Often, as I sit cutting and nipping and shaping and placing in my little studio at the top of the house, I ponder the attraction of mosaics. It does, as I’ve said before, provoke the ‘yer wha?’ response when you mention it to others. It’s solitary, it’s a bit odd, it’s horribly slow and frankly it’s rather eccentric so why do we do it? And how did we get from A (knowing nothing about mosaics) to B (being so absorbed in them that we are writing/reading blogs about them)?
Inspired by Julie Sperling’s brilliant piece on the experience of taking a mosaic course, I decided it would be interesting to collect your thoughts and stories about the moment when you realised that mosaics were for you. Whether you are a professional, full time mosaic maker or someone who makes mosaics in the odd spare moments that jobs and children and life allow you, then the question is the same: why did you start making mosaics?
Even for those of you who did formal training in the arts, the decision to take up mosaics as your specialism must have raised a few eye brows. And for others, who were once perfectly normal people with a vague understanding but little interest in mosaics, how did you become an obsessive (is there any other kind?) mosaic artist?
The wonderful Contemporary Mosaic Artists website to which most mosaicists belong asks us how we trained, what materials we use and what we hope to convey through our mosaics, but it doesn’t tell the story of how we got started on making mosaics in the first place. That’s the story I want to hear. And then with your help, I will uncover the truth of this mutual fascination and follow up with a post about my findings.
Malcolm Skipp, a recent featured member on CMA , wrote that he started making mosaics when he retired in 2003 and his wife gave him a kit. A small, simple thing which led to a string of beautiful creations. There must be plenty of other tales out there, of unwitting stumblings into the world of mosaics as well as of those who pursued mosaics with a conscious and single minded intention. I want to hear them all.
First, here’s my story:
Question: Why did you start making mosaics?
Answer: I think I was always making them even when I didn’t know it. I remember being taken to visit artist friends of my parents when I was around nine. The visit was memorable because they were bohemian in a way that my parents were most decidedly not, and their house was full of colour and chaos. During the visit I was shown a half made patchwork quilt and I can still feel the thrill of excitement and delight I felt when I saw it. From then on I started making my own patchwork quilts and later I would spend long afternoons happily helping my father mend the old stone walls around our house in Perthshire, Scotland – surely just a large, practical kind of mosaic making.
Many years later and via a very circuitous route, I arrived in Greece, without speaking a word of Greek, without work and hemmed in by small children. Journalism, my previous occupation, was no longer a possibility. But one hot day on a beach in Pelion, I was running pebbles through my fingers and I had a light-bulb moment when I knew, just knew, that I wanted to learn how to make mosaics.
But maybe the reason I felt so certain about mosaics goes deeper than a mere whim on the beach. My mother is a classicist and an extraordinary knitter which is surely just another way of making mosaics except in wool:
So it’s not surprising perhaps that my teenage quilting had a bit of a classical theme going on:
Which led in turn to mosaics inspired by ancient designs:
And these needle point covers made by my great grand father, an Edinburgh surgeon, who used needle work to keep his fingers nimble, suggest that the urge to create things by adding one square to another might go back even further:
Now it’s your turn: why did YOU start making mosaics……?