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!






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.










Click the links to buy these and see more.


Moths on the Moon

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, before humans attempted to rule the earth, before a human was even born in fact, back in the time when the earth was made of blue butterflies, there was a very beautiful blue butterfly Queen, her name was Arion. Her particular skills were sky dancing, and she was admired by all the other butterflies for her grace and her ability to leave a  trail of beautiful patterns in the sky as she danced.  Now it came to pass that her best friend gave birth to another blue butterfly who grew up very strong and  beautiful , graceful and clever. Her name was Asthena. So clever was Asthena she was able to not only imitate Queen Arion and her wonderful dances in the sky, but she was able to turn the trail of patterns into little golden balls of dust. All the other butterflies admired her so much and asked her to dance for them every day. This made Queen Arion jealous and she began to turn green with envy, and one day in a fit of rage and mad fluttering she turned Asthena  white and banished her from the earth. Disagreeing with Queen Arion’s actions, many of the other blue butterflies on earth became agitated and began an uprising, but Queen Arion was having none of it and she turned them all white and banished them all from the earth.
Meanwhile Asthena flew in the dark away from the  blue earth below and became afraid, but when she turned to see her beautiful blue earth one more time she saw lots of white butterflies coming towards her. Together they flew on in the darkness until they became tired and there they formed a new world, we call it the moon.
Back on earth Queen Arion became sorry for what she had done, so she allowed the white butterflies to visit the earth at night, (in that way she wouldn’t have to see them and feel even worse for what she had done) she also gave them a new name – moths. However not being able to see very well the moths rarely visited earth at night, that was until humans invented artificial light …

Part 1 - Full Moon

Part 1 – Full Moon


Moths - Crescent Moon fb

Part 2 – Crescent Moon


Part 3 - New Moon

Part 3 – New Moon

Click the pictures for more details!

Story and art work © Kate Rattray


Feathers and Leaves

…and flowers… A collection of new pieces. Please contact me if you are interested in any garden paving stones or bird baths or wish to commission a piece for you garden or home. Click the links to buy feather pictures.

Golden Leaf Bird Bath (sold)

Golden Leaf Bird Bath -hand gilded glass (sold)

Seeing Starlings Sculpture Launch

For the last few weeks I have been making starlings for a sculpture trail on Shapwick Heath nature reserve along the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. As you know I have become completely obsessed with these amazing birds even after they have left the area! I wanted to make my own flock so that would always be here.

I started the project with a series of workshops where I was able to teach 11 students a bit or all of the process to make a bird sculpture. The design was one I developed prior to the workshops so I could teach them by step-by-step demonstration.

3rd workshop7

This got the birds off to a flying start (!) and I completed unfinished sculptures and made new ones to make a final 21 starlings plus one that will be in the gallery. Here are a few in various stages of progress…

starling sculptures

Like my 2d starling mosaics I used iridescent black glass tile, and mixed it with plain black glass. I used copper sheet for the beaks and they are grouted in black. I think they look pretty good, here’s one…


This project took some planning.  The main problem being how to install them so they would be secure and wouldn’t  be prone to too much movement in the wind which could casue them to hit each other and break. My first idea was to weld the metal armature wires onto a vertical curved pole but I felt that the final piece would be too cumbersome and could be difficult to install. I then spent several days considering other options, such as welding them horizontally along a tube, onto rigid metal mesh, or inserting the bird wires into various types of tubing. Eventually I chose the latter idea using bamboo.  Not only was it a good support structure (the bird wires fitted perfectly into the bamboo sheath) but it would also blend in well with the reeds in the background. The bamboos are also strong and cheap.

So they were cut to various sizes and the holes drilled open and tried out and tested in my garden before sinking them into buckets of concrete.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into

6 buckets later …

6 buckets

…and I am wondering if they will all go in the car to the site…

Come back next week to find out if they did and see the starlings installed! (hopefully!)


Alternatively, if you don’t live far away come to our Launch Day next Sunday 24th May at Somerset Crafts gallery (where there will be photos of the works as they progressed) and along Shapwick Heath for the Sculpture Trail. There will be several sculptures by fellow members of Somerset Crafts inspired by local wildlife and myth.

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.



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.


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.



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.


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…


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


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



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…




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.





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

And here it is installed!