MosaicBlues: February 2014 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Friday, February 28, 2014

Romance, the Inspiration behind my Mosaic Eyes

Strange sometimes how inspiration comes up... Here is how I started to my Eyes Mosaics series...

Eye Miniatures or Lovers' Eyes are miniature portraits, usually watercolour on ivory, of the eye or eyes of a loved one or child. They date primarily from late 18th through early 19th century England. Lovers' Eyes were usually commissioned for sentimental reasons and could be worn as bracelets, brooches, pendants or rings, serving the same emotional need as lockets hiding portraits or locks of hair.

They are believed to have originated in 1784 when Britain’s young Prince of Wales fell in love with Maria Fitzherbert, a Catholic widow. Although he was forbidden to marry her, he still pursued her. She rejected his advances and fled to the France where she intended to remain until his feelings would subside. They did not. He wrote to Maria a proposal of marriage, sending along with it a small portrait of his own eye. Impressed by this intimate token of affection Maria returned, and the two wed in a secret ceremony. Later she commissioned the same miniature portraitist to paint for her new husband a tiny portrait of her eye. Thus began an aristocratic trend - which would last for several decades - for exchanging eye portraits.

When my good friend Joe Byers told me the story of these eyes, the Frenchman in me found the idea absolutely so delightful and romantic.. 

Do you realize that each one of these eyes actually belonged to an actual person and that there is probably a secret history of hidden love behind each one of them ? This leaves room for so much imagination !

And so, this inspired me to create Green Eyes, my first mosaic eyes portrait.

Green Eyes - 2011. Marbles, Granite, Mirrors, irridized glass. 13 x 26" . Sold

Since 2010 I have produced 8 large mosaic eye portraits and I am presently working on 3 more. These beautiful pieces are realized according to the reverse method which allows for the use of materials of different thickness such as marbles, granites, ceramics, glasses and mirrors. 

The Afghan Girl's Eyes, 2012, ceramic, marbles, granite mirrors, irridized glasses - 14 x 36". Sold

If you would like to commission an eye portrait of one of your loved one, inquire about the ongoing eyes projects, or simply get in touch, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

More of my Mosaic Eyes are displayed in my Portraits gallery.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Mess with Dyonisos - or the Birth of a Passion

When Thracian King Lycurgus - whose name means : “The one who keeps the wolves away” -  heard that the God of Wine Dionysos was in his kingdom, he decided to attack him. As he tried to kill Ambrosia, one of the followers of the God, she became a vine that twined around the enraged king and restrained him, eventually killing him.

In 1967, in Saint Romain en Gal, a small city 30 km south of Lyon, France, excavations the building site of the new town High School revealed the existence of a Gallo-Roman city. A remarkable find it was indeed ! For years archaeologists and historians believed a Roman settlement had existed on the west bank of the Rhone river, but what they found there was a full size town.

In July of that year – I was 10 – my mother took me to the site were the actual archaeologists were working. We spent several hours of visits – the guide was one of the archaeologists, he was passionate and showed and explained to us houses, temple, theaters...

That very day, I had my first encounter with Roman mosaics. The most beautiful of the pieces found in Saint Romain was a depiction of Lycurgus being smothered by the vine.

Love at first sight...

Life being what happens to you when you plan differently, it took me about 37 years of various endeavours over 3 continents before I could go back to my childhood love.

Although I create different styles of mosaics, I still have a little extra fondness for Classical Roman style.

Last December I delivered in France a very classical piece named “Ubi tu Gaius”.

The classical “Ubi tu Gaius, Ego Gaia” meaning “Where and whenever you are Gaius, I'll be Gaia”was a marriage vow – the wife would pronounce it, and the husband would answer : “Ubi tu Gaia, Ego Gaius”, the reciprocal.

Ubi tu Gaius was a commission – a birthday present to his wife by a loving husband. It was built using the reverse method which allows the use of materials of different thickness and is made of ceramic, travertine and black granite.

If you are like me a lover of everything Roman, and would enjoy a very unique – and almost indestructible -  piece of Art for your home or garden, a mural or a floor mosaic, you can contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.  Together we will discuss your goals and wishes, come up with a design, and I will make your dream come true.

If your preferences are in more contenporary styles, please check my other pieces on my website mosaicblues

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to video : Lay your tesserae - Reverse method.

In this short video I demonstrate how to lay your tesserae.  (the little blocks of stones we learned how to make in the 2 previous videos)

We are using the reverse method here: the tesserae's shiny polished face is glued to the model, upside down. so what we see while building the mosaic is actually a mirror image of the final mosaic.

Once all the tesserae are placed, a rigid support is glued with thinset mortar on top of them and left it to set for 36 hours minimum. Then the whole thing is flipped, and the model removed from the top; there appears the final mosaic for the first time ! This will be the object of future videos. 

With a special appearance of Mugen, great destroyers of foxes, grand destructeurs des renards.

Music by the Mokurai Roosters

I've been taking my shower with Sean Connery for the past 3 weeks...

Let me explain...

I build most of my mosaics upside down, this is what us mosaists call the reverse method. Once all tesserae have been laid on the model and a support glued on top of them, you flip the mosaic and before you can further finish it.  Then you have to - painstakingly - remove the glue used to set the tesserae on the model. I tried different ways, but finally figured out the easiest way was to do this in my shower...

I am building a collection of Mosaic Eyes - Eyes are the first thing most of us consider when we first meet a person.

Apparently, nobody has ever done this, at least in mosaics. My good friend Joe Byers - a Viking shipwrecked in Pensacola, FL, told me that during the Italian Renaissance a famous painter specialized in eyes portraying.

Wealthy patrons would ask him to paint the eyes of a person they loved, who they should not have loved... They would keep the portrait in their office, knowing who these eyes belonged to, while visitors could only wonder...

I find it a beautiful idea. I researched it, for reference, but could not find the source. if you know about it, please let me in the dirty little secret !

Since 2010 I have created a few eyes portrait. Two of them are now displayed in the collection of the Alabama College of Osteopathic medicine and one of them shipped in November to Dubai and has now been sold to a collector in Pakistan.

Today, I would like to share with you the magic of unveiling a mosaic. This one is a portrait of James Bond's eyes - Sir Sean Connery.

I have explained before how I use the Reverse method for most of my work. In this method, you build your mosaic upside down and you do not really see it before you flip it.

So it is really a magic moment. Every time I come to this point, I hold my breath ! What is this going to look like ? 

I have never been disappointed so far ! 

And I believe like every sensible person does that Sean Connery is the one and only James Bond ! 

You can see some of my EYES MOSAICS on my Website Mosaicblues. If you would like to commission a Mosaic Eye Portrait of a person of your choice, please contact me by email at, or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

One Euro a Month !

Mused Mosaics is an AMAZING Blog by Miriam, a student at the Mosaic School of Spilimbergo. (I like this school and have blogged earlier about it !). 

It is extremely well done. Miriam provides great technical information, pictures, tutorials, videos, reports on exhibitions and shows. All of this is very informative and worth your time.

And all of this also costs money. Miriam needs support to cover these costs over the year. These are, for example, web-hosting costs, purchase of softwares,  fuel costs for a ride to the next exhibition, etc. If everyone of her readers would invest only one euro a month in her blog, that would really help her. (This is just $1.37 / month - not even the price of an espresso shot!)

I would like to invite you to follow me and DONATE so she can keep doing the good work ! 

Picture from Miriam's Mused Blog

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Video : Cut your own stone tesserae.

In this short video I am showing how to cut short cubes (The "tesserae") out of the long strips of materials we cut in the previous video. These tesserae are the actual building blocks of all traditional mosaics. 

As explained in the video, the tools I am using here, the small anvil - the "Hardie", and the special hammer - the "Martelina" are the same tools our Roman ancestors were using to cut their tesserae.

Wearing eyes protection is extremely important. When you work in a dry environment, or cut in a wet environment with a non continuously rimmed blade, stone, ceramic and glass may break and project in small cutting shards that can be very damaging to your eyes. One of these sliced my nose 2 weeks ago when cutting ceramic tiles. A nice little cut on the nose that bled for quite a while. I just do not want to imagine the damage that would have done to my eyes had I not be wearing goggles.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Video : Cutting long strips of granite.

In this short video I am showing how cut long strips of materials which you will later use to cut small cubes (the "tesserae) that are the building blocks of all traditional mosaics. 

I am using here a classic black granite tile with a thickness of 3/8" (9mm). The tile saw I am using here is fit with a diamond blade. It would cut diverse materials : granite, marble, slate, ceramic, porcelain, glass as thick as 3/4 " (18mm). It is important to chose a good quality blade with a solid rim. Brick blades simply won't do a very good job and will certainly not cut glass but shatter it.

And yes, I usually wear eyes protections, I just forgot that day. No need to post comment about this. Just do not forget to wear yours.