Be Inspired, Don’t Copy 

Original Illustration by Kishore Bhargava

In my 4 years of self-training to be a mosaicist with no hardcore art background, I’ve used many online spaces to observe work, read tutorials and connect with mosaicists. There is widespread concern among many senior mosaicists on their work getting copied without any acknowledgement going to them as the original creators. There have been some who have accepted this phenomenon as a fallout of living and sharing in today’s Net-enabled world but it’s not that they are happy about it. Most others are openly critical of anyone simply treating images shown by Google Search or Pinterest as available to replicate. As a learner and mentor, this is what I advise a new learner to keep it nice and healthy for everyone.

  • Observe Intently. Look at lots of good quality work, observe the cuts  and andamento, and build a reference library of such work to learn from. Keep going back to these images only to observe as that helps internalise some aspects of those works.
  • Draw it out. Instead of tracing anyone’s work, just draw out several versions of those elements in your sketch book. By the 4th or 5th sketch, you will have made substantial changes from the original idea to make it remarkably different.
  • Use Nature, Folk Art, Still Life as your Prime Inspiration. Simply do this. You might claim to be a non-artist but you have admired landscapes, creatures, flowers or artefacts. You have decorated your living space with folk art or worn accessories with such art used on them. Draw out what you have admired and you will find many ideas in your sketchbook for your mosaics.
  • Use Simple Illustrations with your Preferred Fillers. Many mosaicists advise the use of illustrations from children’s books as they are simpler in their form and colours. Use such illustrations to fill them with zentangles, swirls, waves and colours of your choice.
  • Take Photographs. It is easy enough to click photos with smartphones. Take photos of what you see and like, build such a reference library and simplify such photos through your sketches for use in your mosaics. Birds and vegetation make good subject materials this way.
  • Take Help of Photo Editing Tools. You can run filters on your photos in Photoshop and phone apps like Prisma, Painnt and more to create effects and get ideas for your mosaic compositions.
  • Reproduce Roman Mosaics. Small selected elements from ancient Roman mosaics have been copied by many either as they are or by changing their tile cuts and flow. These reproductions become useful studies to understand the cutting and laying of materials, and they are not frowned upon as copies.
  • Be original and Find Your Style. As you make more, you will know more. With every 4-5 mosaics, you would know your preference for materials, colours, cuts, design elements, etc and your future work will show a certain preferred style of your own.
  • Get Feedback on your work. Get honest and brutal feedback on your mosaics from other creators, your family, a visiting friend, mentoring groups and reflect on those reactions. Don’t feel bad about it for you’re learning to be a good creator and any feedback teaches you some things that you hadn’t noticed.
  • Copy to Learn but No Sharing or Selling that Output. If you must copy to further your understanding of anyone’s technique, keep that output as your study without sharing its image on social media or ever selling that mosaic even as an ‘inspired’ piece of work. Those learning to paint may be displaying such work in galleries but it is just not right.
  • Create Regularly, Save its Photo and Gift it Away. Merely observing and admiring others creative output would not teach you to be a good mosaicist. You must cut the materials and create compositions to take your lessons. Make lots of small mosaics, take their photos for your personal library and gift them all away so you can create space for more to display in your home.
  • Create Mosaics for Enjoyment. After making 15-20 mosaics, you may start getting commissioned to duplicate your earlier work. Take those orders by all means but don’t create only to sell. Create for the sheer pleasure of it so you can enjoy the journey of learning too.

 

Interview with Vaishali Sanghavi, Mixed Media and Mosaic Artist

Please give us a brief introduction on yourself.

I grew up in Mumbai. I am a multi-disciplinary artist. I have worked in a lot of different mediums – drawing, painting, quilting, printmaking, kiln formed glass and now mosaics. I studied textile design at Sophia college majoring in Weaving, after that I did a one-year course in screen printing also at Sophia college.  I got married in 1989 and moved to America.

How did you start making mosaics and how long ago was that? 

I took one class in picassiette (broken china) from my daughter’s art teacher in 2005, and there was no looking back. I started researching this art form. I found Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland. They offered mosaic classes taught by some very well known mosaicists. I took a lot of classes there – Sonia King, Emma Biggs, Irina Charny, Laurel Skye, Lin Chinn, Lillian Seizemore, Laurel True and many more. Currently, I am enrolled in a certification program in mosaic arts at the Chicago Mosaic School. This school was founded by the dynamic Karen Ami. Here I have had the honor of studying under Verdiano Marzi, Toyoharo KII, Dugald Maccines, Karen Ami and Sue Gianotti.

What is your preferred mosaic media? Do tell us about the materials you use for your mosaics.

I am a mixed media artist. I use smalti, stone, slate, 24K gold leafed glass, metal, millefiori, kiln formed glass, handmade ceramic and found objects.

What all have you made in mosaics? What all do you plan to make in the future?

I started out making mirrors in tapestry style mosaics. My work has moved towards abstraction. Currently, all my work is 2D; I would like to get into sculptural mosaics so I am acquiring skills to make 3D substrates.

What are you currently working on? 

Currently, I am experimenting in combining slate with smalti. The new series is in design phase.

Where do you find inspiration for your compositions? What kind of themes interest you?

I only do abstract mosaics, most of my inspiration come from nature and state of mind.

What is the typical size of your mosaic pieces? How long does it take you on average to complete a mosaic?

I don’t work very large, 8”x10”, 12”x12″, 20”x20”, 18”x24”

The time it takes me to finish a mosaic depends on its intricacy. I am not a super-fast worker, I like to bond with the tesserae and the process of creating the piece.

What challenges have you encountered in mosaic-making?

Technical challenges – Andamento and learning how to use the hammer and hardie correctly.

Mosaic as an art charms even non-artists as it brings all the focus on the process or on working out the flow of tesserae. Many folks seem to find the art instantly therapeutic. Do you feel that way?

Absolutely.

What is your wish list for mosaics as an art in the US as also in India? 

Mosaic art is still considered a craft, I would like mosaic art to find a place in the fine art category.

What is your view of the Facebook group Mosaic India and its website? What principles should it promote in the future?     

I think Mosaic India is a great group. I would like this group to grow and thrive. I think for any group to thrive we should continue to 1 –  attract more artists, 2 – share our work more often and have a dialogue with the other members, because we all learn from each other. A closed group is a safe place for us to share our work, 3 – continue to share sources for materials and links to mosaic sites and artists.  

What is your advice to a new mosaic learner who is based in India?

Research other mosaic artists, there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube on Andamento, processing different materials. Keep creating mosaics and you will get better. There are a lot of good mosaic technique books available. I believe it is important to learn the rules correctly in order to break them.

Are there any learning resources or mosaic artists you would like to point new learners to?

mosaicartsonline.com. You can sign up for online courses here. The nice thing is you can have the course forever so you can refer to it as often as you want. Some courses are more advanced than others.

Is there a gallery link or website that you would like to share with others? 

americanmosaics.org

Any mosaic or art based philosophy that you’d like to be known by?

Keep creating without worrying about the end result.  

Do share with us some of your creations and links to your website.

vaishalisanghavi.com

Mosaic-making Tools

I’ve written multiple posts on sources of tools for India based mosaicists, but since they date back to 2 years, I’m presenting an update on the most essential tools that I find necessary for mosaic practitioners. The recommended tools are listed under the materials they can handle.

GLASS TILES AND CHINA

 Wheeled Nippers 

Sai Mosaic Art : As of now, Ahmedabad based Sai Mosaic Art is the only e-commerce enabled website in India that sells tools and tiles for mosaic-making. I recommend their wheeled nippers because they are fast to buy, they are well-priced and they work well enough. The site also sells replacement blades for these nippers. Approx. Price: Rs1400.00

NBHTPL : Mumbai Based New Bombay Hardware Traders Pvt. Ltd. sells these heavy duty nippers by RUBI (Rubi 83942) that cut glass or ceramic tiles or china with equal ease. They are more expensive than most brands of wheeled nippers but their advantages are their multi-material use, quality and availability. Approx. Price: Rs3700.00

Leponitt Nippers  from Amazon US : Although these nippers are not available in India, the reason for including them in the list is to highlight them as an ideal tool to own. Those with a choice to ship items from Amazon US to friends in the US and get them through their visits, must exercise the choice and acquire a pair. These are lighter in weight than most nippers I’ve used and have good quality blades. Approx. Price: $29.00

STAINED GLASS

Scorers

Toyo Thomas Grip Scorer from Amazon US : This scorer isn’t available in India but it’s considered as the best cutter for stained glass sheets. It can be sourced from Amazon US if one can find a helpful acquaintance travelling from the US. Approx. Price: $27.00

Toyo Pencil Scorers : I had found this scorer in a local hardware store on a visit but not on my next one. It’s worth checking with local stores on its availability. Other local brands do not have good quality blades even if they look like these. Approx. Price: Rs250.00

Stanley Glass Cutter : It works as well or even better than locally made pencil scorers. If one can’t source a Toyo scorer then this cutter is worth acquiring. Like with other glass scorers, it should be run onto a cotton swab dipped in kerosene or machine oil to lubricate its wheel before using on glass. Approx. Price: Rs140.00

Running Pliers

Studio Pro Running Pliers from Amazon US : To break a score on a stained-glass sheet, one needs a pair of Running Pliers. I use Studio Pro’s Running Pliers that I sourced from Amazon US. These may be available in Indian hardware stores under a different brand name but I haven’t seen them locally. If you do find such pliers locally, remember to buy only those that have a raised bump on the lower jaw to help break a score. Approx. Price: $11.00

CERAMIC TILES AND POTTERY

Scorer cum Snapper from NBHTPL : This tool by RUBI is a well-made and well-priced scorer-cum-snapper for ceramic tiles. They call it a Tile Cutter. It can be purchased from NBHTPL in Mumbai by sending an email to their Sales Head, Mr. Akshay Jain (akshayjain at nbhtpl dot com). Approx. Price: Rs700

Rubi Compound Nippers : These nippers from NBHTPL (Rubi 65926) are a good choice for shaping ceramic tiles. Their jaw has straight blades that aid breaking of ceramic tiles from the tile’s edge. Approx. Price: Rs1400.00

Sai Mosaic’s Professional Nippers : These nippers could become one’s second pair for shaping ceramic tiles. Their jaw has rounded blades that help with circular nipping. Approx. Price: Rs1000.00

MD Buildings Compound Nippers from Amazon US : These are my favourite compound nippers. I bought them from Amazon US at half the price mentioned against them at Amazon India. Amazon US still ships them to India so one should check if it makes sense to buy them from the US through a friend or on direct shipping to India. Approx. Price: $12.00

 

My Dremel Experience 

I’d long wanted to acquire a Dremel rotary tool to manage some tasks as a mosaicist. At some point, Amazon India’s discount sale brought the tool’s price down by a couple of thousand rupees, making it seem like an opportune time to buy it. If anyone else is considering its purchase, the information below may help one reach a decision.

The Right Model 

My enquiries in international mosaic groups had highlighted Dremel 4000 as the most apt model for my purpose as it had the power to allow long duration use as also enable varied cutting tasks. The price of Dremel 3000 was always more attractive but I tried my best to not succumb to the temptation to buy it. Too many people had mentioned that the model 3000 had blown up on overuse.

The model that I finally got from Amazon India is this one:

Dremel 4000-4/65 EZ 175-watt Multi-Tool Set (69-Pieces)

(An introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meyhj6QpedE)
4000 is the Model number; 4 denotes the number of attachments that come with the tool; 65 is indicative of the small accessories bundled in.

Upon checking on Amazon India now, I see that this model is no longer available. It’s possible that Amazon managed to sell its complete stock at that sale. One of the reviewers on Amazon had written that the e-commerce site is discarding its old stock through discount sales so I’m now waiting to see how long mine lasts. I do know from many users in the west that the model 4000 is what they’ve found to be working well.

Must-have Accessories 

My identified requirements from the Dremel tool were to : cut shapes out of acrylic sheets and mdf board; cut crockery; grind tile edges when absolutely necessary, etch ceramic tiles, buff mosaic jewellery, engrave wood etc.

Other than what came with the Dremel tool kit, I’ve bought the following additional accessories from Amazon India:

Dremel 4486 Multi Chuck (0.4-3.4 mm) 

To avoid having to change the collet repeatedly for different bits and mandrels, I decided to buy this multi chuck as it’s believed to work with all the accessories. Its idea is totally welcome but upon using it I found the accessory bit 561 getting dislodged on pressing into the hard surface of an acrylic sheet. I need to use it more often to determine its efficacy but I believe that its price of Rs599.00 makes it a worthwhile item in the kit.

Tools Centre’s 22 mm 10 Mini Diamond Saw Blades with 2 Shanks

Diamond blades are essential for cutting ceramic or china crockery with Dremel. Instead of buying Dremel’s expensive original diamond blade priced at Rs3500/piece, I decided to give this set of 10 blades a chance. The set came at Rs660.00, and till now, I’ve used one out of them to cut 4 shapes out of a 4 mm acrylic sheet. I found the blade to be more effective than any other bit in my original kit.  I’m sure they will come in handy for varied materials in the future. I’m just curious to see the longevity of each blade as they say that low priced blades lose their diamond surface rather rapidly. At the price they have come though, one can experiment with them without too much thought.

My First Project 

I’ve wanted to cut mdf and acrylic shapes for a long time. I believe that a Jigsaw or 3-ring saw are most appropriate for cutting mdf shapes but since I’ve wanted to use the Dremel tool for many things that it can possibly do, I decided to cut acrylic shapes with it. After testing the cutting bit 561 and SpeedClick SC456 that came in the kit, I found Tool Center’s diamond blades more effective for cutting the hard 4 mm acrylic sheets. It was tough to handle acrylic sheets as their cutting not only created a lot of acrylic powder in the air, the diamond blade led to slightly burnt acrylic edges. For those attempting this must wear a nose mask and protective glasses. Wearing anti-glass cut gloves may also help as sometimes tiny pieces of warm acrylic fly onto the hand holding the sheet.

The acrylic shapes had residual plastic stuck to their edges that also went away when rubbed against the surface of the diamond blade.

While I’d be cutting more acrylic, I’m not sure that I’d cut them in large numbers. The process is time-consuming and emits a lot of acrylic powder. Two of the shapes, however, have served as substrates for a small sun-catcher for my yard.

I wish… 

There is lots that isn’t in favour of buying this tool in India. It is pricey; Bosch Limited doesn’t do much to want to sell it (my calls and emails to them didn’t get me any response); Dremel tool’s original accessories are not only expensive, many times they aren’t even available online; Dremel-India’s website isn’t as informative as Dremel.com; Amazon India has far less product data available against the item/accessories than say Amazon US; its videos on Youtube or the company site are mere promos and not educative… And yet, hobbyists or artists in India have been buying the tool because of its perceived potential. Many glass artists I’ve connected with tell me that they bought it thinking that it’d help with many tasks but their prime use of it is to drill holes in glass, an essential need to create many stained glass objects.

I wish Dremel.com was doing much more to facilitate the tool’s handling and help learn the use of its accessories through better videos and live workshops. I believe I’ve watched every single video that’s available on it on Youtube but I still wasn’t entirely sure of the blade that would cut acrylic sheets easily. The Dremel India website doesn’t even allow search for accessories by their model number. One has to use Google to find that accessory’s page on the company website.

Useful Learning Resources

I found these sites to carry some useful views and advise that may help others too.

https://dremelamateur.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/my-dremel-4000-review-part-i/
https://dremelamateur.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/my-dremel-4000-review-part-ii/#more-388
https://www.eternaltools.com/blog/complete-guide-to-your-dremel-rotary-tool
http://dremelweekends.com/pvc-lamp.html
http://jmbh.org/DremelTute.html
https://blueroofdesigns.com/2009/08/07/dremel-resources-for-artists/
http://woodarchivist.com/310-choosing-power-carving-bits/

Do you use a Dremel tool? Do share your experience on its use and how it’s made your work easier.

Product Review: Resibond Clear 330–Silicone in a tube 

Resinova’s Resibond Clear 330 silicone has come my way through a Pune based member of the Mosaic India group. She had used the product to adhere stained glass to acrylic window panes and the adhesive dried clear. Later, I found the company website and emailed them an enquiry as I couldn’t find the product online. The email response gave the name of their NCR marketing representative, who called a little later to understand my application and pointed me to 2 of their products. He checked with his staff and also gave a shop’s name close to my location where I was likely to find the products. I went over to South City Hardware and Sanitaryware in South City-I market (Gurgaon, Haryana, India) and did find this silicone in 20 ml tubes. It cost Rs30/tube.

I’ve now used the adhesive to create the glass-on-acrylic mosaic in the image and it acted fine. It was easy to dispense, gave 10-15 minutes to move around the tesserae and started firming up. By the morning, the tiles were fairly firmly adhered. I decided to pry loose an odd shaped tessera with a pick the next day to cut it and paste the 2 pieces again, and that too worked well.

The mosaic got grouted without any major problem. The tiny specks inside the bird moved around a bit indicating the need for a bigger tessera surface with the adhesive on it to hold the substrate more firmly, but they didn’t come off.

The main learning was that the silicone is best applied smoothly on the (transparent) tile or, preferably, all over the substrate to prevent gaps from forming under the tile for the grout to seep in and remain visible through the transparent tiles.

As far as this product goes, I’m pleased to see silicone available in small tubes so one isn’t forced to cut open a big caulk for a small mosaic any longer.

I’d like to request the company through this post to make the product available through Amazon India so one can source it easily. Meanwhile, those in the NCR can get in touch with the NCR marketing representative for locations of dealers/stores that stock the Resinova products. Others can email the company for stores near their locations.

NCR Marketing Representative:
Mr. Ram Pratap
Astral Adhesives
Delhi Office: +91-011-26818810, 26814096
Mobile: +91-9999971908
Email: chemicals at resinova dot com

REVIEW OF BOOK: ‘MOSAIC Technique and Traditions’ by Sonia King

REVIEW OF BOOK: ‘MOSAIC Technique and Traditions’ by Sonia King
By Shilpa Dalal

One of the best and most comprehensive books that I have found so far is ‘MOSAIC Techniques and Traditions’ by Sonia King.  It covers the history of mosaic and how it was developed in different countries – the different materials that were used in those days and photographs of these mosaics, on floors and on walls.  It goes on to the works of the famous Antoni Gaudi that fill the city of Barcelona, Spain.  This ancient art of mosaic is very much alive today and this book portrays not only the historical mosaics, but also modern day, contemporary artists. 

The different techniques of mosaic making are very well explained, including how to design a mosaic for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.  Interspersed with actual projects that one can make, are photographs of mosaics from different parts of the world.

Sonia King has shown how to use the different materials for mosaic, such as smalti, vitreous tiles, china, ceramic tiles, and the projects shown range from small, easy projects, to ones that are fixed on the wall, to even a 3-D project. The only material that is not covered in this book is the use of stained glass in mosaics.  Other than that, I totally recommend this book to all mosaic enthusiasts and lovers, from beginners to advanced.­­

 

Shilpa Dalal is a mosaicist and painter based in Mumbai, India.
Her works can be seen on her Facebook Page.

Interview with Rajashree Dadarkar, Stained Glass Artist, Potter and Mosaicist

*Please give us an introduction on yourself.

I am Rajashree Dadarkar, From Pune.  I am an artist and I have been working in the field of Art for the past four decades.

I completed Diploma in commercial art- G.D Art – in 1978, from Abhinav Kala Vidyalay Pune.

For the final year exams, we went to J. J School of Arts, Mumbai. During that time we got a chance to visit the Jahangir Art gallery on frequent basis to see the various art exhibitions. That was the time I developed a keen interest in the field of Handicrafts.

After college, I started freelancing in commercial art, but I did not find that satisfying and interesting.

During that time, I got married to Sanjay, an artist from the Fine Arts background. In our Art journey together we both had a lot of influences on each other as we both loved Art and we started our journey together and we worked on many big projects together. My husband had keen interest in Ceramics and he took training in pottery and Ceramics from Gramoday Sangh, Chandrapur District, near Nagpur.

We both frequently visited the training institute; I too did a short training course in pottery. As we both were from the city like Pune, we had to face a lot of problems in staying in small village like Bhadrawati but working on the potter’s wheel, and complete procedure right from making to baking of clay fascinated us. The clay as a medium of art, huge furnaces and the pottery unit like Gramoday Sangh, the atmosphere, the production, all was like a wonder for me. That was the time I felt that I have found the medium of art that I was looking for.

The GURU of my Husband in this field was Late Mr. Krishnamurthy Mirmira. My Husband was his most favourite student so I became his student-cum-daughter-in-law. Staying at Bhadrawati and working with clay, the days were like a dream and we started dreaming about having our own pottery studio at Pune.

The dream came true in 1980 and we got a loan from Khadi and Village industry for a Studio Pottery unit in the rural development program.  The loan was for rural development, we started our studio 7-8 kms away from the city area, where there was no water and electricity but just the place to work.

We started experimenting with clay. In 1982, we did our first individual exhibition in ceramics and that was a great success and in the same month I gave birth to a baby girl.

It was a struggle in life on different levels; I was trying to work in the studio and at the same time looking after my little one. I learnt a lot from my husband at that time. He was very good at understanding the science behind the pottery and ceramics and he was very experimental in Art forms.

Between 1982-1988, Sanjay did 4 exhibitions in glazed pottery at Jahangir Art gallery, Mumbai, and I did my first solo exhibition of Terracotta Lamps before Diwali in Pune. The exhibition was successful. People admired the work and that was very encouraging.

With that success and experience, we never looked back then. We divided our studio into 2 streams.  My husband moved to Murals and Stained-glass and I focused on terracotta pottery. I had 17 individual exhibitions in terracotta lamps. I was also fortunate to be able to give training to the ladies from rural area. And this is how we established our studio and business in handicrafts.  Meanwhile we had our second child, my son. I continued to work and did a lot of exhibitions and Art shows. But during late 1990s I stopped working in Terracotta pottery as I developed some medical problems due to spending long hours on the potter’s wheel.

That was the time my husband and I started working with stained glass and we started learning the new medium by reading lots of books and experimenting with the glass. We got a chance to complete a number of commissioned jobs in stained-glass and we realised we had found one more medium of Art that we could focus on. My Husband started taking big projects in stained glass like huge domes, window panels, etc. and at the same time continuing the work in ceramic murals, Fibreglass domes, Tiffany lamps. I was helping him to complete the projects but the main driver in all the decision-making was him. He was the artist who introduced the Original Stained Glass Work to the people of Pune.

I was always looking at him experimenting in various art forms and mediums and I used to rely on him for all his technical knowledge.

When I look back now, I feel I was indirectly learning from him, which helps me today when he is not with me. He suddenly passed away in 2011 at the age of 54 and I was left with the daunting task of managing the studio without him.

Again the struggle started in a different way. The studio was fully established with all the tools and equipment but suddenly everything stopped. The commissioned jobs had stopped. No one knew that I could work in Stained glass because I was known for my Terracotta Lamps. This is how the studio activity stopped suddenly.  I also did not have the courage to go to the studio… that emptiness without my husband was unbearable.

But the last big stained glass panel project that my husband had undertaken was incomplete because of his unexpected death.  So I brought together all my strength and courage to face the situation and completed that panel. The first piece of stained glass panel which I completed on my responsibility was big in size, 10 feet * 4 feet. I did the job well.

After finishing the project, I discovered that it is impossible for me to live without creating something. I could not see our studio all quiet, without any artistic creation. My children were doing well with their own field of choice, so I had to do something of mine to keep the studio going.

I didn’t like the idea to sell all the raw material we had in our studio and stop everything. I started working in the studio not for money but only to keep myself busy and to keep the studio going. I was not thinking much and just tried to keep myself busy.

I was looking all around the studio where I found a lot of material like ceramic tiles, boxes filled with glass shards, ply woods, PVC foam sheets, Acrylic sheets, mirrors, sheets of stained glass, dozens of copper foils and kilos of solder wire, Terracotta clay bags etc. And I decided to make full use of the material I already had. For the last 6 years I am doing the same.

*How did you stumble onto mosaics and how long ago was that?

I was completely unaware of the use of stained glass in mosaics. During our Europe trip in 2010, we saw mosaics made with tiles, millefiori, marble mosaic tiles and stones. But how to use glass shards was a challenge in front of me. We had big investments in the imported glass we had purchased.  And when we completed big projects we never threw away the tiny pieces of glass left behind. While doing the research on Internet I found some websites on glass mosaics and I started experimenting in stained glass mosaic in 2012. I found this medium of art very interesting. As I was working in stained glass for many years before, cutting glass shapes for mosaics was easy for me. I made a nursery themed glass mosaic for my grandson as a gift for his first birthday which looked very adorable and got appreciated by a lot of people. So I started making more and more through my research and experiments in mosaic, and started learning about different surfaces and glues. A lot of raw material was already available in the studio. Now it has been almost 5 years I have been working with mosaics. I am using stained glass but I am also experimenting with more textures in my mosaic.

*What is your preferred mosaic media and how do you source it? Do tell us about the challenges you face in its sourcing.

When we started working in stained glass 20 years ago, there were no online sources of getting the raw material. Slowly we found suppliers in Mumbai.

We never got any stained glass material in the local market at Pune.

I preferred stained glass only because I have a lot of material in stock.  I personally would love to use other mosaic material along with stained glass. I want to experiment with terracotta and glass tesserae together.

We have also bought some tools from abroad, mainly USA and Europe.

*What all have you made in mosaics? What all do you plan to make in the future?

I have tried mosaic picture frames, mosaic over terracotta pots for garden display, mosaic over thermocol balls for garden display, mosaic tiles, birdhouses, etc.

I want to plan and work for an exhibition of mosaic art, in which I want to introduce the complete procedure of mosaic-making to people.

*What are you currently working on?

I am working on birdhouses. I make them with PVC foam sheets right from cutting them, making shapes and then mosaic them with glass pieces. With the use of coloured glass they look pretty.

PVC foam sheet is synthetic material so it’s totally waterproof and can hang in gardens.

*Where do you find inspiration for your compositions? What kind of themes interest you?

I get inspiration from nature. The colours and shapes inspire me. I would love to use different textures in mosaic.

I want to experiment with terracotta mosaic. I have made 2-3 pieces, but still need to do a lot. For the last 6 years I have worked in all three mediums i.e. Terracotta, Stained glass and Mosaic.

*What is the typical size of your mosaic pieces? How long does it take you on average to complete a mosaic?

The size can range from small 3-4 inches pieces to upto 2 feet long. It can take from a few hours to few days to complete the mosaic depending upon the design and size. I can sit with patience for a long period.

*What challenges have you encountered in mosaic-making?

When I started working in mosaic, I found it very challenging because it is a new technique not much used in India. So it was very difficult to get practical experience and I had to learn a lot by experimenting and learning from mistakes. I strongly feel that the Art colleges in India should introduce such different form of Arts in their curriculum.

Coloured glass as a medium doesn’t have smooth surface so I faced a problem like trapping of air bubbles under the glass, problems with bonding of glue for glass on glass mosaic. Yet to try different glues on different surfaces and learn more.

During my visit to United Kingdom, I also got a chance to visit a glass Mosaic Artist and I learned a lot during that visit.

*Mosaic as an art charms even non-artists as it brings all the focus on the process or on working out the flow of tesserae. Many folks seem to find the art instantly therapeutic. Do you or your students feel that way?

Yes definitely. Even I feel when the things in life were shattered and when there was not much hope to bring it together, I tried mosaic, which was a totally new thing for me. I started gluing piece by piece, kept myself busy and focussed on my work and survived from the big loss in my life.

Today, life is not simple and easy. Lots of problems and challenges everybody has to face in each and every field. You have to face it and accept the challenges. Art and craft is a stress and depression buster. It brings out creativity in you and it keeps your mind occupied in making something beautiful and new every time.  There is absolutely no need to be an artist to make mosaics.  The only thing that is needed is a WISH to create something with your hands and I am glad I am working in glass and clay that gave me this opportunity. I love the freedom of mosaics.

*What is your wishlist for mosaics in India? 

 I wish, we all mosaic artist in India should meet and exchange the experience. People like you (Jyoti) are doing a great job and helping us find much more in mosaic art, its equipment, and tools.

Thinking of the city I live in, that is Pune, there are very few people who know stained glass work and mosaic as a form of Art. The main aim of taking workshops in Terracotta, Stained glass and Mosaics is to make people aware of these mediums of art. I would love to conduct a workshop for art lovers in Pune, with well-known mosaic artists from India.

*What is your view of the Facebook group Mosaic India and its website? What principles should it promote in the future? 

 It’s been one year that I have joined this group.  You are doing a great job. We can share our thoughts and ideas on this page. Discuss the problems with each other. While teaching mosaics, I tell the students to refer to useful links from your website. It helps students to know more about mosaics.

*What is your advice to a new mosaic learner who is based in India?

 I haven’t worked a lot in mosaic to give advice to new learners.  I can only say there is no other way to achieve something without hard work.

*Are there any learning resources or mosaic artists you would like to point new learners to?

 Internet can be the guide for everything now a days and same applies to Mosaics as well.

I love the work of Solly-John-d-sollinger, Candace Clough and Michelle Combeau so learners should see the work by these artists.

*Is there your gallery link or website that you would like to share with others?

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007066097842
https://www.facebook.com/Dadarkarartstudio/

*Any mosaic or art based philosophy that you’d like to be known by?

 I feel when we create a mosaic with glass shards or, better to say, waste glass left behind after cutting perfect shapes, that waste too can be transformed into beautiful art pieces. Only thing that you need is vision. Nothing is waste….you can create something from nothing.

Do share with us some of your creations.

………………………………………………………………………………

Mrs. Rajashree Dadarkar runs a busy art studio in Pune where she creates varied handicraft and teaches pottery, traditional stained glass work and mosaic-making to children and adults.

This interview was carried out by email and the questions were compiled by Jyoti Bhargava.

Online Mosaic Courses 

Mosaic Arts Online is the brainchild of Tami Macala who had started the Santa Barbara School of  Mosaic Art in 2009. All paid 8 courses on offer at present are managed by expert mosaicists who have years of mosaic-making and teaching experience. For those in India, however, the courses will feel more relevant and a worthwhile investment when we can find materials like glass rods, smalti or wediboards locally. Even if these courses came with the prescribed materials, sourcing smalti or glass rods remains a distant possibility for us in India. And yet, I’m really pleased to see efforts being made to provide mosaic tutorials through web based technologies in a structured way. It’s high time that the art and craft of mosaic-making is seen as an area of learning and pursuit the world over.
http://mosaicartsonline.com/courses

Roman Mosaic Workshops is a website owned by Lawrence Payne and focused on the art of Roman mosaics. He has designed kits that he sells with instructions, written articles on Roman mosaics, provided reference material on ancient mosaics on his site, and he has also designed 3 paid online courses and made them available at the link below. These courses on the rules, patterns and methods of creating mosaics follow a structured approach to learn and practice the art of laying stone or ceramic tesserae along the lines of Roman mosaics.
https://yescourse.com/~/roman-mosaic-workshops/#!

Kasia Polkowska offers some of the most helpful video tutorials on YouTube on cutting of stained glass. On her online course website on the link below, Kasia offers a paid course on creating a stained glass flower mosaic. She gives a choice of 12 flower templates that one can download once registered for the class. Another online course on her beautiful stained glass owls is under preparation that would offer 18 templates of owl patterns to choose from to mosaic.
http://www.kasiamosaicsclasses.com/course/online-flower-class/

Brett Campbell Mosaics has a wonderfully organised website showing his mosaics segregated in different categories, selling designs and patterns to buy online as also providing 2 paid courses to attend online from the link below.
http://www.mosaics.com.au/learn-mosaic/mosaic-classes-online/

Sharras Mosaic Secrets offers 2 online mosaic courses. I have known of Sharra Frank as a bead mosaic artist but I see from her site that she does a lot of beautiful glass mosaic work as well.
http://sharrasmosaicsecrets.com/courses

I’m sure this is just the beginning, and increasingly learners all over would have many more choices to get educated online on mosaic-making by known artists of the world.

Online Learning Resources 

As online search and reading come easy to me, I’ve depended on them regularly for varied learning. In the area of mosaic based orientation, I’ve found these websites and blogs to be wonderful resources, and I recommend them highly for beginners to read, reread and use the shared ideas for their mosaic experiments. All the tutorials and advice are made available free of cost here so when combined with a good book, a helpful online group and regular hands-on practice, they would amply support a mosaic learner’s quest to gaining confidence in the art of mosaic-making.

The Mosaic Store
This Australia based mosaic supplies store website is a wonderful resource for learning to mosaic. The website’s blog carries How-to project tutorials, tips and primers on tools that all beginners to mid-level mosaicists would find immensely useful.
http://www.themosaicstore.com.au/blogs/news

The Mosaic Supply Store
This US based mosaic supply store website is an ocean of ideas, primers and clarifications on all matters mosaics. Its owner Joe Moorman mentions this as his site’s mission statement that resonates with me entirely:

One of our most important goals is to promote contemporary mosaic as a fine art and encourage ordinary people to make original mosaic art in their own style. 

The FAQ itself is an exhaustive resource and must be referred to by all levels of mosaic practitioners.
https://blog.mosaicartsupply.com
https://mosaicartsupply.com/frequently-asked-questions/

I-C-Mosaics
The site owner Lou Ann Weeks runs an online mosaic supply store and writes this useful blog that covers the basics of mosaic-making. Her videos and posts promote her recommended mosaic consumables but one can still learn much about the general art and technique of making mosaics from her site.
http://i-c-mosaics.com/blog/articles.html#.WL704fmGOUm

Glass Campus
Dennis Brady started building this resource on glass fusing, cutting, selling and more when he saw that he had to work so hard to find the right information on techniques or tools. He built this website to share tutorials to promote free education to all. Most tutorials are focused on stained glass based techniques but a mosaic learner would find a lot of material of interest too.
http://glasscampus.com/tutorials.htm

Helen Miles Mosaics
There are a couple of blogs by mosaicists that I follow with interest. This one tops that list. Do read through the blog from its oldest to the newest post and enjoy Helen’s humour as also the knowledge she shares through her posts.
http://helenmilesmosaics.org

Let me know if I’ve missed any helpful mosaic learning resources that must be included in this post.

Mosaic Tools in India

Since my last 3 posts on mosaic tools, I have the following update and leads to pass along:

Sai Mosaic Art

This company has now begun selling the following tools and accessories from its website:

. Wheeled nippers
. Replacement blades for wheeled nippers
. Nippers for shaping ceramic tiles
. A set of 4 picks
. Fibre-glass mesh by meter

Their nippers and picks are available through Amazon India as well.

If the website’s payment gateway gives any problem, contact them on their email with your requested items.

Website: https://saimosaicart.com/

New Bombay Hardware Traders

NBHT has begun to stock all the tools necessary for handling ceramic tiles. The tool listing is as below with the prices as of December 2016:

Rubi 5975 Hand Held Tile Cutter
MRP: Rs. 685.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 622.00
More Details at: http://www.rubi.com/en/ten-bric-manual-cutter-r25

Rubi 71970 Nippers for Glass Mosaic
MRP: Rs. 2,772.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs.2,517.00
More Details at: http://www.rubi.com/en/nippers-for-glass-mosaic-r362

Rubi 65926 Nippers for Ceramic Tiles
MRP: Rs. 1,419.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs.1,288.00
More Details at: http://www.rubi.com/en/nippers-for-ceramic-tiles-r361

Rubi 83942 Nippers for Porcelain Tiles
MRP: Rs. 3,689.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 3,350.00
More Details at: http://www.rubi.com/en/nippers-for-porcelain-tiles-r358

Rubi 65925 Parrot Nippers
MRP: Rs. 2,307.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 2,095.00
More Details at: http://www.rubi.com/en/parrot-nippers-r359

Rubi 12969 Manual Tile Cutter
MRP: Rs. 8,432.00; Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 7,656.00
Video at: https://youtu.be/bHLR8R9XUMA

For purchasing any of these tools, an email to the Sales Head, Mr. Akshay Jain (akshayjain at nbhtpl dot com) would get you the company bank details for making its payment. The tool would be couriered to any city in India.

Website: http://www.nbhtpl.com/contact-us

Lastly, it’s good to see that Amazon India has been enlisting mosaic media suppliers but it’s also disappointing to note that other than Sai Mosaic’s products, most other items are prohibitively priced. For now, one can buy mosaic books from them and wait till their product range increases and is priced better.