The Four Winds

This was my third piece for the Mosaic Odysseys festival.

I love the story of the four winds in Homer’s Odyssey.

Aeolus, keeper of the winds gave Odysseus a bag of wind bound up with silver thread to help him on his journey. He stored it safely on the ship and at first it was only the fair west wind that blew. However Odysseus’ men believed it to be full of gold and silver so they opened the bag and let out the four winds  … “They loosed the sack whereupon the wind flew howling forth and raised a storm that carried us weeping out to sea and away from our own country” (The Odyssey – book X by Homer)

The Four Winds or “Anemoi” were the wind gods. Boreas was the north wind god bringing cold winter winds, Zephyrus was the west wind god bringing spring and summer breezes, Notos was the south wind god who brought later summer and autumn storms and Eurus was the east wind god bringing warm winds and rain.

After a few rough sketches I came up with another rough one …

drawing

Uh oh! Did you notice my mistake? I got east and west the wrong way around which might explain why I get lost so easily in big cities (or anywhere really!) My map reading is hopeless and if I drive or walk somewhere new I have real trouble reversing the directions to get back. I think it is a kind of map dyslexia!

Luckily I noticed before I started the mosaic so was able to flip the design!

beginning

I started with  Eurus , the east wind. To hide the cut edges of the deep foil backed glass I cut the rain drops from, I built up the cement adhesive in between to lay the hand gilded silver metal leaf glass and mirror. Then stained glass was laid on edge either side of the rain drops.

For Notos, the south wind, I used a mixture of marble, stone, ceramic and gold lipped oyster and a little silver leaf glass to depict storm clouds.

progress2

progress

I used warm colours of Italian smalti glass and milliefiori flowers for Zephyrus, the spring west wind, the gentle curves in the design imitating the gentle breezes.

I imagined the Boreas wind would look like cold silver and white snakes, and I used smalti, hand gilded silver leaf glass, Italian silver leaf glass, vitreous glass tile, and gold lipped oyster shell.

Just like the other two mosaics the bird is made of Italian gold leaf glass.

You might notice I laid some mirror tile below the tail of the bird. This was because I was going to use transparent rods to illustrate the Notos wind coming from the storm clouds but I changed my mind, it didn’t work and I ended up using slate and smalti laid on edge with silver leaf glass as the bolt of lightning.

detail 6

I grouted the work in different shades of grey, Zephyrus was a paler grey than the rest in dark charcoal and I left the slate and marble sections ungrouted.

detail 4

detail 3

detail 2

 

detail 1

 

the four winds

The Four Winds (smalti, milliefiori, marble, slate, stone, gold lipped oyster shell, vitreous glass tile, iridescent glass tile, stained glass, metal foil glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, silver leaf glass, gold leaf glass)

 

The Mosaic Odysseys Festival

The first exhibition is now over at the Hellenic Centre in London.

I was delighted to sell all three works I made.

three sold mosaics

My work sold at the Hellenic Centre. From left to right: The Four Winds, The Enchanter, The Whirlwind That Takes Me There

I will be making some new work for the next two exhibitions of this wonderful mosaic odyssey!

The festival will move onto Athens 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.

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.

Have a look at our website here

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

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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

😉

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

 

Bah Humbug!

Oh yes it’s that time again when we are all scrabbling around trying to find interesting presents for our families and friends. And there is news that we might have a white Christmas here in the south west UK, so all the more reason to get the shopping done now and then hopefully we can relax!
Well I am using this post to shamelessly plug my new pieces available to buy on my Folksy shop. Hey, you don’t need to behave like Scrooge! Don’t go yet! Talking of Scrooge, I would like to introduce you to my Bah Humbug Bee Pendants and brooches.

bees folksy

Bah Humbug Bees!

Then there are my Fish for the Funky Punks Brooches

shoal folksy

Fish Brooches for the Funky Punks

Both the bees and the fish can be ordered without backs and fixed straight to a wall or as part of your personal mosaic project.

They are made by hand-gilding glass with metal leaf and cutting it to shape. Once used for mosaic the glass is on top because if used gilded side up even after sealing, the grout will ruin the metal leaf.   The substrate for the brooches is aluminium, hand cut and filed. For the bee’s thorax I made some polymer clay half bead shapes that are fired in the oven and then varnished. They were great fun to make and finally we found a use for my daughter’s pasta machine!

beads

I have also made some more box frame mosaic art pieces.

This is my series “Three Golden Birds at Sunset” I think these precious little mosaics made with Venetian gold leaf glass and smalti look quite eye-catching  in the deep boxes, what do you think?

You can see more details about each of these items and more on my Folksy shop

Happy Shopping and have a Very Merry Christmas!
🙂

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.

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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!

🙂

Disappearing Sun

I have wanted to make this piece for sometime now, and finally I have got round to it. It is a development of a mosaic I made in 2011 called “Gathering Darkness“. It is one of my favourite pieces and despite several of my customers asking if they could buy it, I have found I am too attached to it and it remains above my fireplace with occasional excursions to exhibitions, where I price it so high that no-one can touch it!
This is Gathering Darkness:

Gathering-Darkness--K.Rattr

Gathering Darkness

The sun in this mosaic is the point of departure for my new piece. There is so much energy and movement in the sun that I wanted to make a sequenced mosaic to illustrate the changes of the sun. It is like other series I have made; as if stills of an animation.
I decided on 10 parts, as this was just enough to complete the story. Each part is 10cm x 10cm being the same format as a piece I made in 2009 “Ten Phases of the Sun” (below) a commission made for the Bilston Gallery to celebrate their 10th birthday:

Ten-Phases-of-the-Sun

Ten Phases of the Sun

So to the present – Here is my new piece, made with the same materials as “Gathering Darkness” – (Venetian smalti and gold leaf glass.)

This is “Disappearing Sun

Disappearing-Sun-rattray

Disappearing Sun

Here is a slide show so you can see the details:

And this is what happens when I play about with the images!

Thanks for reading and watching 🙂