As I don’t seem to have much talent with a paint-brush (other than painting window frames, fences or walls, which don’t really count as artistic endeavours), I thought that I would try my hand at creating a mosaic. “How hard can it be?” I thought to myself. “You just take a whole lot of colourful tiles, smash them up into little pieces, arrange them in a pretty pattern, glue them down, slosh a whole lot of grouting over them, wipe off the excess, and there you are. Can’t be that hard, eh?”
So tonight, I attended a very hands-on mosaic course at the Pinelands High School. Our teacher, Angie-Lynne Saaiman from “Mosaic Works” had brought along a whole multi-coloured range of tiles in little plastic containers. Each of us was given a piece of mesh, which was stuck down on the desk with sticky-tape, ontop of a photocopied pattern of a butterfly. Angie showed us a sample of a completed butterfly mosaic, and took us step by step through the process.
To start with, we all stood around the little containers, trying to figure out what colours we wanted to choose for the various components of the butterfly, like its body, its feelers, the upper wings, and the lower wings. The wings were divided into sections, each of which had a different colour. I soon realised that you have to figure out the colour scheme first!
Then she explained how we had to break the little tiles into even smaller pieces, so that they fitted into the pattern. This was seriously tricky. Each of us was given a powerful tile-cutter, with a long grip and two sharp-edged circular disks that interlock to cut the tile. You hold the tile in your left hand, clasp it with the cutter in your right, and then cup your left hand around the cutter to prevent the glass chips flying through the whole room. I think it was probably a miracle (a) that no one chopped off their fingers and (b) that no one was injured by flying fragments of glass and tiles. By the end of the class, we had almost, but not quite, mastered the art of cutting the tiles into the right shapes.
The next step was to start glueing the small pieces onto the mesh with dollops of glue. This was also surprisingly tricky, because the tiles were difficult to pick up again once they had been put down in the wrong place (it happens), and having the fingers full of glue didn’t help either.
It was quite a rush to finish glueing down all the pieces down before the end of the class.
And now I have a mesh with a beautiful red and yellow butterfly that I still have to glue down somewhere in the garden!