Creativity Blossoms at Clarendon

Y5 Creative Kids at Clarendon Primary

Y5 Creative Kids at Clarendon Primary

Talented Year 5 pupils at Clarendon Primary School in Bolton have been working with me to design a colourful, contemporary steelwork barrier for their school.

The twenty-metre long safety barrier – fabricated by Luke Lister Engineers in Stockport – is a delightful and charming feature that enhances the school building and also serves as a permanent display of the children’s vibrant works of art. The accomplished blacksmiths at Luke Listers have faithfully reproduced in forged steel a stunning representation of local wildlife from the children’s original artworks, which includes native butterflies, bees, birds, mini-beasts, plants and small animals.

bird, CLARENDON Blossom

exotic flower

fox CLARENDON caterpillar CLARENDON robin tree CLARENDON

Design workshops took place at school in March. The Year 5 pupils were wonderful and I was inspired by the enthusiasm and excellent feedback that the pupils responded with. They came up with so many fantastic ideas and made a great job of expressing them using the wire drawing and paper quilling techniques that I showed them to make their 3D models.

Once all the children’s artwork was ready to use, my job was to arrange it all into a design that could serve the dual function of safely protecting the children and looking wonderful.

Ready to go for galvanising

Ready to go for galvanising

(You can see a slide show about the steelwork designs workshops on the Y5V school blog:

Tracey Cartledge and Luke Lister Blacksmiths have worked collaboratively on a number of high quality public art projects throughout the North West.. See also Butterfinch Bridge, Marshall’s Arm and Anderton Nature Park.

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photos by Vincent Abbey

Time for the Beer Goggles

Chorlton Mosaic Group  exhibition of recent work for CAF2015

Chorlton Mosaic Group
exhibition of recent work for CAF2015

We are delighted to be mounting a group exhibition of our recent work as part of CAF2015 at the fabulous Marble Beerhouse on Manchester Road, Chorlton. The exhibition opens with our preview night on Thursday 14th May and continues through to the 24th May.

As part of the fun, we will be hosting a special MOSAIC WORKSHOP for beginners on the evening of Monday 18th May. For just £5.00, you are very welcome to join us and learn to make a small mosaic of your own. Places limited to a maximum of 10 and booking essential.

Details & booking on the Tracey Cartledge Mosaics website.

Sorry – SOLD OUT!

If you were disappointed not to get a place, there are other mosaic workshops coming up at my studio and our weekly evening class in Chorlton – just check the classes & workshops page for dates and details.

The Power of Mosaic

This blog post is about a bespoke mosaic kit that I created for a customer to give as a 40th birthday gift to somebody who loves Battersea Power Station. You can read the email exchanges below that I exchanged with the happy recipient of the gift and see the fabulous end result. I’m sure that you will be as impressed as I am!
9th March, 2015
Hi Tracey,
two years on and Battersea is finally finished just when the real one is being demolished! I thought you might like to see the final mosaic. I put the last piece in tonight. Now we just have to grout and put it up in our kitchen. I’ll send you another pic when its up in its permanent home.I have loved doing the mosaic. It has been very therapeutic. I’ll definitely have to find another relaxing pastime!Thanks for providing all the great tools and advice. I’ll send the final photo when its all complete.
Many thanks
Charlotte's Finished Mosaic

Charlotte’s Finished Mosaic, March 2015

4th February, 2014
Hi Tracey, we will certainly send you pictures! This is something we’ve wanted to do for years so we’re really excited. We’ve broken the tiles and traced the drawing onto hard board so now we’re ready to place the tiles. Your tips about colour are very useful. The sky was flummoxing us! I’ll keep you posted…
Thanks Charlotte
Battersea in grayscale
4th February 2014

Hi Charlotte

How lovely to hear from you! I’ve occasionally wondered how that Battersea Power Station mosaic might be progressing…!!
The colour scheme was entirely monochrome, which I thought would be most effective for the design. I’m not sure what other information you have to work with there, but you must have the full size cartoon – line template – on which to set out the pieces to make up the design. 
Attached is the image in grayscale again for reference. I think the best approach would be to start by cutting or breaking up the tiles into useful sized pieces and arranging them in containers (ice cream or take-away plastic tubs are good) in order of tonal value. (lightest at one end, darkest at the other) You could give each shade a number. Then reference on your cartoon which shade to use in each area using these code numbers.
Black must be reserved for the absolute darkest parts – eg. shadows under the bridge, where the bases of the right-hand towers meet the roof etc., white only for the very brightest – eg. arches of the bridge. I think the sky should be 2-3 shades, blended into each other. Probably jasmine as the lightest with pale grey. The bulk of the station would probably work out to be medium & dark grey, I expect. (I don’t have tiles around me here in the office, so its not that easy for me to prescribe)
I hope that this helps. Also, if you’re struggling to discern between tones, you might find it helps to half close your eyes when you look at the grayscale image.
Keep in touch – I’d love to see how you progress and if you have any further questions get in touch again.
Kind regards,
3rd February, 2014
Dear Tracey
Thank you so much for the wonderful mosaic kit for Battersea Power Station. I got it for my 40th birthday back in May and we’ve only just started doing it!
I just wondered if you could give us a steer on how you anticipated the colour scheme? We have been given 12 Jasmine, 6 black, 4 Kalahari, 6 white, 6 medium grey and 6 light grey tiles. Did you have thoughts on how we might use the colours? For example, what colour should we do the sky, the bulk of the power station, the two tones of the chimneys? Any direction you can give us would be gratefully received.
We made a mosaic table some time ago and still use it. The Battersea Power station is more of a challenge but we’re looking forward to it! 
Charlotte Barran

A First Class Job

The wonderful glass mosaic signage has always added a touch of class to Manchester’s Victoria Station. The ornate lettering is made from gold smalti, a glass and gold leaf mosaic material, beautifully set against the blue surround. (although now in need of careful attention)

1st Class

a few gaps to fill

Most of the ornate signage is currently obscured from view whilst refurbishment works at Victoria near completion. These photographs are a reminder of the art nouveau style, and you can see at once that these designs were most probably influenced by the contemporary work of Angelo Orsoni.

golden era

golden era

in need of some TLC

in need of some TLC

Whilst the Orsoni piece below incorporates many more shades of green and exemplifies the textural qualities attainable using hand-made smalti, the foliage in the Victoria Station designs is more flamboyant in its swirly gesture. I would imagine that having pushed the boat out to accommodate the cost of the gold smalti, a more restrained approach to the rest of the palette must have been essential to stay within budget. Of course, in aesthetic terms, the limited palette is highly effective in creating a consistency and simplicity, that today we might refer to as it’s ‘corporate identity’.

foliage influence

A key influence? Mosaic by Angelo Orsoni, Venetia.

Get Fired Up for 2015

We all love fire

We all love fire

Elegant, British designed and made spun steel fire bowls to bring some Pagan passion to all your summer parties. Now you can stay toasty warm outdoors long after the sun goes down.

Spun Steel Fire Bowl

Spun Steel Fire Bowl by Paul Wigley, Manchester

Our gorgeous big fire bowl creates a stylish focal point for outdoor entertaining, as well as a great source of warmth and light on chilly evenings. Designed in Manchester by my talented husband, Paul Wigley and available from my main website.

Mosaic Floor Repair Project, Victoria Station, Manchester

The original floor was laid circa 1910, I suspect, by a team of expert Italian mosaic floor layers. Large expanses of white opus circulatum, broken up with occasional silver grey tesserae, framed by a simple geometric border embracing blues, greens, yellow and silver grey follow the shape of the room. A modular unit of half-inch square tesserae, approximately ten millimetres thick, hand cut to shape from unglazed porcelain tiles. Unglazed porcelain is a surprising choice of material for this type of floor. Both Manchester Town Hall (built 1877) and Victoria Baths – Manchester’s famous “Water Palace” – (completed 1906) also have traditional Roman style mosaic floors but they are made entirely of marble. However, porcelain is tougher and considerably harder to cut.


Detail from marble mosaic floor at Victoria Baths, Manchester

At some point in the station’s history, the space was divided with partition walls to create a warren of offices and their floors were covered with carpets. To facilitate the 2014 heritage refurbishment, the carpets were lifted and the walls removed, revealing ingrained dirt, thick deposits of carpet adhesive and wide channels of completely absent floor. Some of these channels were deep but they were all different. In total, I calculated from the plan later, they constituted a total surface area of about four and a half square metres.

areas for repair (through the dust)

areas for repair (through the dust)

During my site visit, I collected a selection of salvaged tesserae for colour matching, a set of dusty grey images taken on my phone camera and a sketch plan of the areas to be addressed, with notes. My ‘to do’ list was already considerable: match and price materials, check delivery times, estimate the work involved and submit a quotation, consult with technical advisers about cleaning, adhesives, put together a team of assistants etc; etc…. It was the middle of April and the First Class Refreshments Room refurbishment was scheduled for completion at the end of May. Hmmm…

However, when working with contractors who are contracted to main contractors who are working for developers who check everything with the client the paperwork takes a few weeks to process. Four weeks later, I was given the go-ahead to order materials and a start date of the first week of June!

checking the patterns

checking the patterns

The first task was to make patterns for the missing floor areas. I used newsprint paper and cobbler’s wax to take rubbings of the surrounding tesserae and pick out the shape of each missing section. Then I marked onto the pattern the colours of the tesserae for reference. Back at the studio, my team – Paul and Karen – cracked on with the relentless cutting and washing of tesserae.

Checking Test Panel on Site

Checking Test Panel on Site

I met with the Site Manager and Heritage Officer on site to look at a made up sample of mosaic work and check that everybody was happy with the quality of the work, the colour match and the reproduction of the geometric pattern. They were delighted. Within a week I was ready for the first stage of installation: the replacement mosaic sections in the priority lobby area, just outside the First Class Restaurant.

Victoria Station work in progress

Making up floor sections at the studio

In total, the job took just under six weeks to complete. During these weeks, Karen was helping me to produce the mosaic sections in the studio, Paul continued to cut down tiles for at least two days a week and I installed on site in stages, making the most efficient use of the team’s availability throughout the project.

Ready to install section opus circulatum

Installed section opus circulatum

Installation of mosaic sections on site

The completion of the work was immensely satisfying and has been an excellent experience. I’m now looking forward to the next phase of works at Victoria Station, scheduled for 2015.

Roll on 2015…

What an interesting, varied and fantastic year 2014 proved to be for Tracey Cartledge Limited!

Highlights included creating a landmark sculpture outside the Weaver Hall Museum in Northwich…


…making and installing part two of the Longford Park pavement mosaic features…

Longford Park Part Two The People's Park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People’s Park 2012

Longford Park Mosaic Part Two, The People's park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People’s Park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People's Park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People’s Park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People's Park 2012

Longford Park Part Two, The People’s Park 2012

…the contract to repair the mosaic floors at Victoria Station, Manchester…

Checking Test Panel on Site

Checking Test Panel on Site

Checking Patterns

Working from the patterns taken on site

Victoria Station work in progress

Making up sections of replacement mosaic in the studio

Ready to install section opus circulatum

Installation of replacement sections of mosaic floor

Installed section opus circulatum

The above section of mosaic installed into the existing floor

…and my first work selected to represent the UK at the Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique exhibition in Chartres…



So, I’m hoping that this time next year there will have been more challenges and interesting projects to report!

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.