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!










Ten Years – Mosaic Exhibition


An exhibition of mosaic art by Kate Rattray

at Somerset Guild of Craftsmen, 23a Broad Street, Wells BA5 2DJ

9th May – 13th June 2016

PRIVATE VIEW – Friday 20th May 4-6pm

I am delighted to announce that I am presenting 10 years of my work at the new back room gallery at Somerset Guild of Craftsmen in  Wells.

Having worked in the art of mosaic for over 20 years now, the last 10 years has been the most productive for me. I have chosen works that explored my interest in folklore, weather, and the apocalypse, featuring birds, moths and butterflies.

Here are three from that apocalyptic year of 2012!

The Storm

The Storm


"Chorus at the Wake of the Sun" in sunlight

“Chorus at the Wake of the Sun”


Unfinished Symphony

Unfinished Symphony

And two of my latest pieces.

Black Swan

Black Swan


White Swan

White Swan

But much better to see them in the flesh amongst a total of 29 mosaics. And if you are interested I am running a mosaic workshop on 21st May in the gallery. See details and book here

Come and see!





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…





Summer Mosaic Courses

I have been running courses at Somerset Crafts for the past few months. This month students made a paving stone and a panel for outdoors.

The courses take place either in the polytunnel, outside or in the gallery. I start the courses by  discussing my work with students to offer an insight into some of the techniques and materials I use. I also come with an armful of mosaic books and we frequently look at other artist’s work for inspiration during the course.

In addition to my display of work in the gallery I also have (until Thursday 30th May) my solo show Voices of the Wind which is attracting a lot of interest and making a few sales.

paving stone mosaic workshop at Somerset Crafts

paving stone mosaic workshop at Somerset Crafts

I have Summer Mosaic Courses coming up at Somerset Crafts. For dates and details see my website

If you are thinking of coming down from afar, I can help you find accommodation. If you are wondering what it is like around here, think of rhynes, lakes, willows, egrets and cranes, ancient walks and Glastonbury Tor. The levels have small roads great for cycling and walking and of course bird-watching!

Somerset levels

Somerset levels

The gallery at Somerset Crafts is quite large and there are currently 19 of us who run it and show our work there. A lovely mixed bunch we are – from textile artists to blacksmiths.  There is a great little café on site too – “Eco-Friendly Bites” (I recommend the peanut butter cookies!)

I have added a couple of pages to my blog (see under mosaic classes) if you want to see what students have made whilst attending a course here.

soaking paper off mosaic paving stones

soaking paper off mosaic paving stones

Maybe see you in the summer


Structural Mosaics Workshop with Marcelo de Melo

I am delighted to be hosting a mosaic workshop with a difference this year.  In October at the Bath Artists Studios  my Brazilian friend, Marcelo de Melo will teach a 5 day “Structural Mosaics” workshop.

I became aware of Marcelo’s work soon after I joined BAMM (British Association for Modern Mosaic) in 2001 .  What  interested me about his work at the time was how he had made a “thin” structure and mosaiced it, so it was almost like a piece of fabric. It opened out possibilities to me and I experimented with some 3d shapes to get a similar effect.  Marcelo’s structural pieces were pushing boundaries in contemporary mosaic by questioning the materiality of mosaic;  the tiles became an integral part of the  structure and not just embellishment.

Folding Fabric by Marcelo de Melo

The course is from 24th October – 28th October 2012 from 10am – 2.30pm and will be held in the gallery where both me and Marcelo will show some of our work.

Marcelo will explain the idea behind the structural works and instruct  participants how to make a sculpture approximately 25cm across. Students will explore pattern, tesserae colours and andamento, and learn how to transfer a design of their own choice to a 3d shape, build a shape, apply the plaster, how to work with tesserae on a curved surface, grouting, and how to prepare the work for hanging.

Unfortunately I realized soon after we organised the dates with  Bath Artists Studios that the course clashes with the BAMM AGM that  members might be attending on Saturday 27th October. However, if you remember from my recent post about The Pelican you will see that I have a TIME TURNER ! So if you want to come to the workshop and also go to the BAMM agm please contact me and I will let you borrow it!

If you would like more details about the workshop please contact me kate@rattraymosaics.co.uk or leave me a comment with your email address.

Marcelo will also give a pre-course talk on Tuesday 23rd October at 7pm in the Bath Artists Studio Gallery about his work and  other contemporary mosaic artists.

The talk is free  – if you would like to book a seat please contact Bath Artists Studios on 01225 482480 or email admin@bathartistsstudios.co.uk

Marcelo’s more recent work  uses mosaic sculpture to address controversial issues such as war and terrorism. You can read about it  on Mosaic Art Now www.mosaicartnow.com/2012/06/tiny-tragedies-marcelo-de-melo/

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!