I'm in Chicago, at the Chicago Mosaic School, studying with Verdiano Marzi. It's day 2 of a 5 day class. We're working with stone and glass. I've never worked with stone before...
I'm using a tight-grained, sandstone-colored marble, and a second, similar colored marble that has tiny geodes or crystals in it. I'm also using some gray/black marble - one with white veins and one without.
Along with the marble I'm using some smalti and some Blenko Dalle de Verre glass.
During the first day Verdiano (who doesn't speak English) described the methods for working with the various materials to create contemporary mosaics. Verdiano lives in Paris and teaches mosaic at the Louvre. He speaks to us with the aid of mosaic artist (and professional orchestral and chamber music violinist) Sophie Drouin who translates for us.
After Verdiano spoke to us, we grabbed our hammers, selected marble and glass, and learned to cut tesserae. It took me most of the remainder of the day to get to the point where I was able to cut tesserae that suited me. Verdiano says I make good tesserae... so I'm happy.
I'm staying with Eileen, and when I got back to her apartment last night I was totally empty of inspiration for the design I wanted to create. I selected the first art book I saw on her bookcase - The Color of Light, by Marko Ivan Rupnik. I saw that the first pages of the book was images of beautiful abstract paintings. I wanted to do an abstract work. I've not done an abstract mosaic and the whole point of taking a class from someone like Verdiano is to really push oneself.
I only looked at a bit of the book before deciding to take a walk on the beach. Eileen lives a couple-three blocks from Lake Michigan and there's a great beach at the end of her street. As I walked in the rapidly cooling evening air, I found and collected a couple handfuls each of some lake-smoothed brown (chert?) and black (coal) stones. When I came back to Eileen's and went back to looking at the book I discovered that the second half of the book was full of images of the mosaic that Rupnik did in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The chilly walk on the beach and all the wonderful images in the book opened up something for me and I sat down and made around 25 sketches for the abstract mosaic. Two of them were really strong. One was exceptional.
Today we started on our mosaics.
Here is mine around noon today.