So we begin: On day one Ms. Biggs gives us a first rate inspiring lecture in the a.m. and then goes around the room discussing project ideas with each student. I have long been thinking about creating a pattern using bugs as the main element so we talk about that and she tells me to do a bit of sketching. Then I run home to grab the materials I have been hoarding for the last 2 months to create this "bug pattern" and I start playing around with materials. I am unsure about what to use as the background element. I pour through the supplies on hand at the arts center and I come up with a big fat nothing. All I have are these yummy shiny ceramic beads that look like bug bodies and I have no ideas for a background treatment. Emma comes around and says well, let me see what I can find. She goes over to this huge stash of supplies that I have already spent 30 minutes digging through and she walks back over to me within about 2 minutes with a very ugly Mexican tile that looks like it belongs in the bathroom of a fast food taco joint. She takes this ordinary tile with her thin broken hand ( no really she took a tumble recently and is in a cast) and she starts nipping away at it and she chips the glaze off to reveal this stunning rough pumpkin colored organic looking material that is totally perfect in color and texture for what I am doing.
I am in awe, how in the heck did she see the magic hiding inside this boring common tile? She points out that even the tiny bits of distressed glaze that did not get chipped off are very lovely. Of course I love anything messy and imperfect so I jump all over that and on day two I spend a lot of time chipping and preparing my distressed background tiles.
On day three I had a go at the hammer and hardie ( shown above) in an effort to chip away the glaze faster. It worked pretty well.
Mr. Triangle is not my friend?
On day 3 of the mosaic workshop Emma stresses again to us that triangles in mosaic work call a lot of attention to themselves and should be used rather sparingly. So on day three I find myself in a cutting funk and every where I place a tile I am setting myself up for the need of a triangle filler. I start to stress out over that and find myself in a real funk, nothing goes together easily on day three. Then I fret that my apparent frustration is going to make me look like a real wimp, and then I tell myself to heck with it I am a real wimp! This workshop is indeed just as hard as I had imagined it would be. I am learning so much though. Emma is a delight and an inspiration. As a teacher she is tough yet encouraging.