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. 

Three, Trois, Tres...

Threes rule - What we made, what we learned

Many of us quite enjoyed this week's theme. I sense that at least a few artists will be revisiting this prompt and/or some aspect of it in future work.  Despite triangles being a taboo in some mosaic circles, we used them anyway, and often to good effect - which just goes to show that all rules can be broken sometimes.

Finding the balance between planning and executing, with limited time overall, continues to be a common frustration.  I keep wanting to plan out my pieces a bit more but I also worry that the planning will result in my figuring out I need to do something very different and then I will have run out of time and really have to rush and/or won't get it done.  Am trying to look at these pieces more like that in a weekend workshop -- i.e.  you can't expect it to be perfect, you are making something in order to learn how to apply a given technique or take a different perspective.  There is a certain annoying aspect of the Challenge in that when we hit on a topic that really captures my imagination, I want to keep on that path, but instead I need to move on to the following week and something different.  

Hmm, maybe next year we'll do a monthly challenge with weekly prompts for thinking and planning and a single mosaic due at the end of the month...

Onto the art of the week...

Artist: Sima Zeiger
Title: Tre Ciliegie
Materials: Vitreous and stained glass
Time Spent: 4hrs
Comments: I was inspired by Carol Shelkin's Realism-Painting with Stained Glass class last weekend and wanted to play with "color, gradation, value and types of shadows".
 To grout or not to grout? That was the question? Leaving as is for now. Overall very happy with my piece.

Artist: Misha Moore
Size: 6" x 6"
Title: "Three"
Time worked: 5 hours
Materials: Stained glass, vintage button, handmade ceramic stars, beads, ball chain and architectural letters.
Thoughts: I just went downright  whimsical this week! This project was fun, although I almost broke the rules and did a 5 (that's the number I am drawn to)! After completing this project I have decided to do all of the numbers from 0-9 to have a larger set as one art piece. I think that will be a lot of fun! This project also took me longer than the others, I have had a tenancy in the past to cram a piece of tesserae in every last nook and cranny. I am learning  so much about negative space and letting the  grout be part of the piece, not just the fine lines that hold it all together!

Artist:  Sherry Wallis
Title:  Ancient threes
Time:  6 hrs total
Materials: 3 groups of rocks, handmade ceramic tile, polymer clay.  Rocks in tinted thinset.  Edging and black rocks in black apoxy clay, all on wedi board. 
Dimensions: about 12" x 12"
Thoughts: The first thing I thought about regarding 3 was a triangle.  I started poking around in my hoard and found this triangular ceramic tile that I got in a Brown Bag Exchange at SAMA years ago.  I think it was left over from a public art project in the SW, and when I saw the little petroglyphs on it, I started thinking about the history of numbers.  I read that early counting glyphs had one mark for 1 and two for 2 and then 3 marks for more.  

Those thoughts led me to my rock piles where I found some limestone my sister brought me from Austin and two other containers with lighter and darker rocks.  Perfect, I thought, 3 kinds of rocks to go around my 3-cornered tile.  I wanted to incorporate some glyphs and pictographs, but didn't have a smooth enough rock to do a big section.  I wanted the feeling of the long, even sections of cave walls so I mixed some polymer clay colors together to simulate marble veins, and then incised them with numbers and drawings which I filled in with white paint.  

I wanted to evoke a feeling of being in the southwestern US with all its petroglyphs.  These were probably just as much informational as recording tribal or individual histories.  And I wanted to use an artist's license to include various symbols related to threes...both in writing and in symbols.  I think I succeeded in that. 

Artist: Cate Thomassen
Title: Yikes, Triangles!
Materials: Iridescent vitreous glass and unglazed porcelain tiles. It’s approximately 6” x 6” in size. 
Thoughts: This one took forever. I’m not sure how much time I put into planning and then rethinking it but it was a lot. The actual execution was about 6 hours including the time it took to remove one section and redo it. I find that as I’m hurrying these projects, the work ends up a little sloppy, this being a case in point. 
My interstices are too large in many spots and the cuts too jagged. Because of the “3” theme, I decided to do this one entirely in the dreaded triangles, but I think it would have been more effective if I’d used rectangles in the background thereby highlighting the triangles in the foreground.

I’m definitely enjoying working in geometrics and will do some more playing along that line in future.

Artist:  Marsha Lipnisky
Time:  Approx. 6 hours
Thoughts:   The substrate is a 7 inch stepping stone to which I used thinset to adhere the pieces of broken plates to and grouted with a mixture of white and medium gray sanded grout.
I enjoyed drawing my design and then following it to a "T" which I usually never do because of my "organic" tendencies.  Working with 3 colors, 3 different plates, and the scalene triangle (having 3 unequal sides and three unequal angles) was a blast.
I learned that I can stay within the lines with a little time and patience. "SCALENE"


Artist:  Janice Oravec
Title:  Hint, Hint
Time:  3 hours
Materials:  Paper on MDF
Thoughts: The theme of three was quite a broad theme.  I had a difficult time getting started, wasn't too thrilled or inspired by THREE.  I wasn't terribly fond of working with paper and glue, as I got glue all over my fingers. There has got to be a better way; I was too lazy to get a brush... I think the end result is fun and it is maybe my favorite so far.


Artist: Randina Casenza

Title:    Threen
Size:  6” x 6” 
Time spent:   2.5 hours
Materials:   Stained glass, pennyrounds, vitreous tile,

Thoughts:  At first I was going to do something with the number 3 in an interesting font.  Then a studio mate showed me the Mod Mosaics series on the Mercury Mosaics website where they combined subway tile with circles, thin strips and square tiles. It looked simple (they always do), so I played with the shapes in combinations of 3.  I’m constantly amazed at how complicated a small mosaic can seem!


Artist: Elizabeth Grindon

Thoughts: sticking with the greens for "3" -  three flowers, three colors, mostly. Also decided to link this one to the two previous weeks - so I'd have a triptych of flowery, grassy greens. This one was done with charcoal. So 3 different grouts used for the triptych - mallard, sable brown, charcoal. I had much fun with this! And would like to expand on these flowery things.

Artist: Julie Sperling
Title: Three Generations
Size: 4" x 5"
How long did it take to complete? About 3 hours
Love or hate this workout? I really enjoyed this one. It was a bit stressful coming up with an idea, mostly because I tend to be very literal. Appropriately enough, the idea I ended up running with was my third one, ha!
Happy with the result? I was working on this one at the cottage, so there were a few "meh, good enough" moments because I wanted to finish so I could join in the board game fun and/or go read down by the water, but overall I'm happy with it, particularly because it has sentimental value.
What did I learn? I reinforced the fact that I need to let an idea percolate for a while in my head if I'm not feeling it 100%, because if I allow myself to do that I will inevitably hit upon a better idea than I started out with. The inspiration for this mosaic finally hit when I remembered that my grandma had told me that she had picked up a stone for me the last time she was at the cottage. I decided to get my mom to find one too, and I did the same, so the piece is built around three stones selected by three generations from the same shoreline, all tied together by an unbroken loop of marble. 

Artist:  Cheryl Compton
Title:  Third time's a charm (The Spear)
Time:  3 hours
Materials:  Stone spear head (found on the beach,) rocks from Xanadu, Non-sanded pourable grout
Thoughts: What did I learn:  I learned that if you keep trying and practicing, you can learn new techniques.  I LOVE this piece.  If you remember in the past (Week # 3), I attempted this technique from a book by Maggy Howarth and it didn't come out so well.  But, in the process of writing up my narrative for the workout, I did identify the things that I thought I had done wrong.  I went back to this technique and tried it again (with much better result) and then did it for this weeks challenge.  I determined that I really LOVE the look of this way of doing mosaics when it is finished.  I love the versatility of the way the rocks are used and I love that this provides an alternative to the straight lines of cut stone and the round of the natural stone on its side.  (Hope that made sense).  Challenges are still in place for me.  I need to be better at determining what the proper size stone is when at the beach, so that I don't have to return when I run out.  I need to figure out how to work this in smaller stone, so the pieces are lighter and easier to frame/display.  And, I need to start looking at the stones on their sides when color sorting (there are a few that aren't the same shade as the others).  Overall, I love the second and third attempts at this technique and will definitely keep working with it in the future. 

Artist:  Kappy Venezia
Title:  Peace
Materials:  Denwar ceramic tile
Thoughts:  Again rushing to finish, got back from vacation last night.  I like it.  I'm finally happy with grout color.  I had my doubts when I mixed the grout but once it was on the piece I like it.

Artist: Kelli Russell
Title: Moon Cycle
Hours: at least 7 so far, partly because I went bigger with a 12” piece.
Thoughts: This was a “dog ate my homework” kind of week so as of noon on Sat. I’m not finished yet. The short version of how I got here from the prompt “three” is this: After seeing the reference to the triple goddess on the Wikipedia link, I knew I wanted to use the waxing, full, and waning moon. Instead of putting them in a row, I decided to stack them in a triangle shape, but then the new moon needed to be included, and the whole thing needed to be done against a circular background. My thinking is I’ll mix white and brownish gray grout to have a light but not bright white colored grout which will – I hope – make it appear as if there is a soft glow coming from the “cracks.” This was another fun challenge. I like where this piece is going.

Artist: Deb Englebaugh
Title: One Less Than Four
Size: 6 x 6    
Time: 4 hours
Materials: Marble, smalti and bisque fired clay
Thoughts: I have a tendency to do things in groups of three so this assignment came very easy. Kept the color selection to three and worked with three circle forms. 

Artist: Wilma Wyss
Title:  None
Size: 6 x 6    
Time: 6 hours, plus 1 for grouting
Materials: stained glass and bottle necks on mirror and wediboard substrate.
Thoughts: I've really been wanting to do these challenges and finally got to one. The theme of "three" really appealed to me. Recently I've been making mosaics using the top part of bottle necks. I cut down a bunch of them and have them all sorted by color and size. I decided to do a design of bottlenecks and in each circle have three sections. I also had three color families but ended up not sticking with it. I was hoping to whip this out but got obsessed with the details. I used a clear epoxy glue to adhere the glass to the substrate of mirror and it was hard to control probably because I was using some tiny bits of glass. I was hoping for an overall shimmery effect but that didn't really happen. Also the photo makes it look flatter than it is. When looking at the mosaic now, I wonder why I chose this color  combo which I find unattractive. I think I was distracted while making this mosaic and didn't consider my decisions carefully. Also  for me it's important that my art work has some deeper meaning and this little mosaic does not. I think that shows. It's also why I couldn't come up with a title.  Next time I will try to make a simple but meaningful mosaic, and actually complete it in 3 hrs!

Artist: Kathy Richardson
Title:  Introverts
Size: 6 x 8"    
Time: 6 hours, plus 1 for grouting
Materials: Hardie board, acrylic paint, glass
Thoughts: A little bit more planning ahead of time would have been good.  Ended up painting it after part of the circles were done, got paint on some of the tessera which was difficult to deal with.
The lack of planning let me just add to the "circles" until they looked right.  I don't typically do "open" mosaics. They can look pretty neat when they are created, but they are going to collect dust and such over time and that drives me crazy to contemplate. :) I enjoyed playing with this theme.


Artist: Sophia Cordoni
Title: Tri
Time: ~3 hours (including design change)
Materials: Stained glass, mirror glass
Thoughts: I’m getting better and downsizing my ideas to fit into the ~3 hours I’ve committed to each week and though the results aren’t amazing, it feels good to get the thing finished (or at least 95% finished - needs a tiny bit of grout). I started with a quite different concept for “3” but couldn’t wrap my head around how to make it work quickly so abandoned it (for now) in favor of this triangle subdivision piece. I love geometry and geometric designs but haven’t done much in that realm in mosaic yet. This was fun and pretty easy (except that the purple mirror glass was wavy so getting precision cuts was trying at times) If I had been at IMA or my studio, I probably would have used my grinder and made some more precise tesserae which I think would improve the piece (was at home with no grinder.) 

P.S. Am still working on getting images from previous weeks adjusted. Once that's done, I will also endeavor to post some of the "follow-up" shots (of grouted pieces etc.) that you've sent.