30 May 2011

Smashing broken cups and plates to make a mosaic

I have been collecting my brother John's beautiful ceramic pieces for years. Often they are things he would not approve of  me using as he does not sell many rejects- he smashes them, as his standards are so very high. I rescue some pieces when I can.  Of course I do have pieces that were once perfect too. Things do break.  After some effort, I trained everyone not to throw any broken thing away, although I still lost a few pieces due to family ruffians and ignorant people in my living space.

One quiet Sunday afternoon I started this project, but ran out of John's broken pieces. . I used one of my own pieces, a plate my husband had decorated and one of my earliest teacher Barbara Strauss's stoneware mugs ,  but had to stop and wait a month, before I could get some more beautiful shards from John's Swellendam studio.

I started by smashing them up with a hammer after covering with a thick layer of newspaper. I discovered later that the glass mosaic cutters worked very well on the pieces too. High fired porcelain is quite similar to glass.

I arranged them in squares and the design sort of developed from there. I glued them all down carefully. The 2nd batch of broken stuff I got via my mom included a stunning teapot which had a perfect lid.

Grouting this mosaic was quite daunting as the edges of the pieces are very sharp- and you might see bits of sponge still on the mosaic as the photos were taken while the grout was still drying. Not a good idea to fall against this mosaic- it could be very nasty. So it should be kept out of the reach of small children or wobbly adults.
cracked fish tea party

John's  perfect  and still entirely whole work can be seen on :http://johnnewdigate.com

25 May 2011

Baviaanskloof workshop

 The Baviaanskloof is a really beautiful place in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is a popular trip for South Africans, 4x4 enthusiasts, cycle tours, international tourists etc. At least 2 days are needed to enjoy the true scenic beauty of this drive through a beautiful kloof (valley through mountains)and nature reserve.  The middle section requires a 4x4 to get through,  but there is plenty of the valley to experience with an ordinary car.  I like starting the journey on the Willowmore side of the kloof. There are 73 rivers to cross apparently so be prepared for survival in a harsh environment if the rain comes down in floods. The Karoo is an arid, semi-desert region so heavy rainfalls are welcome but quite rare. There are many B&B's and guest houses to choose from along the way. I went there for the third Mosaic and Bottle cutting workshop with Solly Levy, product developer, who is contracted to the Municipality to help the locals in 3 Karoo towns, with some sustainable product development for the Baviaans craft shop. He really is excellent at his job, and knows how to get the best out of everyone involved in the project including me.  I really enjoyed making samples and teaching these warm lovely Karoo people. It was an enriching experience, and I hope to do more work like this in future..

our comfortable accommodation at Damsedrif, Baviaanskloof

the school bell at a isolated kloof community where we did the workshops

Some happy DA voters. The local elections have just been held. Their party, the main opposition has just won this Baviaans municipality area, again, but by an even bigger majority. 

Here is Solly Levy teaching people how to finish off cut bottles into lovely drinking glasses etc

Lots of fun and laughter too

It worked!

Veros "restaurant  and take away"  quirky and fascinating spot, alongside the road through the kloof. The craft shop is opposite, so plan a stop here!

the beautiful craft shop- cob built

inside the shop

our prickly passengers

thorn craft- unique to the baviaans area

a thorny baboon