Category Archives: mosaic projects

Centenary Mosaic, Longford Park 1912 – 2012


Installing the first mosaic at Longford Park
Precision Installation Work with Horticon Ltd Landscape Contractors

I worked with two great chaps from Horticon landscape contractors to install the mosaic and so far it’s looking as good as the day we put it in. As the sections are all precast, it could, if necessary, be moved and repositioned in the future without any damage to the intricate mosaic work.

The glazed porcelain Cinca tile pieces are durable, frost resistant and 7.5mm thick. They are set into Conbextra GP high strength, low shrinkage pourable cement grout, backed up with standard mix concrete to a total depth of 75mm. It is built to endure the British weather and should survive well into the future!!

 The Old BandstandThe Old Bandstand. Photo by Vincent Abbey

So now we can look forward to repeating the whole process next year when I make the follow-up mosaic feature depicting park life in 2012!!

The People's Park 1912, photo by Vincent Abbey
The People’s Park, Centenary Mosaic, Longford Park. Photo Vincent Abbey

Centenary Mosaic, Longford Park, Stretford, ManchesterCentenary Mosaic, Longford Park, Stretford, Manchester. Photo Vincent Abbey

Pineapple Panel“Pineapple Panel” Photo Vincent Abbey

Maypole Panel. Photo Vincent AbbeyMaypole Panel. Photo Vincent Abbey
 
Read more about this commission and the design process with St. Hilda’s Primary School in earlier posts!!
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Mosaic Commission for John Rylands’ Back Garden


In another time, not so very long ago, I might have been directly commissioned by the philanthropist and much revered Mancunian entrepreneur of the industrial age, John Rylands and his discerning wife, Enriqueta, to produce a work of art for their home, Longford Hall, or the extensive gardens, known today as Longford Park. They remodelled their Stretford residence, complete with conservatories and formal gardens, taking Chatsworth as their inspiration.

Longford Hall in the 1920s, courtesy of Friends of Longford Park

Longford Hall in the 1920s, courtesy of Friends of Longford Park

Enriqueta was uncompromising in her dedication for commissioning the finest artisans and personally checking each and every bespoke detail of the exquisite John Rylands library (a tribute to her late husband following his death in 1888) After her own death in 1908, however, there was nobody willing or wealthy enough to buy the family estate and its future looked uncertain.

Longford Hall, 1977

Longford Hall, 1977

Thankfully, a determined group of community leaders persuaded the council to purchase it (at a cost of £14,500.00) and create a “People’s Park”, which officially opened in 1912. This was an appropriate solution and would doubtless have met with the Rylands’ approval. Their personal wealth had already provided the people of Stretford with a town hall, a public baths, a church, homes for elderly women and a coffee house. (see more here)

All that remains of Longford Hall today is the portico and garden that maps out the former floor plan

All that remains of Longford Hall today is the portico and behind it gardens that map out the former floor plan

One hundred years on and still the community – led by the Friends of Longford Park – is working hard to maintain the People’s Park. Despite unfathomable setbacks, not least the hall being closed for repairs in 1983, subsequently neglected and eventually demolished in 1995, the park is as popular as ever and this was evident as the centenary celebrations unfolded throughout 2012.

As a permanent commemoration of the park’s first 100 years, the Friends are putting funds raised during the centenary events into the commissioning of two mosaic features that will celebrate the People’s Park. I am honoured to have received this prestigious commission and I hope that the resulting work will assume a place in the hearts of future park users as well as being worthy of their precedents.

Design Workshops, St. Hilda's, Stretford, Manchester

Design Workshops, St. Hilda’s, Stretford, Manchester

schhol feb 011

Year 5 pupils from nearby St. Hilda’s Church of England Primary School have worked hard with me to explore the park’s history and its current use and suggest suitable images for inclusion in the design of the mosaic features. Their enthusiasm, ideas and creative input have formed an invaluable contribution to the design process and I look forward to sharing the approved final design with them very soon.

Once approved, the sections of the first mosaic will be created at my Manchester studio and installed at the park later this spring beneath one of the supporting colonnades of the refurbished shelters at the back of the formal gardens.

Roman Mosaic Fish in a Garden Wall


This is my step by step explanation (for anybody who might find it useful!) of how I made a mosaic on a building block for placing into an existing garden wall:

1. Source a breeze block that can be easily fitted into your garden wall.

2. Draw out guidelines for the design on a piece of brown craft paper, within a rectangle the size of the block. Tape it down to a suitable piece of board. In my case, I was recreating the same fish mosaic that I’d made before on cement board because the client had seen it and commissioned one for her garden wall, so I had a photo of my previous mosaic to work from.

drawing on brown paper taped to board

3. Begin making the mosaic upside down on the paper, sticking the tesserae down with a soluble adhesive. Some mosaic artists use PVA, but I prefer to use wallpaper paste, as in my experience it works better for this process.

fish completed

borderline completed

working on the background

4. Once complete, use a craft knife to cut the mosaic out from the surplus brown paper. Check that it fits the block!

5. Prepare the block by sealing the surface with a coat of diluted PVA (approximately 1 part PVA to 5 parts water).

6. Mix the grout that you have chosen. For this project, I’ve used a light grey (BAL wide joint)

pre-grouting the mosaic

7. Pre-grout the mosaic so that the gaps between the tesserae (interstices) are filled. Remove grout from the tesserae by carefully wiping it away with a well wrung damp cloth.

carefully remove grout from surfaces of tesserae

8. Now mix the adhesive. This should be a cementitious tile adhesive. Apply the adhesive to the prepared surface of the block as evenly as possible and rake with a notched trowel.

9. Lift the mosaic, still on the brown paper, and hover it over the block, (paper side up!!) When you are in the correct position, lower it gently into place.

10. Pat down over the brown paper firmly with a grouting trowel. (I think it is useful to put a flat board over the mosaic and tamp down over the board, as this helps to ensure a flush finished surface) Allow the adhesive to set.

sponging the brown paper prior to peeling off

11. Sponge off the brown paper. Allow water to thoroughly soak into the paper for quite a few minutes before carefully peeling it away.

12. Re-grout the mosaic, clean off and allow to set. Grind away any rough edges and then seal the surface with a stone sealant. The mosaic block is ready to be fitted into your garden wall.

As you might have noticed, I didn’t remember to photograph every stage but I hope that this is still a helpful guide. I will post a photo of it in situ once it has been fitted into the garden wall as soon as possible…………….

and here it is ready to be fitted into place

Tracey’s Mosaic Bistro Table


I’m really pleased with the table that Martin (Luke Lister Blacksmiths) has made for me to create this mosaic ‘bistro’ garden table. Its been a useful exercise. We worked out the design detailing together and now that I’ve made the top using Cinca frost resistant ceramic tiles, we’ve just agreed final modifications to create the perfect fit.

Here’s the top after the design was completed and fixed to the ply surface. I used a somewhat unconventional method, that was the best solution to making the design over a few sessions when pockets of time were available and also factoring in that it had to be displayed as a ‘work in progress’ at the Chorlton Green Fun Day! I’ve made the design using the tiles right side up to begin with but then I used adhesive vinyl to hold it together when it was semi-complete. I then marked the vinyl with ‘colour by numbers’ references and finished making the mosaic upside down. I think we can call that ‘both ways round indirect method’?!!

the ‘prototype’ table in Martin’s workshop today, when we worked out modifications required

If you’d like to join me to make one of your own, the 2 day workshop course runs over two consecutive Saturdays: June 30th + July 7th and the price for both full days, including the galvanised steel table, the ply top and all the materials, adhesive, grout and use of tools etc. is a very reasonable £246.00, inclusive of VAT. You can even book & pay online: http://www.traceycartledge.co.uk/products/160

There are options if you can only make it to one of the days and you’d be happy (supported by my instructions sheet, which is very clear and easy to follow) to complete it at home or if you can make both days but have your own table. For an additional £50 supplement, you can upgrade to a 900mm diameter table but don’t expect to complete this in the 2 Saturdays unless you put in plenty of homework time during the intervening week! (The bistro table is approx. 500mm diam.) Just get in touch with me by phone (0161 860 0387) or e-mail (info@traceycartledge.co.uk) as soon as possible and let me know what you’d like to do and I can make sure we have enough tables for everybody.

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!!

 

Step into a Colourful Story


Year 3 have created a new game for the whole school to enjoy along the nursery path: a story telling game made in mosaic!!

freshly installed this half term

Each mosaic square features one of the circular stepping stones made by Y3, working in pairs. There are 15 in total. They designed images of characters, objects and locations for the Story Telling path that other children can weave into new stories each time they play, as they leap from one square to another. Featured images include a castle; a beanstalk; a vortex (through which you might leap into a new dimension); a blood-stained dagger; a cute dog; a bolt of lightening and more…..

The children made up the designs on templates and then worked in small groups with me and Luke – who was chief cement mixer for the day – to cast them into concrete down in the school basement. It was like one big mud pie bakery down there, except the mud pies were masterpieces that set to perfection….

More images of the project and full report coming soon…..

School’s Made to Measure Mosaic Kit


You don’t have to make a round mosaic fit into a square hole………………………………..

Garden Angel Gabby Nickson contacted me  last autumn to request a bespoke mosaic kit for Golden Hill School in Lancashire. They wanted to make mosaic paving flags to fit into an existing paved area, which required made to measure templates and specially tailored instructions and diagrams……

Tracey,
Thanks so much for all your support and advice during the making of the mosaics for Golden Hill School in Leyland.  The kit had everything needed and the instructions were well written and easy to follow.  The children really enjoyed laying the pieces out on the templates and I got involved during the tricky bits, which was nail biting at times but great fun!  I will certainly be recommending the kits to other schools I work with!
Thanks again,
Gabby

Gabby Nickson

Garden Angel Garden Design Consultancy

Its always great to receive photos of completed projects and hear from happy schools!!!