New Designs – It’s not what it seems!

I have various different projects on the go at the moment…a large commission, bird baths for the Bishops Palace garden festival in June and some new work for an exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey in September. All exciting stuff that is keeping my left and right brain buzzing and pinging.

During the in-between times I like to  experiment with various other mediums such as animation and digital photo manipulation. Some of you will remember my designs that I made into scarves a few years ago. This time I’ve made some more designs from photos of my mosaics and uploaded them to Redbubble where they are printed onto clothes, wall art, iphone cases, stationary and home-ware. I’ve picked out some favourites to show you but please visit the shop to see more of the products that are available with these designs.

The Golden Leaves this time is the only one without photo manipulation although the scarf is tiled with the photo on the Redbubble software. Please click the pictures to see more or purchase.

 

Golden Leaves Scarf

 

Starlings in the Wind Dress

 

Sunset Swirls chiffon top

 

Darkness is Gathering in a Swirl cushion

 

Leaf Swirl notebook

 

Fish Waves acrylic block

 

Spinning Moon Moths metal print

 

 

Wake of the Chorus drawstring bag

 

Whirl in a Whirlwind iphone case

Now I MUST get into my work-shed and fondle some glass!

😉

 

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Ten Years – Mosaic Exhibition

TEN YEARS

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!

🙂

 

 

 

Flight from the Waves of Solway

I was delighted to receive another commission from my customer who commissioned the hob back splash Sunset over the Solway .

The brief was to make a smaller picture that would have echos or elements of the larger mosaic whilst also adding something of the magic from a piece she had just bought from my Artfinder shopDreams of Golden Summer” (below). This piece again, like the hob mosaic, conjured up childhood  memories for my customer, who remembered those treasured hot summer days  pulling wheat plants through her fingers and watching the kernels fly off into the wind.

Dreams of Golden Summer

Dreams of Golden Summer

A lot of my work is about things that turn into birds or things made of birds so I suggested that the Solway seascape  could be “a bit later on and the sun is further down , slipping into the sea, still reflecting bright colours . The sea is beginning to get stormy, the waves are choppy, deep shadows are shaped like birds, white crests of foam are forming, also bird shaped, some of them as if by magic fly off into the colourful sky”.

She liked the idea and so the commission went ahead.

This time it was to be direct and again using smalti and a little of that gold mirror she loves in the river of  “Dreams of Golden Summer”.

This was the agreed sketch.

Coloured sketch for the commission

Coloured sketch for the commission

It was nice to use mostly regular smalti this time instead of piastriana, so I could make the most of the holes and irregularities.

set up

When working direct like this it’s important to get the pieces close together, so a lot of time goes into cutting the bottom of some pieces so they can sit next to each other quite snugly. I use both hardy and hammer and nippers to cut smalti, sometimes it is easier to use one than the other. If one way doesn’t work I use the other!

After each session I clean in between the crevices with a dental tool or a needle tool like this one which came from a kids microscope kit given to me by a friend who also makes mosaics. (Ha, you missed a trick Jean 🙂 )

cleaning the crevices

cleaning the crevices

I was especially pleased with my white crest/birds because by using a mixture of very pale colours I have achieved an iridescent effect, one I had planned to experiment with one day.

detail

detail

I must admit it was very hard for me not to grout this piece, I had to tie my hands behind my back for a whole day before I gave it to my customer! Very glad I resisted though, it would have filled all those lovely holes, and made the whole surface less bright.

Here’s the final piece “Flight from the Waves of Solway”

flight from the waves of Solway2

Flight from the Waves of Solway

 

Sunset over the Solway

I have been busy over the summer months creating a mosaic for a customer to display behind her kitchen hob. I was delighted to be offered this commission as the subject of it was as close to my heart as it was hers. She sent me some photos of the sun setting over  the Solway, a stretch of sea along the coast between Cumbria and Dumfries, with the Scottish hills in the distance. It was the view from her bedroom window when she was a child. Although I also have connections with Scotland (my grandfather was Scottish) my childhood memories of the sunset on the sea are in North Devon where I lived, in the South West of the UK, where I spent many happy hours with my family and our very naughty Bassett Hound! (another story for another day!)

So immediately me and my customer had a shared understanding remembering the beauty of the sunset over the sea, and I knew this was going to be a successful commission. As she lived only a few miles away from me,  I visited her in her home bringing with me  various works and materials, so she could choose the material she wanted me to use.  We wrote many emails back and forth to each other about colour and composition, and it really helped that she wrote with great sensitivity and a deep understanding of her chosen subject, with a clear vision of what she wanted, whilst simultaneously allowing me freedom to use my own artistic expression.

She wanted the majority of the work in smalti and gold, because of it’s sumptuous colour and light giving properties just perfect for a sunset and reflection on the sea.  As it was intended for a splashback behind the hob I made it indirect for a flat surface so it could be cleaned easily.

I used my Venetian piastrina smalti plates and cut them into square tesserae. I often use “piastrina” as it has a more regular surface without the holes, unevenness and irregularities of the “regular”smalti (sounds confusing I know!)  and therefore it is easier to use  for indirect work . However I also used some regular smalti that comes in 2cm x 1cm pieces, but was careful to find the flattest side to stick down on the paper/plastic.

cutting-smalti-plate

I made the sky on paper and the sea on plastic. The only reason being that I found some plastic after I had made the sky and I wanted to try it out!  Strangely enough I have never tried an indirect piece on plastic, and I wanted to compare the processes.

indirect

progress

As I worked on the sea I was beginning to really enjoy the texture of the work as the tesserae were quite different in height allowing the light to play on the surfaces quite beautifully.  But as this was the back of the work it wouldn’t be quite the same.

indirectsea

As the mosaic had to be installed to allow for a possibility of being moved one day, I made some wax tiles to replace 8 tiles as stops.  After the mosaic was made up the stops were easily removed and  holes drilled down through the adhesive and backer board.  After installation I used blue-tak to stick smalti over the screw heads.

wax stops

wax stops

I pre-grouted the mosaic with grey grout as I was going to be setting the mosaic in a white adhesive in order to let the pieces of transparent smalti I had used shine well. The grout acts as a “stop”;  not allowing the white adhesive to seep between the glass.

A toothbrush came in handy to pre-grout the irregular smalti in the sea…

toothbrush-pre-grout

The grout had to be cleaned off well, to allow the white adhesive to show through the transparent pieces.

pre-grout

I made a temporary frame so I could level out the tile adhesive before fixing a backer board to the back of the work.

temporary-frame

adhesive

Once the mosaic and backer board had been spread with adhesive and bonded together (no pictures here as it was a two handed job!),  I left it to dry for a couple of days .

Now for the exciting bit … paper and plastic removal…

paper

 

plastic

Removing the plastic was oh so satisfying! And in comparison to paper? I think a little easier, certainly in removing the plastic. However I used a very strong (builders) pva glue that was hard to remove from the top of the smalti, next time I’ll try a craft pva as it isn’t as strong. Using paper also has it’s time consuming disadvantages, especially when pre-grouting, as the grout seeps onto some of the surface of the smalti, so there was a lot of cleaning and scraping to do before I gave it all a final grout.

To finish I treated it with a water based stain resistant sealer. This can be re-applied when necessary by my customer, and as it is water based and odour-less it won’t fill up the kitchen with smells!

Anyway, here it is finished with some detail shots.

commissionfb

sun-detail

detail-of-sea

bird-detail

The mosaic is 101cm x 75cm made using smalti, matt ceramic tile (hills) and slate (bird).

And here it is installed!

🙂