I’ve believed in sharing useful facts and wherewithal on anything I’ve learned with determined efforts, and this new series of posts would reaffirm that compulsion 🙂 The next few posts will be on learning to mosaic in India from scratch (or the first ‘score’). Folks researching methods and ways of creating mosaics in India should benefit from my explorations for it’s still to gain popularity as a studio art here. Little information or guidance is available on it in India as it’s mostly practiced by glass tile manufacturers or ceramic tile layers for public or commercial spaces. While some stained glass artists gravitate towards mosaics to use the available media and their attained skills of cutting glass, they do not really teach it in workshops to propagate it so the art itself has a low profile and less application here than its capability.
When I think back of its genesis in my life, this is what I recall. About 15 years ago when I’d moved to my present house, I’d got masons working on toilet floors to break some handmade turquoise ceramic tiles with a hammer and arrange them around my garden’s drains. As long as the mosaicked borders were visible, I remember the garden giving me added pleasure to watch and be around. Then, 5 years ago, I saw a mosaic metal table at someone’s sea facing apartment in Goa and was totally charmed by it. My recollection of it is that it had randomly broken coloured ceramic tiles arranged in Opus Palladianum and grouted white—a simple enough mosaic style devoid of any complex cuts or laying. I’d seen broken ceramic tile murals on Goan school or public buildings and been intrigued about them but it was only when I saw the play of hammered ceramic tiles on a functional item that I exclaimed at its beauty. The idea of getting a table mosaicked has stayed with me since then.
About a year ago, around Diwali, I saw a promotional post in a Facebook group by a practicing mosaicist in Gurgaon. She had shown her lovely mosaic coasters and bowls to invite people to buy them as also learn to create them in her orientation workshops at her home. I caught up with her and eventually found myself around her dining table converted to a mosaic work table. I’m, however, embarrassed to admit that in my 2 sessions and 4 hours there, I just moved from one piece of substrate to another (mdf coaster and trivet boards), only felt the bright and shiny vitreous glass tiles over and over in my hands, and just managed to cut some tiles in basic triangle or rectangle cuts. Any pattern I drew on paper to lay tiles ended up as overly ambitious to execute considering my basic tile cutting skills. I bowed out of that format of rushed, hour-based learning. Workshop based learning does work well for many people as they create a usable product and take it home even if they do not invest in creating a studio for future. But I wanted more. I wanted to learn all the techniques there were to know but create products in my own time and space.
A month later, when I found time and renewed resolve to reconnect with mosaics, I made enquiries and heard about another Gurgaon dweller, Kanika Singh who had begun mosaicking a year prior and fallen so much in love with the idea of it that she had chucked her job as a business development manager and moved to creating mosaics…as also teaching what she learned. I didn’t lose any time in connecting with her with a plea to let me into her workspace to assist her. She allowed me that privilege and had me cut hundreds of tiny wedges or trapeziums for a Mughal floral wall art that she was commissioned to make. Then on, 2 weeks of cutting glass for her gave me so much confidence to handle 2×2 cm vitreous glass tiles that before long I tasked myself with fairly intricate flower petals for a 10″x12″ floral composition that I labelled as My Garden (below). I’ve been on my own with cutting, learning and dreaming up designs since then but I’ve constantly returned to Kanika for her inputs to consolidate my mosaic ideas. Those based in NCR and interested in exploring mosaics may want to start by spending time in her studio. Within no time, her spontaneity and fearlessness rubs off on those working with her.
Meanwhile, do write and tell me if you’ve heard of mosaics before or been creating them or have any thoughts on this art.