01 August 2009

Chicago Mosaic School

Today I spent the day creating a smalti mosaic at the Chicago Mosaic School. I attended a 1-day smalti workshop taught by Andryea Natkin.
1-Day Smalti Workshop
Smalti is one of the oldest and most original materials of mosaic art. This thick glass tile holds light the way no other material can. Our exquisite smalti is manufactured at the Orsoni family factory in Venice, Italy using the same ancient techniques and traditions passed down through the generations. The colors of smalti are rich and offer the artist many possibilities to achieve dynamic mosaic works of art.
In this one day intensive workshop we will explore this beautiful traditional material by teaching students how to cut and set smalti, use tools such as a hammer and hardie as well as the more contemporary wheeled cutters. Each student will create a 6"x6" mosaic panel. Design, color and composition will also be covered. The class includes tools, handouts and a beautiful selection of Orsoni Italian smalti. This workshop is suitable for beginners and advanced students.
First we learned a bit about smalti (history & techniques). Then we were given some designs that we could choose from. I decided to do my own design.

Abelisto, Eileen and I had spent some time on Friday walking along Lake Michigan. It was a great day for it, the sky was stunning and the water was made up of such intense greens and blues. The wind coming off the lake was kicking up small whitecaps and bringing a delicious smell to us as we strolled along. 

With the view of the lake in my mind I decided to do a scenic mosaic rather than one of the abstract designs Andryea had for the group. I really like what I have done so far. I did not get all the way done, but I think I have made a great start.

This photo is really much bluer than the actual piece. I took the picture using the built-in camera on my new MacBook Pro. I'll have to take a better photo when I finish it. The actual piece is made up of four shades of a very pale blue, two shades of a dark turquoise, a blue-gray, a couple greens, indigo and purple. Oh, yeah, and a single white piece and one square of 24 carat gold smalti. I cut all the pieces except the white in half lengthwise, and placed them in an overlapping style (opus tessalatum). I started with the horizon and worked up just over an inch of the water before switching to the sky.

At the end of the workshop we displayed all our mosaics for a critique. Three of the nine of us managed to finish our mosaics. All of the participants did amazing mosaics.

I'll be finishing this mosaic when I get home tomorrow.

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