THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – finally in Ayvalik – second week

My dearest readers, I have to disappoint you:

there is nothing spectacular to show about the Ayvalik Mosaic yet. This week I tried installation techniques. Its all very technical in the following post.

But first the achievements:

All background stones are cut and tumbled. The two areas that still had to be filled with background  and all the conture lines around the figures were completed.

The kurna is made and ready to be tiled with mosaic.


The last 3 days past with measuring the wall parts.  From the part with the dolphins head and the long fish I had to cut off 1cm in order to have the tesserae not go over the top edge of the wall.

Unfortunately the parts of the other bench are still to short and I have to add another 10 cm background left and right. Grrr!

The tesserae are glued in reverse onto craft paper and the craft paper is glued to 3mm Mdf board all with water soluble glue. This made the transport and now the handling in the trials very easy. Of course the one or the other tesserae comes loose and falls off but its easy to glue them back.

in this pic the wall parts are lying on the benches. I will install them on the front of the benches.

Finding the right tile cement  here in Ayvalik was easy. Our builders use BASF Master Tile 15 fine grain. I made the first sample with this but it is too dark. I decided to make the tile cement and the grout the same color just to be sure that if the cement comes up to the surface of the tesserae it will not be visible because it has the same color then the grout. Making  small trial samples in a hidden corner was a bit painful for my legs but in the end the samples are protected as there is still building work going on in the rest of the room.


The two little wall samples that I prepared just in reverse method on paper were easily installed with a mix of thin set cement and latex diluted in water 1:1. The Working with the same cement (which had the consistency of a paste)  on the floor and trying to put stone by stone was a catastrophe. All the stones sank in because the mortar was far to soft.


Then I made the good old roman cement again just to get the feel of  its consistency once more. After that I was able to produce the same in thin set mortar. It has to have a consistency  like  soft play dough.

The second trial with this cement went well I could just loosely stick the tesserae onto the surface and then pound them to the right level using a board and a hammer.

So I am confident about handling the cement now. Just did not get to the grout yet.

On Friday the Getty Institute left an invitation in my inbox about an upcoming exhibition of mosaics from different areas of the Roman empire. The article behind the link gives a nice and short overview of some of the mosaics and their origins that will be displayed in the exhibition in Los Angeles.

Yesterday morning I was greeted by our neighbors  goats with a fresh jump into spring. Sooo sweet.




THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – finally in Ayvalik – first week

We made it! The mosaic parts and me have arrived safe in Ayvalik. All went well. The only tricky situation during the trip was when I arrived in Istanbul and the costums officer asked me to open my suitcases. Oh I was sweating! They brought an extra art specialist to look at the mosaic but he immediately recognized it as new. I was sweating not only because I feared they would confiscate it but also because I had to open the elaborate packaging – it took me over half an hour to close it again. IMG_6447

Which was  then lovingly handled by our friend Ümit who picked me up  in his red car at Istanbul airport and together with his wife hosted me for one beautiful day in the city by the Bosphorus.

On Monday night I arrived in Ayvalik. Tulya my dear friend fetched me at the bus stop in the middle of the night with my super heavy suitcases. It is so nice to be back and feel soo at home at her house.

But also our house has made good progress. On Tuesday I arranged my workshop in the house. It’s so nice to be reunited with the fish figures that we made in Gaziantep. This week my job was to add the kontur lines around the figures in background color


The workers had to make some changes in the Hamam bathroom.IMG_6459

Wednesday, Dariya a young restaurateur, started to help with the background stones that have to be added to two wall parts.


On Thursday Nazuh started to work with the stone breaking machine that was kindly sent by Kargo from Ankara by Mustafa Salih my first mosaic teacher.


Nazuh also brought the concrete mixer from the Manzara company  to tumble the background stones. (Manzara Ayvalik will later look after our house and let it – click on the link and you see their other properties for rent)

The tumbling works very well. Why did I not enquire  about this earlier?


After one hour of tumbling with a bit of sand and water, the stones come out with beautifully soft edges and all sides equally colored. No polish or rough surfaces left. Very useful !


On Friday and Saturday we searched for containers that have a nice shape for the hamam sink – the kurna. Traditionally it is a marble basin without any drain that stands on top of the bench and holds the water which is baled out  to soak your body with a smaller bowl.


In our hamam the kurna will be molded into the bench and we decided to decorate it with mosaic too. But which shape shall it have? Today we had 5 shapes to decide from.


THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – fourth week Brasilia studio Asa norte

This week I lost my inner calm! Given that I have only 2 weeks left until the departure to Turkey I got the panic about finishing the background and making a trial wall installation which I am most worried about as I haven’t put a mosaic onto a wall yet. My neck is so tense and my eyes can not see well anymore.  I really need support!

It also was unfortunate that in this moment my family was away and I felt so lonely and scared at night. Consequently I slept bad which contributed to the tension during the day.  Brasil still is foreign for me. Speaking Portuguese needs a lot of concentration for my brain. I visited a turkish colleague of my husband on Thursday who’s father, an apricot specialist and dealer from Izmir, was around. Trying to speak Turkish with him was a nightmare. So frustrating. I am lost in all these languages!

But enough of laments. What happened this week?

My dear neighbor and mosaic artist Cida helped herself and recruited a friend to help too.

They are busy artists with their own projects and still afforded each half a day to put tesserae next to tesserae in lines! The gardener who agreed to help sanding the marble unfortunately got sick.

But the most work is the sanding of the marble that has shattered edges! I do this with a small electric tool which has a rotating sanding disc. For dying of cancer from a dusty lung  and preventing little splinters flying into my eyes I look like this! Very comfortable in 30 + degree!


Whilst Cida and Leyla were working on the background I occupied myself with glueing the long fish parts onto 3 mm MDF board, using water soluble glue again as it all is supposed to come off after the mosaic is in the cement.

This is the north wall mosaic in total of 210 cm length and 40 cm hight.

All the white and light yellow parts still need to be covered with background tesserae.

What is my next worry? Which cement shall I use? So far I only used roman cement which I made myself and Kalekim (a turkish brand for tile cements) for the refugee mosaics. But for a natural stone mosaic in a bathroom?

As a bad surprise (and it actually created absolute panic) I realized that after the architects original plan the mosaic is too long. The last 12 cm of the long fish tail would not be on the wall anymore! Unfortunately I had a communication problem with our architect in Ayvalik and could not get the actual wall maeasured. So I had to take the decision to cut some background in between the dolphine and the long fish mouth.


It looks quite cute now, doesn’t it? as if they are kissing. (Fitting the topic of today – Valentines Day)

Further I made a little wave border as a trial piece for putting the tesserae directly onto the wall without any mesh. On Monday  Cida and Leyla will help me installing it on a wall in my studio.


It actually took great joy drawing the wave pattern. And my memories of the mosaic restoration class from one year ago, where we had to draw several mosaics, got refreshed. Its satisfying to see what one has learned. I try to draw with minimal helplines as I want my hand to feel the flow. I believe this will later help the hand setting the tesserae.

I chose marble for the tesserae, but different colors in order not to waist any material for the actual mosaic. When laying the tesserae it was great to understand how the lines are filled with tesserae. I am sure that these old masters could lay the pattern directly into the cement with only maybe two helplines. When you do about 50 meter of it your hand and eye should know how it goes. I wish I could do it. However also my 30 cm of border has brought me a small insight in how to put the tesserae down.


The wave pattern is actually one of the border patterns in the original mosaic from Zeugma. This photo served as my guide.


As this blog serves  as documentation of this project and my learning diary, what ist the learning of this week:

RELAX! I can not pull things through at all cost. A team of 3 people committed to work for the whole duration of the project would be ideal, but the importance is that the team feels ownership over the project.

Be realistic about time. This mosaic making is a slow affair!

I want to conclude today with a piece of music that I listend to this week and I really love. Carinhoso, which means  loving  and caring in Portuguese. (click on the word Carinhoso it has the link)