Last weekend I had the wonderful experience of taking a mosiac icon workshop with Laurie Mika. I’ve been intrigued with Laurie’s work ever since I bought her book Mixed Media Mosaics.
The workshop took place at Absolutely Everything in Topsfield, MA. Karen, Judy and I made plans to attend together and make it a girls weekend.
Laurie is delightful; down-to-earth and laid back. Laurie considers her mosiac work true mixed media because it incorporates polymer clay, glass tiles, rubber stamping, found objects, paint, and paper. She readily admits this is a good way to incorporate all the stuff in your studio into your art.
On the first day, Laurie demonstrated multiple ways to create tiles with polymer clay. She incorporated stamps, mica powders, paints, jewels and charms. She also showed us her technique for creating niches with copy-right free images.
And then, we were set free to start making our tiles. This was harder than I thought.
Prior to the workshop we received a list of materials and the suggestion to think about a theme for our icon. I chose my colors (purple, blue, green, and zinc yellow) with the intent of creating an icon that would be an ode to spring. Before I finished packing my supplies, I decided to include some of my favorite Celtic rubberstamps. A little voice inside me said I should think about expressing my inspiration in my work.
Laurie suggested we create a focal center piece for our icon as the starting point. I didn’t want to create a niche centerpiece as was demonstrated and decided upon a flat center piece with a jeweled center.
And then I felt a little stuck. How to proceed next? I sketched a small diagram for how I thought I wanted the piece to look. And then that little voice popped up again. “Just make your tiles, incorporate your Celtic and spirit inspiration, and see what happens.”
It was time to be in the moment; to play and see where the muse would take me. Laurie is very good at encouraging this type of approach. She told us that she makes dozens of tiles first and then creates her icons.
At the end of the first day we had created numerous tiles and started putting together an initial layout for our icons.
My icon in progress.
Judy’s icon in progress.
Karen’s icon in progress.
Kate’s (the owner of AE) icon in progress.
In second day of the workshop, Laurie shared techniques for creating painted tiles and adding the finishing touches with beads and other embellishments.
This is when the icon truly comes together to tell a story. This is also when you have to switch back to the left brain and determine the final layout. It involves a little play, a little viewing of the piece from different angles (try turning your work upside-down and see what happens to perspective), and learning about balance and composition.
We found our rhythms and got back to the art.
Several people did complete their icons by the end of the day. Some of us (ahem) had our icons mostly intact and would add final touches after the workshop.
Geri’s icon dedicated to her Grandmother.
My icon is coming along!
Judy’s icon is almost complete!
Karen’s icon awaits the final touches. You can see Karen’s completed icon here.
Kate has started a tradition at AE of asking each guest artist to create a piece of artwork for the workroom wall. Laurie put together this stunning piece which included tiles from Laurie and all of us. Kate joked that if she ever moved the store she’d have to cut out pieces of the wall and take the art with her.
Laurie’s workshop was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed both Laurie’s approach to teaching and seeing all the wonderful pieces everyone created. Each icon spoke to that person’s individual spirit, an interest, a memory.