Two Days on the Tiles

Janet planning her mosaic tile
Janet planning her mosaic tile - photo by Brian Jones

Picking up your pension each month doesn’t mean the end of life – but a new start. And you have to be alert to find fresh opportunities to try something you have never done before.

I am 76 and my wife, Janet, is younger but we enjoy doing something new.

A few weeks ago we were in Ironbridge, Shropshire, and when visiting the Jackfield Tile Museum we discovered it was possible to make your own tile so we decided to have a go ourselves.

We sat in a large, airy room, with a few others, and a very attentive tutor who showed us how to select a tile the size we wanted, and then gave us pointers as to how to make it attractive.

That involved drawing tile the outline of what we wanted to achieve and then using a small bag full of some brown, slimy substance – rather like the bags used to ice cakes – putting an outline round all the objects possible.

Then we considered what colours to add. This was difficult because the pots of colours looked nothing like the final, glazed version. We were given a set of mini tiles, all glazed, in the various colours and decided what colour to put where. Our leader produced a tray of pots, fortunately labelled with the appropriate colours. This, thick, gooey substance was put into the places we wanted that particular colour, When completed it looked very little like what we hoped the finished object would.

We then paid the necessary price and left, returning home to await the postman.

The tiles were glazed and posted on to us. The colours were vibrant and pleasing. The three tiles we made were brilliant and make superb decorations.

Janet did a flower with a butterfly and I did one of Mount Zion Church in Cliviger, and another one of one of our daughter’s smallholding in Spain.

It was our introduction to a new art.

It was only a week or so later that I noticed Lancashire Wildlife Trust were holding a glass mosaic afternoon one Saturday in their Nature Reserve at Heysham.

We signed online and duly appeared in the classroom on the appropriate day to be greeted by the organised, Emma Garston and the leader, Chrissy Webster.

We were allowed to select a picture frame, with glass already firmly glued into place, and given a range of pictures from which to choice our design. We could, of course, have made it up ourselves.

I opted for poppies and Janet decided on a bird, a bee-eater to remind us of past holidays in South Africa.

We selected appropriate pieces of coloured glass, different cutters, protective glasses and set to work laying small pieces of coloured glass into position, rather like a stained glass window.

When it looked sufficiently like the picture we were working from we began to glue each piece of glass into position with a transparent glue.

Help was at hand when we needed to trim a particularly difficult piece of glass or needed advice on colours.

When our picture was complete we were given a small bag containing spatulas and pre-mixed grout. This, because the glue needed to thoroughly dry, was to be applied after a few days – at home without any skilled help.

A week later we cautiously began to spread the grout as we had been directed after which we wiped the area clean, trying to get off all unnecessary grout.

To us, as first-timers in this art, they looked lovely – two more attractive adornments which we hung in windows to catch the light

They were also visual lessons in not sitting back and doing nothing. Trying something different at any age broadens the mind, brings a bit of colour into your life, and expands your horizons.

Roll on the next course; we are ready for it.

Details of Lancashire Wildlife Trust courses are on www.lancswt.org.uk

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