Category Archives: mosaic making

Making Mr. W. Rabbit


When a valued client (who is now a friend) commissioned me to make a rabbit sculpture for his garden, I knew exactly what to propose…and, happily, he liked the idea very much.

Mr. W. Rabbit on reflective silver card – template for the stainless steel plinth

Sherri Warner Hunter has developed a method of working glass reinforced cement layers to form what she refers to as concrete over carved high density polystyrene forms. This creates an ideal sculpture substrate for mosaic embellishment to be applied and it can all be done with entirely weather resistant materials.

Sherri’s presentation at the BAMM (British Association for Modern Mosaic) Annual Forum in 2019 was very inspiring. BAMM’s current president, Tamara Froud has trained with Sherri and recently hosted a series of successful workshops in the UK to teach the techniques to others. Attending one of these would have been the obvious solution for me but we were in Spring 2020 – lockdown – and attending a workshop was not an option…unless, of course, it could be delivered online…

So, I approached Tamara and explained my idea – would she be interested in creating an online version of her “Polysculpt” course? Would she welcome testing it out on a very keen and willing student? To my great pleasure the answer was yes and yes. (Tamara is a ‘can do’ artist!)

Within no time, Tamara had e-mailed a proposed course outline and I had gathered the tools and materials required to make a start. Communicating at key stages via zoom call, text and telephone, Tamara then proceeded to expertly mentor me through the whole process, providing useful tips and advice as needed. I tried to document as much of my activity as possible for her in video and photos.

Gathering the tools and materials

Although I did make a small clay maquette, which is the usual starting point, I decided that I would prefer to work from a full scale reference, so I made a 1:1 scale clay rabbit as well!

Clay rabbit for reference

The next task was to carve the polystrene…

Using the ceramicist’s turntables was invaluable for constantly checking the form from every view and comparing it with the clay as I gradually transformed the block into a rabbit form, using hot wire cutters (kindly made for me by Grahame, a fellow maker at Cakebread Workshop), a craft knife and surformers. The fabric behind the sculpture was suspended to prevent the polystyrene bits getting into the shelves – they are, as warned, all pervasive.

Eventually the form was complete to my satisfaction. I reinforced the rabbit’s vulnerable little legs and used card templates to work out the right size and shape for the ears. Once this was determined, they became the pattern for making the ears in armature wire and copper mesh. This done, I could start preparing the surface for the first cement layer…

Why a rabbit sculpture, you might be wondering?

Well, there is a lovely family story behind this but it’s also a private one, so all I’ll say is that there is a special connection with the famous white rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This inspired the choice of white and iridescent white glass for the mosaic surface…

Three or four shades of blue vitreous glass tesserae were used for the eye and an improvised technique for ‘tuftiness’ brought texture to the eye socket surrounds and the bob tail.

A position for Mr. W. Rabbit to reside has been prepared and he will soon be sitting upon a reflective dull polished stainless steel topped plinth, keeping a watchful eye over the garden!

Finally, because I grew very fond of my faithful clay rabbit and the key role he played in this creative endeavour, I found it impossible to scrap him back into the clay bucket. Instead, I asked my skilled friends at Castle Fine Arts Foundry to produce a mould from him to enable a series of limited edition casts to be produced. After all, we all know that it’s only natural for rabbits to quickly multiply!

I plan to cast ciment fondu/concrete editions of the rabbit but to begin with, here are two initial casts in resin/fibreglass – one white, one black. They both still need some more work to refine and finish their surfaces, and one of them is required for a further commision from a different client next spring, so…watch this space…

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!


Ravensbury sign, revised.jpg

Children at Ravensbury Community Primary School were delighted to be given the opportunity to make their mark on the school building as part of a vibrant new work of art.

I was commissioned to work with the school to create “a flotilla of high-flying kites” based on the school kite logo, representing the high flyers who are enabled by the inspiring education that they receive within and outside of these school walls.

Prior to my short residency in school, all of the pupils had created designs using a wide range of media: pastels, collage, gum paper, coloured pencil etc. The Headteacher, Maureen Hughes, and I had the challenging task of selecting nine designs to be made into mosaic kites.

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Grouting the completed mosaic kites

Pupils from Y1 up to Y6 worked in teams to produce the mosaic kites using frost-resistant glazed porcelain tile onto exterior grade cement board. Two extra workshop sessions were arranged for parents to contribute and, to the delight of their proud children, they made the bee kite, based on a pupil’s design.

Together with the steel signage and kite strings, these mosaic kite features combine to form a very welcoming and cheerful permanent work of art that embodies the spirit of Ravensbury Community Primary School.

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We Create, A Flotilla of High-Flying Kites

The feedback from staff, parents and governors has been enormously positive.

Jesse Rust repair at Churchgate House


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A close-up of part of the floor outside the Mayoral office in Churchgate House. Jesse Rust glass mosaic – it was popular stuff in it’s heyday. Jesse Rust worked with Alfred Waterhouse and you can see his firm’s work in Manchester Town Hall as well as in the corridors of the old part of Manchester Royal Infirmary. These floors underwent a major overhaul and full restoration a few years ago by fellow mosaic restorer Gary Bricknell and the team from the Mosaic Restoration Company. Gary gave me some useful advice when I was researching for this repair work.

As it was only a short length and, for the most part, a single row of tesserae that was missing from the floor, it was not going to be viable to have glass specially made to match the original material. This is how I improvised…

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Bisazza glass mosaic, carefully chosen for the colour and quality, shaped and abraded to best fit in with Jesse Rust’s beautiful colour palette, as seen in the opposite side of the floor in question, below. His mission had been to create a beautiful but affordable flooring material as an alternative to marble.

“I take old glass of any description and fuse it with a large quantity of sand together with the colouring matter. I thereby get a material resembling marble, but which is much harder and will resist moisture. Any colour and shape can be made in a fused state. I then press it into moulds, in the shape required either for geometric designs, or in squares to be broken up for mosaic.”

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Following meticulous removal of first the repair epoxy that had been used to temporarily fill the gap in the mosaic floor, then the damaged mortar bed and lastly the broken screed beneath, I repaired the floor beneath the glass tiles in three stages. Finally, here are the pieces lined up ready to fit…

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Fixed, grouted…

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All done!

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.

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

Manchester Mosaic Winners


We did it AGAIN!!!!

Sheenaanne receiving her certificate at Topps Tiles Salford

Sheenaanne receiving her certificate at Topps Tiles Salford

Topps Tile Mosaic Competition Winners

Tracey (me!) receiving the £300 voucher to spend on materials for the Chorlton Mosaic Group

For the second year running, my mosaic evening class in Chorlton, Manchester has produced the North West regional finalist for the Topps Tiles Award for Achievement in Mosaic. Our winner this year is Sheenaanne with her ambitious outdoor mosaic dining table, entitled “Fortunate Dining”.

Fortunate Dining by Sheenaanne Law

Fortunate Dining by Sheenaanne Law

Fortunate, indeed. Sheenaanne receives a certificate of achievement and a prize of £100 voucher to spend on mosaic supplies at Topps Tiles. As her teacher, I receive a voucher for £300 to spend on materials for the class, which will boost our resources again!!

Judge David Tuhill (RCA), selected this entry reporting “The blue water shimmers, the border with the many luminous circles echoes the white fishes which are so very artistically rendered…..a tremendously skilful piece of work merits you the first prize Sheenaanne”

Peaceful Chui by Sheenaanne Law

Peaceful Chui by Sheenaanne Law

Other entries in the class portfolio included Sheenaanne’s “Peaceful Chui”, Christine Hyde’s abstract “Glacial Fragmentation”, Susie Wakefield’s colourful “Tutti Frutti”, Sue Glenn’s “Summer” and Mary Pye’s delightful “Apricot Tree”.

Apricot Tree by Mary Pye photo Tom Spawton

Apricot Tree by Mary Pye, photo Tom Spawton

“Apricot Tree” was inspired by a nursery song. Mary has created a lovely stylised Apricot Tree in this mosaic table stand.

Glacial Fragmentation, photo Tom Spawton

Glacial Fragmentation by Christine Hyde, photo Tom Spawton

All of these received excellent comments from David and demonstrate the imagination and variety of work that is made in our weekly Thursday evening class – a great place to enjoy the company of fellow mosaic enthusiasts and find creative inspiration.

Tutti Frutti by Susie Wakefield, photo Tom Spawton

Tutti Frutti by Susie Wakefield, photo Tom Spawton

Tutti Frutti was Susie’s first piece of mosaic work. I love the harmony of blues and the rectilinear composition, interrupted with the contrasting red tesserae.

Summer by Sue Glenn, photo Tom Spawton

Summer by Sue Glenn, photo Tom Spawton

If you have been inspired by Sheenaanne’s lovely work and fancy making a mosaic table, you can buy a kit here or contact me to enquire about the next Mosaic Tables workshop. For details of the class in Chorlton, click here.

Thank you Topps Tiles!!!

Come out for a Night on the Tiles


A Night on the Tiles is an exhibition being hosted by the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM North West) from 2nd – 20th November with a special opening night on Friday 1st November from 6pm.

Living Layers (triptych) by Julie Vernon

Living Layers (triptych) by Julie Vernon

The exhibition will take place in the basement gallery at 2022NQ on Dale Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and will showcase mosaic works from a number of the region’s most successful working artists as well as up-coming new talent.

Sweeties Please by Deborah Pitman

Sweeties Please by Deborah Pitman

A Night on the Tiles is timely, underpinning a current debate surrounding the status and recognition of mosaic within the art world. These North West artists, working in quite different ways, share a passion for the application of materials that put their work into the bracket ‘mosaic’. Subterfuge and controversy about whether its place lies within ‘art’ or ‘craft’ has frequently prevented the output of modern mosaic makers from being seen by contemporary audiences. The exhibition at 2022NQ aims to dismiss the smoke screen and focus instead on the work itself.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exhibition!!

Stepping Stones for the whole class!!


Mosaic is a wonderful medium for any age group to enjoy but its tactile qualities have extra special appeal for youngsters. By including a creative, physical activity as part of a school topic you can bring the subject to life and make it extra memorable for everybody. This must be why so many teachers are asking for advice to deliver mosaic projects to their classes.

“I’d like my class to have a go at mosaic, where do I start? There are so many different grouts…what sort of tiles do we need…can you use glass tiles outside?”

Templemoor Mosaic Project 413

Not all schools can afford to bring in a mosaic artist to help. That’s why I’ve devised these fabulous project packs for schools.

Each pack contains all the essential materials and instructions with extra tips based on my experience of working in schools for 20 years. The kits simplify the process to make sure that everybody has a great time – teacher included. Its bags of fun and very rewarding.

The net price for this package is £300.00 + P&P @ £27 + vat @ 20%. ‘Refill Kits’ are available to use with this equipment next time. Find out more here.

It Looks and Feels Better When You Work at it Together


Why not get together with your neighbours and do something positive to unite your community and create a beautiful, colourful focal point that everybody can enjoy and be proud of?

Community Mosaic, Openshaw, Manchester

Community Mosaic, Openshaw, Manchester

The project can include fun practical mosaic workshops where young, old and every age in between can work together.

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mosaic workshop

If you’d like to be involved in a neighbourhood mosaic project, get in touch today and we can have a chat about how to get started!!

e-mail me at: tracey.cartledge@o2.co.uk

Tea for Two at Longford Park


Here are the approved working designs for the Longford Park Mosaic features. The two circular paving features will be located at the bases of two of the colonnades that support the newly refurbished shelters at the back of the formal gardens.

Circular Mosaic Paving Feature DESIGN

Circular Mosaic Paving Feature DESIGN

In both mosaic designs, we have included images contributed by Y5 pupils at St. Hilda’s C of E Primary School, together with requests from the Friends of Longford Park to reflect the People’s Park both when it opened in 1912 and in its centenary year.

PrintCircular Mosaic Paving Feature DESIGN

The work of creating the mosaics has started in the studio. In this cold weather, it is a particularly slow process but I am very pleased with the first sections of work so far completed.

I decided to begin with one of the keystone sections, which have been designed to reflect the ‘art deco’ detail in the facade of the store building between the shelters where the famous cafe once stood.

Key Stone

Here is the progress on the first of these sections:

bahama beige with red stone

testing bahama beige with red stone

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testing bahama beige with black ceramic

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testing bahama beige with sandal

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completed section in bahama beige and sandal – we’ll be making 8 of these in total

Next, onto the first pictorial section……..

a nice cuppa

a nice cuppa tea

teacup 1 completePEOPLE'S lettering Tea for Two in progressbeautiful red rose by Georgia from St. Hilda’s – thanks, Georgia!!
Tea for Two panel in progress

sky blue background added

sky blue background added

tea for two section complete

tea for two section complete

Tea for Two! Only this and 7 more pictorial sections to complete……

Thankfully, some of the wonderful Friends of Longford Park have kindly offered to lend a hand so hopefully there will be more progress to report very soon……