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. 

Found Objects - Part 2 - What we made, what we learned

Before I dive into the rest of the results from Week 1, two things:

1. I have to reiterate how amazed I am at the response to this challenge. We have seasoned, professional mosaic artists as well as complete newbies taking this leap with us.  I am so incredibly impressed with the work everyone has done already and look forward to what is yet to come (well over half the participants started too late to make it for Week 1 so this is the smallest group of mosaics we are likely to see!)

2. As you scroll through the pieces others have submitted, fight the urge to compare yourself and your work to others' (I have to do it too!) We are all at different points on our mosaic journeys, coming from different backgrounds, some artistic, some not. As I've said before, and will continue to remind us all, this challenge is about personal growth and learning from one another; it is not a contest, there is no winner and you only lose if you let fear stand in your way.  

And now, Week 1,  your pieces and your thoughts:

Cate Thomassen - It's a switch

Cate Thomassen - It's a switch

Artist: Cate Thomassen

Title: It’s a switch

Time spent: Likely took me closer to 4 hours than 3, but I didn’t time it.

Thoughts: I found this light switch plate sitting on a shelf in the garbage and decided to see what I could do with it. The results could be more interesting, but  I am happy with most of the andamento. I wonder if I should have used black thin set with the white stone. 

Nan Judson - Life's a Beach

Nan Judson - Life's a Beach

Artist: Nan Judson

Title: Life’s a Beach;

Size: 6 x 6”,

Materials: found objects: beach glass and shells from Hawaii, pages from  a marked up Lonely Planet Guidebook, tempered glass. 

Time spent: It took about 3.5 hours, would have been less if I had not cut 1/4” wood flip flops and glued them on.

Thoughts: Liked doing it, especially since I decided in the end to only grout the side tiles. I was worried about the print smearing, especially the title, but discovered that you can print on card stock and an ink jet printed page is less likely to bleed. It was fun to do.

Marilyn Descours - Outside My Comfort Level

Marilyn Descours - Outside My Comfort Level

Artist: Marilyn Descours

Title: Outside My Comfort Level

Time spent: ~ 2 hours

Materials: On a shard of terra cotta with unknown stones that reminded me of jelly beans.  Wrapped in copper wire embellished with garage sale shell beads.

Thoughts - Love it/hate it?: I like it because it’s so different than anything I’ve done.

Kappy Venezia - Chuggin' Chickadee

Kappy Venezia - Chuggin' Chickadee

Artist: Kappy Venezia

Title: Chuggin' Chickadee

Time spent: ~2 hours

Thoughts: I loved doing it.  I'm happy with the results but need to work on choosing grout colors.

Kelli Russell - Remembering Jenny

Kelli Russell - Remembering Jenny

Artist: Kelli Russell

Title: Remembering Jenny

Hours: Probably around 4, at least half of that was contemplation, the physical work went quickly once I decided where I was going

Thoughts: With the exception of the grout and the mastic, all the materials were “found” materials. The stones and tiles were given to me by a friend (the Queen of found objects!) and have been lingering in my garage for years. The substrate is a piece of broken concrete from the back yard.

Thoughts:  I didn’t love or hate this workout; it was definitely a step outside my norm since I used materials that I wouldn’t normally consider and I don’t usually do abstract designs. Do I like the result? I don’t think the design is terribly exciting, but it was fun to spend time fondly remembering the (now deceased) friend who gave me the materials. Jenny would like it, and if she were still with us, I’d give it to her to put in her garden. As it is, I will put it in mine and think of her when I see it.

Deborah Englebaugh -- Infrequent time

Deborah Englebaugh -- Infrequent time

Artist: Deborah Englebaugh

Title: Infrequent Time

Time spent: 3 hours

Materials: Pennsylvania sandstone, smalti, cell phone keys and misc. rocks.

Thoughts: This project was right in line with the type of work I am currently exploring. The found objects I have been incorporating are numbers that deal with the concept of time.

Norma Jene - Rock Spider

Norma Jene - Rock Spider

Artist: Norma Jene

Title: Rock Spider

Time spent: About 3 hours

Thoughts: It was frustrating as I didn't have the right materials but it forced me to look for things I could use instead of tile.  In some way it was fun even though I'm not thrilled with the results.  I learned that I need to get organized and buy some basic supplies.

NOTE: This was Norma's very first mosaic! She hasn't had the chance to take a class or gather substrates, tools or materials so this was truly an exercise in ingenuity. 

Rachel Saidman - Found

Rachel Saidman - Found

Artist: Rachel Saidman

Title: Fun

Time spent: I spent about 5 hours total so far... probably too many small pieces for a one week endeavor but I will finish it...

Thoughts: Challenge for me is working quickly - I find it hard to be 'inspired' in a hurry ;-) I actually think this will be good for me as it will force me to not 'over analyze' - a definite tendency of mine.

Julie Sperlng - The Missing Link

Julie Sperlng - The Missing Link

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: The Missing Link

How long did it take to complete? Just under 4 hours

Love or hate this workout? Love! This was well within my wheelhouse and aligned with what I already like doing.

Happy with the result? There are a few things I would change, but overall I’m satisfied.

What did I learn? (Or what did I learn that I need to learn?) I very readily fall back into my comfort zone and play it safe. I’m hoping that future challenges will really make me push myself (and that I’ll embrace the chance to do just that).

Sarah Stewart - Hot Pot

Sarah Stewart - Hot Pot

Artist: Sarah Stewart

Title: Hot Pot

Time spent: It took me about 3 hours to create the piece--planning, grinding glass, sampling smalti pieces.  Used Lexel to adhere.

Thoughts: This is my first "crafty" mosaic project.  OK, but I want to get back to my regular mosaic work with glass and smalti.


Artist: Dana Sheridan

Title: Palm

Time spent: ~3 hours?

Thoughts: This was made entirely with ‘found’ objects – beach glass, shells, and the side cuts of agate that a friend-of-a-friend found in her garage.  It’s not meant to be a masterpiece…with the limited color palate, I knew it would have to be simple, so a beachy palm tree came to mind.  I grouted it with white grout mixed with 2 colors of blue acrylic paint to look like sky/water.  So…I was pleased that I got even this simple piece done as I’m pretty busy at the moment…

Rita Josephson - Queen of the Barbies

Rita Josephson - Queen of the Barbies

Artist: Rita Josephson

Title: Queen of the Barbies 

Time spent: ~ 3 hours

Thoughts: I loved the workout because I was under a great deal of pressure since I wasn't able to start it until [the] last night.  I am pretty happy with the result, although if I had more time, I would have chosen something else for the legs.  I learned that a lot can get done in very little time!

Sima Zeiger - Found Object- 3 Wooden Balls

Sima Zeiger - Found Object- 3 Wooden Balls

Artist: Sima Zeiger

Title: Found Object - 3 Wooden Balls

Time: 4 hrs

Thoughts: Happy with result. Challenging working in a 6x6 frame.  I learned how useful millefiori can be in those hard to fill spaces

Sherry Wallis - Zentangle bottle

Sherry Wallis - Zentangle bottle


Artist: Sherry Wallis

Time--about 5 hrs (didn't actually time)

Thoughts--I was working on this anyway and it has "found" elements.  I'm a Zentangle addict, and I've exported my obsession to polymer clay.  The canes from which the tiles are made are ones I've had for other projects.  The hardest thing was getting the chain on the bottle as a divider for the design sections.  I usually use Apoxy but this one is so open, I thought it better to use a combination of bonder and an underlying polymer clay layer.  So then I had to do some fixit work on it.  The bottle is, obviously, from salvage and the chain is an old necklace.  

Artist: Cheryl Compton

Title: Dragonfly

Materials: I only use found objects (because I live on an island and can't buy things easily) that I can pick up at the beach. 

Thoughts: I've never taken a class and have learned everything I know so far from web sites and You Tube. (Welcome and well done, Cheryl!)

Artist: Ilse Cordoni

Time Spent: 5 hours+

What I learned: The found objects were easy and I rather like them.  I have been wanting to make some watery ‘undersea’ mosaics and they made me think of clamshells or some other mollusk.  I wanted them piled up as they might be underwater.  On the down side, I could not figure out any way to vary or make them smaller or larger or more interesting (without just using differently colored beer caps).

The seriously educational aspect of this exercise was that I had something in my mind but did not take the time to plan it out well or to draw or make a serious sketch.  And I fancied the lines of smalti being like grasses or seaweed trailing up through the water but did I not think that perhaps those might better be a different less water color—green or greenish perhaps.  Nope.  Just started laying them in and then suddenly, or seemingly suddenly, I had carelessly crossed two of the same color in the center and marked with a bauble. 

Once I realized that mistake (I am truly a dufus at this) pretty much gave up.  I wanted to lay in a little background to see how it might look but knowing that I would not be going any further with the mosaic I pretty much quit.  And all this took 5 hours, but I did include prepping the substrate nicely . . .

Next time I will definitely spend a lot more time planning, no matter what the challenge.  And hopefully get a much better result for the time spent.

Artist: Branwyn Fearn

Title: Sing Spring

Time: Total time was something like 7 hours.

Thoughts: I just wanted to get something put together and for some reason, abstract flowers are "easy" and came to mind. I wasn't very happy with them in the beginning. They seemed too random and disjointed. However, once I decided on the background it seemed to start coming together better. By the time I grouted and then added all my embellishments, I actually quite liked it. 

Well, that took too long and didn't come out very well!

Given that it just took me way too many  hours to format this slightly wonky and not terribly inspired page (referring to my layout, not your work!) I will likely be updating the submission process in the coming weeks to make it more manageable for me and (hopefully) a better experience for you, dear mosaic artists.

Keep an eye out for new info - I'll post it here as well as emailing it out to the group once I've sorted it out.