Thursday, December 29, 2011

New (limestone) trends in mosaic art

This is my 3rd LIMESTONE post. If you haven't read the previous posts, you can first go and read The "limestone" island and then Learning mosaic the flexible way (lime putty).

All this talk about limestone can only bring to mind a cutting edge group of mosaic artists called CaCO3 (by clicking on their name you will be visiting their site).

The above mosaic is entitled Movimento n.18 and it's white limestone on mortar, 60 x 90 cm. 2011. This piece was awarded the Orsoni Award this year - € 2,000 in materials from Orsoni Veniziani for The Use of Traditional Materials. 

Read more about the awards on Mosaic Art NOW.

Notice how the tesserae have been inserted into the mortar. A completely "unorthodox" way of mosaic making which kind of takes you back to the basics, praising simplicity and the need to exploit "what we already have" while at the same time there is a clear statement of something entirely new. Minimalistic new but "rich", rich as in filled with knowledge of the materials, with passion and with love for the medium

There's more from CaCO3.

This art work is called I.M.O.8 / Organismo n.8 white limestone on mortar. 2010

I am totally addicted to their work.

Here's one more, I guess my very favourite.

A close up helps us appreciate the intensity of the work and the dynamic interaction between the tesserae. I am not surprised to see how the achievement of an outstanding minimalistic artwork conceals such discipline and originality.

I have a few more things to share that have to do with concrete and some other stuff but still need to work on my ideas and hope to be able to post something soon. In the meantime, I will be posting some interesting finds that I have been tweeting.

My warmest wishes to each one of you for the New Year!

Images link back to their source and naturally belong the mosaic artists mentioned. Text in all 3 limestone posts was written by mosaicology.blogspot and can be republished as long as the source is indicated.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Learning mosaic the flexible way (lime putty)

As mentioned in the first “limestone”  post "The "limestone" island", limestone is associated with mosaic art. It is actually crucial. In this post I am drawing from my own personal experience to show that by employing it in your mosaic making routine you can learn to make better mosaics.

In the picture above, you can see a mosaic artist making a mosaic on a lime putty mortar which acts as a temporary base. This method is known as the double reverse method. This is the method that I have learned in Ravenna and the one I prefer. 

Lime putty is achieved with the combination of lime chalk or limestone fragments and water and its known roles are as a binding agent, a covering coat on a structure, or as one component in the creation of walkways or mosaics.

The double reverse method is extremely time-consuming and requires that the mosaic artists gets involved with products that only architects/constructors/builders get to work with. However, it should not fail you.

The DR (double reverse) method means that you get to work on your mosaic directly, that is, "what you see/make is exactly what you get". Your mosaic is not supposed to be turned around, like we do with the indirect method where pieces are adhered onto paper/fabric the wrong side up and then turned around and transferred onto the final base (wall, table, floor etc)

The DR method involves making your mosaic on a lime putty mortar which will then be removed once it has dried. The mosaic is turned around, the mosaic gets cleaned from the lime putty and after going through the final stages, the mosaic is secured in in its final place.

When each tessera (the "official" term for "mosaic tile" deriving from Greek τέσσερα meaning four/four angles/square) is placed into the lime putty you get the feeling of something "living and breathing", that feeling that was probably experienced by mosaicists in the past when they embellished church vaults with golden tesserae which they arranged mathematically and gracefully in such angles into the mortar in order to achieve reflections of light, i.e. glory.

And it's not just for the "experience" of that old feeling. The past is long gone and mosaics made that exact way are rare today. What's more important, at least to me, is that this method provides a combination of the following two benefits.

1. It gives you the opportunity to learn and/or practice mosaic making the flexible way

The DR method is about TIME and FLEXIBILITY both imperative for a beginner who is bound to make mistakes and who needs to "see" the work and how the tessera interact with each other according to how they are placed on the lime putty mixture. The lime putty mortar is temporary and flexible and tesserae can be removed hours and days after. Even in the absence of a teacher, the learner, takes up the role of the "judge" and as he or she can re-examine the work.
How many times have we found ourselves saying "this is as far as I can go" and "this is the best I can do" and then the next day we contradict our own judgement and want to change everything. The DR method is as flexible as it can get and it will help you work "miracles".

2. It provides you with a unique method to learn from ancient mosaics.

With the DR method, the design of the mosaic you are about to make is copied onto the lime putty mortar. This means that ancient mosaics can be reproduced piece by piece as long as you know how to follow some simple guidelines which all schools (at least, as far as I know, in Ravenna) will teach you.

To my humble view, a student of mosaic should first learn how to copy mosaics. Especially ancient ones because all the fundamentals of mosaic art are to be found there. Andamento. Shapes. Contours. Colour balance. You can deviate from tradition once you have learned it. I would never recommend someone starting from crushed pottery or vitreous glass mosaics working on a mosaic pattern/design that has not been already made.

If you notice the work of modern Ravenna artists, you will see that they have gained from learning from ancient mosaics. Roman and Byzantine.

If the past cannot teach the present and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal of time.  ~Russell Hoban

I will continue exploring the "limestone" theme in the next post. The image links back to its source. If you want to use this text please kindly indicate the source.

(not me in the pic - image credit: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kastellorizo, Greece: The "limestone" island

We all know about Mykonos or Santorini, Rhodes or Crete but how much do we know about Kastellorizo?

Greece is full of places of unexplored incredible beauty and worth and Kastellorizo is one of them. The island, which is also known as Megisti, is the Aegean's easternmost island. A tiny but very beautiful island of the Dodecanese. It consists of a circular port of about 50 inhabited houses. Even though the island has very few inhabitants, they are all very hospitable and wait on the port to welcome the tourists.

Here's the port entrance.

A couple of panoramic views...

This beautiful blue and white house on the island was featured in the film Mediterraneo as Vasillisa's house. I wish they could make more films like that one!

What a colourful island! An inspiration for an artist.

This is how far Kastellorizo is from Greece....The location of the island is very remote and sadly causes various problems to the island and its inhabitants.....

The traditional character of Kastellorizo along with its unspoilt beauty result into a landscape that can only make your heart beat. This house is a perfect example for this.

What else is there on the island? Well, two things.

1. A spectacular pebble floor!

The mosaic floor of the "Avlogyro" square in the Horafia district of Kastellorizo is in excellent condition and features a roundel with a typical choklakia swirling radial design. Known as choklakia mosaics, they are made of black, white and sometimes reddish sea pebbles, and are to be found throughout the Dodecanese islands (for example Symi and Lindos on Rhodes). The mosaic tradition dates back to Byzantine times and motifs include abstract geometric forms as well as folkloric pictorial depictions.

2. Limestone!

As you can see in the "limestone beach" picture above, Kastellorizo island is rich with limestone. The island's geology is almost exclusively limestone. Due to the lack of significant flora covering the island, the landscape shows many features of karstification. There are a number of notable sea caves including the so called Blue Grotto which is much larger than its namesake in Capri.

The "limestone beach" picture is worth a million words, right?

Limestone beach - Kastellorizo
Everything is so overwhelming about this island, about Greece in general. Actually "stumbling on" the mosaic floor and the "limestone beach" was the reason behind this post but the wealth of information on limestone made me decide I had to split the posts.

In the next post I will be "digging deeper" into limestone and talk about my own personal experience with mosaic making. 

All images used in this post link back to their original source.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thank you

A short post to say THANK YOU to those that visit my blog and leave comments. You are all wonderful!

I am working on new posts that will appear on the blog mid next week unless I get more translation projects and need to postpone blogging for a couple days more. That is the reason why I am not blogging as I used to. I guess that hard work DOES PAY OFF after all!

I am sorry that I do not have the time to comment on your blogs ad I did before. But I do visit blogs often and I tweet stuff I like so PLEASE continue being inspiring!!!

Lots of love and a presto with new posts and if all goes all a little surprise...


Monday, December 5, 2011

Bologna is getting festive

Dear All,

I know I have not posted in a while but I have good reasons :) I have been very busy with translation work, preparing a series of new posts for Mosaicology, organising the house, trying to figure out what's got to go for the new year etc etc. 

You all know the drill.

So, I wanted first to post these pictures from Bologna centre that I took a few days back just to get into the spirit of Christmas and the Holidays.

A presto ! Later !