Magnificent Marble Mosaics


Y3 Tackle Roman Mosaic Techniques

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It was the first day back after half term and the energy in the school was palpable. To enrich their topic about The Romans, I was there to work with the Y3 pupils to help them each make their own mosaic.

We kicked off with a brief slide presentation to introduce the history of mosaic making and how it was adopted and progressed by The Romans for their villa floors. Then we examined a marble mosaic that I made last year, observing the use of specific shapes, ie. ‘keystones’ to form curved lines for lettering and triangles where a diagonal line meets a horizontal line.

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detail from “The Girl Who Fought For Education”, Tracey Cartledge, 2016

In preparation for the day, the youngsters had already planned their designs using a limited palette of black, white, green and red – the colours of our marble. They had also had some fun making printed mosaics with square dowels. Finally, they could now get their hands on the authentic material and they were raring to go…

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I’m sure you will be as impressed as I was to see how rapidly these bright pupils applied so much fresh knowledge to their own work to create these mosaics in not much more than one hour…

At the end of the school day I showed the class teacher and TA how to grout the mosaics  and left them a big bag of grout and tips on cleaning and waxing afterwards. I’ll post some pictures of the final results once they’re all complete.

This workshop was booked from my website, where there are also kits available for class mosaic projects.

Chorlton Central Church Community Mosaic


In spring 2016 the committee of Chorlton Central Church, where I run my weekly mosaic evening class, commissioned me to design a large exterior mosaic to cover the old church hall entrance.

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The New Glass facade with artwork by Steve Raw, photo credit Andrew Stuart, MEN

The church had undergone extensive refurbishment works completed in 2015. These  included the construction of a large new glass facade incorporating entrance doors within the south elevation. Architect Mick Timpson, who also runs yoga classes in the church, was responsible for the refurbishment and artist Steve Raw was commissioned to create the design for the glass treatment. The old entrance doorway – you can see on the left in this photo – became redundant and was blocked up to make a storage room.

The first stage of the commission was to consult with the church committee to agree the theme for the mosaic. They wanted the design to reflect the values of the church whilst having universal appeal and represent the church being part of Manchester’s multi faith network. Due to its position, we all agreed that we also wanted it to relate to the garden and convey a sense of welcome – ‘the door is open’. Referencing the bible’s creation story,  tree of life (Genesis) and the water of life (Revelation) provided ample imagery. Following a presentation to the church congregation and ensuing feedback, modifications were made to create a final version of the design.

From the end of June and throughout July, I hosted seven workshops which allowed approximately 100 local participants to take part in the making of the mosaic. With fabulous assistants from Chorlton Mosaic Group on hand to help, each workshop started with a lesson on how to use the tools to cut and arrange the mosaic pieces. Using patterns cut from our full size cartoon, participants patiently started to make component parts of the design, just like a paint-by-numbers technique. Every piece was referenced and carefully stored.

In September I packed up all the mosaic contributions and took them to my studio. With two brilliant studio assistants, Karen Nolan and Karen Allerton, working with me, the parts were assembled, completed and all background areas made up within three weeks.

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The completed mosaic in the studio, faced with tile tape, ready for installation.

Prior to installation I was lucky enough to meet master mosaic fixer, Walter Bernadine in London after he made a presentation at the BAMM Annual Forum. We had a good chat and with Walter’s tips in mind, I subcontracted Manchester dream team Andy Carroll & Son to install the mosaic with me. Thanks to their expertise, the installation was like poetry in motion…

On Sunday 16th October , which was also the Reverend Bob Day’s retirement celebration, the mosaic was officially unveiled by local MP Jeff Smith. The event was well attended by many of those who played a role in its realisation and after the formalities we all enjoyed a lunch in the church hall, generously provided by the Central Church committee.

The Chorlton Mosaic Group continues to meet every Thursday at 7.15pm and welcomes new members at any time. For more details, check the website or get in touch with me by email at this address: tracey.cartledge@icloud.com.

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Tracey with the completed mosaic. Photo by Vincent Abbey.

On Our Doorstep


 

There is so much craftsmanship to be admired in the details of  Manchester’s amazing architecture. Have you noticed how many Victorian mosaic floors and thresholds we have in the city centre?

Manchester’s neo-gothic Town Hall has been in the news this week and, just like Buckingham Palace, we’re told that it needs ‘future-proofing’ to ensure its structural integrity. It has an abundance of stained glass leaded windows sagging under their own weight; fairy castle sweeping spiral staircases of stone leading you from one opus sectile marble floor to another featuring, of course, the iconic worker bee and cotton flower motifs in marble mosaic.

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Library Walk Mosaic Floor by J W Restoration, 2015

In 2015, J W Restoration were commissioned to replicate the cotton flower mosaics for a new floor in Library Walk, which runs between the Town Hall extension and Central Library.

Step out into Albert Square and there are more mosaic details within a few short steps of you. Across on the corner of Lloyd Street and South Mill Street, the circular portico at the entrance to what is now Red’s True Barbecue Restaurant has a fine example.

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Portico Mosaic Floor at the entrance to Red’s True Barbecue, Manchester

Over at the other side of the square at 14 Princess Street is the Northern Assurance Buildings. Here you can see a large – more than five square metres – threshold mosaic of a similar age, made using the same traditional method and materials. The mosaic material is unglazed porcelain. Just like the floors that I repaired at Victoria Station a couple of years ago and a more recent restoration in the Royal Exchange Shopping Arcade.

img_4221Restoration of the Philip Morris & Co threshold mosaic in Manchester Royal Exchange Shopping Arcade by Tracey Cartledge, 2016

Over on Rochdale Road, one of my favourite pubs and former home to the cellar brewery of Marbe Beers, is the Marble Arch pub, well known for its sloping floor. Last Christmas, the Chorlton Mosaic Group was invited to put up an exhibition in the pub’s back room. Below you can see the progress on my “Piece of the Marble”, copied from the pub floor, with a few minor colour modifications. This was purchased by the brewery and now lives on their office wall.

well-crafted“A Piece of the Marble” 2015 (in progress) and “Well Crafted” 2016 by Tracey Cartledge

Just like “Well Crafted”, again made in unglazed porcelain, making mosaics like this is great practice for commissioned threshold mosaics like the one below that transformed the entrance to Pettigrew Bakeries in Cardiff.

Pettigrew Bakeries, Cardiff, commissioned threshold mosaic by Tracey Cartledge, 2016

Whilst it has been difficult to research and confirm, I suspect that many of the above and other Manchester period architectural mosaics were the work of the Oppenheimer family business that was founded in 1865 and thrived in Old Trafford until the mid twentieth century.

Studio Workshops – Sign Up!!


New Dates for Summer 2016

If you’re fascinated by mosaics and would like to learn the basics, coming to one of my studio workshops is the ideal way to get started. The creative process is absorbing and therapeutic. The feedback from previous workshops has been very positive and enthusiastic.

Here are the dates and links to my main website, where you can book your place securely:

WORKSHOPS

Through the Looking Glass, Adventures in Mosaic Glass Appliqué


We love receiving visitors at Last Loft Studios in Manchester. It is an opportunity to share the fondness we have for our working environment at Talbot Mill and the respect, admiration and affection we have for our fellow artisans with the rest of the world.

Even better, are the occasions when visitors attend a weekend workshop to spend a joyful day with us exploring creative possibilities using the techniques that we can teach and share.

This Saturday, we had the pleasure to welcome five wonderful women into our studios, each bringing their own talents, experience and ideas to the table as we worked together to make glass-on-glass mosaic mandalas.

Caroline Channing – our resident glass expert – kicked off the day to a fine start with a meticulous demonstration of glass cutting techniques and a clear explanation of which tools to use for each purpose and how and why each specific method works. The group then practised and fairly quickly mastered the basic skills required for the day ahead.

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Test piece by Deborah Pitman, photo by Deb Pitman

Each participant made a small test piece that was grouted and finished before the day ended. They went on to create their circular mandala using their newly acquired knowledge. We think the results are stunning…

 

 

 

Brushes, Beans, Bees & Butterflies


“Creativity bursting and spilling right out of the building”

This was the concept for the new signage commissioned for the side elevation of the fabulous Bean & Brush Family Art Cafe in Sale, Greater Manchester.

To achieve it, I picked up on the existing language of the ornate forged steel coffee beanstalks that make the terrace railings so distinctive and combined this with the use of ceramic mosaic as seen in the “opus paladanium” style of the pavement ‘welcome’ mosaic outside the entrance door.

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Pavement Mosaic featuring Bean & Brush logo at the entrance to the cafe, commissioned in 2011. Photo by Vincent Abbey

The new signage takes the form of coffee beanstalks growing out from a ground floor window and spreading across the building. From the stalks, beautiful hammered steel leaves and hand-cut steel words combine with mosaic features to proclaim the building’s identity in no uncertain terms.

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Photo by Vincent Abbey

I collaborated with Luke Lister blacksmiths, who fabricated all of the steel elements and installed the work for me on 16th November 2015. The design also includes ‘halo’ lighting that adds colour behind each of the largest size of hammered steel leaf and the two key mosaic features.

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Photo by Vincent Abbey

As you will have noticed, one of the beanstalk leaves is bigger than the rest and has evolved into an artist’s paint palette fabricated in ceramic mosaic. I produced this part of the signage, together with the butterfly, whose blue ‘flight path’ starts from the end of the ampersand in “Bean & Brush” and sweeps around to the front of the building, from where it appears to be just about to take off again…

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Photo by Vincent Abbey

Working on this commission was a complete delight for me. Michelle and Graham who run the Bean & Brush are the loveliest of people so I really enjoyed all the design consultation with them both. As usual, Luke Listers interpreted the designs with great skill and professionalism and made an admirable job of installing the finished work. The final thanks go to Vincent Abbey for taking these wonderful photographs of quite a challenging subject!

 

 

Invited Back


Two projects that I’m currently working on have been commissioned by clients that I have previously made work for. This is excellent news. Follow up projects are affirmation that your work has been well received and the client has enjoyed working with you. That’s a great foundation to build on.

detail from 2006 interpretation panels at Halton Castle

detail from 2006 interpretation panels at Halton Castle

In 2006, designs for bespoke fence panels that interpret the castle’s history made in laser-cut and laser-etched stainless steel with bronze and mosaic embellishments were commissioned for Halton Castle in Runcorn.  It was a great project. Three primary schools, two assistant artists and a fantastic management team that included officers from the landscape architecture department of Halton Borough Council, the HBC Arts Officer and experts from Norton priory Museum helped to steer the project to success.

In 2015, the same management team has commissioned further artist designed interpretation panels to enhance a new line of fencing that makes another area of the castle grounds safe for the visiting public. The new panels provide information relating to the panoramic views that this landmark site affords. These include the bridging point along the Mersey known as the Runcorn Gap, the city of Liverpool and more local points of interest such as St. Mary’s Church and the actual castle buildings.

Bean & Brush Signage, design drawing, 2015

Bean & Brush Signage, design drawing, 2015

Meantime, the owners of the very popular Bean & Brush family art cafe in Sale have commissioned new signage for their building. In 2011, they commissioned a pavement mosaic outside their front door to welcome people in. This mosaic, made with durable frost-resistant glazed porcelain and cast in-situ, features the cafe’s butterfly logo. The new signage has now been designed and approved and is currently being fabricated, ready for installation in the next month. The design picks up the theme of the forged steel coffee bean stalks that adorn the terrace railings and plays with the notion of creativity spilling right out of the building from its windows…

work in progress

work in progress

…with butterflies and bees, forged steel leaves and splashes of colourful mosaic this signage is a commission full of fun to work on!