Teaching mosaics

A weekend of mosaics, Candili, Greece.

weekend of mosaics.
Group photo, Candili Mosaics Weekend. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Here we all are! Who says you cant make mosaics in a swimming suit? It’s a new trend and thoroughly to be recommended.

weekend of mosaics
A young mosaic maker all set to go. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Alison and I drove from Athens in a car heaving with marble and materials, not entirely sure how many people were going to join us for a weekend of mosaics  at Candili on the island of Evvia.  Three families were spending the weekend there with various offspring and relatives varying in age from five to seventy five but weekending in Candili with its lovely grounds, heavenly food, easy access to the beach and the constant appeal of a large pool surrounded by trees and tended lawns, is one thing. Spending hours hunched over a table painstakingly gluing bits of stone onto a board on a hot summer day, is quite another.

weekend of mosaics
Family fun making mosaics. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

So we set up our temporary studio in the Candili art room fully expecting the children to just pop in and then drift off. Sure enough, we had a handful of takers at the start of the day and we launched into design choices and basic cutting techniques quite content to concentrate our weekend of mosaics on a limited number while most of the children raced and frolicked outside. Twenty minutes or so passed and then one of the fathers hit upon a plan – he seized a rod of marble and a pair of nippers and headed for the pool and then, lo and behold, he returned shortly with a flock of young, eager mosaic makers.

weekend of mosaics
Finished mosaics laid out to dry. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Luckily I had a brought a large stack of boards and we ended up with a grand total of sixteen finished 20cm by 20cm mosaics made from scratch and grouted and varnished to boot. I had pre-prepared a number of sized designs from Rosalind Wates’ The Mosaic Decorator’s Source Book which were popular with the children who variously chose a snail, a crab, a moor hen, a star fish, and a frog although 11-year-old Hector did an interesting black and white cartoon design, Hume opted for simple but effective Moroccan-style houses, George made a fabulous rocket with different shapes of stone, his 13-year-old older brother chose a self portrait with protruding teeth and young Alex (aged 6) made a mosaic replica of his favourite Eeyore soft toy complete with a ribbon on the end of its tail.

Here’s a picture of a row of boys absorbed in their work with Alison keeping a beady eye on them:

weekend of mosaics.
Alison Scourti directs the boys. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

At the same time, the adults set to work on their own designs which ranged from Bill’s unorthodox iphone mosaic using different coloured stones for the buttons, Meriel’s tortoise which bore an uncanny resemblance to the real thing, Anne’s beautifully proportioned hoopoe bird, Lia’s eye-catching leaf, while Jenny made one of Lawrence Payne’s little birds. The air of industrious concentration which filled the room was most impressive.

weekend of mosaics
Meriel and her turtles. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Here’s Meriel with her mosaic and a real tortoise which Bill came across in the plunge pool as he headed out for a stroll and was mercifully able to rescue before it was too late: I kick myself for not taking photos of each mosaic with its maker but I was too engrossed in the excitement of the occasion to even think of it. Nevertheless, here are a selection of photos from the weekend.

Hard at work:

weekend of mosaics
Thinking about designs. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Alison (on left) and me on Saturday afternoon with the mosaics before they were grouted:

weekend of mosaics
Helen and Alison with student’s work. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Bill and his mother, Anne, grouting on Sunday morning:

weekend of mosaics.
Two generations grouting. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

And a special mention goes to Johnnie who started the mosaic course a little later than the others after a hard morning playing tennis in Athens and who sat on to finish his crab well after his friends had left and then turned up again in the morning to grout it:

weekend of mosaics
Johnnie, aged 9, grouting. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

 

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Candili weekend: teaching mosaics. Before

candili

This weekend, Alison Scourti and I will be teaching mosaics for the first time at Candili  (shown above) on the island of Evvia, Greece.

Three families have signed up and two extra adults but I am not sure whether all of them are going to be mosaicing. Given that the house is set in acres of glorious grounds, that the pool (decorated by Martin Cheek, no less) is full, the beach not far away and the sun is always shining, I suspect that there might be a few deserters.

Still, preparations are underway. Boards have been bought, designs thought of, marble ordered and collected (from the most amazing marble supplier on earth) and numerous lists written, checked and counter checked to make sure we dont miss a thing. Something that seems so simple when you are sitting at home surrounded by jars of tesserae and drawers full of tools suddenly seems immensely complicated when you have to ship the whole operation to a temporary new space.

We have decided to give everyone the choice of either following a preprepared, relatively simple design ( for example: a crab, bird or snail) or do a bit of experimenting with abstract designs which is Alison’s forte:

Alison's WIP

This is her current work in progress. As you can see, she makes stunning pieces with natural stone and marble using the indirect method. She’s planning to rustle up a few extra designs too, just in case people prefer to follow her ideas rather than have to dream up something on the spur of the moment for themselves.

The plan is to have two, three-hour sessions and although we’ve done a dry run and timed how long it will take to cover the 20cm by 20cm boards, I am sure the timing might go a bit hay wire, and we’ll run over time. But just in case our students zoom along (especially the children) we’ll be bringing along plenty of extra boards and marble.

Whatever happens, Candili is one of the places where its just nice to be, so I am looking forward to it.

 

 

 

 

 

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