Here they are! These are the mosaics I made at Luciana Notturniâ€™s Mosaic Art School. This one is a copy of a tiny portion of the grand mosaic at St. Vitale, a Byzantine church in Ravenna. It is mostly glass, with quite a few gold tesserae. Along the edges, the browny-yellow is made with stone interspersed with gold.
We all got a lot of help with our copies. Several square inches of my left edge was mysteriously filled in, on the second morning. I learned best by watching the teachers demonstrate or correct mistakes. A million words might make your brain understand how to do a thing, but itâ€™s much better to see hands at work. In fact, thereâ€™s Luciana helping a student in the photo at the top leftâ€”a familiar sight in our class, too.
Our small mosaics were of our own design or inspiration, worked directly into cement. I used glass tesserae for this heart, choosing the shades of pink and lavender from the many colors available in the studio. The border around the heart is thin glass pieces alternating with pebbles. Pebbles fill in the background.
I enjoyed our workshop very much. Iâ€™m sold on the groutless mosaic technique. Without a doubt, grout has its benefits for certain applications. The ancient technique we learned opens up far more possibilities for me, as I consider what sort of mosaics we want to have in our house.
Another valuable aspect of the week spent in Ravenna, was seeing a well-organized studio in action. As I mentioned before, Lucianaâ€™s studio was very much a community and family effort. She provided leadership and expertise for most of the pieces produced in the studio. It was a pleasure to see how the other craftsmen, apprentices, teachers, and speakers worked toward the common goals of producing mosaics and teaching classes.
Dale Chihuly, an American glass artist, works in a studio with many other glass-blowers, some of whom are also artists. Iâ€™ve read about his studio and seen an inspiring documentary about him and his cohorts in art. Chihulyâ€™s studio, like Lucianaâ€™s, produces a great deal of workâ€”much more than one person could hope to accomplish.
To me, a studio with several craftsmen and students is the best way to realize an artistic vision, and also to pass on a lifetime (or more!) of expertise to the upcoming generation. I guess weekend retreats and conventions are one way to do this, but a year with a master artist/craftsman would be a whole lot better. I want a studio like that someday. Give me about seven years.