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. 

Playing with string

Week 15 - String Theory

This week's workout was brought to us by Kelley Knickerbocker.  It was a toughie for some but a challenge that you seemed to enjoy, and might even try again sometime!

Side note: Any pebble mosaic artists out there (of the Maggie Howarth style)? Please see my request at the end of this post. Thanks.

Artist: Anne Price


Size: 7” x 10 1/2"

Materials: Ceramic tile, glass bead, glass, metal washers, shell, coral beads, stained glass, wire, found pottery and pebbles.

Coming soon...

Coming soon...

Artist:  Sherry E Wallis

Title:  Street Tied

Time:  3 hr+

Materials:  Vitreous glass, millefiori, thinset

Thoughts:  This didn't start out to be so representational.  I started out thinking about strings connecting things, which made me think about streets connecting houses and other streets.  Toying around with ways to do the colors of houses and yards and flowers, driveways, streets, trees, I started thinking about aerial photos.   So here's my almost finished approach to streets as strings, tying together all the houses and people.   I noticed my street has a giant pothole which I should probably fill, it needs to be striped, and I'll use paint on the grass, flowers, etc. on the thinset to make it tie together better.  

This was a lot of fun.  When I was deciding what to do, I purposely chose something more representational because I didn't want to copy Kelley, which would be very easy to do.  Because I love and admire her work, I didn't want to do something that would end up looking like a copy.  We already had that challenge.


Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: “Ups and downs”

Size: 6″ x 4.25″

Materials: Stone, cinca, coal, shale, flint

How long did it take to complete? About 2.5 hours (and another 2.5 hours for the one I did and then promptly threw in the garbage)

Thoughts: I had some trouble this week because, while I loved the challenge prompt, none of my materials were really speaking to me. Eventually I just grabbed a few random jars from my shelf and dove in head first. That attempt was so bad that I couldn't bring myself to submit it, even though I know that there is no pressure to create a masterpiece in these challenges and that there are really no expectations other than to spend some time in the studio. Yes, it was that bad: the materials were wrong, the colours were off, the doodled line was wonky...*sigh* So I tried again, and the second attempt was a huge improvement on the first one. Had I not been under the gun to finish this in a hurry (I started on Sunday at 2pm), I would've spent a lot more time tapering the ends of the lines so they didn't end so abruptly. 

I learned two things this week, both completely unrelated to the challenge prompt. First, I learned that I really need to wait until I "feel it" before I start. If I force myself to just crank something out, chances are the results will be terrible. It is not unusual for me to leave a blank substrate and some half-chopped piles of materials on my table for a few days (or even weeks) while I putter and ponder until I've got it straight in my head. That is how I work and this challenge reinforced that I should do what works for me, even if it sometimes feels like I'm wasting time. Second, I learned what it feels like to create a complete flop and to recognize that and be ok with it going straight into the garbage. 

Artist: Cheryl Compton

Title: String Disaster

Time: 4 hours

Materials: white stone, purple colored concrete

What I learned:  This piece seemed to be going well until I started the concrete pour.  As my pieces keep cracking, I decided to adjust the pour ratios to make it less liquid when pouring.  This caused the concrete mixture to begin knocking over the stones.  I attempted to get them upright again, but you can see in the pic I wasn't entirely successful.  In addition, I thought the sand was even, but it was much thicker in some spots and therefore left huge voids between some stones and not others.  Finally, although I watered the sand until it pooled, a lot of it stuck to the concrete and I had to scrap it off which caused marks that detract from the piece.  I am still learning the mechanics of doing these and it seems I have a long way to go.

Artist: Sima Zeiger

Title: Stringing Along

Materials: Pottery shards, millefiori, glass tiles and ceramic tiles

Time: 3 hrs

Size: 6x6"

Thoughts: My open ended line became circular once my pieces were laid down. I enjoyed this exercise and hope to create other string theory inspired pieces in the future.

Artist:  Janice Oravec

Title: Black String

Size: 6"x 6" substrates

Time:   3 hours

Materials: Vitreous Glass

Thoughts:  Wow, I thought this was going to be a breeze. Boy, was I wrong. I tried using different colours different mediums, all with no success. I settled with the vitreous glass. I don't feel my mosaic actually illustrates the string theory, but I finished it.

A call for pebble mosaic artists...

I'm looking for someone who would be willing to give Cheryl C. some advice. She doesn't have access to classes and has learned so far from books and YouTube. She's had some mosaic fails recently and though she perseveres, she is getting a little frustrated.  I've never made a pebble mosaic so can't begin to provide insight. If you are willing and able, drop me a note and I'll connect the two of you.  Thanks!