What do the four seasons, four birds, and a key have in common?

This school was a joy to work with. A small primary school of just over 100 pupils, every child was able to take part in making it.

I was sent lots of drawings from the children to use for a design and spent a day sketching possibilities and a final cartoon.  I spent a couple of days preparing sections so that we could get on with it on the two days in school allocated for the mosaic.

The sections were made indirect on sticky back plastic using pva glue.  I learnt my lesson using this method without the glue last year with another school. As the children touch the sticky back and rearrange tiles it stops sticking the tiles to the plastic which makes turning over and fixing to the board impossible. Last year I had to stick mesh to the back of the sections with tile cement before I could install them on the board.

Trying out this method of sticky back plus pva glue beforehand I found that once the section was transferred to the board and the sticky back plastic pulled off there was less glue residue left on the tiles than when using straight plastic, because the sticky back holds onto to it, so I’ll be using this method for my own projects in the future!

We had 12 sections with two children working on each section. I also had a good team of eager parent helpers that I couldn’t have done without!

The oldest children love cutting tiles!

After the sections were finished they were left to dry over night and the next day I was in early with the parent helpers to transfer them to the board. Then the children filled in the snow border and the background spaces.

The adhesive is a quick drying one which meant we didn’t have to wait long before taking off the plastic and grouting.

Et Voila!

The border is made up of the four class names … Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and in the corners are the 4 house names …Buzzards, Ospreys, Kestrels and Harriers. The school motif is the key…Keevil.

Keevil school … you are the greatest!










Blow Your Trumpet King’s Hall!

I was delighted to be asked back to King’s Hall school in Taunton this year to help them make some more mosaics. Last year we made The Pelican for their courtyard garden, this time the art teacher asked me to design a trumpet, guitar and saxophone to brighten up their music department.
It was the same set up as last time with about seventeen Year 7’s in each group workshop, about 60 children over one and a half days.
I cut the designs out of MDF, having 8 sections that would later be fixed together with plates on the back. The instruments area about 80cm long.


We concentrated on the colour schemes and graduations and the andamento of the tessearae (direction of laying the tile to create a visual rhythm). We used some iridescent tiles in the guitar and some lovely sparkley tiles in the streams of music.
Here’s some photos of the progress, click through to see them properly:

The final mosaics look so great it made me want to pick up my guitar and perhaps learn how to play a trumpet or sax!
It’s a pity my photos don’t really do them justice as they were taken standing on a chair when they were drying on the table! I had to do a bit of background editing – but you get the picture…





Judgement Day In The Rain

Trudging up the steep slope in the pouring rain, my oversized brolly got stuck several times on the overhanging bushes and brambles. It was early July but felt like autumn, the rain water ran in rivulets down the path bouncing up now and then to splash and soak through the holes in the canvas of my trainers. At the top, in a garden known as Moat Garden, an expectant crowd of adults and children tried to look nonchalant, the children  were worse off without umbrellas or hats, the rain drops fell off their sodden hair onto their serious faces. I looked around for the arc, but I couldn’t see it!

My invitation to Moat Garden was as a judge!  Two schools – Castle Cary Primary and Ansford Academy had worked with artist Colin Bell to produce mosaics installed on benches. I had to choose a winning design from each of the schools!

The children had designed the mosaics and made them with the help of Colin using whole tiles. They were very impressive and colourful and soon made me forget about the rain. The designs by the Primary School were based on the town and the views around it, whilst the secondary school included designs about their interests and hobbies. They were made in groups of 3 and a spokesperson from each group told me about their inspiration for their design.

It was a difficult decision, I took a little time to mull it over …

😕                                                                                     😕                                                                                         😕

😉                                            🙂

I had reached a decision.

“The Judge has come to a decision” said the teacher. All was silent …

“…And the winning design from Castle Cary School is this one…

Castle Cary Primary School winning design

…it’s a very striking design because of it’s simplicity and contrasting colours.”

“…and I have chosen this design from the BIG school (Ansford Academy)…

Ansford Academy mosaic design winner

… I particularly like the dancer and the piano keyboard that successfully frames the mosaic.”

Well, job done, the children received prizes and for my reward I received a bunch of flowers and a bottle of mead!

Here are the other benches as they are all worthy of a photo (sorry about the quality of the photos – it was raining!!) …

“Pacman” was one of my favourites too!

Mosaic benches in Moat Garden, Castle Cary

Oh yes, and I have a new title, I am a “visiting dignitary!”   (click the link – That’s me in the pink coat talking to artist Colin Bell)

…and I am glad to say the sun is shining today



Memorial Mosaic

Yesterday I was at St. Josephs Catholic school in Bridgwater completing a mosaic  started the day before with the children. It was a memorial mosaic for a much loved learning support assisant , dinner lady and head gardener at the school who died recently.

My brief was to design the mosaic using their school logo, plates of food, children, and something to represent her as a gardener. I felt it would be a bit complicated to include all these things in a mosaic that was only A1 size, so I submitted my first idea to the school which was a cornucopia to represent abundance and nourishment. It seemed symbolic of her apparent nature.

I  suggested  we could also have plates of food and smiles in the horn. However  they wanted the design more obvious with their logo in the centre. They liked my next design and were happy to go ahead …

I made a coloured cartoon to take into the workshop …

As it was a detailed design I decided we should make it indirect. To make it easier for the kids to work on it I split it into 3 sections…

On the first day it was necessary to complete the sections to allow them to dry before installing them onto the board. “What if we don’t finish?” one of the kids asked. “You can’t go home until you do!” I said.

The next day we spread tile adhesive onto the board and layed the sections on, then made sure the tiles were securely bedded into the adhesive with board and a rubber mallett …

Then dampened the paper to remove it …

The next bit was so exciting, I forgot to take pictures!  We very carefully peeled off the paper, replacing pieces that remained on the paper and pieces that fell off the paper!

Finally after a couple of hours we grouted it (still forgot to take pics!)

In the afternoon I mounted it onto the wall.

Close up…

I worked with 40 kids chosen from years 3 – 6 (aged 7 – 11) to make the mosaic. They worked hard and told me some nice things about their dinner lady. You will notice the colour of her top has changed from my original cartoon which was yellow/gold to red because the kids said it was her favourite colour and she wore it quite a lot.


Pelican Mosaic

During the final exhausting 12 hour “swanning” days to finish my swan for the Swans of Wells public art project, I was also preparing a mosaic project for Kings Hall School in Taunton. (I have a time turner like Hermione Granger !)

The brief was to use their school emblem “the Pelican” for a mosaic mural 1.2 metres in diameter.

Their Pelican is a mythical or heraldic Pelican, so it doesn’t look the same as a “modern” pelican  with it’s large beak.

I was interested to find out a bit about the symbolism of this creature. In heraldry, and in the Kings Hall’s Pelican it is “vulning” herself or “wounding” herself . This symbolises the bird as a caring mother, representing Christ feeding his followers with his body and blood. An older version of the myth is that the pelican used to kill its young then resurrect them with its blood, again analogous to the sacrifice of Jesus.( ref: wikipedia)   (…hmmm, I think the school were probably thinking of the first interpretation!!)

I was allowed to have my own artistic freedom choosing the colours for the Pelican. The original school logo is brown with a blue background. I didn’t want to change this too dramatically, so I thought we would make the pelican using graduated tones of brown; creams and golds working through to dark browns. I had used my day in Yeovil when I met the Queen and Prince Phillip to make a sample to show the kids the general idea, and I made a coloured copy of the pelican.

At Kings Hall school I worked with 60 kids over 1 and a half days. Most were from year 6 (age 10 and 11’s) and a few from year 4 (age 8 and 9’s)

To make the mosaic I prepared 8 sections for the kids to work on. We used the mesh method.

The kids were so enthusiastic and interested in the process, they worked really hard. The boys were full of questions about my work and wanted to know if I  drove a BMW and if  I was a  wealthy artist!! (if only!)

a dab hand with the mosaic nippers!

Tail section complete

cutting off the surplus mesh

After covering wedi board in tile adhesive we  installed all the sections

finishing touches after installing sections


Later the mosaic was displayed on one of the schools’ garden walls:

Pelican mosaic at Kings Hall school

Many thanks to art teacher Rebecca Perkins for the photos and who made me feel very welcome at the school! And many thanks to all the kids who expressed delight in making this mosaic. (I think that was all of you) You are fantastic!


Summer Mosaic Courses

I have joined forces with Somerset Crafts members in their gallery at Westhay (what used to be the Peat Moors Centre) on the levels near Glastonbury. This is the website www.somersetcrafts.com . Like myself most of the members there are also members of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen.  If you are in the area then drop in and have a look around (watch out for floods along the way!)

I have a display of work there and I will be running a workshop at the centre on the weekend of June 30th and July 1st. We will be making 2d pieces for outdoors. The course details are on my website. Then on the weekend of July 21st and 22nd I will be running a workshop at Wells museum. On the Sunday we will have a tour of the Swans of Wells, the Worminster Dragon Mosaic and the Saint Andrew mosaic that I was commissioned to make in 2009 for the new educational building at Wells Cathedral.

Contact me if you are interested in booking a place.Image

Mosaics in schools

I have been making mosaics with schools for 15 years, in fact the first ever mosaic I made was a 2 metre x 2metre  mosaic on an outside wall of a school with the kids.

Generally the mosaics are designed by the kids, I just facilitate the project, by putting their designs into a format, helping them make them and installing them.

This summer I had the opportunity to use my own designs and work with 3 classes of year 7 kids at Warminster school.

These are the birds we made: Dawn Bird, Midday Bird and Sunset Bird.