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. 

Critical elements

Week 17 - Which element(s) did you choose?

I'm back from a lovely weekend at the CMA Summit in Ashland, Oregon.  There was a mosaic invitational gallery show and a salon at a local winery (where 25% of the pieces sold) over the weekend. The variety of mosaics shown was impressive, in materials, subjects, and styles.   I'm taking a class with Emma Biggs this coming weekend which I'm excited about (if a little worried that I'm too much of a beginner for it, and that I should be working instead) and I hope that I'll at least get a mosaic started then.

Well done to Sherry Wallis and Julie Sperling for continuing to make time for the workout each week,  and welcome to Ginny Sher who is just getting started!


Artist:  Ginny Sher

Title: Paradise Deep

Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Hate/Love:  I love this topic because I am a scuba diver and very involved with the ocean.  It was easy for me to decide which element to work with and also to design the mosaic for this week.

Happy?  Overall, yes.  I rushed to finish as close to the 3 hour time constraint and as a result, there are some technical areas I would do over if I could. 

What I learned: “Perfect is the enemy of done”. I am very, very slow when I work and I realized that I can move faster than I thought.  Letting go of not having the perfect tessera for each part of the mosaic was painful, but ultimately allowed me to move along. I can (and usually do) agonize for a long while before I select (or shape) a tessera and that can be paralyzing as well. For that reason, it was a little scary committing to these weekly challenges, but I’m so pleased that I did.  It is exactly what I need. I hope there will be more in the future.

Artist: Julie Sperling

Title: “Core temperature” 

Size: 6″ x 4.25″

Materials: Stone, terracotta, smalti

How long did it take to complete? About 3.5 hours

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this challenge. Looking at the materials on my shelf, earth and fire were easy picks. I used a bunch of terracotta, smalti, and rock that I had already cut, which saved me a bunch of time. I had actually cut most of this about a year ago, and boy, can I ever notice the difference in my cutting skills! Just seeing that difference and the progress I’ve made was a valuable lesson in and of itself. And working with colours is always a good exercise for me, as it’s definitely not my natural inclination. I actually had doubts about the colours right up until I stepped back and looked at the finished piece. A lesson in trusting your gut instinct and not over-thinking, I suppose.

Artist:  Sherry E Wallis

Title:  Black gold

Time:  2 hr+

Materials:  Pebbles, fine gravel, Van Gogh glass on 4 x 6 artist board.  

Thoughts:  Was out of town all week, but I had this idea mid week and tried to translate it into reality last night.  I think I fell a little short.  Probably should have made the center out of polymer clay and it would have been more what I was going for.  Obviously, my element is earth, and the black gold is the oil sandwiched in the pockets of rock.  This is a good study for a future work, though.   

Winding down

Week 18 - Redux #2/Catch your breath

Good morning Challengers. We are quickly approaching the end of the official Challenge. Thank you to those of you still hanging in there. It's been quite the project and I am still amazed and impressed by all the people who have dipped in and out and of course, those of you who have been there every step of the way.  By request from some long-timers, we're having another "catch-up" week.  For those just getting into the workouts, pick any one we've done so far and try it out. For those looking to push themselves a little harder, pick 2 (or even 3) of the past workouts and put yourself to the test. 

If you don't remember/aren't familiar with the original prompts, I'm listing them below but your best bet for getting a clear understanding is to scroll through the blog and see the original directions. 

Workouts from which to choose:

1. Found objects

2. Switcheroo 

3. Black and White

4. Monochromatic

5. 3

6. Pattern

7. Home

8. Time trials/Time

9. "When life gives you lemons..." 

10. Redux #1

11.  Talent imitates, genius steals - copy part of a mosaic artist's piece

12. Talent imitates, genius steals 2 - copy part of a non-mosaic artist's piece 

13. Animate - from Delaine Hackney

14. Joy - from Laurel True

15. String Theory - from Kelley Knickerbocker

16. The Swept Floor - from Margo Anton

17.  Elements


Cleaning up

Week 16 - The Swept Floor

Ah, if only I could make the time to do the Challenge these days. This is one workout I need to do several times over.  I have at least half a dozen little jars of random swept up bits and pieces that I don't think of or reach for when starting a new piece but cannot bring myself to toss... 

Artist:  Sherry E Wallis

Title:  Mirror Not

Time:  3 hr+

Materials:  Mirror glass tile, Glitter backed glass tile, buttons, glass gems, broken jewelry, on 6 x 6 artist board.  

Thoughts:  I usually cut glass as I go, so when I read the challenge, I thought I'd never find enough material.  Margo was so right--I have a heart-shaped bowl and a cache pot by my work surface that get all the "things-I-plan-to-use" or "things-that-don't-go-after-all."  And I have WAY more than I thought.  The real corker though was the mirror that I never made.  Cut all the stuff for it and even had it laid out and then just let it sit.  I'm embarrassed to admit that the red mirror tiles here were so dusty, I thought they were black at first.  The center stone had fallen out of the silver pin, so I scrapped it.  For this, I used one of the extra buttons which just fit.  Also found the starburst top of something I disassembled and used elsewhere.  I did have to cut to of the long bars a little, and a couple of the blue ones.  

Thoughts:  I like to let thinset cure and glue set before I grout, but my backlog is getting a little ridiculous.  Not to mention all my half-done pieces.  Guess I'll have a grout-fest when I get back in town next week.  

Title: “Glacial till" 

Size: 4.25″ x 4.25″

Materials: Stone, cinca, glass, quartz, shale, marble

How long did it take to complete? About 2 hours

Thoughts: Considering I got my start in mosaics using glass scrap and rarely cutting anything, this week was surprisingly challenging. I had been processing a bunch of material recently for my next non-challenge mosaic, so I saved all the offcuts to use for this piece. I just kind of threw myself into this without a game plan and ended up working in sections that were determined by material and the shape of the pieces. There are groups of tesserae that I really love in terms of how they play off of / relate to one another, but overall I'm not crazy about the piece. I'm finding that when I don't put any thought into the design beforehand, the results are a crapshoot, with me ending up unsatisfied more often than not. While I don't usually (ever?) make a detailed sketch, I do tend to mull things over for a good while before diving in. These challenges are definitely reinforcing the parts of my practice that are essential for me.

Artist: Cheryl Compton

Title:  Whimsical Family Portraits

Materials:  Pebbles from the Beach, Thinset (grey)

Time: 3 hours for both works

Comments:  I totally love these works.  Although the faces look a little cartoony, that is what gives it the whimsical feel.  The pics aren't great, but the pieces on my wall look really cool.  Used basics, designed the faces from a pile of rocks that I hadn't picked up for any particular reason (my version of a scrap pile).  Sat down with only one thing, the oval of the frame.  It naturally lent itself to faces and as I finished the first,  with its sort of whimsical looking, cartoony feel; the second sticking out its tongue at the first made the pair come to life.  The pictures don't really show the way they play off each other, much better in real life.  Fun project, not a fail for the first time in weeks  : )


Workout Week 17 - Elements

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”  ― Sun TzuThe Art of War

This week we are getting conceptual again. I've been reading a little bit about the classical elements and there is much to be mined there. Generally I think of the four elements as earth, air, fire and water but the nomenclature varies by culture and  talk of a fifth element, whether it be chi or void or sky/heaven (that which cannot described by the first four) is also a recurring theme...

Your workout is to create a mosaic somehow related to one or all of the classical elements, or, develop/explore your own set of important life elements.

“All four elements were happening in equal measure - the cuisine, the wine, the service, and the overall ambience. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level.” ― Charlie Trotter

Delayed, again

Prompt on Saturday

I didn't forget today! My computer was out of commission this morning and I've been swamped with work projects this afternoon. I will post the new workout tomorrow morning when I'm a bit fresher and more articulate!