School Mosaic Projects, Spring 2012

February Half Term saw the installation of our project “Story Telling Stepping Stones” along the nursery path adjacent to playground 2 and the playing fields at Chorlton Church of England Primary School.

Laying the "surround", photo by Matilda Wigley

The whole school was involved in the project, helping to devise ideas during the “Novel Ideas” workshop, as part of the literacy themed Super Learning Day. We wanted to make a game in the path that could be used to create stories with so children from all year groups dreamed up a series of characters, locations and significant objects and produced images of them in collage mosaic.

Tortoise Stepping Stone

Later, during workshops with Year 3 who had been learning about the ancient mosaics of The Romans, 15 images were settled on to be depicted in permanent mosaic for the path. The class worked in pairs to produce the images using Cinca frost resistant ceramic tile pieces on templates. With help from small team of dedicated parent volunteers, the class enjoyed brandishing trowels and setting their mosaic designs into concrete stepping stones. They worked very carefully, paying close attention to the demonstrations and instructions given and picking up some great skills in the process.

Setting in the pebbles

The stepping stones were left in the school basement to fully cure until a date for installation was arranged in the half term holiday. Don’t they look fantastic? The Year 3 class is very proud of their colourful contribution to the school’s lively and varied outdoor environment and are happy in the knowledge that this will be a lasting legacy of their time at Chorlton C E Primary.



The finished Mosaic Panel on the Wall at the Front of the School

More recently, I have been working with children at Brookacre Community Primary School in Warrington to produce a mosaic mural for the outside of the school building. Here, too, Year 3 took the lead – they designed the 2 metre high x 1.5 metre wide panel with me and then the rest of the school came out to in groups to work on the mosaic. The weather was so good, we did the whole job outdoors – in March!!


10 thoughts on “School Mosaic Projects, Spring 2012

  1. Rachel

    Lovely work!
    Did you use a wooden base for the outdoor tree mural? Did you treat it with anything so it doesn’t rot?
    Sorry for all the questions! I work in a school and am planning a mosaic mural. There are three tall tree stumps and would love to incorporate them some how, I was wondering if you think I’d be able to mosaic directly onto them?
    Any help/advice would gratefully received!

    1. makemosaictrace Post author

      Hi Rachel,
      Thank you very much.
      The tree mosaic was made on best quality exterior ply. The edges and reverse were treated with x3 coats of yacht varnish but the combination of frost-resistant ceramic mosaic and exterior grade grout make the mosaic surface weatherproof. It is vital that (flexible) cementitious tile adhesive is used though – not PVA!!
      I’m not sure about the tree stumps. It feels instinctly wrong to me but if there’s no more life in the trees, maybe it would fine, I couldn’t say for sure. Mosaic requires as much stability as possible in the substrate since any movement (future growth, swelling in damp conditions, shrinkage in the heat etc.) will cause the pieces to be pinged off the surface.
      I hope that helps,

      1. Rache

        It helps a lot, thank you!
        The trees have been cut down for a couple of years without any noticeable growth, shoots etc. They are at the front of the school and don’t look so great. I’m working with a small group of year 4’s who jokingly suggested the trees! I love the idea of working on something already there, making the mosaic more sculptural.
        Do you think we could treat the trees? I thought about stripping the bark or attaching a mesh of some sort and mosaic onto that?
        It’s lovely to be able to speak to someone with some experience. It’s quite a daunting project but I love a challenge!

        1. makemosaictrace Post author

          Hi Rachel
          Do you have a photo of the trees? It might be worth consulting with an arborist to ask about working on the trees, as I’m no expert in this area. I imagine that you could do as you describe, ie. strip the bark, make sure that any moisture trapped beneath has fully dried away and then apply mosaic – I don’t think you would need mesh. I have a friend who knows an awful lot about trees – he works at the same studios as me but he’s not there every day (he spends a lot of time working in the woods). I’ll ask him when I next see him for you and pass on any advice.

          1. Rachel

            That would be brilliant, thank you so much!
            I do have a photo, though it has a child in it so I’d rather not post it! I could get a better one later on in the week?
            Really appreciate your help. Thanks again!

          2. makemosaictrace Post author

            That’s great! If you decide it would be useful to bring me into school – even just for a day or two to get the project off the ground – I do travel for work. (I’m based in Manchester) In fact, my sister lives in your area, so I would get the chance to see her and have somewhere nice to stay too! Btw, have you seen the School Mosaic Stepping Stone Project that I offer to schools?

          3. Rachel

            I will check the stepping stones out, though I really liked the paving slabs that you did on this post!

            Maybe it would be better to email directly to you? A day or two of your expertise might come in handy, though I would have to check our art budget!

          4. makemosaictrace Post author

            Yes, the paving slabs you refer to have stepping stones in their centres that were made and pre-cast by Y3/Y4 pupils. The ‘surrounds’ were made by parents, teachers and myself and placed around the stepping stones during installation to fill up the square format of the paving.

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