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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

You can't harness Creativity

You don't harness life, it just happens, it constantly creates and destroys. Creativity is life itself. It manifests itself through individuals. 

You can't decide you are going to foster it in Science and Engineering but not in Music or Literature.

Given the right environment – dirt, water, light, heat, a seed will germinate and grow into a tree. But trying to pull the leaves of the seedling to make it grow faster won't do any good.

In the same manner, given the right environment and incentive, creativity happens. People become creative and this creativity is manifested in all areas of human activity. Trying to pull it in one or the other direction won't do any good.

One of the most formidably creative period of human history was the European Renaissance of the 16th century. Everything flourished : Painting, 

Sandro Botticelli - Birth of Venus


Michel Angelo - Pieta


Francois Rabelais - Pantagruel


Guidonian Sheet Music


Anatomy of the Human Body - 1517


Suction pump  - Taccola - 15th century    

The Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual, social, political and artistic pursuits, there was little limitations to the creativity of the Renaissance men and women. Their personal expertise could span from Medicine to Literature, from Engineering to Painting.

Our world is confronted to serious challenges, and future generations will have to seriously innovate to make it a better place. We need to help our children realize that they too CAN be creative, and that they can actually ENJOY being creative.

ART is an excellent way to foster creativity in kids, for various reasons :

  • It does not request much costly equipment.
  • The result can be seen very quickly.
  • It is fun.

Once a child realizes she can be creative through actual involvement with any form of Art, she will be. From there, she will be able to apply her creativity to any area : Science, Engineering, Computing or Business.

But it all starts with Art.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tools : Brick Chisel and Mason Hammer

In a previous post I explained how you can make your own tesserae cutting stands out of standard inexpensive mason tools. 

The traditional Hardie and Martelina have been used for over 2000 years, and they are perfect for the work. 

However, they are expensive, and a Brick Chisel  and Mason Hammer can be substituted for them...

Brick Chisel retails under $10.00
Mason Hammer - retails around $20.00

These tools are available at most DIY stores such as Lowes or Home depot - and they are probably even cheaper at your local flea market...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Collector : Geri

I love this mosaic yin-yang symbol of tai-chi made by 
Frederic Lecut. I have been a student of tai-chi with Frederic for about 12 years, and when I saw this mosaic, I absolutely loved it. My husband purchased it for me for my birthday and it has hung where I can see it daily ever since. 

Thanks for the beautiful work of art.

Geri Rippe, Clayhatchee, Alabama

This Tai Chi - or Yin Yang - mosaic is one of a series of Asian family crests or symbols I created 4 years ago. It is 12 x 12" (30 x 30 cm), made of white marble, black granite and beige travertine. 

More of these mosaics can be seen on my site 

If you are interested by one of them, would like to discuss a commission or simply chat, please  contact me by phone at (334) 798 1639, or by email at

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Maze of Mosaics

On March 19, 2014, I had the pleasure to give a lecture about the building of the Nativity Labyrinth at the Wiregrass Museum of Art.

In 2004, by an unusual concourse of circumstances, I began building a 42 foot diameter Labyrinth in the cloister of the Church of the Nativity in Dothan, AL.

The Labyrinth is a very ancient symbol. Bronze Age engravings from around 4000 BC are reminiscent of it. Today's labyrinth are used as meditation and prayer path by spiritual seekers and as playground by children.

It took 14 month to complete the work. A great number of stones had to be cut and laid... This long lasting effort triggered something in me; inside and outside.

While working at this project, I met in France Jean Pierre Soalhat. His amazing mosaic work impressed me enormously. 

I decided to give a try at mosaics.

One of the first pieces I produced was a table inspired by the Labyrinth of the Chartres Cathedral.

The rest is history... Over the past 10 years I have greatly improved my technique and produced very different pieces. My first love however is still the Classical Roman style...

More of my mosaics can seen on my website mosaicblues. Some of my work is available for sale. I also work on commission. Together we will design your dream piece. A table, a mural, a floor piece which you and your family will enjoy for a very long time... 

If you would like to discuss the building of a labyrinth or commission a mosaic, please contact me at

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Home Made Martellina and Hardie

The Martellina and Hardie have been used since ancient times and are still one of the preferred methods for smalti & stone. The smalti or stone is placed on the blade of the chisel at right angles and by delivering a sharp blow with the martellina a clean-cut is made.

The Martellina is a heavy hammer with a short handle and sharp edges. Often the chiseled edges of modern Martelina are made of tungsten carbide.

The hardie is a sort of anvil, also with a sharp edge. It is traditionally mounted in a log.

These tools are not cheap. I found today a company selling both for $199 out of Canada.

This is ridiculously expensive. You actually can substitute actual stone mason tools for them...

I built this stone-cutting stand myself and it is fitted with regular mason tools. The Hardie is a classic brick cutting Chisel and the Martelina is a stone mason hammer.

I purchased both tools from Lowes. The Chisel cost me $9.00, and the Hammer was on sale at $2.00 (its regular price should be more like $15.00).

The log comes from a tree I fell last fall. I screwed it on top of an old wooden stool. Basically, the whole thing cost me less than $15.00...

I find using tools of my own design and make is very rewarding. If they cost me 5 % of the regular retail price, it is twice as rewarding...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Packing a mosaic for shipment.

Last December I shipped Green Eyes to Dubai. 

As I wanted to make sure it would arrive intact I decided to handle the crating myself...

The material I used was : 
  • 2" x 4" x 8' yellow pine.
  • 1/2" pine plywood.
  • Light blue foam insulation (4 x 8' sheet).
  • Grey Foam Pipe Insulation.
  • Painter's tap.
  • 3" nails (to assemble the 2 x 4 frame).
  • 1 1/2" screws.

Tools : 
  • Electric Circular saw
  • Hammer.
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Carpet knife (to cut the foam)

I built a wooden crate 5" wider and longer and 2" higher (inside) than the mosaic. For the sides I used 2" x 4" pine lumber, for the top and bottom I used 1/2" plywood. 

At the bottom of the crate I placed a piece of 1/2" insulation foam - purchased from Lowes or Home depot.

I placed 3/4" pipe insulation foam around the mosaic frame.

Then added more blue insulation on top of the piece and on its bottom. I held everything together with painter's tape.

Placed the piece inside the crate, and inserted additional blue foam shims between the crate walls and the piece itself.

I added one layer of blue foam on top of the piece.

Then I screwed the plywood on top of the crate.

Screws are safer than nails. They hold things together much more securely. They are also much easier to remove with a screwdriver than nails would be with a pry bar, and this allows for the crate to be recycled for further transportation.

Green Eyes arrived  in perfect shape.

The cost of materials for this crate was $ 67.00, and I had some material leftover.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Testimony of a happy collector !

I love Mr. Lecut's art work very much. These two Chinese characters (tiger and dragon) are originally written by Yamaoka Tesshue, the master of calligraphy, zen, and martial arts. 

It's amazing to see that sensitive brush work in calligraphy can be transferred into the mosaics so brilliantly. I am sure Yamaoka Tesshue sensei is smiling with satisfaction. Thank you, Mr. Lecut

Yoko Hamada Hollyfield

Tesshu's Dragon and Tiger are 14 x 50 " (35 x 123 cm) each mosaics, exclusively made of Cream travertine and black granite.
Yamaoka Tesshu was a famous 19th century Japanese Swordsman.

Japanese Calligraphy is a very unique mosaic theme. If you are interested in acquiring or simply discussing such a piece or mosaics in general, please contact me by phone at (334) 798 1639 or by email at

Friday, March 14, 2014

Of Mosaics, Martial Arts and Meditation

Artist Frederic Lecut

Creating Communion

By Amanda Smith • Photography by Brian W. McDonald

Mosaics date back to ancient times, the Greeks elevating their creation to an art form. Tiny stones in different hues merge to construct elaborate works. By themselves, the bits of stone are unremarkable, yet when interwoven into complex patterns and pictures, the end result is a masterpiece. This is not unlike the events in a human life. Taken in and of itself, each experience can seem mundane and ordinary, but combine them, and the adult who emerges can be a complex being able to accomplish remarkable things. Such is the case with Frederic Lecut.

Lecut, who currently lives in Headland, Alabama, was born and raised in the Picardy region of northern France—a treasure trove of old-fashioned towns and quiet resorts, known for its great cathedrals, abbeys and medieval might. As a child, Lecut enjoyed archaeology and visiting historical sites in and near his hometown, many of which were decorated by mosaics. His parents traveled with him in tow, showing him landmarks such as Roman ruins in which gorgeous mosaics cover the floors and walls of the ancient elite. Thus, a seed was planted.

Time moved on, and as a young man, Lecut struggled with depression. "I know what this is," he says. "You are in a deep, black hole with no interest in anything. Things you enjoyed before— fishing, boating—have no interest to you now." During this period, Lecut had a job teaching martial arts in the local village. He would force himself to get out of bed in order to lead his classes. Once there, he discovered something: after having immersed himself in teaching, his depression would dissipate. He believes the combination of concentration and inward meditation the discipline requires was partly responsible. Another important element was that, in teaching, he felt he was giving himself to his students. You cannot be unhappy when you help others, Lecut says. 

This act of giving awoke within him a passion for martial arts which has never dimmed. Today, he teaches a variety of martial arts classes and writes about the subject at www.underthemoonshadow. His background in this ancient discipline laid another piece into the mosaic of his life. It honed an ability to focus for long periods of time, a skill he would later use when formulating works of art.

Lecut studied nuclear and mechanical engineering, which eventually led to an international career that brought him to South Alabama in the 1980s. Lecut's background in engineering fostered a love for building and creating things, and it appealed to his meticulous nature.

    Though his work allowed him to live well and support his children, Lecut was aware of a growing unhappiness. His job was stressful, and the pressure was constant. When he developed a stomach ulcer, he knew it was time for a change. His children were grown and on their own. In 2000, he decided to quit his job and pursue his true love, teaching martial arts.

    Three years later, during a visit to France, his mother introduced him to Jean Pierre Soalhat, an internationally recognized mosaic artist based in a little Provence village called Caseneuve. Lecut was enthralled. He was immediately reminded of the venerable mosaics he had loved as a child, and another piece of his life's mosaic clicked into place. He apprenticed with Soalhat, then acquired some tools and returned home to Headland, where he began making mosaics of his own.

       It's a delicate, detailed and painstaking process. Lecut envisions a design, first seeing a hint of an image in his head. Little by little, it develops into something he can sketch. Once he has it on paper, he enlarges and laminates the blueprint. Then, he begins cutting stones and places them, in reverse, on his pattern. He works in sections, laying stones, securing them and letting them dry. By the time he has finished a medium-size mosaic, he has invested more than 50 hours into the piece.

        When working on a mosaic, he often becomes completely absorbed. He'll forget to eat or sleep. "It's a total engagement of mind and body," he remarks. It is the same sense of concentration he feels when doing martial arts. After the completed project has dried for several days, Lecut faces the moment of truth. He carefully flips the design and sees it from the front for the first time. "It's," he struggles for words, then shrugs and smiles, "a magical moment."

        The process is a spiritual one for Lecut. He uses tools like those employed thousands of years ago by makers of mosaics, and feels as if he's participating in an ancient ritual that connects him to those artisans. He compares it to entering a cathedral where people have worshiped for centuries. "You cannot but feel awe—there is something sacred there," he says.

    This is different from the feeling he has when seeing breathtaking new architecture in locales he's traveled, like Dubai and New York. As a lover of architecture, Lecut is astounded by the structures in these destinations, but it is not the same experience as going to a place, even a simple place, where others have gone for centuries for the same purpose. "All these people who have been here before you, feeling as you feel now—this is what ritual is about. It puts you in communion with other people," he affirms. This extraordinary communion is reflected in Lecut's work. It draws the viewer into that solidarity and provides a glimpse into the past.

This article was published in the March April 2014 issue of Wiregrass Living Magazine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I need your Advice !

4 little squares is a piece I design to illustrate variations of the reverse and direct methods of mosaic. 

I made 4 small mosaics of similar pattern, and will arrange them on a background made of old oak pallet boards. 

Below are 5 pictures of possible arrangements

Arrangement # 1

Arrangement # 2

Arrangement # 3

Arrangement # 4

Arrangement # 5

Please comment :

Which one of them 
do you like 
the best ?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage is a mosaic commissioned by my friend Becky. She is a gardener, and loves to have breakfast on her deck, enjoying the sight and smells of her plantations.

Fall foliage will be mounted directly on her kitchen wall.
I decided to realize the piece with materials of the same thickness : glasses and mirrors mounted on a fiberglass mesh, according to the direct method. This technique allows for a very light mosaic.

Today I would like to share with you the moment when I separate the mosaic from its support.

Although the moment is not as exciting as the flipping of a reverse order mosaic, it is still an interesting time ! 

In the Direct Method, I use a non water soluble glue,  which adheres much stronger to the support. (You can hear the noise of the mesh getting separated from the plastified support).

Once the piece complete and installed, I'll create a specific post showing the various stages of realization, from design to final and installed product.

You dreamed of a unique decoration for your home, kitchen, bathroom, dining room or garden, or would just want to learn more about my work or the techniques of mosaic ? 

Call (334) 798 1639 or email me at 

We will work together to make your dream come true, or simply chat about the wonders of the ancient musive art!

Attention les Yeux !

"Attention les Yeux" - is French for "Protect your Eyes".

You'll use this expression to warn people that they are going to see something so beautiful and remarkable that their eyes might be hurt by such sight !

As I finally completed my Fall Foliage mosaic, my work benches are now available for new projects. I will create 2 Mariam's Eyes mosaics. One to be delivered in France next June, and the mirror image of it which I will build using an experimental method. More about this later. 

Veiled Black and White is 40 % complete

Sean's Eyes are waiting for a frame and grout.

Lots of EYES can be SEEN at Mosaicblues.

I dreamed of a Show dedicated to  mosaic eyes, I would call it "Attention les Yeux".

If you have contacts who could help make this possible, of would like to help yourself, please contact me at (334) 798 1639 or by email at