Do Swallows Eat Olives?

This commission for a private customer was a delight to make. My clients wanted a mosaic for their wall outside their house. After initial discussions by email and a site visit I made three drawings and they chose this one.

As my clients didn’t want very strong or bright colours I chose to use stained glass as I could choose colours that were not as bold as smalti but fresher than vitreous glass.

I was also able to use a fair amount of gold smalti. As the gold smalti was thicker than the stained glass I decided to make it indirect on plastic. It would need a fairly deep bed of cement adhesive to make a flat surface. The flat surface would make it easier to clean off any algae that might collect on it over the years.

Once the leaves and birds were complete I received my luscious order of gold!

There is always so much satisfaction when placing the last piece!

I used sand to stop the gaps so I could grout from the other side. Here you can also see the electrical cable flex I used as a temporary edge while I filled the mosaic with cement adhesive. (There’s always a use for broken things one day)

 

Thick bed of adhesive and levelling before pushing boards firmly on the top. (And piling on the weight to ensure a good hold)

I made a sandwich of light weight cement boards with adhesive in the middle (my partner called it a custard cream) not only for strength but also because the boards were in two halfs; the first layed horizontally and the second vertically.

However it was still very heavy!

After a few days drying it was turned over and the plastic pulled off.

The trunk was made as a separate piece.

Thought I’d learnt my lesson from the last one I made on plastic and I used a weaker pva glue than then, but it was still a devil to get clean.

Brushed out the sand and grouted.

And gazed at the gold…

I had some help with installing it on the wall.

Final touches glueing olives over the screws.

My two boys doing a few hours work for a change!!!

The Olive Tree (2.12m height x 1.20m wide) (stained glass, ceramic tile. marble, gold leaf smalti glass)

Details

 

One happy customer

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One happy me

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Coral Reef bird pool

I had a day off the other week so I went to Lyme Regis on the Jurassic coast on the Devon/Dorset border. I had a hunt for some fossils on the beach but the best finds were on a stall on the front.

I bought this wonderful piece of polished fossilised coral which is 345 million years old (carboniferous period).

I thought it would make a great centrepiece for a birdbath, although I felt a bit guilty that I would be hiding the unpolished underside by cementing it to the bowl. So to appease my guilt here’s a photo.

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to start. I made the concrete bowl using the same method and mould as the Garden Treasure bird pool.

Again I just let the fossil inspire my design, I didn’t plan it, just let the fossil talk.

The grey cement mortar you see here isn’t there to make me work fast! It was a coat to bring up the surface so that the coral wouldn’t be raised too high above the rest of the mosaic. Surrounding the coral I used copper gold leaf glass and milliefiori.

I wasn’t sure what to do next and mulled things over for five minutes, then it all seemed to make sense.

I emulated the design of the coral and like nature that does it so well I attempted to find perfection in imperfection.

Picking out the cement that is squeezed up above the surface of the tile.

Grouting and cleaning with my trusty toothbrush (don’t worry, I use a different one on my teeth!)

 

Coral Reef bird pool made with hand made concrete bowl and usingย  polished fossilised coral, gold leaf glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, milliefiori, glass rods, pearl shell rounds, smalti, glass tiles.

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Garden Treasure Bird Pool

Welcome to new followers and thank you for all your lovely comments about my Pool of Dreams bird bath. I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed but feel privileged to have been featured on Discover .

I have made another bird pool. This one is a lot smaller and constructed by using my other method by casting the cement mortar into a mould which in this case was a plastic melamine salad bowl from Tescos! “You can’t use that” my daughter insisted, “it’s too nice, you’ll get it covered in concrete and we could use it to eat salad out of!” So I had to sneak it into my shed while she was at college and I covered the inside quickly with wire, mesh and cement mortar.

Again I began from the centre with a beautiful ammonite.

I didn’t like the horizontal direction of the first few strips of gold metal leaf glass, so I redid it …

Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning out that stubborn grout!

Garden Treasure Bird Pool

I love using glass marbles in these pieces combined with glass nuggets and milliefiori tiles. The marbles were bought years ago on a trip with my kids to the House of Marbles in Devon. Many years ago we watched the marbles being made in the factory, which was fascinating. I think even my hyperactive boys were mesmerized and settled down for five minutes to watch. We all bought a tub of marbles each and when we got them home they were played with for a short while before being left to collect dust on shelves in the bedroom. When my kids left home and cleared their rooms they gave me their marbles and I stored several jars of them in my work-shed with the idea that I would use them one day. It wasn’t until I discovered I could cut them into two halves (not an easy cut, and not 100% accurate or successful) that I began to use them in my work. That way I had a flat base to stick them into the cement adhesive.

Garden Treasure Bird Pool and the Pool of Dreams.

Hand cast wire and concrete bowl, glass tile, vintage glass tiles from Marble Mosaic Company, glass nuggets and marbles, hand gilded metal leaf glass, milliefiori, ceramic tiles, fossils from madagascar and the Jurassic coast, gold lipped oyster shell from Boris Anrep’s studio)

Happy May Day

Garden

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Let There Be Light (and Water)!

Pool of Dreams

I wanted to make a bird bath loosely based on The Whirlwind That Takes Me There only using a different colour palette.

Like my Pretty Maids and cockle shell bird baths, I made this one by hand forming the base using wire, glass fibre mesh (I recycle the mesh sheets that mosaic tiles come on) and cement mixtures. I have another bird bath I make using a bowl as a mould but I really prefer the hand shaped ones as they can be any shape and they are so imperfect which exaggerates the idea of hand-made. In this world of highly finished craft objects, this is possibly seen as taking a step back again, but maybe it’s important to do that from time to time otherwise we lose sight of what really is hand-made and the work begins to lose integrity. I see so many craft objects that do nothing for me. Ok, they are technically brilliant which is what the maker has strived for, but what has it become? It’s started as a blob of glass, clay or metal, it’s been melted, beaten, punched and hammered, it’s been transformed into something else, something beautiful maybe, but along the way it seems to somehow have lost it’s soul. Of course if you recognise this mosaic bird bath as an art piece, then perhaps I wouldn’t need to justify it, (since we know art is subjective and can be anything)ย  but as I always think of mosaic art as craft as well as an art form then I feel the need to justify it a little bit. So yes it has an imperfect shape and yes it is hand-made! And yes it holds water and looks lovely in the garden!

Rant over, I’ll show you some photos of the process…

I started by buying some beautiful ammonites. Madagascan and Jurassic coast.

I was very excited to finally be using some of my stoneware ceramic tiles I made in a pottery class over 15 years ago.

After making my bowl I rendered the bottom brushing the cement mixture to smooth the surface. This can be done at the end but I was waiting for my fossils to arrive!

I began with the large fossil in the centre and began to work around it. I didn’t really have a plan, it was quite spontaneous, I just placed several pieces next to the prior pieces and considered how it looked aesthetically.

And finally picking out the tile adhesive between the tiles before grouting.

When I had grouted it (charcoal colour) and it was finished it wasn’t until I added the water that I felt satisfied. The water brought up all the colours beautifully.

I have used gold leaf glass as well as my hand-gilded metal leaf glass and tried to get a photo to show it shining.

Some details.

Pool of Dreams is 60cm in diameter and holds over 4 litres of water.

I used fossils, glass tiles, vintage glass tiles from Marble Mosaic company, ceramic tiles, hand-made ceramic and gilded metal leaf glass, gold leaf glass, stained glass (iridescent), smalti, slate, glass marbles, glass nuggets, milliefiori, glass rods, gold-lipped oyster shell from Boris Anrep’s studio.

Happy Easter!

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Kingfishers

In the valley below the hill where I live there is a small village with a leat running along the edge of the fields and opposite a row of old and pretty cottages. There are often ducks on the leat and once I saw a very raggedy looking heron trying to catch a fish, but it always feels as if I have experienced a split second of magic when I catch a bright blue iridescent flash out of the corner of my eye.

kingfishers

See more photosย of the Kingfishers and enjoy them on your wall!

 

 

 

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Starlings – are here again!

I’m on starlings again!

During the two weeks of Somerset Art Weeks I set up a temporary studio at the Somerset Crafts gallery. Whilst I was there I made 8 starlings. I wondered how long it would be before the starlings returned from Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands (according to the BBC nature website the ones from Scandinavia go to the North and the ones from Germany and the Netherlands come to the South) As I drove home each day my wondering was answered as I saw them stacking up on the telegraph wires.

I made these in the same way as my doves, who incidentally are on their flight home from Greece.

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Here they are at Somerset Crafts flying ahead of the murmuration “Beautiful Black Clouds”

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My work at Somerset Crafts

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The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods

Mosaic Odysseys Festival moving on to Athens and Mykonos

The first exhibition for the Mosaic Odysseys Festival at the Hellenic Centreย  in London was a great success. We had a lot of visitors and several sales.
After selling my works “The Whirlwind That Takes Me There” , “The Enchanter“,and “The Four Winds“, I decided to make new works to send to Greece.
I wanted to make 3 dimensional birds and initially thought about my gold birds that appear in my work frequently. They would be more realistic and fly on their own odyssey to Athens…(only the courier would spoil my fantasy) . However I dipped into the BOOK once again (Homer’s Odyssey in case you wondered) …and found just what I was looking for.

It’s in the beginning of the section where Circe tells Odysseus how to escape from the House of Hades. She tells him how he must avoid the sirens song, then goes on to mention the overhanging and very high rocks that the gods call the Wanderers. She says …
“Here not even a bird may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father Jove has to send another to make up their number…”

I decided to make the doves so they were partly 3 dimensional but so you can still hang them on the wall. And hang them rather like Hilda Ogden’s very “tasteful flying ducks” in Coronation Street!!ย  (Sorry, did I say tasteful? Oh yes, so I did)

I cut out my doves from plywood with only one wing and constructed the others 3 dimensionally. I have used a little of my hand gilded metal leaf glass in them.

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For the bodies I used polystyrene eggs and cut them in half.

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I chose these funny circle design milliefiori tiles for eyes to illustrate the exhaustion the dove feels after the journey!

dove progress 1

A persistent small spider wanted to get in on the action!

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Various glass on the inside wings.

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Wings are fixed securely.

Bodies and copper wire feet are attached.

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Fly my babies…

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The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 1)

The tin of rice pudding is of course a joke, although I am tempted to use it in the exhibition.ย  However there are shipping issues getting tins of food through customs as well as copyright issues using the logo. I wrote to Ambrosia, but I got no reply.
So they will bring symbolic gifts …

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The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 2)

…where ambrosia is a nectar or a honey made by bees and flowers.

Close up…

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The Mosaic Odysseys exhibition will be at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundationย in Athens from September 9th to September 18th.

The final exhibition will be at the Muncipal Art Gallery of Mykonos, starting 23rd September and finishing 3rd October.

Exhibiting artists โ€“

Greek artists :

Ioannis Touliatos, Artemis Klitsi, Eftychia Finou, Vasso Spanou, Lydia Papadopoulos, Alexandros Bassadis,

UK artists:

Dugald MacInnes, Nathalie Vin, Aliyahgator, Arianna Puntin, and myself.

Have a look at our website here

Want to offer sponsorship? Get in touch!

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