Classical mosaic making with Helen Miles

Ref: S4D33086

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About this course

The classical rules of mosaics and the use of andamento. An opportunity to focus on the fundamental principles of this ancient art and learn their relevance to contemporary practice.

Course Description

Andamento is the visual flow or direction within a mosaic, produced by the placement of rows of tesserae. It’s an often-forgotten part of the art of mosaic but andamento, along with the use of the Roman rules, is a crucial tool to help you learn how to make harmonious mosaics.

This course gives you a chance to take a deep dive into the ancient rules of mosaic making and find out how they apply to both classical style mosaics and contemporary work. It is suitable for all levels, but participants are advised to learn basic cutting techniques before attending.

We will begin with a short presentation, explaining the ideas that underpin the creation of a mosaic. You will then get familiar with the concept and practice of andamento and how to apply the classical rules through tessellated drawings and by working on a sample piece using the reverse method on paper. You will choose from a selection of pre-prepared templates and start your own mosaic using glass and ceramic tiles, working directly on Wediboard.

As you build up confidence with the classical techniques, you will explore how these ancient rules are relevant to contemporary mosaics. A second presentation will demonstrate the crossover between the two styles of work and go into greater depth about how to employ other aspects of mosaic, including spacing, cut, colour and tone to create interesting effects.

By the end of day three you will complete and grout your first mosaic and we will have time to return to our first mosaic made on paper. Depending on the speed at which you work, these will be completed and set onto their permanent backing or left unfinished and set allowing the un-tessellated sections to be part of the design.

By the end of the course, you will leave with a full understanding of how to harness the ancient rules to make striking mosaic designs. You will also know how to use two key methods for your future mosaic work, with an emphasis on creating mosaics which are suitable for all weather conditions.

Please note, you will be sent a set of classical templates to choose from. Your tutor will contact you prior to the course to discuss the design of the mosaic with you.

This course is part of our materials week. Our February themed week of short courses for 2025 focuses on CLAY, led by talented artist-tutors:

Sarah Burns – Nature's alchemy: clay resist printing and indigo dyeing

Helen Miles – Classical mosaic making

Grainne Reynolds – Jewellery using silver clay

Sarah Villeneau – Organic sculpture in clay

Gilbert Whyman – Sculpting from life – figure and portrait

Laura Dennis – Mixed media landscape painting on clay board

Each course explores a different aspect of using this versatile material and how it may be used in a variety of contemporary practices.

Each tutor will be invited to give a short talk (10 minutes) about an aspect of their work relating to the theme of the week on Tuesday evening at 5.15pm. Participants will also be encouraged to visit other courses to see work produced across the varied approaches offered in the week.

Timetable

Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

Included

  • On this course, the College will supply some of the materials, including: all baseboards, glues and grout.

What students need to bring

  • Side biter nippers (these must have a spring), Leponitt wheeled nippers (if you are using glass), angled tweezers and a set of dental picks, which can be bought from mosaic suppliers. Failing that, a fine screwdriver.
  • Containers for your materials - separate containers (for example yoghurt pots and takeaway boxes) for the different colours are a good idea.
  • An apron or large shirt which you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • A small glue brush
  • An ordinary paint brush 2 and a half or 3 inches wide to sweep away shards
  • Black Sharpie – fine tip
  • A pencil, rubber and pencil sharpener
  • Please note: prior to the course, your tutor will send a set of classical templates to choose from. Please bring the colours of mosaic tiles that would work best with your chosen design. Bringing your own materials will guarantee getting the materials you need. Remember that Winkelmans and vitreous glass tiles can be used together because they are both 4mm thick.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including general drawing materials, paper, brushes, etc. However, the shop does not supply materials which are specific to mosaic making.
  • Available from tutor:
  • A selection of Winckelmans unglazed ceramic and vitreous glass tiles. Please note, you are required to bring your own materials and the supplies that the tutor brings are a backup in case of shortage.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Please note prior to the course your tutor will send a set of classical templates to choose from. Please bring the colours of tiles that would work best with your chosen design. Bringing your own materials will guarantee getting the materials you need. Remember that Winckelmans and vitreous glass tiles can be used together because they are both 4mm thick.

Tutors

Helen Miles

Trained in Greece, Helen Miles is a mosaic artist with a reputation as a maker of finely executed pieces inspired by ancient mosaics but with a contemporary feel. She has more than 20 years’ of experience designing, making and teaching and has recently published Mosaics: Ancient Techniques to Contemporary Art.

Accommodation

Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.