IMA's Weekly Mosaic Workout Challenge

Institute of Mosaic Art's Weekly Mosaic Workout Challenge. We are challenging ourselves, and whoever wants to join us, to make a mosaic every week from June 6th to November 6th, 2014. 

The Weekly Mosaic Workout Challenge - Complete

Week 20 - Artist's Choice


In the belly of fall, under the shadow of the looming holidays, we come to the end of our Challenge.  20 weeks of mosaic workouts, some completed by 25+ people, others completed only by 2 or 3.  20 weeks worth of mosaics to look at and learn from. Some things worked, some didn't so much.

Whether by doing the workouts or just by watching the submissions each week, I hope that at the very least, you are more aware of what you know and are making different and better mistakes now than you were when we started.

Though the numbers of submissions have dwindled, I choose to believe that all of you are still out there, making mosaics and just haven't had time to make these mosaics. The Challenge will be here on the IMA site for you to refer back to when you hit a wall and need a prompt to get you going again. 

As mentioned previously, I'm still figuring out what's next for the WMW and am open to suggestions (and late or updated submissions from previous weeks - note: posting may be sporadic for a little while) so please email me your thoughts at: 

Huge thanks, again,  to everyone who participated in this project, even if only for a week.  Extra special thanks to Sherry Wallis and Julie Sperling for showing up so consistently and sharing their work these past 20 weeks. And now on to their final submissions...

Julie Sperling - Wayfinding

Julie Sperling - Wayfinding

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: "Wayfinding" 

Size: 6″ x 6″

Materials: Nothing but rocks!

How long did it take to complete? About 7 hours, I think... I lost count

Thoughts: This, in theory, should've been the easiest prompt: just do what you do. Instead, it was the hardest (but I guess the things that are closest to your heart usually are). The one phrase in the challenge prompt that really resonated with me was the one about making something that reminds you of why you fell for mosaic in the first place. And the reason I fell in love with mosaic (at least the way I do it now) was the rocks. I love knowing where my materials come from and having a very direct hand in their sourcing and processing. I also love how rocks are imbued with history and meaning; they have stories, whether they are unspoken geologic stories or tales of modern-day adventure. Who hasn't picked up a stone while on vacation as a memento? People connect with stones, and I love that. To honour that connection, I made this mosaic entirely out of stones---all from Canada---that had been given to me by various rock fairies (and people very dear to my heart), who chose these stones specifically for me to use in my art. In terms of composition and process, I get no greater pleasure than when I let the tesserae and the lines take me on a journey, so with this piece I just followed their lead and went wherever they decided to take me. Overall, this feels like a fitting end to this 20-week challenge.

Sherry E. Wallis - Olivia Tangled

Sherry E. Wallis - Olivia Tangled

Artist:  Sherry E. Wallis

Title:  Olivia Tangled

Time: 10 hrs

Materials:  Vitreous glass tile, glitter tile, copper wire, polymer clay on 10 x 10" artist board.  

Thoughts:  Wow, looking back, the twenty weeks have gone by quickly.  In this, I've returned to my own favorite style, Zentangle-Inspired work, polymer clay, and, of course, my Akitas.  It took me longer to do this because I wanted to make almost all the tiles, and I had a few miscalculations.  Nice thing is, I'll use them somewhere else.  Overall, I'm pleased with this piece.  

Thank you. Mosaic on!

Beginning of the end? or End of the beginning?

Week 19 - Endings

After today, only one more post of mosaics from the Challenge.  This project has been more (and different) work than I anticipated so I do look forward to taking a break from it.  That said, I will absolutely miss this part, where I get to look at and post what everyone submitted.  In the beginning, when I was still trying to keep up, I wouldn't look at anyone else's submissions until I'd done my workout for the week so as not to be influenced, now I still save them up so that I can sit down and give them due attention. 

Our two stalwarts, Julie Sperling and Sherry Wallis were the only contributors this week (if I missed someone else's, drop me an email!) 

Thank you, Julie and Sherry, for taking the time each week and sharing your work with all of us. I am excited to see what you'll send for your "you" piece next week!

*Please forgive any formatting inconsistencies - our platform just updated and while the improvements are nice, some things aren't working the way they used to!

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: "Foiled again"

Size: 6″ x 4.25″

Materials: Smalti, tile, glass rod

How long did it take to complete? About 3.5 hours

Thoughts: I swear I had every intention of filling in the background, I really did! I even started doing it and then looked at the clock: Sunday afternoon, deadline looming... Realizing it was going to take me far too long, I ripped it out and started again with just the maze lines. Ahh negative space, how I have come to love and rely on you! When I started thinking about this prompt, I had a bunch of different ideas, but in the end I decided to just have fun with it and do something I normally wouldn't do. So, not being big on rigid structure and right angles, I settled on the maze idea---lots of endings, opportunities for detours, etc. And yes, I realize I have absolutely no future as a maze designer---it's so easy even a blind T-Rex could solve it in 3 seconds flat.

Artist:  Sherry E. Wallis

Title:  Is this the end of the road?

Time: 6 hrs

Materials:  Stained glass, polymer clay

Thoughts:  When I started, I got out some tiles to use, and then I mixed up some polymer clay, intending to make concrete-colored tiles for the road, and it just took over.  This isn't what I intended, but it's what I envisioned, so I guess it's finished.  BTW, those are NOT vultures, they are golden eagles.   I started to put a cow skull on the side of the road, but decided that would just be too grim...maybe it will appear later.  

Last but not least

Week 20 - The final prompt of the WMW Challenge 2014


Here we are, the final prompt post of the Challenge.  

This has been quite an experience. Fairly early on I recognized that running IMA (as a relatively new small business owner, still figuring lots out as I go) didn't allow for enough mental space or physical time in studio to actually work on the weekly pieces. So, I didn't achieve the goal I set out for myself but I  have still so enjoyed running the Challenge and seeing everyone's work and reading about your thoughts and processes. 

Our numbers of weekly submissions have dwindled here near the very end, but people continue to sign up! I've also received many notes about how much someone is enjoying seeing the works each week, even though they cannot participate at this time or that they plan to use the prompts outside of the Challenge to help them move forward in their mosaic endeavors.  What I thought would be a little project for my mother and I and maybe a few IMA students has had far greater reach than I anticipated, and that has been really exciting. 

What's next for the Challenge?

I will be posting results from last week and this week over the next two weeks so it's not over yet!  After that, per request, I'll post any pieces from the Challenge that were in progress earlier and have now been completed (grouted, etc.) It would be great to continue to post submissions from people new to the Challenge who are going back through and trying some of the workouts too. I'd really like to set up some "galleries" for each week's results and allow people to post their own but given other projects I'm embroiled in, I  cannot take on sorting that out at this time. 

Based on the response to the Challenge, I'll likely do something similar next year. There will be some obvious changes, the biggest of which is creating more of a forum where participants can interact with one another more easily and comment on/discuss individual works -- maybe a private Facebook or Google+ group or perhaps a thread on CMA?   I don't like to ask those who aren't on social networks to join them in order to participate but maybe there's a happy in-between place. Let me know if you have preferences/suggestions.

Week 20 - Artist's Choice

Yep, this one is up to you.  

Look at the work you've done over the past 4 months, think about what you've enjoyed, what you've hated, what you are capable of accomplishing given a week and a few hours in the studio. Use the materials you love, choose a design that plays to your strengths, make something that reminds you why you fell for mosaic in the first place. 

I haven't forgotten you!

Week 18 - Redux #2

Hello Challengers and Challenge watchers. I have dropped the ball this past week, and for this I apologize profusely. I am underwater with work projects, and yet took 3 days "off" last weekend for Emma Biggs' class - which I am now paying for with lots of catch-up!

The class was fabulous, by the by -- probably a bit advanced for me but Emma is insightful and delightful. I learned more than I could possibly re-cap about color and pattern and some of the ways to look at art and think about building a mosaic design.  I am the worst about making mosaics in class and only rarely finish something over the course of a weekend workshop - this was no exception.  I did start something though! I didn't go in with a project in mind and after showing Emma a mosaic I had in progress but had stalled on and become a bit bored by, she recommended I break it (it was thinset on plastic) and use the pieces in something new. I went for it and now have a piece in progress that I'm looking forward to completing -- it's different than anything I've done before, which is exciting. 

I promise to post the prompt tomorrow on schedule, and to get the final two weeks' work up in a more timely fashion. I also plan to  speak to the possible future of the Weekly Workout.

And now on to Redux #2 results...

Artist: Ginny Sher

Title: Dance in Red [Switcheroo redux]

Time: 2.5 hours

Hate/Love: I can’t say that I loved this challenge, but it was fun.  I have never worked with broken dishes before and have been waiting for the right opportunity to try it. I’m not attracted to most pique assiette mosaics as I find them often to be a little too busy. Awhile back I scored a whole set of red/white dishes for a pittance and wondered if I would ever use them.  I broke the set down into smaller pieces simply so it could be stored more easily and proceeded to forget I had them.  (We all do that, right? ) Ergo, the Switcheroo. 

Happy:  Yes, I am happy with the result simply because the finished mosaic is a style that is more accustom to what I would usually create, even  while using  different material.  I’m pleased that I stretched to use a tesserae that I am not overly fond of.  This also plays into what I learned and that is I can create something that pleases me even though I wouldn’t gravitate to the material.

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: Reasonable facsimile of Picasso's camel sketch 

Size: 6″ x 6"

Materials: Cinca

How long did it take to complete? About 2.5 hours

Thoughts: I was really hoping I'd get to miss the challenge where we had to copy a non-mosaic artist's work... Damn catch-up weeks! It's Thanksgiving up here in Canada and I'm spending an extra long weekend away in Montreal, so I had to be pretty strategic in terms of what I chose to replicate. As with other weeks when I've been pressed for time, I decided to maximize the negative space and went with one of Picasso's line drawings (a camel). This also meant that I could keep the materials really simple (just cinca, in this case) and didn't have to pack much---just a few tiles, my tweezers, nippers, and a bottle of glue. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. There are some issues with the keystoning in parts, but heck, I was on vacation and wasn't being too exacting. Had I had more time and access to all my materials, I really would have liked to have tried my hand at interpreting a Rothko. Maybe I'll save that for a self-imposed challenge on a rainy day...

Artist:  Sherry E Wallis

Title:  In The Big Rock Candy Mountains

Time: 12 hrs

Materials:  Stained glass, glitter glass, transparent iridescent glass, vitreous glass, mirror glass, glitter, seed beeds,  rocks, pebbles, gravel, millefiori, polymer clay on 12 x 15 Wedi board mounted in thinset and apoxy sculpt  

Thoughts:  I used all my spare time to catch up this piece.  Some of the glue is still wet--that's the bluish color on the big mountain where I added some seed beeds and glitter.  I need to turn it over and let the excess pebbles fall off to see if I need to glue any more in.  Also, I will frame it using black Apoxy Sculpt around the wedi and some of the thinset.  It will also cover the glass that I didn't cut correctly, and which I didn't discover until I was already into the piece.  I can see I also need to paint the thinset around the rocks or put down glue and gravel. 

I'm very happy with how this has come out.  I think it captures the song well, and was a lot of fun to make.  

On the catch-up front, I've also gotten two pieces grouted from previous challenges--Motion and Black & White.  For the String Theory, I painted the thinset and put traffic lines on the street.  


*Note: I noticed that while Sherry's piece looks right side up to me in the "edit" mode, when I publish, it goes sideways.  I will continue to work on adjusting!

The Penultimate Workout

Week 19 - Ending

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."   Orson Welles

The end is near.  For this next-to-last workout, I'm thinking about endings: the end of a challenge, the end of an era, the end of a story, the end of a life. Endings can be happy, sad, satisfying, confusing...  What comes to mind when you think of "ending?"  

“Endings to be useful must be inconclusive.” 
― Samuel R. Delany