I've just finished my most ambitious school mosaic project to date! Tockington Manor School wanted to create a mosaic that involved all the children (180) and would be displayed in the main entrance hall for all to see. To accommodate all the children whilst at the same time creating something that everyone would be proud of is always a fine balance when you only have a few days in which to do it. The solution was to get each child to mosaic their own unique leaf that could be done over a period of weeks at the schools pace without me there. This can only happen if the teacher has a basic understanding of mosaic themselves so the head of art Leonora Martin came for a masterclass. Together we worked a mosaic that taught her all she needed to know to be able to pass on the skill to the children. Next we arranged for 180 leaves to be cut from mdf and Leonora set about getting each child to mosaic one.
Once this was done I went into the school and with the help of my amazing mum we drew the tree onto 2 large mdf boards before getting it cut out. This took most of the day as the size was considerable! We needed to do the tree in two halves as it would have been impossible to reach the middle without climbing all over it (not to be recommended with a class of eager children!) Also....we couldn't get it through the door!!!
Then came the fun bit! We began to lay the leaves onto the tree.
As we positioned the leaves we continued to draw the outline for the branches. Once this was done it was time to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in!
It took several days and 100's of hours for the tree of life mosaic to be completed and the children were all fantastic. Not a single tile was misplaced (thanks mainly to the watchful eye of their wonderful art teacher who did't let a single thing go unnoticed!)
I was particularly taken with the trunk and we took a lot of care with it because this is the part of the tree the would be at eye height when fixed into it's final position in the school entrance hall!
Once the tree had been completely covered in mosaic tiles and the glue had set (24 hours) we set about the gruelling task of grouting it! Because of the size we had to work as a team with one person spreading the grout and another cleaning and polishing it. As the day progressed we had to speed up and it was all hands on deck!
We mixed a green grout for the tree and grey for the trunk which at times proved quite fiddly!
Once grouted it was time to fix the tree into place in the main hall. It took 3 men, and a lot of doors being held open!
.....and a scaffold tower!
We put the finishing touches to the tree and cleaned it all up. It was at this point that I discovered I'm not too keen on heights!
And all that was left was to stand back and smile!