Mosaics of Mine

I made this copy of an ancient mosaic!

Here they are! These are the mosaics I made at Luciana Notturni’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 it’s much better to see hands at work. In fact, there’s Luciana helping a student in the photo at the top left—a familiar sight in our class, too.

Mosaic Art School brochure

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.

Suzann's mosaic heart

I enjoyed our workshop very much. I’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, Luciana’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.

detail  of Suzann's mosaic heart

Dale Chihuly, an American glass artist, works in a studio with many other glass-blowers, some of whom are also artists. I’ve read about his studio and seen an inspiring documentary about him and his cohorts in art. Chihuly’s studio, like Luciana’s, produces a great deal of work—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.

Mosaic Art School - Ravenna, Italy

3 Responses to Mosaics of Mine

  1. wool winder March 8, 2006 at 8:45 am #

    So pretty! Can’t wait to see what you make for your house. Will you be making mosaics as permanant parts of your house or as framed pieces like these you did at the school?

  2. Alissa March 10, 2006 at 6:21 am #

    Those are amazing. simply fabulous. It sounds like your trip was wonderful.

  3. Annie Augur September 25, 2006 at 12:18 pm #

    I am looking into going this summer to the class. Was wondering if you had advice on where to stay and any unexpected things that I sould bring. Any advice would be great. I just hope I save enough money.

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