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. 

Again, and again, and again

Week 6 - Exploring Patterns

Apologies for the late post of results this week. I have been away since Friday and although seeing your pieces and your write-ups is a highlight of my week, I knew that as soon as I opened my email, vacation time would be over, so I procrastinated...

Work and family time took precedence for me this week and I didn't even start to make a piece. I noticed that several others weren't able to get it done this week either, maybe we needed a rest week. Kudos to those of you who continue to make time for your weekly workout!  I hope to catch up and get this one in before the challenge is over*. Patterns are intriguing to me and as Cate T notes, worthy of more contemplation than one week allows, so I expect to revisit them in the future. 

*One challenger, Branwyn, only recently joined the challenge and submitted a few mosaics related to past weeks along with this week's piece. If you manage to fit in some extra time for mosaic and want to tackle some prompts from weeks past, it might take me a bit to do it (the priority is always the week at hand) but I will go back and add them to those weeks. 


switch - full.JPG

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: Switch

Size: 6" x 5"

Time: About 3.5 hours

Love or hate this workout? I won't say hate, but how about strongly dislike? I just found working in a pattern too constraining. I like to let the pieces lead me, but I couldn't seem to figure out how to do that while also settling into a repeating pattern.

Happy with the result? Within the context of the challenge, I'm satisfied, but it's definitely not a favourite of mine.

What did I learn? Patterns are hard and not something that comes naturally to me! Even with just a simple pattern, I struggled. I think they take a lot more planning (and measuring) than my normal style, so if I'm ever faced with a project like this again, I will definitely whip out my ruler and do some calculations first. I also used this challenge as a chance to play with the grain of the limestone (having it echo the orientation of the metal piece it was framing - horizontal around horizontal, vertical around vertical). I've only worked with this stone once before, and I made the effort to have the grain all flowing in the same direction. Seeing it now running both ways in one piece, I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference, at least from far away. Good to know for future projects!


Artist: Sima Zeiger

Title: Swiss Manhole Cover

Materials: Assorted Stone, marble, rock and wire

Time spent: 4 hrs

Thoughts: While on a recent trip to Switzerland I noticed that each Canton/Province had its own unique manhole cover pattern which was the inspiration for this circular patterned piece.

Unfortunately, the finished grouted version was a complete disaster! So, I'm submitting this pre-grouted version which I really like.

Artist: Cate Thomassen

Title: “Row Upon Row”

Materials: Stained and Iridescent glass beads and marbles - approximately 6” x 6” in size. 

Thoughts: Ok, I cheated. I have even less time this week than previous weeks as my usual

Friday off will instead be spent at the IMA in Michael Kruzich’s workshop. I was going to sit this one out but couldn’t bring myself to do. This piece took about 1 hour and involved almost no cutting. 

Pattern is such a loaded topic, and I would have liked to be able to spend some time with it. 

Artist: Elizabeth Grindon

Title: Numismatics - pattern of a coin

Size: 5" Diameter


Recently unearthed in Catifornia, this ancient coin has been identified as belonging to the realm of Queen Angelina I. who ruled in the first part of the 20th century in an area than known as Oaklandia (now known as Corporte Area #600). Although considerably damaged, this coin is unmistakeable, as it contains Queen Angelina's royal symbols - The Claw and The Heart. 

Queen Angelina rose from humble origins (behind a dumpster in Livermore) by a combination of charm, great physical beauty and good fortune. She was mentored by King Russell the Protector (who was himself mentored by Shadow the Great). At the heighth of her reign she commanded an area approx. 20 x 50 feet and employed a staff of three.

Known for her unusual strictness re:time and, at times, her peremptory manner, she was, nevertheless, greatly beloved by her subjects.

It is believed that this coin is the only one in existence of the original three which were awarded to her loyal servants in recognition of their years of devoted service.

Artist: Marsha Lipnisky

Title:   "Quilter's Dream"

Time:  2.75 hours

Thoughts: I enjoy laying out these little tiles and making up different patterns but this time I actually put them in cement.  Because it would take me so long to cement each piece in separately  I used tile tape for the first time.  The tape kept the layout  from moving out of form.  What a time saver and I recommend it to anyone who is working on a flat piece.

These  weekly challenges have pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and learn to use materials and tools I have in my arsenal..... but have not used until now.

Artist: Misha Moore

Size:  6x6

Time: 3 hours (only because of the grinding)

Made from Stained Glass

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this weeks challenge, I don't think too much about pattern in my mosaics. I wanted a pattern but I wanted to keep it simple. I ground every edge of every piece for a softer look. While there is a pattern every piece is slightly different making a very more whimsical and fun piece. I will continue to experiment with this prompt.

Artist:  Janice Oravec

Title:  Candy Crush

Time:  3 hours

Materials:  Vitreous Glass

Thoughts: I love colors and shapes. I loved this weeks challenge. I was going to use the direct method but chickened out. Maybe next week ... not.

Artist: Deborah Englebaugh

Title: Repetition

Size: 6 x 6    

Time: 3 hours

Materials: Pennsylvania Sandstone

Thoughts: The fiber artist in me wanted to make a complicated pattern but knowing that there was a deadline approaching, I decided to go with a simple checkerboard pattern.


Artist: Cheryl Compton

Title:  Circles (unfinished)

Time:  about 3 1/2 hours

Materials:  Pebbles from the beach, white paper

What I learned:  It is really hard to make a repeating pattern!  Seriously, it took me more time to try and get the circles into some sort of pattern that made sense.  And, I kept playing with the background color against the stones (hence the multiple pictures).  I finally settled on the first one to grout.  If I had a greater amount of stones in the same color, I think this challenge would have been easier.  But, it really was a great help in making me think how to play the colors against each other.  The piece isn't grouted, however, not because I ran out of time but instead because I would like to use a different color of grout and don't have the materials necessary to color (yet).  But, I really liked how the piece came out and want to make sure that I finish it with a 'good' contrast grout color instead of just gray or white (my only current options).  I am thinking a coral grout would be nice, but wish I could get other people's opinions before I choose the wrong color.  Which, I believe, could ruin the entire effect of the circles.  Overall, this was a really good challenge for me.

Artist: Kappy Venezia

Title: Quad

Time:  4 hours

Materials:  mirror, tile, Denwar tile, sage grout on concrete board

Thoughts:  I was inspired by a painting that I recently saw at the de Young Museum.  I like the clean lines that the artist used and the color palette.  In my interpretation, I struggled with my choice of colors and the precision to make the lines flow smoothly.  This small scale is challenging.

I am enjoying these challenges because I often suffer from, what we, in our family call "paralysis from analysis", where I analyze something so long that I don't get anything done!  In these challenges there really isn't time to allow yourself to become "paralyzed". You just have to go for it.


Artist: Branwyn Fearn

Title: Hope Springs

Total time was about 4 hours.

Thoughts: This one was fairly easy and fun. As I had previously gone into "production mode" with making polymer clay tiles, it was really just a matter of choosing the large, central piece and then seeing what else came to mind. The hardest part was editing pieces back out and letting there be areas without texture or pattern. 

Artist:  Sherry E. Wallis

Title:  Curls and Stripes

Materials:  Van Gogh Glass, Textured Mirror tiles, wooden ornamentation pieces on 10 x 10 artist board

Time:  about 6 hours

Comments:  Our huge annual dog shows were this week, and I knew I had to get this done last weekend, so I decided to use stripes because I had precut pieces of glass.  I realized that just doing stripes would be very boring, so back to the hoard to find some wooden ornamental pieces that I picked up because they were pretty and have never used.  I made a silicone mold of them so I can make more out of polymer clay (which I've been intending to do for about 4 years) and then worked around them so they'd fit in after I grout.  Dog show over now, I've stained them today, which is about all I have energy for, and I'll grout later this week.  Think I'll grout in a green and will extend it to the spaces on the outside, which I colored in just to mark the pattern.  So I'll grout them in too after I varnish them.  

I was thinking about what I needed to do while I was driving to the show one morning very early, and it hit me that not only were the stripes a pattern, but somehow, unconsciously,  I'd managed to double the theme by picking out patterned tiles.  I don't know if it shows in the photo very well, but even the orange isn't just plain color.  It has some texture under the color so that it appears darker in some spots than others.  Again, I'm very pleased with how this turned out.

Artist: Wilma Wyss

Title: Remembering Grandpa Tack

Size: 7 x 7"

Time: 6 hrs

Thoughts: I really enjoyed making this piece in honor of my father-in-law, Rolin "Tack" Taecker. The pattern is  based on a section of a quilt that my mother-in-law made as a wedding gift for me and my husband. I chose colors that I associated with Tack, who grew up on a farm in South Dakota and became a nuclear scientist. He enjoyed repairing things, dancing and teaching.