Sunday, 22 October 2017

How To: Get Inspiration.


One of the things that I am most commonly asked is where do I get my inspiration from. I have to admit that a lot of my inspiration comes already printed on the blanks I buy. For example I am always working on little pieces that can be used as either key rings or bag charms. I buy these blanks from a shop called Baker Ross and they come with the design printed onto them. I just have to prime them and then colour them in before I start on the micro mosaics.


This is Orlando one of my Owl Christmas decoration pieces. Showing here what he looked like prior to beading when I had just primed him and coloured him in.

You can see what he looks like completed and read his story and the stories of the other Metrowlpolis Owls on my Facebook Page.






One of the main reasons that I went into micro mosaics instead of the more usual macro ones is for scope of design. I have spent many years making jewellery so always have a large amount of beads around the house. I got to puzzling about how you could get a really nice amount of detail onto pieces of work that were small enough to sell, relatively cheaply to just about anyone without the postage bills being ridiculous.

Then I remembered all the beads I had around the place and thought that if I used these as tesserae instead of the 1 cm square glass tiles I had been using previously, I would be able to get much more detail into smaller pieces.

I do get a lot of pieces of wooden or cardboard blanks that are just plain however and that is where the need for design inspiration comes into play. It helps that I can draw a little bit, not anything major mind you, but enough to get a quick outline in place.



This piece will be a key holder when it is finished, as you can see I am much better at mosacing than I am at drawing!













I would say an over whelming amount of my inspiration has been nature to be honest, well nature and gaming but mostly nature. As you can see in the picture below inspired by the beautiful Monarch butterfly.

Monarch inspired butterfly.
I think it is important though to think about what you love most. I love nature so much, there is so much inspiration there and a quick trip out with a camera can net you loads of ideas of things to make, from the smallest flower to the crashing waves of the sea.




Nature isn't everyone's cup of tea however, so a great place to start is by thinking about what you love the most. For some people it may even be a cup of tea, or a nice mocha.

Food is a great inspiration for mosaic work as well. One of the big problems for design inspiration is copyrite. You may see some awesome pictures of elves and dragons on Deviant Art, but unless you have drawn the picture yourself, you can't use it as inspiration for a mosaic without the original artist's permission.

Things like nature and food however are different in that you can just take a photograph of them and use that as your template for your work. There are lots of pictures of nature and food in the public domain as well, that you can use for free to inspire your mosaics.

So what do you love most of all in the world? How good are you at drawing free hand or how good a photographer are you? Do you like ships or other forms of transport? Can you draw nice looking ships or are there any close to hand that you could photograph? What about old planes?

A few idea of things that might inspire you:

Weapons - old or new.
Fantasy - any fantastic race or beast that you can draw.
The animal world - can you draw a picture of an animal, photograph one out and about or visit a local zoo?
Religion - Could you take pictures at local places of worship to turn into mosaics?
Romance - How are you at drawing hearts and flowers and curly haired cherubs?
Gaming - Is there a copyrite free place that you game in that would let you mosaic from there?
Architecture - Can you photograph beautiful buildings and turn them into mosaics?



This piece was made as a gift for a friends little boy. Licencing laws usually prohibit you from using their images and work for commercial but don't mind if you are not selling them.









These are just a few ideas, but search your heart for the things you enjoy the most and see if you can make whatever that is into mosaics. Don't forget that with micro mosaicing especially, the scope for details and imagination is huge.

Note Well.  You must always get the relevant permissions to mosaic anything that does not belong to you. So if you visit a zoo, church or museum make sure to ask if it is okay to photograph the things you see and them reproduce them as mosaics. If possible get written permission, legal battles are lengthy, expensive and soul destroying.

Equally if you want to get your inspiration from photographs online. There are a number of photo stock sites where you can either download pictures for free or for a small price. Many of the photographers are also trying to build a reputation and a business so they will often ask that if you do use their work to mention who took the original, with a link back to where you got the picture if possible. This is called attribution and you will never know how frustrating it is when someone uses your work without permission until it happens to you. And it does, trust me.

Do not assume that just because a picture is on Wikipedia or Google Images that it is free to use however you want because you can get into some serious trouble that way.

I hope this has given you some ideas of where to go for inspiration for mosaicing whether it is macro or micro mosaics. In a further article I will be showing how to turn your inspiration into an actual design, so keep watching.

If you want to keep up to date with everything that happens on this blog please follow the Mostly Micro Mosaics Facebook page.

If you wish to purchase any of my pieces on the blog, pop along to my Etsy shop where you can buy outright or commission orders of your own design.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

How To; Get Started With Mosaics

Right my friends! So this is the first article about mosaicing in the How To section and it's going to be a general quick run down of the processes you go through when you want to create a stunning mosaic be it big or small. I am not going to deep in this article into the tools and suchlike as there will be a separate set of articles for that, this is just a run down to get you started.

Mosaicing is a series of processes that need to be completed in order. These processes are often separated by drying times so that even the most basic of designs can take about a week to finish. Here is a quick checklist so you can see the schedule better.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Micro Mosaics - Then And Now

I have had ambitions to become the most famous artist of micro mosaics of the 21st century  (you have to have a dream right?). This dream was shaken on it's foundations recently when I did a Google search of micro mosaics and found that not even on the first page of the search, I wasn't able to search far enough to find my work on their at all. This was a bit of a surprise because I know that there are not many people doing the kind of work that I do now, so I figured that I needed to do two things. 1; I need to get more of my own work out on the internet so people could see it and 2; I needed to investigate all of these other micro mosaic sites to find out what was going on.
This is a piece of my mosaicing, please do not copy the
picture without linking back to the page!


















I discovered to my astonishment that micro mosaicing had actually been around for centuries.
Not the way that I do it of course, as you can see from the photo above, I use glass beads of various shapes and sizes for my work.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Head of Dionysus from Corinth

Hello all and welcome to this blog post!

Today I will be looking at this mosaic of the head of Dionysus, from ancient Corinth.



I picked it because I liked the pattern around the head, so I decided to do some research into it. Unfortunately, there are many pictures of this mosaic, but not very much information about it! I was able to find out that it is dated to around 150-225 AD, and that it was the floor in a Roman villa. I also found out that it is currently housed in the Ancient Corinth Museum, that opening times are 8-3 every day except holy days, and tickets are 6 euros unless you are over 65, under 18 or a student in the European Union, which sadly I am not!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Madaba Map

Hello and welcome to this blog post!

Today I will be looking at the Madaba Map, an intricate and interesting mosaic found during the construction of a Greek Orthodox in 1884, following the destruction of the city of Madaba by earthquake in 746 AD. It originally was part of the Nea Church, which was dedicated in 542 AD.

Now I say this is an intricate and interesting mosaic, and it is probably the most intricate and interesting mosaic in the world being as it is a map of the Jerusalem! We don't know who it was made by, but we do know that it was made between 542 and 570 AD, as no buildings build after 570 are on it. This means it it almost 1,500 years old. Unfortunately, after it's rediscovery in 1884 it was badly damaged by activities in the church, fires and moisture, reducing its size from the original 21 by 7 metes to 16 by 5 meters. Luckily, in 1964 90,000 DM (roughly £40,000 or $52,000) was given for the restoration, which was undertaken by archaeologists Heinz Cuppers and Herbert Donner. When complete, it would have had 2 million tesserae!


Reproduction of the mosaic, with credit to Bernard Gagnon

One of the many things that is interesting about this map is that it does not face north, as modern maps do, but instead faces towards the altar at the east. This means that the places the map depicts are in line with with the compass directions. The map depicts a large number of important biblical sites that were previously undiscovered, such as Askalon, the Nea Church and the Cardo Maximus, the latter two of which were found in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. It also showed a road running through the middle of Jerusalem which was later discovered 4m below the surface of a modern road!