Thursday, October 1, 2009

on show

It's been a busy few weeks on the mosaicking front! I was given a couple of concrete cast-off pots, and the brilliant weather in September inspired me to crack on and get them covered! At the same time I was working on an idea for another little table. I made the top by setting concrete in an old plastic bin. It looks a bit like a flying saucer in this picture, but when its base is ready and in position, it'll look fine. I also got a table top done for the wrought iron base I bought at a car boot sale early last Spring. Everything was ready just in time for a demonstration/workshop I did earlier in the week to a group of women. I also, finally, have a place to store all my bits and pieces close to where my workspace is. It was great to clear it all out of my cellar and organise it above ground! I discovered things I'd forgotten I had, so the next project is just around the corner.....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

little beauty

Concrete tub bought 2nd-hand. covered in broken cups and bowls, mostly from donations, couple of bits from a charity sale. The kittens think I put it in this temporary spot for them to play in - they chase each other in and out and all around, and sometimes if no-one is looking they will try to sneak in for a little sleep......isn't this little one gorgeous - she's a throwback to some special cat somewhere in the family past!
Someone gave me a broken porcelain doll, so I decided to use a couple of bit. Spot the nose and mouth and a hand sticking out from the side with the yellow handle.........

Sunday, August 2, 2009

tea for one

This little tray is covered in pieces of old plates that were given to me to undergo transformation! I've made it to give a friend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

up close

This is a selection of close-ups that my friend took last weekend.

watering hole

I made this little bowl, based on an old one someone gave me, and which I decorated and subsequently gave away. I made up some concrete and used two buckets, one inside the other, as a mould. Once that was set, part of a wooden Camembert box was used for the little extra bit. Broken plates and bits of glass from various gardens. I like how it seems to blend into its setting. The kitties use it all the time for drinking water, though one of them seems to think it's a mini paddling pool!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

gone potty

Urn from the tip, broken in two pieces and with a big chunk missing when I got it out of the skip. Some nifty patching with concrete, using a plastic flower pot and a water bottle to help soon sorted it out. Broken cups, plant pots, bowls etc, all from donations or the tip.

Friday, June 26, 2009

standing on its own two feet - at last!

Well, it's only taken me seven months from start to finish to get this table off the ground! Admitedly, winter got in the way a bit - one of the drawbacks of not having a workshop. My original idea for extra supports didn't work, and one Saturday lunchtime, the idea hit me of how to solve the problem, and I went straight to work to put the idea into action. I made two concrete tops to sit over the legs, using two washing up bowls with cardboard boxes inside; the spaces between were filled with reinforced concrete. They worked great, and when they were covered in broken china and sat on top of the legs, they looked like bar stools - in fact, that's what my neighbour thought they were! The top of the table features what has become my trademark - circles or bits of.....The four central tiles were bought at a boot sale from a retired tiler who had a few choice designer tiles dating from the sixties, left over from jobs he'd done. These were far too nice to smash up, and I think they look good surrounded by broken tiles. My brother got the turquoise tiles from a skip behind a flooring warehouse - ex-display stock. Other tiles came from the tip, and the glass drops bought at various cheapo shops.

The round 'tourist' tile with the peacock came from Turkey, bought years ago. The tiles in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul are so amazing and overwhelming; I saw them late on a dark, cold January afternoon, in 1990, with snow and ice on the ground outside. At that time of year, there were hardly any tourists, and I just stood and marvelled at the incredible beauty of the ceramics, even though they were some distance away. Later, I got lost in some backstreets after dark; bit hairy for a few moments, but it all worked out in the end.......These images of Turkish tiles are worth a look:

 are these images of the blue mosque:

I made the concrete 'stepping stones', which are decorated with various found glass and ceramic bits, as well as shells and pebbles and glass pieces collected from the beach with my niece. I like to think I have my own little corner of Guell Park-inspired magic taking shape in my back garden - lots of colourful and diverse tiles 'thrown' together. If only it was that simple.........

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

another tray

What else can you do when the weather turns wet and nasty?! Tray from car boot, 7 soup dishes from various donations/salvages/car boots. I saved 2 of the makers stamps from the underneath of two of the dishes, as I liked the windmill design, and added them to the design. One of the dishes also had the name of the design 'Houx' (Holly), so I cut it out and incorporated it into the design too. I mixed a few acrylic paints into the grout to get this colour. I like it because it gives an overall effect of a piece of old lace and fabric.

Monday, May 4, 2009

served up on a platter

I rescued the tray from a pile of stuff destined for the tip when my neighbour moved house back at the end of November. It's been sitting around ever since then, waiting for me to do something with it! After a dreary start, the sun came out about 3pm yesterday, so I spurred into action, went into the cellar to choose a few plates from my collection, took them into the back garden and settled myself in the sun with my raw materials, and cut and nipped away. I chopped up 2 plates and started to shuffle them around on the tray, and a design took shape. I hardly ever mark anything out or measure - everything is done by eye, hence the lack of symmetry! I like to think it is a bit like hand-made oriental rugs - they are never 'perfect'. Four plates later, and I was ready to start to stick them down. Most of it was finished by the time the sun disappeared from the back of the house, and it was very relaxing and fun. This morning, I decided to try colouring the grout to match the colour of the finish on the wood. I used a couple of acrylic paints, and the colour seemed OK. The finished item has turned out much better than I imagined.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

flashes of inspiration

I'm hoping to get back to visit Barcelona again sometime because I love the Gaudi mosaics and architecture. I think I would be very happy if I lived in Guell Park!
More inspiring work comes from this man's lifetime of mosaicing. It is in Chartres, and a visit there is also due. I like his work because he too used other people's rubbish to create great pieces.
“I followed my spirit as one follows one’s path (…) Before coming to my work site, I would often walk for several kilometres in search of my raw material : broken plates. The materials I found were the bases of eau de cologne bottles, medecine bottles, whathever people disdain and throw away in pits and dumps but could still be of use. I picked up that which others had rejected (…) I went everywhere to retrieve what no-one had a use for (…) Many people could do as much : but no, they don’t dare. But as for me, I took my hands and they brought me happiness. I would like to be an example”.
Raymond Isidore (1900-1964)

Monday, April 27, 2009

dips and sips

This little object was given to me by a friend a few weeks ago. It was a cast-off as it had a hairline crack, so water just slowly drained away, but I liked its simple shape and size, all the more so because it is made of concrete. I put it on a couple of little supports and topped it up every day - the cats adopted it as a drinking bowl in the recent hot weather, and I've seen sparrows drinking from and splashing in it in the evening. I decided to fix the leak by covering the inside in bits of crockery which came out of both my garden and a friend's when we were digging over our respective patches. I kept most of the pieces the shape and size in which they came out of the ground, which is why there is no real design incorporated, but I had to trim a few bits for the rim. I hope the cats and birds appreciate its new look!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

feet first!

Last year I had my friend Bruno in stitches when I talked about table 'legs' - they are 'feet' in French. Like any good language learner, I made a mental note, and never made the same mistake again!
Back at the end of last autumn, I decided to make myself a garden table to fit in the space by the granite lintel 'benches'. They used to be over the original back window and door, before the wall was rebuilt in the 40s. They were left lying around behind the house, probably because of their weight! I managed to acquire some granite blocks to sit them on, and with help from friends, they became seats.
I made the concrete table top on the floor of my neighbour's garage as it was a convenient flat surface to spread the polythene sheet and wooden frame on. It's heavy, and spent the winter resting on some granite boulders to keep it of the ground and until I got the right legs for it. They turned up at the tip one day - concrete cast-offs from someone's garden. Unfortunately, there are only two of them, so I've had to make some concrete bracers - hopefully they will work......The legs are now covered in old crockery which all came from one recent tip visit. I've left a cup handle on one leg - it looks funny! The table top is resting behind the legs at the moment. Ironically, the crazy-paving indent pattern is from the garage floor it was made on.
I've included a picture of my biggest fan in his 'Mademoiselle' box. He's easily the most handsome bloke around these parts.....

Fired up!

I just had to add this picture of my 'new' Deville woodburner, bought 2nd-hand from a family near Dinard. Because it is full of heat-retaining bricks, it weighs loads, and it took me and three tough assistants to get it up my steps and in place.

six-section story

Late one sunny Saturday afternoon at the end of March, I put the finishing touches to the path/patio. I thought it looked lovely and called for a celebration, but I was aching after spending all day on all fours once again, I'd spent the last hour in the shade, cold at that time of year, and I had all the tools and materials to clean and clear away, plus the cats were stalking about, impatient for food, the woodburner needed lighting and someone had to wash the day's dishes and cook supper - tough living alone sometimes! So the path remains 'unchristened', apart from a cup of coffee I spilled on it, and several Spring downpours and some hedgehog poo. Only a couple of people have seen it so far, and currently, only me and the cats are enjoying it! I wanted the mosaic to reflect the six concrete sections I'd laid, so I made it look like six giant panels, rather than merge them all to make one long section. This way, each section has its own character, made up on the day, and depending on what bits and pieces were available. Notice the Breton dancers in the broken plate circle - I found them at the bottom of one of the big containers at the tip, but I couldn't find the other half of their plate, so some of their dance party are missing!

Monday, January 19, 2009

in a trough

Last summer, my brother experimented with making some concrete planters using old shoeboxes as moulds. One of them dried too fast in the heat and cracked, so he gave it to me. I decided to add my own finish, and used a variety of little pieces of tile to cover it. They were originally expensive, designer tiles, ex-display stock, which someone gave me. I'd cut them into pieces one dingy afternoon in the Spring (2008) when I din't know what else to do, or without knowing why I was chopping them up - they just looked better in small pieces! I took it out into the street to grout it and, as usual, got plenty of passers-by stopping to chat and admire. Great way to get to know your local community.

the winter garden

The garden was originally a sloping yard when I came here in 2006. It was a sizzling summer, and the sun reflected off the crazy paving, making the yard a furnace. James being James, persuaded me to let him dig it all up and create a garden. I finally gave in, and through his massive effort, a 3-tiered garden has evolved. It's still work in progress, but last winter (2008)the birds flocked in to eat the fatty sead balls hanging everywhere, and in the summer, the sunflowers were Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high, and the Cosmos flowered on into late October. In November 2008, I started to lay a concrete path directly outside the back door. I put down one section and mosaiced it, then another, and now four more concrete sections await the mosaic finish....roll on better weather! As usual, most of the material is tip-haul, salvage, or car-boot finds. The 'frilly' concrete border was done afterwards, using corrugated plastic and wine bottles and other bits of glass and pebbles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

somewhere in between

This is a 'picture' I did over a couple of afternoons. It must still have been summer, because I was outside in the garden in the sunshine wearing shorts. Most of the bits are broken plates. There are a few little ceramic things I found at more car boots over the summer. I especially like the little watch, which shows 10.10, as that is usually around my coffee time! And the little moon near the sea shells at the bottom was a good find too!

back on the street

The autumn saw me covering the scruffy old windowsills in broken plates and tiles. The only ones I bought were the grey ones for the edges. The first sill incorporates some numbers. These were taken from a Spanish sundial tile I bought when I was a student in Alicante. When I smashed it up, I had no idea what I was going to do with the numbers, I just wanted the sun part. In a flash of inspiration, I decided to use the numbers 56490, the post code of this village. The second afternoon I was working on it, someone who lives nearby stopped her car outside and gave me a load more old plates. They are on the second windowsill, which I started a couple of days later. I incorporated the letters eap, my initials, and also the initials of the person this street is named after. So, it is a signature and a reference to the street. I also put in the number 8 - the house number. On the front of the sill, I added the Breton Triskel, the Celtic design which appears on all things Breton. I'd bought it from a lad at yet another car boot sale for 20c, not knowing at the time what I was going to do with it. I realised I was addicted to mosaics when I found myself working into the end of the afternoon, in drizzle, in a wind tunnel, wearing fingerless gloves and layers of T shirts and jackets. It was only autumn starting!

in the corner

The old doorway which linked to next door had been uncovered in April when I stripped off the wallpaper and found it boarded up. In typical French style, the electric meter was stuck on the wall right next to the window and in the same corner. Tricky problem, but together with my brother we came up with a plan to panel it all over and build a cupboard to hide the meters. On probably the hottest day of the summer, my brother built a frame in the corner, and panelled it over. A few days later, I decided to decorate the floor of what will become a bookcase corner. I'd already been messing around with an old plate I'd found at the tip, along with some vintage French tiles I'd bought off ebay for peanuts. I had a plate which a friend had given me - it was broken by one of her famous pizzas! I'd cut the border up to use because it matched the colours of the ol Breton plate from the tip. Only took a couple of hours to stick down the pieces and grout. A few weeks later, I built cupboards around the electric meters, now all that needs to be done is to fit the shelves ready for when my books get here.

sun and moon

In late June 2008, I was ready to replace the temporary base for the woodburner with something more solid and raised. With the help of a friend, I mixed wheelbarrowsfull of concrete for the new base. Surprising how much is needed, and without a cement mixer it's hard work! I'd decided to pebble the base, and tile the wall behind with some tiles which had been left in the outbuildings to the house of some friends. The previous owners had left them there. For the middle of the base, I had an ex-manhole cover from the tip; it's round with a wave pattern on. In the middle of working on this project, a good friend and neighbour from here died in rather tragic circumstances - he was only 39. My woodburner base and back looked just like a tombstone, and I found it hard to continue with it. After a week of forcing myself to crack on, it was finished, but even with the woodburner back in situ, it still looked like a cemetary monument. A few days later, I hit on the idea of extending it, so that it was no longer so angular. I had the idea of using a Mexican sun tile someone once gave me, and building it up from there. I had a load of dark blue, and some red tiles in the cellar, which I'd found along with others, in an old barn the summer before. All I needed was something yellow, and a few days later I went to a car boot sale and came away with some 1960s yellow bathroom tiles, and a couple of mirror tiles, and that same afternoon, I spent in the sunshine in the garden cutting the yellow and red tiles into little rectangles, and the mirrors into random flame shapes. The next day the sun section was finished. That evening I decided that the following day I'd put a moon on the other side, using some grey tiles from the same barn stash. I was sorry I didn't have a face for the moon, which would match the one on the sun, so I used a bit of mirror. a few days later at another car boot sale, I found a little ceramic moon face, and as soon as I got home, I drilled out the mirror and replaced it with the little moon. It no longer looks like a tombstone!
30/04/09: Look at later postings to see the lovely woodburner which now replaces the trusty old temporary one