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

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24 Comments

    1. Hi -Yes, of course! It’s £695 for a single room, £575 for a double occupancy room and £675 for a triple double occupancy. The price includes the hotel room and breakfast, six days of tuition, transport for related excursions, five three course dinners and two lunches, plus meet and greet from the airport. Take a look at the hotel website, click on ‘courses’, click ‘learn more’ next to my name and then scroll to the second page of the pdf and you will get all the information about the tuition and costs. All the best, Helen.

  1. Lee-Ann

    #5 always wanted to go to Greece 🙂 I’ll be considering this, it looks like a wonderful area, gardeners paradise. Have to figure out how the heck to get there from D.C area US., and total costs. Then look at calendar, and budget. Seems a car would not be needed. Hmmmm.

    1. I am pretty sure a car won’t be needed as the costs include airport pick up and the hotel is located next to a traditional village if you want to take yourself off for a wander. The only reason you might need a car is to do further exploring. Best to check with Sue at Lagou Raxi: mail@lagouraxi.com Many thanks.

  2. Lauren Sawatsky

    I am hugely interested in the workshop; my only concern (and the reason I haven’t yet tackled mosaics) is a concern about arm strength. Mine is minimal! I tried out my sister’s cutter and just couldn’t do it. Not whining, just the facts. Is this an insurmountable problem or are there techniques or equipment I could use to make it easier? I seriously want to do this, and love the idea of using Pelion as a starting point to travel to Crete and Italy.

    1. Hi Lauren, It’s good to hear from you and I’m glad you asked. First, we won’t be using a cutter as such – no hammer and hardy and no cutting machine, just nippers. Is that what your sister uses? I am intending to cut the marble rods down to the required size before the course so you will not be spending your holiday cutting stone! However, with most designs it is still necessary to ‘nip’ the edges of the tesserae or shape them with the nippers so I certainly can’t rule out cutting altogether. I have heard that longer handled nippers make cutting easier as you have to apply less pressure but I havent tried them myself. If you are interested, I can ask around and see what other mosaic artists recommend? I hope this is of some help, Helen.

      1. Lauren Sawatsky

        Hi Helen…yes, my sister uses “nippers”, I just couldn’t remember what they were called. If a longer handle helps, I’m still keen, so I’d be interested in knowing what you learn from other mosaic artists. Also, I shall see if there’s a studio in the small city that I’ve recently moved to, where I can try out the nippers again. Haven’t given up!
        Lauren

  3. Lauren Sawatsky

    Ok, me again on the subject of tile nippers. I went to the flooring dept. of a home supply store today and with the help of a kind clerk tried out a wheeled nipper. No problem! My sister had a different type, and I’m wondering if perhaps hers were just old or whatever because I’ve just watched a video on both styles and neither appears too difficult. So…I have two remaining questions: is there a limit to the number of participants? (How quickly do I need to decide…) and I am planning several months of travel after the mosaic course, so would the finished pieces be too heavy to carry with me?
    Thanks. Lauren

    1. Great news! I am pretty sure that the limit is 12 but I am not sure how many places are left. The person to ask is Sue Wake who is running the course. Her email is sue@lagouraxi.com. The wheeled nippers are normally used for glass so if you feel that they are the right ones for you, I will bring along glass as well as marble for you to use 🙂 As for the other question, the finished piece would be a bore to lug around with you so the solution would be to ship it back. There would obviously be a charge for this but I don’t expect it to be astronomical as we are going to use wood as a substrate and mesh and won’t be casting anything in concrete. All the best, Helen

    2. Hi again – I have had a lot of interesting replies about this from the mosaic group on Facebook including a link to this device which looks really useful: https://www.witsendmosaic.com/product/111/Leverage-Tool. I haven’t checked how much it weighs but it might be something you could bring with you and then have shipped back with your completed work? Do please let me know if you decide to use glass just so that I can be sure to bring the right materials! Hope this helps, Helen.

      1. Lauren Sawatsky

        Hi Helen…thanks for the info re cutting tools. I checked the wits end website and while the leverage tool looks great–and may be something I’ll investigate later–it also looks too cumbersome and heavy to carry with me. So, yes, I would like to use glass in the workshop, plus attempt marble (and ceramic bits, if possible?). Thanks for this, Lauren.

  4. Chloe

    Oh my. My mouth is watering but my present state of life cannot indulge the wish. However your wonderful site with these beautiful photos and designs really lift the spirit. i will have to be satisfied with that. Cheers to the lucky ones who get to go with you this September. Chloe

    1. Hi, yes, I haven’t posted anything on the website which is probably why you are having difficulty finding it but thanks for the prod as it has reminded me that I need to put something up. Meanwhile, here is the link to the bookings which are being done through Eventbrite. The workshop is part of the British Association for Modern Mosaic annual forum which is being held in Edinburgh for the first time this year so there are a few other workshops to choose from too! eventbrite.co.uk/e/bamm-forum-2017-mosaic-a-celebration-of-design-expression-colour-tickets-33142545245

  5. Tara Mattson

    Hi Helen

    I too am interested in a Fall 2018 class. Please?! I would also appreciate it if you would put me on the hotel’s mailing list. I love your work and would love a trip to Greece!

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