From Tracy Hodson, 2016
I had never taken a mosaic class, instead learning on my own by looking at pictures on the Internet and then reverse engineering them, or reading up on various techniques. I learnt how to cut smalti by watching videos on YouTube; the same is true for mixing thinset. Until I got to the SAMA Summit in San Diego, I'd never seen anyone do these things “properly.” I was lucky enough to be awarded Jacqueline's scholarship and Krystie Rose's expenses money, and I took two all-day classes: Mosaic Basics with the Chicago Mosaic School and Discovering Opus and Andamento with Bonnie Fitzgerald and Andrea Taylor. I also worked on the Mosaic Marathon project, filling in areas with smalti, and then completing a rainbow from one side of a panel to the other. I was pleased to see that my smalti cutting skills were good enough to be useful on the project.
In the Mosaic Basics class we spent the morning talking about andamenti, and working on a small stained glass project. I don't use stained glass in my own work, but I have some and have conceived a couple of ideas for using it, so I was happy to spend time practicing cutting it so that I would be better with it when I got around to doing those. In the afternoon, we worked on smalti in a traditional thinset mortar, and I finally got to see how it is “supposed” to be mixed, its proper texture and wetness. This was incredibly helpful. I also got some counsel on color gradation, which is something I've been leery of doing. Color intimidates me, and I've mostly been sticking to working with white and a single color, so this was very instructive. That little piece is sitting on my work table now.
Discovering Opus and Andamento was even more instructive and even enlightening. After a really good lecture on various andamenti, we started on small projects of our own, again with stained glass. I was very exhausted on that day, so at some point I realized I wasn't going to make it all the way through the afternoon, and decided to concentrate on solving a problem I've had since I started working, which is 'splitting the line.' I just couldn't do it on my own, no matter how sure I was that I finally understood it from staring at examples of it in other people's work. I would lose track of my andamento every time. So Bonnie took the time to go over it with me, and I sat there and just worked the problem until I finally felt I had grasped it. It's not terribly difficult, but for some reason it was eluding me. Having, finally, the presence of a teacher made it possible for me to ask questions, show her where I was getting stuck, and get past it. I think I can do it now, on my own, without getting lost! I hope so.
I ran into Krystie Rose by accident (I ended up in her car), and we became friends immediately. Everyone I met was terrific. What a great group of smart, funny, bawdy, generous women! The MAI show at the Women's Museum was very inspirational. We had a lively discussion on the subject, “What is a mosaic?” There is a wide range of thinking on that subject!
Thank you, Jacqueline and Krystie Rose, for making it possible for me to take my first mosaic classes, to see all the wonderful work mosaic artists are making, and especially for meeting so many great and interesting people.