenters who are visiting**!).

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mosaic Making Workshops

I started running mosaic workshops in my small studio last summer. The current course (they last for 6 weeks - one evening a week) is nearly at an end and I am just having a ball with yet another wonderful group of students.

I have  a professional training background, so facilitating learning is not new to me, but I am surprised just how much I am enjoying running these courses. Actually, its more than enjoyment. It actually makes me happy.

Here's what is causing my glee.
  • seeing work that didn't exist come into being, at the hand of people who did not know they could do it and have suddenly discovered they can
  • the sheer beauty and variety of the work that emerges
  • watching people who have not made something with their hands for a while suddenly start breathing with their creative selves again
  • creating new mosaic addicts (key symptoms - hoarding of shiny things; looking with great interest at at kitchen and bathroom tiling;  saying "oh, I wonder if I can use that in a mosaic?" before throwing something away!)
  • sharing the sheer love of materials - the colour, the reflection, the shiny, the matt, smooth and bumpy - and the feeling of possibility at what these broken pieces of tile and glass can become
  • seeing that each student, right from the start, has their own style, their own unique creative hand - and watching that emerge.
I really feel privileged to be facilitating both the love and skill of mosaic and the amazing process of discovering creativity that these classes bring.
My next course starts on 1st June for 6 weeks and there are a couple of places left. If you live in or near South West London and think you might want to join in, contact me or visit my web site for more info - I'd love to have you join us!

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

I did it!!

Yay! I did my first ever 10K run! Here's the moment when I crossed the finish line.
 Despite being woefully under prepared thanks to viruses that just wouldn't properly go away, I decided I would do the run even if I had to crawl. In the end , I managed to beat the original goal that I had set myself when I was fighting fit and on top of the training. I ran the 10K (6 miles) round Richmond Park, with the Royal deer looking on, in 1 hour 8 minutes! Yay! I did the run in aid of Sri Lankan street children - read more about it in my original post here .


Friday, May 07, 2010

Paper art and lovely spring blossoms

Here's another of the activities on the great experimental art e-course I am doing...making art from paper, anyway you want to. Ripping, sticking and in Isabella's case, lots of scrunching.
She decided to do a picture of a tree in blossom with little balls of scrunched up tissue paper - so beautiful and effective.

I love the colour combinations in her girl picture and, as always, the gorgeous eyelashes! She told me after she did it that is was a picture of herself - and pointed to a photo of her on a shelf that she was looking at as she drew!

You can also see my two efforts at paper based art. The sprouting seed is actually from a sketch I did 9 years ago as an idea for a mosaic. I really enjoyed making it and may one day still turn it into a mosaic!

As an aside, this is probably the latest I have been up writing my blog (nearly 1am). My eyes are drooping as I type but I am desperately trying to stay awake to hear the first big results of the UK general election come in...I figured a bit of blogging and a bit of darning would keep me awake......Zzz...

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Arts, Kites and Musical Delights

Phew! What a weekend...
Isabella, Toby and I went to the launch on our new local community arts gallery, Sprout. It was a drawing free for all, including the walls. Not every day you can draw on walls. Isabella suggested we draw each other and then draw ourselves - can you spot whose who? (clue, I have curly hair!)

Introduced some friends to our new community farm. This is the third week in a row we have been since we discovered it. Yup we are keen. I cannot tell you the satisfaction I get from seeing my kids sitting in clods of ploughed earth.
Our good friend and amazing musician, Jason Carter, finished his month long UK tour with a house concert in our street. A fantastic evening it was too. This is the first time I have seen him play the harp guitar. Just brilliant. Jason also did a jamming session with Isabella and Toby - incy wincy and twinkle twinkle on the harp guitar with Isabella on acoustic and Toby on the drums - very funny!
To end a perfect weekend we had a birthday gathering for little Toby on Tooting Common. It was touch and go whether to abandon ship and retreat to the house as the weather has gone cold, wet and windy. But the stoical British spirit prevailed and we were blessed with sunshine for most of the picnic celebration and fantastic windy weather to fly Toby's new kite. Happy, happy!

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