You all know I love a challenge. I’ve been wanting to try mosaic making for a while but just haven’t found any suitable mosaic courses in London. I really admire the work of Teignmouth artist, Michelle Greenwood Brown, so was delighted when I found she was running a course when we would be in Devon.
The Mosaic workshop was called Creative with Crockery and promised it was suitable for beginners or those with some experience. In it we would learn to cut and shape recycled ceramic plates and tiles with tile nippers and make your own mosaic owl, chicken or fish.
We’ve been staying in Exeter for a few days so this morning I took the train down to Teignmouth and made my way to TAAG in Teignmouth’s Art Quarter. I spotted a few of Michelle’s mosaics around on our last visit, and it’s a great part of Teignmouth to explore galleries and street art.
I decided that I would like to make my own shape for some reason, so Michelle supplied me with a blank piece of wood to work with, the rest of the participants received wooden shapes to make the owl, chicken or fish, whichever they had chosen.
We were given a brief introduction on how to use the nippers before we were let loose. I marked the rough shape I wanted to make with chalk and then went to pick my tiles. I had actually bought a little tub of my beach treasures from home (picked up from our recent trip to Teignmouth!) but I didn’t end up using any. Instead I chose to make my rainbow with bright colours and picked up plates, tiles and any suitable broken pieces which were provided for us.
Then I got to work with the nippers shaping my pieces to the required size.
I didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing but Michelle gave me lots of encouragement. I laid out my pieces as I went so I could see where I needed more pieces.
We worked for about two and a half hours before we stopped for lunch and I was able to cut out my rainbow pieces, neatening up any rough edge. I placed them all quite closely together, trying to add in small curves to create the arc of each colour.
After lunch I cut more tile to fill in small gaps at the top, and created clouds to fill the bottom of the piece. I added a few curved tea-cup handles and cut a mixture of light blue and white pieces to create fluffy clouds.
At this point we all stopped so we could learn how we would stick our mosaic pieces down. We mixed small amounts of tile adhesive with watered down PVA to create a thick glue. Then we carefully stuck down every single piece of mosaic! My heart sank a little at this as I had so many pieces to glue down. It took me about 90 minutes to stick every tile down. The glue dried out quite quickly so I had to mix a few batches. The idea was to glue the pieces quite close, but with enough space to fill the leftover space with grout. We also had to make sure that all the tiles were at the same level (I’m not sure why) but this meant some pieces needed a lot more glue than others.
This part was very time-consuming and I admit I began to run out of patience a little. I’m used to crafting in short bursts and a whole day doing one thing was actually quite tiring. I wanted to use some vintage ceramics for my clouds but they were so much harder to cut and kept shattering.
Fortunately at this point we stopped again to learn about grouting. As the adhesive needed to dry for 24 hours before grouting this is where I finished. I tidied up my work space and put the unwanted and leftover pieces of ceramics away for someone else to use.
I left the workshop with my almost finished mosaic and bag of grout powder. I can’t wait to finish it off at home.