Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Circle of Stone Pebble Mosaics Intro

Introducing people to the world of mosaics is fun! Recently I had the privilege to teach my "Circle of Stone - Pebble Mosaics" workshop at Lyn Belisle's Studio here in San Antonio. Lyn is such an wonderful hostess and her studio reflects her intention of it being a place of creative belonging. We  began the workshop with a brief overview of the history of pebble mosaics, looked at some ancient and contemporary pebble mosaic art, and previewed what we were going to do during our time together.

We had three hours to learn some general information including the importance of a "scratch coat"on a plywood substrate, various shapes of pebbles and how they could be used in a design, local sources of pebbles, thinset and how to apply it with a spatula to form a "setting bed." We discussed design and how important it is to use contrast of size or shape or lightness/darkness/color so that the mosaic design can be "read" easily.

Then it was time to pick a design or sketch their own and select the type of pebbles from the various bins that they wanted to use. But before getting started, each person needed to do their scratch coat and create a smooth setting bed at the correct height. Finally, it was time to place pebbles one at a time. We discussed the need to work "clean" and how to keep the thinset fresh.

After everyone had completed their mosaic it was time to share the results. Everyone talked about their creation, what they liked about it, what they learn or what they would do differently. We talked about how thinset can be tinted different colors and discussed what color(s) we might want to use in the future. I can say that fun was had by all. Thanks to the whole group who made this time possible.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Toyoharu Kii's Monochromatic Workshop at The Chicago Mosaic School

During the first week of June 2015, I had the privilege to participate in Toyoharu Kii's five day Monochromatic Workshop at The Chicago Mosaic School. The focus of the workshop was learning ways to express movement, texture, and content in ways that are only possible with the medium of mosaic. The material used was white marble so color or different types of material could not be used to accomplish the task. During the workshop we also learned Kii's tried and tested technique that gives his work its signature characteristics. Thank you Toyoharu for sharing your knowledge and skills with us. It was a great learning experience.

For further information about Toyoharu Kii's workshop and other visiting guest instructors at The Chicago Mosaic School click the above link.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Chicago Mosaic School 10th Anniversary Film

I was fortunate to have one of my mosaics, "Counterpoint," included in this film. The video was filmed with the latest 4D technology and the detail, texture, and color is amazing. Click on the following link and enjoy.

Link: A Thank You from The Chicago Mosaic School

Tesserae Tessera, The Art of Mosaic

I had the pleasure to being invited to do an introductory mosaic workshop at Lyn Belisle's Studio of Creative Belonging in San Antonio, Texas recently. Inspiration came from Antoni Gaudi's (1852-1926) innovative use of glazed tile in Barcelona's Parc Guell. Participants selected one of six simple line designs derived from Gaudi's work, learned about commonly used terms in the world of mosaics, cutting with nippers, prepping substrate, and finally adhering the tesserae (i.e. pieces of material making up the mosaic) with thinset. Lots of fundamental skills were learned while having fun. Thanks to Lyn and all the participants that made the workshop a true success. Check out the link below.


Wedi Board as a Substrate - Lightweight, User Friendly, and Strong

At the Celestial Gaudi Worshop last week, some participants had questions about other substrates to use other than plywood for indoors. Here is the link to a great blog post from IC Mosaics on one of my favorite substrates:

Great information from IC Mosaics on Wedi board as a mosaic substrate

My Glass on Glass Mosaic Mandala Process

I recently was asked by the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) to write about the process I use when I create my mosaic mandalas for Groutline, SAMA's electronic newsletter. I thought I would share here on Tumbling Tesserae.

1)   First cut out a circle of 1/8" plate or window glass. Take a piece of 1/4"zinc came and bend it using a zinc came bender (found at stained glass shops). Fit the zinc came around the glass circle and cut the came so it fits snugly to the glass. Solder the two ends together to form a secure joint. Once that is complete, you will have a "glass canvas" on which to work.

2)   Next cut your tesserae from selected stained glass. I like to use ring mottled glass because I love the jewel colors and combinations along with the surrounding translucent shading of glass around it

3)   I cut almost all my pieces ahead of time. Clean the tesserae. Put them in a recycled margarine container with lid., add a drop or two of liquid soap and some water, and shake vigorously. Rinse until there are no more suds. Drain and let dry.

4)   Put your design underneath the prepared glass substrate and tape it to the zinc edge. The pattern  is directly below where you will glue your tesserae. Clean the top side of the glass before you start gluing. I clean my glass with rubbing alcohol. My current adhesive of choice is MacGlue. It dries clear in about 20-25 minutes and creates a strong durable bond. 

5)   Then start gluing tesserae along major design lines following the pattern. Fill in remaining areas one color at a time. As you can see. I tend to work from corners when completing a section. Once the corners have been filled in, the remaining spaces become more defined and it is easier to find a close match. I usually lay out a placement of the tesserae like I want it first. Then I take them off, spread the glue and replace the tesserae to their correct position.

6)   If you look closer at the glued tesserae, you will see that the interstices are fairly tight, but like the shape of each tessera , they are far from perfect. Consistency is more important than precision in my approach.

7)   Once you have finished gluing the pieces and the glue has dried, it is time to grout.  Mix the grout and apply to the mosaic surface. I use sandless grout and add an acrylic mortar additive, but you can use sanded grout if that is your preference.

8)   Wipe off the grout after it has started to set (usually about 20 minutes) using a circular motion. I like ot use crumpled up newspaper that serves as a paper rags. Use them and throw them away. The mosaic design should now reappear.

9)   Finish polishing the mosaic by putting some dry grout on the top of the mosaic. Using a paper rag and later a well worn soft toothbrush, rub off any remaining grout residue from the surface of the tesserae. (I save the gritty grout mixture after I am finished for the next time.) You can also use a dental pick to do the final clean up as needed.

10)   Solder rings or hangers to the zinc frame so that the mosaic can be hung in the window. After a day, you may want to do a quick scrub with a brush using half vinegar/half water solution to really have the mosaic sparkle. Attach a chain and enjoy your creation.

David Chidgey
303 Oakleaf Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78209

Friday, July 19, 2013

Interview by Lauren Catlin

Recently I was asked a few questions about my work as a mosaic artist for a blog by Lauren Catlin, writer.

1) What do you love about your medium?

Mosaic is the perfect art medium for me. Throughout my life, I have been drawn to things that were unique and/or beautiful, yet somehow broken or incomplete. In things that others throw away, I see possibility and creative potential. It's a type of beauty that really speaks to me. With the mosaic medium, materials are usually broken or cut and then reassembled to express an idea or feeling or , as is often the case,  provide ornamentation. So it makes sense that my affinity for the broken and fragmented would eventually lead to my love of mosaics.

2) Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

In the world of mosaics, there is a range of work from the extraordinary to the simple and mundane. Mosaics, that are created using small uniform square tiles, are what I think many people imagine when they hear the word mosaics. Technically, a mosaic process has been used because small pieces (i.e. the uniform tile) are put together to form a whole. However, I often see this type of mosaic as only a wall or floor covering and not really art. The reflection of the artist in the mosaic is missing. It doesn't draw me in to look closely, explore, and/or react.

3) When did you first call yourself an artist, and why?

I had been creating my small mosaic mandalas for several years when I got a commission for two garden mosaics for a residence outside of New York City. The landscape architect and client flew me up to the site to help in the selection of the color of iridescent glass tile that was to be used. Upon arriving at the site, the landscape architect introduced me to the general contractor and client as "the artist from Texas".  I remember wondering who in the world was she referring to and then it struck me that she was talking about me! In that split second, I recognized for the first time that I truly was an artist. And since then, I have never looked back or had second thoughts. It is just who I am. Here is one of the completed mosaics.

4) Describe an artist and/or piece of work that you find consistently inspiring.
There are two mosaic artists that I consistently find inspiring. The first is Ilana Shafir. She has been an artist all of her life and in the last two decades has devoted herself to the language of mosaics. She is internationally known for creating mosaic murals/panels that incorporate ceramic elements that she makes, natural stone/materials, and the broken, discarded ceramics of others. The resulting organic forms transport the viewer to a whole new world. Ilana is in her eighties and lives in Israel.

The second mosaic artist that I find inspiring is Kelly Knickerbocker. She came to the world of mosaics after taking a mosaic workshop in 2005. I feel she exemplifies  the most important rule for professional artists. Show up and do your "work". This daily commitment of the artist to his or her craft is what accelerates personal artistic growth. (Yes, even if you are not inspired or motivated.) You can see some of  Kelly's art at:

5) What is your unique purpose for creating work?
I am not sure that I know what my unique purpose is for creating my work other than to share myself with the world and to play.