Thursday, 25 January 2018


Once upon a time, very near where the Blue Mosque stands today, there was a magnificent Grand Palace.  At that time Istanbul was known as Constantinople & being a meeting point for international trade,  was very wealthy.  It was also very beautiful, and a fitting place to build a Grand Palace that would be considered a wonder of the world.  For 690 years it was home to the Emperors of Constantinople. Now, there is very little left to see, but the remains of some truly exquisite mosaics that make up the contents of the Mosaic Museum. 

I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by the artistry in the construction of these mosaics.  There were a number showing wild animals, set in interesting compositions with fabulous use of colour. My favourite mosaics though were of trees & plants, with wonderful shaped leaves & numerous bands of colour.

As my own photos were dark & not very clear, I was very grateful to have had the foresight to purchase a book about the Museum. It, thankfully, did contain good photos, so it was from these that I sourced inspiration for my art project  this week.

This was such a good opportunity to experiment with using contemporary reverse applique to create a mosaic effect.  Not something I had done before...but I was genuinely excited to give it a go!

I started with simple lines sketches of a few foliage possibilities.  The one I wanted to take further, received a splash of paint to guide me in my colour choices.

This was my colour palette & as an unusual feature, I was using the same fabric for my topmost outline layer AS WELL AS for my background colour.  Hmmmm....this was going to be interesting!  With a backing fabric layer as well, that is 10 layers of fabric my machine was going to have to stitch through!!

Once I had machine sewn the design through them all, I referred to my plan as to what colours I needed to cut back to at which point.

It was time to let the cutting back begin....

I was so pleased with how it was looking up until this point.  I was particularly pleased with the snippets of other colours I kept in some of the 'tesserae' .  It's a bit hard to see in the photos above, so here's a close up...

Now I'd reached the dangerous part.  I had noticed that time & centuries of being walked over, not to mention being buried under ground for another few centuries, meant that the grout around the paler tesserae appeared quite dark, whereas it was quite light around the coloured  tiles.  Therefore, I was hoping to achieve this effect by using my darkest colour layer to create the grout lines for the background tiles.  I held my breath & went for it!

This is A4 in size & I have to tell you, it involved a LOT of intricate cutting.  My thumb was well & truly blistering after this scissor-happy experiment.

This outcome is intriguing.  It reminds me of cellular structures!  The dark blue outlines do tend to significantly detract from the coloured section of the 'mosaic' & in hindsight, I definitely went a bit too dark with my fabric choice.  However, it's not a complete disaster & there are ways of changing that overpowering impact.

I whipped out the white paint & made a wash to painstakingly paint over all the outlines.  It is a vast improvement.

However, with a little photo manipulation on my computer, THIS is what I would have preferred it look like!  Regardless, it has been a fun experiment, which I will certainly be more open to trying again...once my thumb isn't feeling quite so tender!!

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