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

🙂

One happy me

🙂

 

 

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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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The Enchanter

This is the second piece I made for the Mosaic Odysseys festival.

I don’t think it needs much explanation except that I see the sun as an enchanter…always luring me towards him. And how enchanting he always is, how beautiful he colours the sky when he rises and sets. I want to bask in his light and feel his warmth on my skin.

drawing enchanter

I made the sun with transparent coloured glass rounds, gold leaf glass and hand gilded metal leaf glass. I also gilded the board beforehand to emphasise the gold colour and add texture to the transparent rounds.

gilding the board

 

Detail before grout

Detail before grout

As well as using Italian piastrina smalti (the red and orange glass) I have also used a strong coloured glass tile very similar to piastrina smalti that was given to me by Elaine M Goodwin. She told me she had bought it from a tile company called Marble Mosaic Company based in Weston Super Mare in the 1980’s. She said they were an Italian family. I wanted to find out more so I got in touch with the company.

It is a fascinating story of the company’s mosaic history passed onto me by the Marble Mosaic Company director Stephen Maddalena. Stephen even came to do his first mosaic workshop with me where he told me more snippets of information and then sent me photos of the some of the company’s mosaic panels from the early 1900’s.

However I can’t do the story justice here so I will write another post about it soon with all the photos he sent me to show you!

So here is my finished piece.

The Enchanter (glass tile, gold leaf glass, millefiori, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass rounds, metal leaf on board)

The Enchanter
(glass tile, gold leaf glass, millefiori, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass rounds, metal leaf on board)

 

The Mosaic Odysseys Festival

The first exhibition will run for a week at the Hellenic Centre in London starting on Tuesday July 19th and finishing on Saturday July 23rd.

Meet the artists: Tuesday 19 July, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Exhibiting artists –

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.

The festival will then move to Athens with an exhibition at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation 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.

Have a look at our website here

Thank you to Artfinder for publicity and for sponsoring our printing costs!

Come back soon to read about the history of those vintage glass tiles

😉

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!

🙂

 

 

 

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

I don’t know how relevant the four seasons are any more. Our climate is changing and maybe we won’t feel the difference between the seasons quite so much as we did when we were young. I’m writing this watching snow fall outside my window and with layers of clothes on as our gas central heating is broken once again this year! Well it feels like winter to me, but the signs in the garden are of spring, and who can say they haven’t seen fruit trees in blossom this year already? It all seems a bit of a mess now, one day warm the next cold, rain, rain, rain, and then oh good a little sunshine, nature is confused while the earth is trying to find equilibrium.

There was never a time that William Blake’s poem “The Sick Rose” was so significant.

But enough of my bemoaning as I am really here to give you a little joy and hope. Even if it means thinking about how it was, should have been, should be. Perfect seasons. Celebrating them for what they sometimes are, what they were, should be and maybe could be once again.

"Spring"

“Spring”

 

"Summer"

“Summer”

"Autumn"

“Autumn”

"Winter"

“Winter”

Click the links to buy these and see more.

🙂

How can you not be inspired by a Solar Eclipse?

There is a reality TV programme  about random families or couples watching the TV, and we watch their reactions and comments on the programmes they are watching. I quite like the concept of watching people watching, it’s a sort of voyeuristic voyeurism. I suppose if you were studying psychology or sociology, you might find it quite an interesting programme but I’m afraid I have only so far managed to watch about 2 minutes of it before having to switch the channel over. I caught a little bit the other day when they were watching a report about the recent solar eclipse. She said something like “that’s amazing, isn’t it Bill?” and Bill says “no, I don’t know why everyone is so worked up about it, I don’t care what the moon and the sun are doing…”

WHAAAA???? What is wrong with you??? You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the sun and the moon!!!!

I nearly threw something at the TV, but not wishing to be too tempestuous or break the screen, I decided to finish my solar eclipses I had started the day before.

partial1 side fb

partial 2 full view fb

full eclipse fb

full eclipse with red sky and daffs fb

As I watched the partial solar eclipse from my garden this year through the filter of hazy clouds, I experienced the same exciting feeling I had whilst watching the total eclispse in 1999. It was like watching a silent magical dance, and each peep of the sun felt like time had stopped still, meanwhile the garden was gradually cast into moon shadow with a strange eerie half light.
These are a small series of total and partial eclipses, made using slate and genuine gold leaf glass tile .  I have presented them as a treasure in a smart white box frame .
I really wanted to make an animated series of these, but I only had the 4 backing slates at the time and that wasn’t quite enough. As I am sourcing some more I might return to this idea in the near future.

If you like my little treasures you can buy them on my Artfinder shop.

🙂

 

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