I am writing this blog at 2 am at Sao Paolo airport waiting for my flight to Istanbul depart in 2 hours. The mosaic parts are in my two suitcases which are weighing almost 50kg. Luckily I did not have to pay excess luggage . The check in personnel had a good day.
Its nice to stay awake at such odd hours because I really want to tell you about this exciting last week.
On Tuesday I set the last stone. Already when finishing the last figure I felt a slight feeling of procrastination. As much as I do want this project to come to completion as much I dread to let it go. Its my life since almost a year.
And I also grouted the wave mosaic with dark grey grout. I actually only had light grey so I mixed some black pigment in it. I hope it will not harm the quality of the tile grout.
On Wednesday my daughter Louise helped me to tidy up the studio and arrange the mosaics for the show and opening of the studio on Friday.
I decided to show the parts of the AYVALIK MOSAIC to the public for one afternoon. Whilst speaking to people in Brasilia I sensed that there was an interest in the techniques and art of roman mosaics, so I decided to arrange an open house to start making publicity for my work and studio and to give interested people the chance to see and touch a roman style mosaic.
It was an overwhelming success!
The whole 6 hours we had constantly people in the studio and not only one or two. No! often up to ten people looked, touched and asked so many questions that I had a hard time giving attention and responding to all often in 3 languages at the same time. My phantastic daughter was very confident in talking to the visitors as an expert in roman mosaics although she just started to show an interest in this area. I was impressed!
I would never have thought that this topic and style meets so much interest in Brasil.
Saturday the fishes had another photo shoot in the beautiful light of the tropical sun in our garden
before they were wrapped with styrofoam and bubble wrap and packed tightly with my warm cardigans and down jackets into 2 suitcases. Now they are hopefully safe in the belly of the boing 737 and I will lift them off the belt in Istanbul in 14 hours.
All is good! Thanks to all your supportive messages, jokes and calls the dark forces from last week could not get hold of me!
On Monday morning Robson and I sanded most of the stones in our garden. It is much better to do this very dusty work outside, and in the tropics it is possible to work outside all year round
In the afternoon Cida and I put the trial mosaic onto a wall close to the floor as this will be a similar place for the AYVALIK MOSAIC too.
First we filled the gaps with fine sand, then covered the mosaic with tile cement
then pressed it onto the pricked and wetted wall
On Wednesday I went to the Vitoria stone fair for one day. Vitoria is a coastal town just 1000 km east from Brasilia, a little bit north of Rio de Janeiro. The amount of beautiful stones was overwhelming and fun to see. Much more vivid colors than in Europe. Especially the blues are amazing. In Vitoria I met with Evren and Turgut from Turanbesikoglu marble. A delightful reunion.
But – these are all granites, quarzides and semi precious stones – definitely not suitable for roman style mosaic. Only two dealers had lime and sand stones but in limited colors.
Back on Thursday and Friday more background stone setting – with the great help from Leyla.
The background is almost done.
On Friday a big relieve – it worked well! the MDF Board and the paper came off easily after wetting it all for 24 h. No hard residues of the glue and paper, I could clean the interstices easily from the sand with a spray bottle. It is just missing the grout, which color shall I choose? I think I go for dark grey.
Saturday I could just plan for the next week. I have one week left to finish, exhibit and pack the AYVALIK MOSAIC to go back to Turkey again.
For the future I started to make plans to build a tumbling machine. The sanding of every little stone is absolutely crazy and inefficient.
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.
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)