A Union of Family Arms

For the last couple of months I have been working on a commission in the other hours between making new pieces of jewellery, Christmas craft markets, packaging sales online and celebrating.

I was asked to make a mosaic for an outdoor wall based on my customer’s family and wife’s families coat of arms. He sent me photos of the arms by the Herald of old Graubuenden, Marco Foppoli. His arms being on the left and his wife’s on the right.


My customer also sent me a picture of a Christmas card designed for them by Marco that was inspired by old sgraffito decorations of the Rhaetia mountains.


Copyright: Marco Foppoli 2015

I was allowed to have a certain amount of artistic licence without changing the images so much that they were no longer¬† their family coat of arms. So my proposed design was very close to the Christmas card but simplified. I chose to make a winter and summer alpine willow tree and to let the leaves from the summer tree blow across the hare’s feet as well as merge the backgrounds of both families to symbolise their union.


I made it in sections on mesh and indirect and worked the backgrounds and border direct.





The finished mosaic

The finished mosaic

Coat of Arms Mosaic for outdoor wall approx 1metre x 85cm made with stained glass, iridescent stained glass, glass tile and vintage tiles from Marble Mosaic Company once based in Weston-Super-Mare!










Bah Humbug! It’s (almost) that time again!

You might remember last year I made some gilded glass brooches, bees (Bah Humbug Bees) and fish (Fish for Funky Punks). They were sold so quickly from various outlets, so this year I thought I would make some more. This time I have redesigned them so they are more refined and they are made of acrylic instead of glass. The acrylic is etched so I can fill in the lines to represent the grout lines, and like the glass ones they are gilded using  variegated metal leaf.

Bah Humbug bee brooch

Bah Humbug bee brooch

Ocean Gem fish brooch

Ocean Gem fish brooch









I have also made some more golden leaf coasters, these are gilded glass on wood. These have also been refined by making them on a thinner plywood with a felt fabric underneath, now perfect for any table!

Golden Leaf coasters

Golden Leaf coasters

You can purchase all these items online from my Folksy shop (or click the pics) or from the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen’s new shop in Wells and from Somerset Crafts Gallery, Avalon Marshes Centre, Westhay.

The Last Tree

A Prophetic Tree (part 3)

If you read the last 2 posts you will have some insight into the sculpture I am making for an exhibition at Delamore¬†House, Devon ¬†in May. In response to the very sad and destructive fungal disease causing ash dieback, I have now finished my “remembrance” sculpture/seat. It retraces the path back to the Viking age telling the story of Yggdrasill (the ash tree) from Nordic Mythology.

In the last post I had completed the mosaic around the tree trunk and one of the views looked like this:view-of-ash without top

(Don’t be alarmed at the yellow stain on the wood where I spilled some cement colour!)

You may wonder what the hole in the top is for ……………………

Go on then ……I wonder , wonder , wonder …maybe it’s for an ash tray? Ha, ha ha!!!

No, not an ash tray, a nest. You have to imagine that the ash tree trunk has rotted inside and a bird has made its nest in it. (Yggdrasill really was rotting inside , and the ash fungal disease if allowed to take its course would eventually rot the inside of the tree).

I made the nest using a structure of chicken wire and mesh :


Then I sandwiched it in between the wood and cement board fixing the wire edges to the board with tacks:


Then I could begin the mosaic on the top of the sculpture.

Top of ash tree trunk in progress

Top of ash tree trunk in progress

And finally this is what it looks like:

"The Last Tree" (top)

“The Last Tree” (top)

Here is Yggdrasill, like a golden shadow, an echo of the past, always remember and cherish the ash!

In detail –

This is Ratatosk, the squirrel who runs up and down the trunk carrying  gossip and insults between the dragon Nidhogg  and the Great Eagle at the top of the tree. (if you remember Nidhogg was in my last post at the bottom of the third root to Niflheim)

Ratatosk the squirrel

Ratatosk the squirrel

And this is the Great Eagle who has a¬†raven (some versions of the story say a¬†hawk) in it’s brow:

The Great Eagle

The Great Eagle



A prophecy fulfilled?

Ash dieback rings alarm bells when we think that we may lose “The World Tree” . Just like many religious apocalyptic stories, a final battle to end the world takes place. In Norse mythology Ragnarok is the final event,¬† also known as the doom of the gods, darkness, and sometimes as twilight of the gods.

At Ragnarok the sun and the moon are eaten by the wolf, Fenrir (fathered by Loki); the Midgard Serpent ¬†writhes in fury ¬†its monstrous body over the land, while the sea advances bringing with it the ship Naglfar which is made from the nails of dead men. The sky splits apart and the fires of Surt and¬†the other sons of Muspell ride in……

And Yggdrasil trembles and shakes……

But like all good endings there is always a new beginning – a Creation Myth ……..

During the battle two people have hid themselves inside the ash tree. Their names are Lif (Life) and Leifthrasir (Life Yearner) . The tree must have looked like this one:

Hollow ash

Hollow ash

In my sculpture I made 2 eggs for the nest, they represent these two survivors, the beginning of something new:


My sculpture is called “The Last Tree” and will be in the gardens of Delamore House for the Delamore Arts ¬†exhibition in May. I will also be exhibitingChorus at the Wake of the Sun” in the gallery.

The Last Tree

The Last Tree

Thank you for reading


Public Art in Wells

Yesterday was the swan launch for the Swans of Wells public art project. 20 of the 60 swans were flown in and they settled down on the Cathedral Green while us artists and passers-by mingled and wilted in the heat of the late morning sun. Photographers and TV reporters came and went and after a couple of hours of this my skin scorched and my throat dry from dehydration and too much talking, we were refreshed with a “light lunch” in the Swan Hotel. My swan wasn’t in the flock, but I was assured that it was on it’s way to being installed in the market square.

Today was another busy day as I set out to the Bishops Palace moat walk to do a little “conservation” work on the Worminster Dragon Mosaic. The Dragon Mosaic ¬†was made with 6 schools and community groups and installed in 2002. It had a few tiles come astray either through wear and tear or vandalism. It also needed a good clean-up and fresh grout applied to areas where the rain had eaten away the concrete.

Now it looks good again…

The Worminster Dragon Mosaic

I sent Ian off into town to see if my swan, Odile, had been installed. It had and he took this shot of it.

Odile (photo by Ian Dart)

There’s another photo on his flickr page with a joke caption here

I was left with my “quick snaps” camera , I usually use Ian’s camera for higher quality shots, but he won’t let me have it any more because I keep forgetting to change the settings back … he says “never lend an artist anything” ¬†(does this sound familiar?)

So I got some “not quite so good” photos…

Odile in Wells

Odile in Wells

Odile in Wells Market Square

I was annoyed with that white van because I wanted ¬†a clear shot with the cathedral in the background! I’ll have to try another day.

What I like about Odile is that she is quite subtle, from a distance she almost fades away into the background, quite different from my lion last year!

The Swans of Wells will be on the streets until September before being auctioned. Net profits from the event will be donated to local Wells charities. Come see them if you are near or far!

More details about the project: www.swansofwells.com


How to Move a Swan!

The final days of “swanning” were long and arduous, day became night and night became day, I was losing sight of reality, I wondered if there was life outside my shed!

I emerged hungry and tired, in need of refreshment…


A ¬†name has chosen by my sponsor – “Odile” – The Black Swan from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. At first I thought the name was inappropriate as she isn’t¬†wholly¬†a black swan, but when jogging my memory about the story of Swan Lake, I realised that it was a really good name. Odile is the evil twin of the white swan “Odette” and during the ballet she disguises herself as her sister. It’s as if my swan Odile is morphing into Odette!

Here are some pictures of Odile in my garden:



My hand-made fused glass eyes

Odile’s wing with bee

Green mirror at bottom of wings

Here’s a video I made earlier called “How to Move a Swan!”

Come back soon when I post some more photos of her in Wells Market Square.



Swan Interval

If you have been following my latest posts, you will know that I have completed 2 out of 3 pieces for my new series “Catching the Sun” . The third piece will have to wait while I finish “swanning“. (That’s Kate slang for mosaicing a swan!)

My giant swan will be one of 60 to grace the streets of Wells, (the smallest city in England) this summer as part of the “Swans of Wells” public art project. Just like the “King Bladud’s Pigs” and the “Lions of Bath” public art projects that I also participated in, they will be auctioned off in the autumn for Charity.

I have been sponsored by a firm of solicitors and they were happy to give me free reign over the design, although they were keen to have some black and green in it, as these are their logo colours.

So this is the design I came up with…

swan design

Actually it isn’t really a very accurate design, I should have painted it to show the tonal variations. The idea is that it starts with black tiles at the bottom and graduates up through the wings with greys and finally whites. There will be some flecks of green and lots of¬†iridescent¬†tiles.

I have used green mirror with the black at the bottom of the swan, but at first I just couldn’t bring myself to use any green in with the grey tones. At least not that lovely strong green mirror. It doesn’t work.

This is a section of a wing where I ¬†graduated black to grey to white…

horrible grey tiles

You see where I have put the red star? ¬†Funny it doesn’t look as bad in the photo but those grey tiles I used there kept on jumping out at me and saying “yuck, dirty public toilet!”

So I dug them out and I chose a blue/green tile which I think works much better…

reworked with blue/green tiles

Here is a closer look …

Of course the final tones will blend better once it is grouted in a softer grey. Here you can see the tile adhesive I have used that dries a very dark grey.

Come back soon and see more “swanning” progress.


Find out more about the Swans of Wells  here

Watch my Lion of Bath (Zillion) videos here

A picture of Prince Ropork in Bath here

Lions of Bath auction

Here is one last picture of Zillion with some of his friends, taken last weekend at the preview by Ian Dart. The auction is this Friday 15th October at the Assembly rooms in Bath. There may be some tickets still available. They are ¬£45 and include champagne reception, dinner and entertainment. Zillion plus 62 of his friends will be there to welcome you! If you can’t be there you can still bid on the telephone! (See Lions of Bath website)

Go to this link to book a ticket.


or to this one