Karen is a local Ottery-based artist but has a wide experience of working in mosaics for over two decades including in Gloucestershire.
She is passionate about the benefits of the arts and any expressive activity in terms of developing, or restoring, physical and emotional wellbeing. There's nothing like it for therapy and taking you out of yourself and losing all sense of time. She was able to explain examples of where such activity has transformed a person's life and allowed recovery from trauma.
Near the beginning of the millennium a GP mentioned to her the number of patients who were "not ill, but not right" and this led to an involvement in "Paint yourself better". A study of 50 patients encouraged to learn new crafts such as mosaics pointed to a £32,000 saving for the NHS after factoring in reduced appointment costs, hospital visits, medication for depression and so on. [For more on this project visit Artlift]
For technical info on mosaics see near bottom of this page
Mosaics is a skill or craft going back millennia, from Mesopotamia 5000 years ago through classical Greece and Rome and onwards to the present day. Ancient mosaic pieces [tessera] tended to be dull in colour whereas modern ones can also be bright, glittery, textured and so forth. They vary in quality though. Karen finds that Hobbycraft tiles tend to shatter when cut and she prefers to go to Hobby Island, Mosaic Supplies [now closed, sadly], or The Mosaic Shop in Bath.
Because making mosaics is, of its nature, a slow, meticulous and absorbing process, Karen was only able to describe the processes and techniques, which was nonetheless fascinating. She showed how to snip tiles to required shapes using wheel cutters ['nippers'] and gave an account of suitable background surfaces [as varied as slate, MDF for indoor mosaics, even stained glass sheet [for the Toucan below] as well as mesh for 3-D surfaces such as spheres or irregular stones etc..
Ordinary tile cutters and 'nippers'
Examples of 3-D work. The tiling on the blue sphere was from some recycled cracked willow pattern ware! Nice work!
Karen also explained many of the technicalities surrounding grouts, the difference between 'direct' and 'indirect' methods and much else besides.
The ''direct' method is how one would assume a mosaic is created, but the 'indirect' method involves sticking pieces of maybe irregular shape and height onto a mesh, creating a level surface underneath. When inverted and embedded into a 'mud' of grout the result can be applied to, for example, a coffee table top to create a flat upper surface.
Here is a small gallery of some of the many delightful pieces Karen has created. She has also created many larger pieces for school foyers and other public projects including collective projects amalgamating works created by children.