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 using  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.

Happy May Day

🙂

 

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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)  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, 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.

Happy Easter!

🙂

 

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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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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 photos of the Kingfishers and enjoy them on your wall!

 

 

 

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Mosaic Odysseys Festival – from London to Athens to Mykonos

feeding-doves

Two weeks ago I returned from Athens from the Mosaic Odysseys exhibition which has now moved onto Mykonos. Being in Greece was an inspiring experience, I climbed the Acropolis and Lykavittos Hill and even though there were crowds of people around me, I still felt a connection with the ancient Greeks and I was in awe of the Greek Gods.  Spread out before me was the whole of Athens and I imagined what it must have been like all those years ago with temples and lodgings scattered about. One evening on top of Lykavittos Hill I watched a storm brewing, lightning bolts lit the sky reminding me I was in Zeus’ territory.

The exhibition was held in the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, a modern light and spacious building with a theatre. Our exhibition was displayed on two floors.There were more works on show than there were in London. More pieces by the  Greek artists and lovely big photos of pieces that were sold in London (printed by Lydia Papadopoulou’s husband). So the whole exhibition was there in a sense.

On Friday 9th September we had the inauguration. The place was buzzing with people all night. New people were met and lots was said.

Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

 

Inauguration of Mosaic Odysseys in Athens

Inauguration of Mosaic Odysseys in Athens

 

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Me with my doves

Me with my doves and photos of my works sold in London

 

Sunrise in Athens

Sunrise in Athens

 

View from the Acropolis

View from the Acropolis

Now the exhibition is in Mykonos until 30th September. Unfortunately I can’t be there as I am at Somerset Crafts having set up a temporary studio for the duration of Somerset Art Weeks.

mykonos-poster

The work looks wonderful in a magical setting. I wish I was there! You can see pictures on the Mosaic Odysseys facebook page.

I have been reassured by Artemis Klitsi, one of the Greek mosaic artists that they are taking great care of my doves although they had trouble the first night keeping them from flying out to join the night life and the second day they wanted to fly to Delos!

Here is Lydia Papadopoulou feeding them with grapes!

🙂

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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!

🙂