The Lemon Tree Mosaic Project
This is a photo gallery showing the process of making a mosaic hour by hour.
Or: Why Kenyans make such good runners.
If you were to ask me if I’d like to meet for coffee. you might notice a flicker of panic cross my face. Rest assured, the panic is not about the thought of spending an hour or so in your company. There’s nothing I’d like better. But my moment of hestitation will usually hide a rapid calculation as to whether that hour, short but infinitely precious, can be spared from my latest mosaic project. If I were to try and explain why an hour matters so much, I think you’d probably assume I was thinking of excuses or had become slightly unhinged. ‘What’s the big deal?’, I can almost hear you thinking. Surely, in the space of day with all the time it contains, I can spare one mingy little hour for a simple cup of coffee.
Ordination of women in the Roman Catholic church
Behind the panic there is also an befuddled internal monologue in which I attempt to articulate the importance of that hour. But if I say it out loud, the words sound unconvincing and fall flat. So to circumvent the need to explain myself, I decided to keep a photographic record of a mosaic under construction. I wanted to show you what’s really involved in making a mosaic – not just the work in progress shots and photos of the finished piece but the nitty gritty of the whole process.
Salmon fishing with sweep nets in the River Earn, Perthshire.
The following, therefore, is an hour by hour log of making a mosaic. The rules I set myself were simple – from the moment I started the mosaic to the moment I finished, I would stop every hour on the hour and take a photograph. It didnt matter what I was doing – cutting, tidying, sticking or collecting materials – I would wait for the timer on my phone to go bing bing and I’d stop whatever was happening right then and record the moment. I also recorded fragments of whatever I was listening to on BBC Radio 4 which I have inserted as italicised headers throughout the post.
Petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK
Sometimes the light was poor and often I wouldn’t spray the stones with water to show their true colours so they have that dull, milky look which is how they are in their natural state before sealant is applied.
Eucalyptus in some parts of the world is a pest
The point, as i hope you will see from the photo gallery of making a mosaic below, is to reveal in detail exactly how a mosaic is made and specificaly how much can be achieved in an hour. I hope it illustrates more than words could ever do, how slowly mosaics move forward. It’s a bit like watching the grass grow or paint dry but knowing the grass will only grow and the paint will only dry if you are there to help it along.
Saudi Arabia executes a Shia cleric.
You become (or at least I become) utterly enrapt in the mosaic I am making. I feel an urgency verging on desperation to be up in my little studio, alone with my mosaic and the radio. I charge through the day’s tasks, rise at dawn to walk the dog, stuff the clothes in the washing machine when my arm aches too much to continue working, exist on lentil soup for a week – all so that I can sit for hours on end getting little bits of stone to do my bidding. Once I am at work I enter a different zone. A great peace descends and nothing matters except the positioning of the next tessera …and the next.
I killed a moorhen this afternoon
But it would be disingenuous not to admit that part of the appeal of mosaic making for me is the enormous pleasure of listening to the radio. I love the randomness and eccelecticism of it. In the space of a few hours in December I discovered how much money goes to charities from Christmas cards, the nature of gravitational lensing (but dont ask me) and ways to clean up big cities.
British Chamer of Commerce ‘gutless’ to delay decision about expansion of Heathrow
The project was a mosaic of a lemon tree for an outdoor niche. The proportions were 157cm by 54cm. The mosaic was made on mesh in five parts using the direct method and the original design was drawn by the client’s amazingly talented 14-year-old son, Constantinos. I just pared it down to be a bit more mosaic-y and substituted the roots for the name plaque because there wasn’t room for both.
Legalism in Imperial China.
So here the whole process of making a mosaic is revealed. The designs are made and everything is ready. On your marks, get set, go……
Making a mosaic. Part I: the name plaque.
Women and slaves considered subhuman.
I started off with the easiest bit, the name plaque, but must have been in a bit of a trance because I got quite far into the border before realising I’d been using the wrong colour combination and had to start again.
Making a mosaic. Part II: The main section
Homeless young people using night buses to sleep
After the plaque it was time to move onto the main section of the mosaic, starting at the base of the tree and working upwards:
Pixies in a tatoo parlour
Once I started the main body of the mosaic there are exciting landmarks to strive for and move past – the end of the first lemon, the first few leaves, working out how to lay the tree trunk…and then the mosaic settles into its own rhythm and the changes are scarcely discernable as time moves on. Fourteen hours, 15, 16….marking the passing of the hours is as random an act as writing down what I was listening to because time ceases to exist when I make mosaics.
Sunken Spanish galleon in Columbia – who owns the booty?
As you can see, I was on a jaunt to top up on my marble supplies when the 23-hour timer went off. And then at 26 hours I was poring over the quality of the newly purchased marble (see below). There is an amazing (and often alarming) variety of tone within one colour which is understandable given that this is a natural material but sometimes the differences are so great that the stone is scarcely useable.
Closure of Forth Road Bridge costing 600,000 GBP a day.
Anyway, I forge on:
Where to find a good dog trainer
At 33 hours I am finishing the main body of the tree:
Making a mosaic. Part III: the final section
We saw colonialism as almost analogous to communism.
Now it’s time to start the last section. You might notice that Hour 35 has mysteriously vanished. I have tried multiple times to upload it, but no matter how hard I try, it wont oblige but I am sure by now you can fill in the blank.
Romance on a train to Cornwall.
The end is tantalisingly in sight. I make a quick nip back to the marble supplier to replace the poor quality stone (Hour 47) before heading towards the final hurdle:
And so we come to the last lap:
Oxford were the better team and deserved to win.
And 45 minutes:
Now what was that you were saying about coffee?
Coming up: Looking at mosaics: the mosaics of Rhodes, Greece.