Category Archives: Kids

Midnight Garden – a community mosaic project with children

As I’ve mentioned previously I was contacted a little while ago by a public primary school here in Canberra to  lead a mosaic project with their students. What came out of the brief discussions we had was to create a feature mural and some extra mosaics that will float around the courtyard. The theme of which is a macro garden.

I went away and created a design that fit to the brief, but that was also going to be simple enough for a whole school to participate in. In my opinion, too much detail can be overwhelming. I also like stylised designs, as I suppose one can tell from my work. I suggested some colour themes and created colour packs for them to refer to, but emphasised that these were suggestions only. I think ownership comes from choice in process and it was important to me not to take that away. I worked in small groups with kids once a week and the teacher leading the project worked with kids throughout the rest of the week. All the kids cottoned onto the hows and whys pretty easily and then took the information and passed it on to their peers who had not yet participated. As we fabricated, the kids made changes to some of the colour selections. 🙂 The kids have been so great! Most of the panels have been fabricated already. There was always a lot of interesting conversation, a lot of problem solving (not only of the mosaic, but also of social matters in their lives). It was a lot of fun to listen to them all talk. Of course, the part they loved the most was smashing tiles!

It makes my day to hear things like:

“When I grow up, I want to be an artist” and  “This is so fun, I wish we could do it all day”, amongst many other uber cool other statements.

Yesterday I started on the installation. One of the teachers walked past while I was working and she said to me “you are such an inspiration to these kids.” I wasn’t too sure what she meant by this and after chatting with her she remarked on me being a woman doing what I am doing and how it is inspiring for kids, both male and female, to see me creating large scale mosaics: teaching, fabricating, installing etc… I never thought of it like this. Ever! Wow. It was a pretty empowering moment and one that makes me feel like I am on the right path for me. I am exactly where I should be.

Anyway, a year 6 teacher was keen for her kids to be involved. They’ll be assisting me in the rest of the installation as well as grouting the project which will basically happen next week and the week after which puts us in line to completion for the end of term.

I also had a number of students discuss with me the name of the mural. They came up with Midnight Flowers, which I thought was way cool. We settled on Midnight Garden, after some discussion, to include the whole scope of the project.

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Big THANKYOUS to all those involved: students, parents of the community and teachers, in particular Hazel who is leading the project from the school perspective and the Principal, Lindsay whose understanding of the value of art for children is invaluable.

I’ll post final pics when we get there 🙂



Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Asian, Australia, Canberra, Community Projects, Female, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Ornamental, Public Art, Retro, Round the World, Schools, Uncategorized, Works in Progress

Immortalising Childrens’ Art

My 5 year old was playing with sidewalk chalk last weekend on a (very large) stepping stone at the bottom of the stairs of our deck. She drew one of her loveflies, which I adore. I’ve been planning a mosaic rug on this particular substrate and after seeing her gorgeous lovefly, decided to mosaic it instead. It was supposed to be something we did together, however her response to this was “Oh, it’s OK Mum you can do it” 😉

Can I say I love immortalising childrens’ art? What better way to do so than with mosaic!? 😀




Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Finished pieces, Flickr, Floor, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, My projects, Nature, Pavement, Stepping Stones, Uncategorized

Art is Better than Therapy

Lots going on this side of the World, in my little ol’ life. Some positive change which is great, but change can be exhausting even when welcome! Needless to say life has simply gotten in the way of this blog… I miss it, so here I am.

Since last I wrote I have installed a ~5 sq metre mural at my daughter’s preschool. Something I had been thinking about for a long while and was unsure was ever going to happen. I talked it over with a good friend of mine who convinced me to do so. I am so very glad of it too. Between the time that I agreed to the time it was done, was only a few weeks. It was the first community project I have ever been a part of and also the first time to lead a large project with volunteers. It was looking a little worrying there for a little while, thinking that I had noone to help out but people pulled through and new friendships forged  (new addictions too)… The original idea was to come into the preschool, sit down with the kids in small groups and make a mosaic from one of their pictures with them. I was inadvertently offered a full time job that I wasn’t expecting and so that idea kinda went out the window!! Nevertheless I pushed ahead by taking some pictures that the kids drew and mosaicing them myself. The inspiration was simply the drawing of a 4 year old child. Clean, simple and without too much detail. I love a child’s approach to most anything. Honest, innocent and arguably without detail but in saying that I don’t think that children miss the detail. To me, their approach is fresh and I always find myself drawn to it.

In any case the whole project was very satisfying and I feel very happy indeed about the whole affair. It got a little write up in a local newspaper that I was also pleased with, so it was a really nice end to the whole thing. I have managed to do 2 large installations this year. Hard work, but I really think this is where it is for me. Definitely more to come…

Preschool Mural done!!!

Preschool Media

I’m also in the midst of doing the Christmas Art Markets at the Old Bus Depot Markets. Quite different this year, in that there was a very steady stream of people instead of a mad rush. I actually thought I wasn’t doing as well as last year, perhaps a sign of the times, but upon counting the sales at the end of last weekend I actually did better than last year. That was comforting. I think I know what sells and so therefore it is just easier to know what to make. I also upped my prices on a few things and introduced smaller pieces, at a smaller price but without compromising my artistic integrity.

Other major news is that I am headed to San Diego next year for the SAMA conference. Very exciting indeed… My first time, I hope not my last 🙂 I am really looking forward to meeting everyone I have come to know on the internet, meet those I am yet to know, be inspired, inspired, inspired and learn aplenty. Of course a little side trip/holiday is also in the works. Life is too short to constantly say NO!

A little earlier on, I  finished a pair of ballet slippers that got shuttled away to Texas, USA. I was very happy with the way they turned out, falling within the description of what the client specified so happy all around I believe. I was quite stoked by that commission too as it would never have come my way had it not been for the internet.

Odette - Boots' Boots

I also got around to installing a commissioned number plaque. That was a bit of a trip. The client had bought it as a surprise for his girlfriend, as they had purchased their first home together (1, 2, 3: Awwwwwwwwwwww…) and when she opened it she apparently said something like ‘ who made this? Kim Grant?!’. I kinda momentarily let it go to my head and was a celebrity for that split second, lol! 😉


So what’s on the cards for the future? One more day for the markets, then Xmas and all that it entails (can’t wait, family time!!!). I’ll be hopefully starting on the install of the mermaid mural which I am really looking forward to. The prep on that wall may take some time though, not something I particularly look forward to. Then it will be time to finish off a few projects I started for myself and start a few others. Trades that are on the cards, a swirl for Lin Schorr‘s project, a new(ish) website… too much to do frankly and never enough time but art is better than therapy. Amen!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Thanks for being such wonderful readers…


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Ballet Pointes, Building, Canberra, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Emerging, Events, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Flowers, Kids, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Meeeting of the Minds, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Ornamental, Public Art, Rant, Round the World, Schools, Shoes, Signage, Sunflower, Travel, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging, Workshops

Artist Watch: Francesca De Lorme

Things have been busy on my end and I’ve become somewhat slow in almost everything “extra-curricular”, though I daresay it’s only going to get worse as I delve into full time work 😦 I think that = Death to Mo! I certainly hope not, perhaps it will simply mean prioritising what I do work on…

Anyway, let’s get straight back into meeting fellow mosaic artists, shall we? Please meet Francesca De Lorme aka Studio Fresca on Flickr. Reading through her bio is like reading a fine novel! Not only can she make beautiful art, she can write – I daresay I think she can do everything 😉 Francesca only recently caught my eye and it was initially because of her really well thought out and articulate comments she left for others. Then when I clicked into her photostream… *sigh*!

Francesca comes from a family of several generations of scientists and teachers who have a strong appreciation of the arts and crafts, but who viewed these endeavours primarily as worthy hobbies and entertaining pastimes rather than as a career path — so of course she became a scientist and a teacher, and not an artist! She has always dabbled in arts and crafts — everything from metal work to fiber art, from ceramics to watercolours, from hot glass to mosaics. “Just prior to becoming enamoured with mosaics, I was learning the art of hot glass casting at Kauai Recycling for the Arts, where we melted down discarded glass bottles, windows and jars and turned them into functional and fine art items.”

Francesca’s introduction to mosaics was in her Kindergarten year in California – there was a large mosaic (floor to ceiling) on the wall in the front foyer of her school. It depicted a lovely traditional village scene and it greeted her every day when she went to school. “I loved that mosaic for its peaceful depiction of community, for all its hundreds of colorful, shiny tiles (like little treasures!) and because we were allowed to touch it as much and as often as we wished. I touched it lavishly and liberally every morning when I arrived at school and it seemed like all the magic that mosaic contained just flowed into me through my fingertips. It became my own special talisman and I have been in love with mosaics ever since.”

She has been making mosaics on a part-time basis for around 3 years. Her mosaics are one-of-a-kind and completely hand-made utilising both traditional, and modern tools, techniques and materials. She says of her style: “(It) is probably best described as “eclectic in the extreme”, which works for me given that I am using found objects and since I never know quite what I will find in the dumpsters, at the salvage yards or in the thrift stores, it is hard for me to develop a specific style.” Francesca focuses on creating mosaics that are functional as she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy unique & beautiful objects in their homes, work places and communities. “It gives me great pleasure to think of someone not only looking at work I have created, but to consider that they might find it useful, too.”

Francesca has imposed upon herself a rule whereby she uses a minimum of 75% recycled, reused and salvaged materials in all her pieces. That’s a great rule!!! Maybe even something for the Mosaic Challenge Group someday…

“I sometimes wonder just why I happened to become so enamoured with mosaics because the truth is they are messy, difficult, time consuming, frustrating — and sometimes even painful — to make… But the absolute truth is that it is also exciting, fascinating, playful, absorbing, and infinitely rewarding, so regardless of the challenges involved, I absolutely love being a mosaicist because there are so many great things to love about this particular medium.”

She enjoys the connection to those artists who have gone before us as she uses her hands and simple cutting tools. She enjoys existing amongst fellow artisans. She enjoys the kinesthetic pleasure she gets from the solidity of the materials, the endless range of textures, the various options of opus patterns of the tesserae, and the three-dimensionality of many of the final pieces that just beg for a little tactile sensory input, in addition to all that visual: “There is something extra cool to me about an art form that encourages “touching” as well as looking.”

She enjoys playing with the positive and negative spaces: “The artistic concept of “positive/negative” space is particularly strong in mosaics and I like being able to incorporate it into my design to define shapes, lines and spaces, set an overall tone to the piece, or create a flow by using spaces that are bold, or subtle, or in juxtaposition with one another.”

Finally,  a big reason she finds mosaics so enjoyable is that they really require both left and right brain attention, as well as full body engagement, (involving heart, head and hands!): ” I am creating a vision I see in my head by physically shaping and fitting a variety of pieces together — sort of like a puzzle — in a form of visual problem solving. So, I get to create “art”, but I also get to play with all these fabulous puzzle pieces made of stone, tile, glass, rocks, metal and other wonderful materials that are shiny, glossy, rough, smooth and colorful…”

Francesca has had quite an assortment of careers in her lifetime. She started by studying Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara and worked with Radiation Analysis in the Environmental Sciences division at the infamous Livermore Lawrence Laboratory in California. Eventually Francesca ended up in teaching — including several rewarding and challenging years working with “juvenile delinquents”, which then led to counselling. From there she somehow found herself working in journalism, which was a natural segue into graphic design – she owned a small graphic design and communications company and still likes to take on part-time projects in graphic arts. “Now I’m studying for yet another career change (in health and patient advocacy) and hope to work with marginalized populations and community programs once I complete my research and clinical practice.” On top of all of this she is also working with her mother creating clothing from recycled materials and salvaged neckties. “I get to do the designing and she does some re-designing and the actual sewing.”

Francesca was born (literally and proverbially) with a restless heart. “I have a cardiac condition that causes frequent arrhythmia (which keeps life interesting…) and I have a need to go “walkabout” on a regular basis. Luckily I found, and have been married to my husband, Dave, (a long-board surfing air traffic controller who is perfectly happy living life as a nomad) for 30 years. We have been fortunate to travel in about 30 countries in those 30 years and we were blessed with a (now grown) daughter who has not one iota of interest in rambling around the world and is quite happy to be living on her own where she can stay put.” Funny how that happens 🙂

Depending on the year, the season, her school schedule, her husband’s job contracts, the weather, and their mood, they can be found living in their homestead in Vermont (which they designed and built themselves out of about 60% recycled materials), working on the island of Kauai (where Francesca can mosaic outdoors all year long!) or travelling around somewhere in the world where they can visit galleries, coffee shops and junk yards. However, she can most frequently be found under the influence of expensive tea and cheap chocolate!

You can check out more of her work and musings on her website.

A work in progress

One of Francesca’s current projects is a mural in the cafe of a high school in Vermont. Each student has a 1 foot square “canvas” (with a black tiled border) in which to create their own composition. I look forward to seeing this project evolve!

Finally meet Francesca, pictured with her husband and daughter:


Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Community Projects, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Francesca De Lorme, Furnishings, Kids, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Recycled, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

My son’s mosaic #3 – Waterworld

So after a beaut weekend with my 3 charming children I thought I’d post my 6 year old’s latest mosaic effort. This one he made on mesh – definitely the way to work I think!!! – and I’m so proud of him. This is the child that I will have a conversation with every other day about the need to go to school (he doesn’t particularly enjoy it…) because it’s the only way into Art School 😉

Liam's drawing for his next mosaic
Original picture that he drew..

Having a whale of a time!


Final mosaic that he called Waterworld 🙂 He always comes up with groovy names for his pieces… Next up for him is a giraffe that I think we will put up on the house this time… in their secret hideout!

Already at work on his next mosaic...

I dig the sunnies on the sun, lol!!! Kids are the best…

On another note, I didn’t do any mosaic work over the weekend. I can hardly believe it! It was incredibly cold and incredibly miserable so yesterday we all decided to do nothing but have a movie-marathon. It snowed, albeit as much as “snow” can mean to us Canberrans… We did awake this morning to snow up on the mountains though… always a pretty sight. So I am proud of myself for sitting on my behind all day and doing nothing… I don’t “do” nothing. I’ll admit to being someone who can’t sit still, can’t go on vacation somewhere to lie around on a beach or wherever and, do nothing! I’m hopeless at it! 😉


Filed under Animals, Art, Artists, Flickr, Garden Mosaics, Inspiration, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Nature, Rant, Stepping Stones, Uncategorized, Whales

Disneyland Mosaics

While in CA, we took the kids to Disneyland. Their first time and my 1st time as a parent… It’s an odd place I tells ya. I had a load of fun, but it’s an odd place! Of course what I did notice all over everywhere were the mosaics. In Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney. See?! It is an odd place. It’s like a city all it’s own! I was rather taken aback at the money spinner that it is. Here we are with global poverty, shortages on basic foods and then here in the West there’s Disneyland, where I don’t know how many tens of thousands of dollars get turned over in a day. Kinda crazy. But that’s not the point of this post… “The Happiest Place on Earth”, perhaps. But something about that slogan makes me feel uneasy. I have to say thank goodness the ride known as “It’s a Small World After All” was closed for construction. That ride is trippy! Don’t know if I could have done that one all over again… lol!

It was pretty awe inspiring just how much detail in everything there is. First of all it’s really clean. I mean like really clean. People that worked there were friendly. Everything just ran really well. The amount of organisation that must go into creating and maintaining something like that is, in itself, quite remarkable. And to top it all off, every night they had fireworks that far surpass the New Year’s Fireworks we get here!!! Every night! Certainly alot of fun to be had. We went with extended family, and it’s definitely a lot more enjoyable in a large group 🙂 Makes all that waiting around doable…

There were some beautiful mosaics. I have no idea who made any of them so this post will just be a bit of a visual feast. Plenty more in my Disney Mosaics Flickr set… There are some hardcore families who seem to go a lot. I don’t know if that’s me, in fact I know it’s not!!! By the third day (of all of us looking out for 6 young kids) I was holding L’s hand and suddenly looked around, panicked, blood drained from my face and I screamed out “Where’s L!!!?”. I knew it was time to leave. 😉

Waterlily Fountain

Something Silver Mosaic
Such a perfect use of mirror!!! This mosaic quite literally sparkled…

Naples Pizza Mosaic Floor
The floor entrance to Naples Pizza, in Downtown Disney.

Sunflower Fountain
Detail shot of the Sunflower Fountain at the entrance of Disneyland.

Mosaic Benches

Sun Fountain

Catalina Casino Mosaic

Disney Mosaic

Disney Mosaic

Disney Mosaic - floor detail

Disney's California Adventure Park Mosaic Mural

Disney's California Adventure Park Mosaic Mural
Gorgeous hand made tiles it seems… This mountainous mural flanked both sides of the entrance to Disney’s CA Adventure Park. It depicted everything that CA is famous for… Really a fantastic mural!

Aladdin's Mosaic
The mosaic on the floor to Aladdin’s theatre in Disneyland. Didn’t go in to see the performance but this mosaic certainly caught my eye…

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Filed under Abstract, Architectural Installations, Art, Building, Cafe, Flickr, Floor, Flowers, Fountains, Garden Mosaics, Inspiration, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Murals, Park, Pavement, Pools, Public Art, Round the World, Signage, Sunflower, Travel, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Artist Watch: Wendy Tanner

Meet Wendy Tanner (flickr ID the same). I was attracted to Wendy immediately for three reasons: she has cool mosaics, she’s Australian and she travels… alot! Her travels have taken her to parts of the World that I long to see… Afghanistan being one that comes to mind. What I also love is that she photographs mosaic everywhere she goes. Kinda like me I s’pose… She also just has the passion and feels the need to record it all. For someone like myself, it’s very exciting!!! You must go check out her photos. Incredibly interesting…

Wendy’s creative career began with stained glass, but the dilemma of all those off-cuts of glass led her into mosaics. (Like all good mosaicists …. she never throws ANYTHING away!!) Her first mosaic course was with Christine Stewart, an acclaimed artist who lives locally in Wendy’s area of Northern NSW, Australia. A phenomenally beautiful part of the country I might add…

Overseas travel opened her eyes to mosaics using so many other kinds of materials. She saw the magnificent mosaics on St Marks Basilica in Venice and was also lucky enough to stumble upon the Orsoni Factory. She was thoroughly enchanted by Gaudi’s mosaics in Barcelona and the pebble mosaics in the Alhambra in Granada.

In November 2004, Wendy attended the International Association of Contemporary Mosaics biennial conference in Melbourne …and was inspired by so many wonderful mosaic artists from all over the world. Since then she has attended several other workshops with Australian glass and mosaic artists.

Wendy works with many different materials – and especially likes to use recycled or found objects. Her preference lies in making functional objects like tables and mirrors, but she is also exploring decorative and artistic mosaics, and 3D sculptural forms.

Wendy has taught several mosaic classes through the local Adult Education Centre, and has also taught several workshops with school children and teachers at three local schools. They created large scale murals, which brighten up the school grounds considerably. She loves the fact that anyone can make mosaics – no matter their age or ability.

Wendy reveals “My workshop is a total disaster. Since doing a course making a 3D mosaic mirror with Sandy Robertson of Brisbane, I can’t stop collecting crockery etc… My latest experiments are using broken Polish blown glass, which my neighbours import. (They import it whole, of course, but there are breakages along the way…oh…what a pity!!). I am firing little pieces in my newly acquired second hand kiln – and love it!! I love the internet too – the way so many mosaic artists share their art and knowledge through blogs and groups, and flickr. If I wanted to, I could spend all my time on my computer and never get any time to do my mosaics!!”

You can find Wendy’s online space here and more of her mosaics on her Flickr site. Her work has, more recently, been selected for the new mosaic magazine, Mosaic Art Now and is currently on exhibition at the Nexus Gallery.

Here are some pics of the artiste in question ( couldn’t choose just one cos I LOVE all of them!!!). Look at that school mural and all of her travels!!!

Wendy in Barcelona’s Parc Guell, a place that, like Wendy says, is “about as close as a mosaic artist can get to heaven.” No kidding!!!


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Australia, Building, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Furnishings, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Murals, Nature, Round the World, Schools, Sculpture, Table, Uncategorized, Wendy Tanner