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A six day mosaic course in Pelion, Greece

A six day mosaic course in Pelion, Greece


mosaic makers and their work
Last day of the mosaic course, 2018. @Helen Miles Mosaics

This is a thank you to this year’s participants in my mosaic course in Greece and a notice that my 2019 Traditional and Contemporary Mosaic Course in marble will take place from June 29 to July 5. Fortunately for me but maybe not quite so fortunately for you, the course is already full. However, if you are interested, then do please get in touch and we’ll put you on the waiting list. For more information please go to:

mosaic fish, work in progress
Tara’s fish, work in progress. @Helen Miles Mosaics

Classic and Contemporary Mosaics Course in Marble.

I will start, as I started before, with a thank you. But how inadequate and pitiful those two little words seem. I say the same when the postman hands me my largely unwanted circulars, when I collect my change at the till or when a stranger walking ahead through a door leaves a slight pause for me to catch it before it begins to close. So although I say thank you, I mean thank you (a richer, deeper phrase) to Debbie, Kim, Heather, Lisa, Lorraine, Nigel, Rosie, Tara, and Tricia who came to my Classic and Contemporary mosaic course in Pelion this summer.

This was my second six day mosaic course in Pelion, Greece and I enjoyed it as thoroughly as the first. As before, we were a diverse group which adds to the delight and alchemy of the business of spending six days, head down, immersed in the process of making mosaics. We had Kim from Canada, Tara from America, Tricia from the Greek island of Zakynthos, Rosie from France and others from the UK  with a range of mosaic experience behind them from zero through to intermediate and highly accomplished.

mosaic of fish in pond.
Tricia’s fish in a pond on mesh. @Helen Miles Mosaics

The Making of the Mosaics.

The range of work produced was equally diverse. In six days every one finished a 30cm by 30cm piece on wood or Jackoboard (suitable for outdoor use), Tricia produced two, one on wood and one on mesh, while Lisa, Nigel and Lorraine started on their second mosaics on mesh and completed them at home taking away the tiles they needed. At the end of the week we had one plump bird on a branch (Kim), a Roman head (Rosie), a lizard (Debbie), a Roman knot (Lisa), two black and white fish (Nigel), sea weed (Heather), a laurel crown as well as a fish in a pond (Tricia), a swimming fish (Tara) and an oyster catcher (Lorraine).

Mosaic class
Heather working on her reeds. @Helen Miles Mosaics

The making of the mosaics was one thing – a slow, fully immersive activity with a satisfaction all of its own – but at the same time there was the less tangible but equally palpable evolution that occurs when ten people spend time together in one room absorbed in a shared activity. I know it sounds a little fanciful and I confess to a tendency to see everything through a mosaic lens, but it is not unlike the evolution of the work, this quiet fitting together of the pieces of personalities, anecdotes, histories and humour.

mosaic bird work in progress
Kim’s bird, work in progress. @Helen Miles Mosaics

Throughout the week we worked in Greek marble, pre-cut to .5cm thick. Using marble like this is much like using specialist Winckelman’s ceramic or vitreous glass in the sense that the only tool needed to break it is a pair of nippers. Stone, however, is a quite different material from the factory made tiles more commonly used in contemporary mosaic art. It is organic, unpredictable, capricious and gorgeous  – the colours and richness of it only truly coming out in the final stages when layers of sealant bring them to the fore.

mosaic face work in progress
Rosie’s face, work in progress. @Helen Miles Mosaics

Time off from mosaic making

During the breaks we had time for long, leisurely taverna lunches in the plane-tree shaded village square. Sometimes eating together, sometimes going our separate ways and coming back to compare notes on the best chick pea stew or plate brimming Greek salad. On the two half days we also took local excursions: one to the Monastery of Paou to see the frescoes followed by a lunch and a swim on the Pagasetic Gulf side of the Pelion peninsula, and the second to a seaside village on the Aegean side of the mountain where we had an unforgettable seafood meal and those who wanted stayed for a swim while others went on to see the ruins of the Church of Theotokou with its mosaic fragments.

ceiling fresco in Greek monastery
Monastery of Paou, Pelion, Greece. @Helen Miles Mosaics

As reluctant as I am to recommend anything that doesn’t directly involve mosaics, I cant help giving a little puff to Pelion itself. After all the years I spent living in Greece and all the tales I hear from others who have travelled further and deeper into the country than I have, I remain convinced that Pelion is a rare and wonderful thing – a discreet, remote, stunningly beautiful and uncrowded part of the world with wonderful beaches and delicious food where you really can leave the stresses of life behind you. If you have a partner who (oddly) can think of better things to do with their precious holiday time than working on their mosaic skills, then tell them about the hotel pool and firmly remind them of all reading they want to catch up on. If it’s a party spot you are after, then it’s best to click on, but if you want peace, quiet and a G n T by the pool, then look no further.

For details about the mosaic course, prices and rooms, please go to: Alternatively, send Sue Wake at Lagou Raxi Hotel an email and she will be happy to answer your questions.

A little gallery of Pelion-made mosaics installed in their final homes:











  1. Kim Rumball

    Hi Helen, I would be there in a heartbeat if I could. So great that the course is already booked. Lucky participants!!! And so nice for Sue and the hotel. Heartfelt vibes heading your way. 🙂

  2. Lisa Shanley

    Nigel and I still talk about how intensely satisfying it was to sit amongst like-minded people focusing on creating a small work of art. Hats off to you Helen for nurturing our inner mosaicist. Thank you.

    Have a fab time 2019 team!

  3. Sonia

    Hi Helen,
    Just ambled through your website after reading your article about the rediscovered mosaics of Pelion. (Birgitta posted your article on FB).
    I’m an artist, a painter and would be interested in your mosaic courses held in Greece. I know that your course for 2019 is fully booked, but for future reference would like to know the costs and whether accommodation is provided etc. I’ve never tried my hand at mosaics before, but am eager to gain some knowledge and try it out. Thanks for getting back to me.

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