teaching mosaics

Four great reasons to join a mosaic course in Pelion, Greece

mosaic course in Pelion
After a storm, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics

WHAT: Five Day Classic and Contemporary Mosaics Workshop 

WHO: With Helen Miles 

WHERE: Lagou Raxi Hotel, Lafkos, South Pelion, Greece. 

WHEN: September 15 to September 22, 2017 

If I had my way everyone would join me on this mosaic course in Pelion, Greece. All those people I have ‘met’ on the internet, have followed and liked and exchanged messages with. We’d spend our days making mosaics and then sit on the terrace in the evening with a glass of wine (or two) and look out over the Pagasitic Gulf and talk about them. I’d show you how to make the things I love and tell you why they are marvelous and beautiful and full of possibilities. We’d immerse ourselves in mosaics through the ages – the mosaics from Greece that first inspired me, the Roman mosaics which I’ve visited and admired, all the way through to contemporary mosaics: their uses, their makers, their materials and their seemingly endless varieties.

mosaic course in Pelion
Olive grove, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics

But sadly I know you can’t all come so I am writing this to those of you who might. Just might. I want to tell you why you should travel to Greece to take a mosaic course in Pelion when you could just as well join a local group or a weekend workshop or choose to go to Italy, the world’s epicentre of mosaic art. I’ll keep it simple and I’ll keep it plain because I am so in love with Pelion (it’s where we bought a house more than a decade ago) that there’s a real danger that once I start I wont stop so I’ve condensed it to the four key reasons. Here they are:

mosaic course in Pelion
Daisies in the spring, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics

FOUR REASONS TO JOIN A MOSAIC COURSE IN PELION, GREECE.

  1. PELION. Well, start by looking at that photo at the top of this page. It’s not Photo-shopped or edited. No filter has been added. That’s Pelion. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and as close to being unspoiled as it’s possible for a place in the Mediterranean to be. It’s beaches are often listed as among the best in the world. It has sandy ones and pebbly ones and clear, turquoise water. It has traditional stone villages built around car-free central squares where you can sit for hours (after your mosaic day) in the cool shade of the ancient plane trees eating unutterably delicious local food. All of this is within easy access to the newly built hotel where the mosaic course is being held and if you just want to sit and relax then the Lagou Raxi Country Hotel has sweeping views, its own pool, and great food without having to set foot outside.
    mosaic course in Pelion
    Eating in the square, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics
  2. MARBLE. Now look at the photograph below of blocks of marble lying along an unpaved path somewhere up on the mountain of Pelion. The sort of path used by farmers going to check their olive trees who ride their donkeys sideways on wooden saddles that probably haven’t changed for hundreds of years. Those slabs of marble are nothing unusual. There is marble everywhere in this country and the mosaic course in Pelion will be run using marble and only marble. In most parts of the world, marble is too precious and expensive a commodity to be readily used by people learning to make mosaics so it’s a rare treat to be able to use it, revel in its colours and varieties and explore its possibilities as an artistic medium.
    mosaic course in Pelion
    Marble blocks, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics
  3. ME. It feels a bit strange to write myself as a good reason to come but I have spent well over the past decade immersed in mosaics. I started off by learning how to make mosaics in Greece with master craftsmen who specialised in Byzantine-style mosaics using tiny tesserae with no interstices and then went to the UK to take short courses with acknowledged experts in the field. Meanwhile, I made mosaics. Morning, noon and night. I experimented and pushed my borders and eventually set up my own studio and began making them professionally. While I have a huge respect for and interest in contemporary mosaics, my work is inspired by the many hundreds of Roman mosaics I have traveled to see and thousands that I have studied and drawn lessons from. I tend to concentrate on making site specific mosaics for private clients so this is a rare opportunity to come and learn mosaics in Pelion with me. Please go to my gallery of work, to my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram to see what I have been working on recently. I now live and work in Edinburgh but we still have our house in Pelion and I travel back there frequently.
    mosaic course in Pelion
    Me at work in Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics
  4. LONG COURSE. The opportunity to give yourself five full days to learn the art of mosaics is a rare one. It means that you can really get stuck in. There is a lot you can pick up in shorter courses but if you are starting out on the mosaic path nothing quite beats throwing yourself in and making the most of the chance to really get immersed in mosaics: to get familiar with the tools, to find out what really interests you, to explore different techniques and learn about the world of mosaics from someone who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The course will cover the principles of making direct method mosaics both on board and on mesh either using a copy of a Roman mosaic, a mosaic ‘pattern’ or your own design. At the end of the week you will have all the skills you need to make your own mosaics at home.
    mosaic course in Pelion
    Pebble beach of Kalamaki, Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics

    For more information, please go to www.lagouraxi.com and click on ‘Courses’ in the top tab or send an email to Sue at mail@lagouraxi.com. I am looking forward to seeing you there!

mosaic course in Pelion
Kalderini – traditional stone path linking the villages in Pelion, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles 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