Two Students Create Two Very Different Mosaics

I teach Pique Assiette mosaics, a type of mosaic made with broken dishes,  in my tiny, little studio, a sunny former bedroom in a 1922 house. This little room has a big work table and is full of dishes and supplies for all the art forms I indulge in. It’s just the right size for mosaic classes for one or two students, no more. And that’s the way I like it, because it allows me to really teach to the needs of each person and it also allows each student to do exactly what they want, or at least have a chance to discover what they want. And such was the case with Irina and her work mate, Jessica.

Jessica knew exactly what she wanted to do from the first class. She had been inspired by an image of a horse, one from a logo of a computer game her husband liked. So we loosely followed that and created a plywood backing shaped as a shield. The shopping class was easy since she’d already decided to look for white and blue dishes. The trick with a piece like this is to create lots of texture and color interest by intuitively and loosely mixing up the shades of white and blue dish shards. It did become rather a big project and she even had to run out to buy more dishes to finish but she did get a sense of how to create a lovely surface. The mosaic took more time to do and required a bit of delay before grouting. But I’d rather students had the extra time to work and finish what they envisioned in an enjoyable manner.

Here she is, looking pretty happy, after the grouting was finally done, with the mosaic on my easel.

Student Jessica with finished mosaic,

The finished piece has this lovely ancient look and feel, a beautiful roughness that the original logo never had.

Student Jessica's Finished Mosaic,

Irina, was, much like most of my students, not quite sure of what she wanted to do. This is where the shopping class often shows the way, when you find some dishes or colors you like. Making a mosaic with broken dishes is much looser and intuitive than the traditional mosaics. Mosaics done with glass tesserae, can be quite tight and often lend themselves to very symmetrical designs. I encouraged Irina to tap into the intuitive flow of the patterns and arrange the pieces until they “felt” right. She was really terrific about trying all sorts of arrangements. But I think, as the crunch came to finish in time to grout, she just finally stopped trying to get it perfect and just let the “flow” happen. And I’m so glad she did!

Here she is working hard cleaning off the grout in the last class, still wondering, would it all work and would she like it.

Student Irina, cleaning grout,

Well, I think she’s looking happy with the result, don’t you?

Student Irina with her Mosaic,

And here it is, a closer look at finished mosaic.  I think she did the most wonderful job, creating a lovely, colorful flow of flowers and colors. It’s just a small piece, but it’s got a real song to it.

Student Irina's Finished Mosaic,

Two students, two very different results, but both learning how to use their intuition and how to be loose with the shards of broken dishes and by doing so, finding the flow in creating. Turned out perfectly I’d say!

(BTW if you’d like to comment, and we do appreciate comments, please just click on the title to bring up the post with a spot for comments at the bottom.)










The Little Mosaic Table That Caused Happy Giggling

I just love having students that just can’t wait to start making mosaics. All that enthusiasm just makes the classes all the more fun. And I also don’t mind when a student says they have never done anything creative ever before. Because I know that making a mosaic is a great way to discover your creative side. Bonnie fit both of those categories.
The mosaic classes were a gift to herself in a time of lots of personal responsibilities and often stress with elderly family and other things. It was to be a chance to just have some fun and learn something new. I assured her that the meditative aspect of making a mosaic is just what you need when life is stressful.

Student Bonnie with Helen Bushell, mosaic class at Summerhouse Art
The first class is always me overwhelming the student with all the possibilities of what they can choose to do. The more possibilities I showed her, the more Bonnie just got more excited to start. So off we went shopping and at the Sally Ann Thrift Store, as we like to call it, we found a perfect little table. And, since I always encourage everyone to only buy things that really spark for them, Bonnie found lots of really colorful dishes to break. The next two classes were lots of fun. Bonnie is a really cheerful person and also an excellent student. She picked up quickly on every little bit of instruction I gave, from creating texture and movement, to learning how to cut dishes up and how to make the pieces fit.
The last class is the grouting class. And by that time, Bonnie had made the decision to paint the table bright yellow, (it had been a rather unhappy brown), to play off all the color in the dishes on the table top. I loved her choice.
To make sure her little table looked finished she decided to paint it the week before the grouting. I’m so glad she did! It made all the work of grouting well worth it. And yes that is us using old toothbrushes to clean each of the pieces. That’s the beauty of pique assiette, you get to do a lot of recycling.

So here it is! We decided to take its picture out in the garden in the sunshine. Mosaic always looks so wonderful in the sun! And, as for Bonnie being worried about never having done anything creative before? Well, with her enthusiasm and hard work, she had surpassed that goal. She’d created her first piece and it looked good! I know she’s discovered her creative side and I’m sure she’s a natural at making mosaics. When I emailed her all the photos we took of the classes, I told her again how much we  loved how the table turned out. She wrote right back and said, “ I just love the table too. Every time I walk by it I just giggle happily.” Can’t ask for more than that!

Student Bonnie's Mosaic Table, Summerhouse Art mosaic classes
Student Bonnie’s Mosaic Table, mosaic classes,