Mosaic: the pretty & the practical

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When it comes to decorating our homes we tend to lean towards the pretty rather than practical. And so what? Life is hard enough. What with taxes and public speaking to concern ourselves with.

Amidst the conflict between the pretty and the practical we seldom find a happy medium. That is until we begin discussing the anomaly that is the coloured tile. 

Mosaics have a long and, excuse the pun, rather colourful history. A history that lends itself to the balance between the pretty and the practical. A history that some of you might find rather fascinating.

Or perhaps, for the less historic minded of you, the history of mosaic can be seen as something useful. Useful, in its ability to convince your significant other of its rich historical and cultural value. And of course how, in its acquisition, it will add that much needed dimension of socio-historic culture to your all-be-it-lacking guest bathroom.

Historically, Mosaic has its roots in the practical. It was first used thousands (yes`, thousands) of years ago. Not as sophisticated as it would later become as an art form, mosaics were first made by positioning pebbles and stones into patterns that conveyed messages or directions (how practical). 

As an art form, records show that Mosaic has been around since the fourth millennium B.C. The first mosaics were found in Mesopotamia. They were made from an array of materials. Including shells, semi-precious stones and ivory. The Greeks played a significant part in discovery of mosaic. While the Romans played a role in its development.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

“Christian art furthered the decorative technique in churches and other religious buildings, but under the Byzantines, mosaic art became a privileged language to express divine, supernatural and mystic themes. The use of manufactured materials, including gold, and the techniques of setting the tesserae at different angles and depths, created magical lighting effects.” (Goetz, 2007)

Mosaic is considered to be both a modern and an ancient art form. Its position on the continuum of modern art allows mosaic to remain “trendy”. And it remains a firm favourite in the ever-shifting world of interior design.

Emma Biggs, is a london-based mosaic artist. She founded the Mosaic Workshop, the largest mosaic studio in Britain, and produces private and public works around the world. Some of her most famous installations include Made in England, Five Sisters, London’s Wharf Walk pavement mosaics, and Mosaic Rill .

Mosaic tiles may be seen as contemporary derivative of Mosaic as an art form. Adding texture and interest to a room mosaic tiles are a pretty that always pleases. Practically, they can be used as a non- slip surface in showers.  

So what is so wrong with spending your well-earned pounds on a wall of colourful, and aesthetically pleasing tiles? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with that. If anything it will make your teeth-brushing ritual a more cultural experience.

Check out the great variety of mosaic tiles at Grand Taps. When in Rome do as the Roman’s do: http://www.grandtaps.co.uk/products/cat_763842-Mosaic-Tile-Samples.html

This post was inspired and drawn from A Journey Into the World of Mosaics: Historical and Contemporary Use By Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA

If you would like to read the entire article go to: http://www.iida.org/content.cfm/a-journey-into-the-world-of-mosaics-historical-and-contemporary-use

DIY Orange Pomander

A pomander? It’s a cross between a pomegranate and a salamander. In some countries maybe. But not this one. In actual fact it is a perfumed orange – from French pomme d’ambre, i.e. apple of amber, is a ball of perfumes. Yay!

They also happen to make wonderful Christmas ornaments, gifts and room fresheners. Organic holiday scent diffusers if you will? You don’t need much to make them and they’re gosh darned simple to create.

You’ll need: Oranges, ribbon, pins and whole cloves.

With the necessaries in hand, proceed to secure the ribbon in place with said pins. Tie a bow on top and proceed to push the cloves into the skin of the orange. Place them sporadically or create a pattern out of the cloves. Tie the ribbon directly on top of the orange or create a loop with the ribbon to allow for it to be hung up on a door handle or on the Christmas tree. The pomanders should produce a scent much like that of the fruit mince used in a mince pie – way to add to a festive atmosphere (and induce mince pie cravings all in one go).

Happy holidays dear readers. May they be filled with much joy and festivity.

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DIY Typographic Pillow

I’ve recently taken to looking at all white surfaces around me as being prospective canvasses. Yes. Everything. White t-shirts, trainers, plates, mugs, candles – you name it. I wanna decorate it. Beginning with this little white scatter cushion I happened upon whilst rummaging through my local linen cupboard.

For this project you’ll need a blank scatter cushion, a permanent laundry marker, some stencils, a pencil and a quote. I chose to use a line from one of my favourite poems – Desiderata. It’s super simple really, plot out the words using your pencil and your stencil. Yeah my poetry rocks. And then! Simply colour the words in with your laundry marker and there you have it! A typographic pillow for your bed, couch or chair. I chose to keep it simple by creating a black and white aesthetic but don’t be afraid to add some colour and additional free-hand designs around the words if you feel they’re too plain.

Yay for comfy crafting!

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DIY Fabric Wreath

It’s holiday time. Carols are ringing, fruit mince is simmering, eyes are glimmering and your wreath needs reviving. Got a few scraps of fabric lying around? A pair of scissors and a wire clothes hanger? Yes? Marvellous!

Let’s make a magical Christmas wreath!

I happened to not have very nice scraps of material lying around, so I purchased myself a few 20cm strips of gold and red fabric from the local fabric shop. Try stick to a holiday appropriate colour scheme – red/pink for Valentines day, brights for Easter, red/blue/white for the Fourth of July, black/orange for Halloween, etc. Also,play around with textured fabrics for a more interesting wreath. I chose a sparkly fabric, a matte fabric, velvet and so on, for mine.

With your strips of fabric at the ready, cut each into smaller strips about 3cm wide and 15-20cm long. Bend your clothes hanger into a circular shape and proceed to tie each strip onto the hanger. Knot the material in the centre and continue until your clothes hanger is no longer visible. Tie the various materials randomly or in a particular order – I placed mine randomly around the wire frame.

Lastly – colour the hook of the hanger to match your wreath’s colour scheme. I used a gold marker to do mine, but paint should work just fine as well.

There you have it! Happy holidays all!

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DIY Nail Art

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You need:
A hammer
A pencil and ruler
Nails
A board (not chipboard – fairly sturdy wood)
Colourful twine/string
An awesome place to hang the final product

Start by marking out the points where each nail needs to go on the board. I chose to create the word ‘art’ but you can pretty much string up any design, word, picture, shape, (whatever floats your boat), (you get the point), that you would like to.
After plotting your design on the board, begin hammering in each nail. It can become a tad noisy after a while but the final product will be worth the headachey-loud-noise. With each nail secured and upright, you can begin the threading process. It’s pretty simple really, tie a knot around a nail on one end of your design and simply twist the twine around the nails to create a woven look. Try keep the thread even so as to keep it looking neat and evenly covered. Try keep it a colour palette of sorts, it’ll make the final product look just that more professional and somewhat less crafty. Once all the nails have had some twine twisted around them tie a final knot to secure the string.

Yay! And that, folks, is how to create a simple (and creative) piece of artwork for your home.

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Make Your Very Own Step Ladder Shelving Bookcase

DIY Ladder Book Shelf

Instead of buying a flimsy, boring, regular bookcase why not make your own interesting, sturdy, fun one…. using a step ladder.
What you will need:What You Will Need To Make A Ladder BookCase

  •  Wooden step ladder, I used a new 3 step one but you can use one that has seen a bit of diy action, gives it character
  • Random left over pieces of wood lying about the shed
  • Tape measure
  • Pen
  • Wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Jig saw
  • Sander

Open the ladder fully and measure the size for a shelf to fit snugly under the first rung and lowest rear support. These 2 should be the same height so you will get a level shelf. If they are not the same height don’t worry, you can always use cabinet shelf supports, these are cheap and easy to work with.
Then measure the space to put a shelf on top of the middle step. On top so that the bottom book shelf is the biggest it can be for those large books.
Use the sander to tidy up your edging and maybe also to clean up the surface of the wood. You can even paint or varnish it if you want but I left mine as is.
Make another smaller shelf to put on the top step, you can put a lamp up there, or even a small bus.

A Ladder Bookcase Looks Great In A Boys Room
Cost: 20 for the ladder because I didn’t have a spare old one lying about
I used screws, glue and pieces of wood left over from previous diy projects so I didn’t have to buy anything else
Time taken: 3 hours

DIY: Crayon Art

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Happen to have one or two blank boards at home? Yes? Awesome! And some white paint? Great! Or maybe you have canvases that are already white and ready to be rainbowed up? That’d be even better! Basically we’re looking for a blank surface that’ll show colour beautifully – like a wooden board that’s been give a coat of white house paint, or a blank canvas.

Yay! Let’s make rainbows! Grab about a bajillion (because that’s a real number) wax crayons, some glue and a hairdryer. Order your crayons as you’d like to see them melt. I kinda went for all the colours in the box and arranged them according to the rainbow – because rainbow is my favourite colour, see. You, however, can pick only the colours you like and arrange them as you see fit. I’d suggest keeping similar hues together, ’cause melting similar hues seems to create a better blend of colour than, say, melting right pink and black. But that’s just my taste.

Anyhow, with your white surface and crayons ordered – time to get sticking. Use craft glue to keep the crayons in place on the canvas. Allow them a little time to dry before going at it with the heat. We don’t want melted crayons slipping all over the show now.

Eeek! Hairdrying time! This can get a tad messy, but is by far the funnest part. Stand your board up (crayons glued to the top) and simply hairdry the crayons. Angle the hairdryer at about 45 degrees to the ground and watch the wax melt and splatter. Start at one end and work your way to the other – spending a minute or two at each point along the way. A strong hairdryer is best because the intense heat and power allow for the crayon to melt quickly and splat quickly. And little hairdryers just kinda create a dribble and well – don’t produce such a splattery style.

Et voila! We have rainbow art! Get the leprechauns, I mean kids, involved. Or anyone with an appreciation for craft and colour. This is a great, easy and inexpensive way to create art works for a bedroom, art room or dull spot in the home.

 

 

 

DIY: Macrame Flower Hanger

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1. Cut 8 lengths of string just over a meter long each and knot together at the top.

2. Hang on a wall hook, divide into pairs, then tie knots between pairs as you go along down the strings.

3. Knot the strings in a criss-cross pattern. Tie a knot between each pair to create the first set of knots. Each knot in that set will produce two strands, one of which you will tie to the strand of another pair. Repeat this step until your macrame hanger has reached your desired length.

4. Place a recycled glass jar inside. At this stage I laid the whole thing on a table and continued knotting until I reached the length appropriate for the jar. Tie all the strings together at the bottom so as to allow for the jar to have a steady base.

5. Fill the jar with a little water and place your flowers in the jar.

This size also fits a metal tin. You can also try placing a candle at the bottom of the jar instead of flowers. Or, instead of using it for fresh flowers you could try placing a potted plant in the hanger. Add beads, shells or more knots to your hanger to add character to it. Macrame hangers can be hung outside, inside, on top (not really) or anywhere you can find a hanging spot of sorts. Get the kids involved, they’ll have a ball playing with twine and finding hanging spots for their flowers.

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DIY: Fairylights

Clap if you believe in fairylights! Or cost effective beautiful décor for that matter. I’ve recently discovered that fairylights are a vital and utterly versatile element to own as part of one’s collection of vital-versatile-décor-elements. Fairylights can be used in a child’s bedroom to create a dim and comforting atmosphere, no monsters under the bed kinda feel. Those same fairylights can then be wound around some greenery in the evening for an out door cocktail party, or draped on a tree for the festive season, or wrapped in sheer material and laid along a table to create a table centre piece. Numerous strings can be hung together, in a room or on a veranda to create a curtain-like feel. They create the most spectacular atmosphere and cost next to nothing, well I’ll speak for mine in this case.

And if you’re bored with the plain white ones, they’re perfectly easy to spruce using household items. I spruced my set with layered cupcake holders that were also rather inexpensive. Simply slice a tiny slit in the middle of the colder and slide it on to the light. Layer them, cut them into various shapes, use various colours or textures, and when you’re satisfied with your set of spruced up lights, string them up or drape them. Ceilings, headboards, curtain rails and dressing tables make for lovely bedroom spots for them but they can just as easily be used in the bathroom or garden, as well as for entertainment décor purposes.

A little spring time sparkle for you, enjoy!

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DIY: Crystal Garden Chandelier

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I don’t know about you, but every so often I have the urge to crystallize something. A hanging something that can be hung somewhere to spread colour spectra everywhere. So, when such an urge strikes, one has absolutely no other choice but to embrace the crystal calling.

Step 1: Venture out of your humble abode into the widest world. Continue on until you find yourself in a land of crystals where you should proceed to barter with the crystal kingdom king in order to attain a satisfactory quantity of sizable sparkly rocks. With these in hand, head on over to a forest and find some drift wood, twig shaped heart. twig shaped ball or any other natural device that allows for pretties to be hung from it.

Step 2: With the main magical ingredients in hand, you are almost ready to begin the spectra shaping process. Scratch around said humble abode to find some pieces of clear nylon and a little piece of wire.

Step 3: Do a happy dance! You now have everything needed to sprout light rainbows all over your garden. Yay! From here on out it’s pretty darned simple. Simply string your sizable crystals onto your natural device in any arrangement you like. Then wind that little piece of wire and loop it on top of the natural device so that it can be hung.

and then…. Hang it up in the sunlight!

Step 4: Repeat happy dance while enjoying your new garden feature.

If you want to add more sparkle to the feature, string fairy lights through the vine ball to create a light feature of sorts. The fairy lights reflect beautifully against the crystals and tend to induce more happy dancing.

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