Tag Archives: mosaic for the garden

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.

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January School Special Offer for Mosaic Stepping Stones Project ends in 2 days


Spring is on its way and we’ll soon be able to enjoy the sunshine and spend some time in the great outdoors. Now is the time to plan projects and activities for school grounds improvements, maybe creating new garden areas – a sensory garden, perhaps – and this special offer might just be perfect for your school.

Dragonfly Mosaic Stepping Stone being cast in the plastic mould

Dragonfly Mosaic Stepping Stone being cast in the plastic mould

The project involves having me (Tracey) in your school for three consecutive days to facilitate the design and making of a set of 15 large mosaic stepping stones, involving up to a maximum of 30 pupils. It’s great fun, completely absorbing and an excellent project for encouraging team work skills.

School Mosaic Stepping Stone Project

Y2 pupils making mosaic stepping stones at Templemoor Infant School in Sale, Cheshire

This month I was in Grange Park School in Kent to work with Y7 and Y8 pupils who made a beautiful collection of mosaic stepping stones for their new sensory garden. For each of the three groups making stepping stones we had a team of four Y10 mentors to assist us. This worked very well and is a model I would encourage other schools to consider.

snail2

The usual price for this package is £1200.00. It includes a day and a half for essential pre-project preparation as well as the three days in school and all the materials and safety equipment provided. However, as my monthly special offer to schools, orders placed in January will be at the discounted price of £950.00. Please note, I take bookings for schools outside of Greater Manchester but will provide a very reasonable quote for travel expenses and accommodation, if necessary.

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

MOSAIC TABLES – additional course of three workshops this October/November in Chorlton


If you’d love to make a mosaic table, either for your own garden or as a special gift, all you have to do is sign up. The rest is easy…………

Over three consecutive Saturdays, you will be guided through the design and making processes and will end the course taking away a stunning and unique piece of garden furniture that you can be proud of. Contact me for further details on 0161 860 0387 or e-mail traceycartledge@o2.co.uk.

Judy’s Mosaic Pot


We’ve really sprung into action this season: lots of lovely schools’ projects celebrating The Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; lots of interesting workshops exploring a variety of mosaic applications in great venues, such as Hulme Community Garden Centre, Norton Priory Museum & Gardens and Victoria Baths in Manchester AND lots of fabulous mosaic work being produced by our ever-growing Thursday evening mosaic class……….

Judy’s beautiful plant pot, for example.

Last night three other stunning pieces were grouted to completion: Davina’s first project – the turquoise star, Margaret’s amazing fruit bowl with its glittering mirror edging creating the perfect finishing touch and Debbie’s funky panel that I can’t say too much about as its going to be a gift for somebody who might happen to read this, who knows? (I don’t know who you readers all are – but there’s another number that seems to be growing nicely, thank you!!) 

I’ll hopefully get some photos of more recent class work to blog up here very soon…

Make a Mosaic Stepping Stone with us on May 26th!!


If you watched any of those programmes in the series ‘Love Your Garden’ with old Alan Titchmarsh or if you’re a fan of Kirties Allsopp’s ‘Homemade Home’ you might have seen beautiful mosaics creating a focal point in various gorgeous gardens. Did you fancy having a go yourself? Didn’t get round to it? Well, opportunity is here knocking on your door – come and join us at Hulme Community Garden Centre on 26th and make one under expert supervision – you’ll even get a FREE GIFT mosaic kit to take home with you as well!!!

The workshop starts at 10.00am in the Straw Bail classroom – I believe that it is the first of its type in Manchester but please correct me if you know otherwise! We’ll spend some time working out the design for your mosaic inlay and then you’ll get to work creating the mosaic on a template. Plenty of help will be given at every stage, so don’t worry if you are a complete beginner, you won’t be alone. The frost resistant cinch tiles come in a fabulous range of colours, so you will have plenty of choice for your design.

Once your mosaic design is complete, you will mix concrete and mortar and use these mixes to cast your stepping stone, complete with your mosaic inlay. Its great fun – just like making mud pies except with permanent and more beautiful results!! These stepping stones are wonderfully durable and will last for many decades in your garden. All the equipment will be there for you. People always work at different speeds with mosaic so if you like to take your time and spend the full session on this project, you can do. Nobody will rush you. If, however, you’re a speedy worker there will be a bonus opportunity to try out a few other mosaic techniques too.

Each participant attending this workshop will also receive a gift to take home. To help keep up your new skills, you’ll be given a funky little mosaic fridge magnet kit that you can complete at your leisure. They make great gifts for friends’ birthdays….

The price of the workshop is £84.00, inclusive of all materials and regular refreshments. Online booking is easy, just follow this link: BOOK WORKSHOP NOW

For more information and a booking form, please e-mail me as soon as possible at tracey.cartledge@o2.co.uk or phone me on 0161 860 0387. Places are limited!!