Mosaics by Pam Norman
I was about 22 when I queued round the block trying to enrol for a Pottery class in Swansea, where I worked and lived for a couple of years. Eventually we were told that the class could not accept any more evening students, so my friend and I signed up instead for Mosaics. In the course of a couple of terms I produced a design of my own which I named Appalachian Moonscape ( yes, a bit pretentious I know!)
I kept it first on display and later in the loft, till last winter I hung it outside and gradually tiles started to come off as I hadn’t had the foresight back in the 70’s to use waterproof adhesive! It is now in the process of repair….
Over the next few years I accumulated tiles (called “tessarae” in the technical, indeed Roman, jargon) and was noticeably unproductive. As life progressed and children arrived, mosaic as a hobby was set aside and only when I retired did I pick it up again.
Finding a professional glass artist, who was giving lessons, I undertook a Beginners’ course which introduced me to some more modern approaches using stained glass and other materials and tools, encouraging me to more ambitious projects, mainly for decorative additions to my own home and garden. For a few years, I attended a “drop-in” session where we supported each other in our work and enjoyed a sociable morning once a week.
My husband converted our garden shed into a neat little studio where materials could be used in safety – cutting glass can create a potentially hazardous environment, if like me, you have dogs or other pets sharing your space.
Designing a mosaic and executing it takes time as well as some basic skills, which need practice of course. I don’t profess to have expert drawing skills, but I have created a number of items that I am pleased with and particularly like the way they have enhanced our little patio, where the plain white walls are now broken up by a number of pieces depicting the outdoors.
As I mentioned, external pieces need to be made using waterproof adhesive and grout to secure the tesserae or glass and it is important to prepare the base to make it weatherproof. I use MDF for internal works, external Plywood for the outside, in both cases making sure the base is thick enough to take fixings for hanging.
Cutting the glass takes practice and I don’t claim to be entirely competent, but I have learnt to cut basic shapes from strips of glass and to be inventive with a “crazy paving” approach. The tools enable you to chip gently as well as cut more boldly. However, cutting a larger square of glass into usable strips has defeated me thus far and I still depend on more expert hands to do that.
It’s very absorbing and an hour or two can pass without notice as one focuses on creating the element of the picture one is working on….important to wear your glasses if you need them or goggles as the glass slivers can fly. The piece I am most pleased with is Carnival and as we approach an equally festive time, I leave you with this image of it hanging in my dining room.
About the Author: One of Pam Norman’s favourite hobbies is walking her two collies, Freebie and Coco. You will see their pictures frequently on our Bowerland website, as they are such lovely girls and very photogenic. In retirement as well as dog walking, Pam has pursued her interests in writing, theatre, mosaics and art history. She is fortunate to have a great little garden shed built specially for her by George, in order to get in the mood.