Category Archives: mosaic making

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!


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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.

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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?”

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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.