Almost two years ago, Beth’s friend, Nan, highly recommended a mosaics class she had recently taken in Ravenna, Italy. Beth started to dream about how wonderful it would be to take the class, too. She wrote to the Mosaic Art School and registered; and then devoted the next 500 days to thinking about what kind of piece she would make, the colors, and the materials. Every time we visited a site with mosaics, she took photos. She even saw a beautiful blue piece of ceramic tile in a construction site dumpster while traveling though Cordoba, Spain that she scooped out and carried with her so she could use it in her own mosaic piece.
There were 6 students in the class and almost as many instructors throughout the week.
After some instruction and lots of practice using tools, Beth cut marble into little cubes. The first project was to create a mosaic using the Ravenna (double reverse) method using lime as a temporary binder. Each student selected an ancient work to copy. Beth chose a geometric design but slightly altered the colors. Students traced their design showing placement for each tessera (tile) onto glassine paper. Papers in hand, the students gathered around Minna for the next step.
Now the real fun began. Beth cut her chunks of marble and carefully placed each tessera in the lime. She discovered she did improve her cutting accuracy over time but also discovered that not all marbles are equal and some are harder to cut than others.
The wonderful instructors came around with constructive suggestions – all greatly helped the look of the finished work.
The work was placed in the sun to dry.
Minna took the board with the mosaic work on it and, with a cake spatula, gently started to separate the bottom layer of lime from the board without disturbing the tesserae (tiles). After the mosaic was freed from the board, she gently placed the piece on a clean board, cheesecloth–side down.
Students used dental tools to clear away any larger pieces still remaining.
The frame was placed on top of the mosaic, the boards were flipped over, and the two cement surfaces adhered to each other. The mosaic work was left to dry.
The process using the Ravenna method was much more complicated than Beth expected. Still, with help, all the students had created their own mosaic. How did Beth’s finished piece look?
To be continued with …. “It looked so easy”