Finishing the Mosaics, Completing the Oven, and More Out-and-About

Days Five and Six of our trip were focused on finishing our mosaics and completing the adobe brick oven, with scatterings of other cultural activities in-between. So rather than doing my usual timeline of activities, I will write it up by project/theme. And some of day seven may well have been included here too!

We started first thing in the morning by grouting our mosaics… well, mine were different, so I assisted the others with theirs, and floated about the courtyard like a spare part!  Using fingers and papertowels as tools in the clean up wouldn’t be my way of working, I am a credit card (or store card) for spreading the grout & cut up towels for wiping excess away kind of girl.

I wrote about the finished mosaics, with pictures, in a previous blog, so click here to see them

The adobe brick oven was also in for some serious work, building up the walls and the domed section of the oven.

Having created a big load of bricks out of straw, clay, liquid and soil (see day one for the process), we started building up. The bricks needed to be laid in a staggered way, so that there were some that went across both lines, tying in all faces of the walls.  The right hand side image was a demonstration without any “mortar”.

Esther was delighted with her brick!

Esther Showing off her Brick

Using a mortar made of the same mix as the bricks, we worked on the side walls, then with a shaped polystyrene form for holding the arch up during construction, we worked away on that section.  The bricks were fanned out with a old shard of tile as the wedge, all mortared in as we went along.  Keith came into his own at this point – Man’s Work – as did Kirsty, who is an architect and maker, and has often taught brick-laying in that role.

Once the dome was made, the front was completed, leaving a space for the oven door – though the hinge part was also fixed in.  As you can imagine, it was a bit too messy for much photography, though it is quite well covered in our film which we made.

When all the bricks were in place, we did a final coat over the surface, and it was at this point that my mosaic were put in place, purely by pushing them into the surface until all the tesserae were touching the mortar mix.  All a bit experiemental, but it worked.  The blue nugget in the centre of the flower came from the silver-smith’s workshop, a by-product of their work.

I was also challenged to make something of a broken fish shaped jug, so with a bit of careful nibbling, I managed to get the head cut out, which was also fixed into the mortar.

kiln fish

Once the mortar had a chance to dry, the polystyrene arch was removed and we then rendered it with a lime-mix screed, which dried to a soft creamy/grey tone.  

With the mosaics, I delicately grouted them with the mix, making sure that I did not dislodge any of the pieces, and then as the “grout” dried, cleaned it off the top surfaces.

kiln mosaic 4

If I were to critique my work, and were I to do it again, I would have either used less white (though most of the crockery at my disposal was white) or ask that the mortar be tinted darker, as the cow (and the goat a bit) look somewhat insipid, and the grout / tesserae colour combe is so important!

So that was the kiln finished.

kiln group photo

Another activity on-site was the making of small ceramic acorns – squeezed in as an activity as only a couple of people could do the rendering at any one time.  Kato Drys means Ancient Oak, so as part of Martin’s Green Village project, they sell these acorns.  I couldn’t resist making a flamingo too.

In amongst all this, we had the chance to visit the Choirokoita Neolithic Settlement, which included a re-creation of a small settlement.  Blisteringly hot, I realised that I am so much more interested in the decorative elements of a building than it’s construction and function.  So much so, that the pictures that I took that day were more about their information centre, and how it’s design could be used by Comrie Croft near me!

We also got to go wine tasting, which is always fun.  And I duly came home with some honey, grape juice and a bottle of RED WINE….

wine tasting

And a bit of walking around the town of Lefkara, between our accommodation, the student house and Martin’s house, I was able to do a bit of door envy.  Very on-trend with my love of turquoise & blue doors – the more delapidated the better!

And finally, inspiration in the student’s house.  It had a lovely vibe in the courtyard, and great wall-art in the kitchen, accompanied by a poem, which has already triggered another thought process for another mosaic. That is what it is all about.

Student's House Courtyard


Last night I dreamed a strange savage future

The world had warmed and most had died

We lived with camels that lived on spiny cacti

Whilst we ate dates, goats and salty cheese

The land is seared and burned so we must swim

A fetid ocean that teemed with fish in my youth

Now only dreadful, Godless creatures live there

Bred by scientists to gobble up our awful waste

With good but flawed intent they created new life

Mindless of sowed seeds of dreadful doom

Swapping genes and installing gleaming chips

Gobbling fuel in their great whirring machines

These engineered fish now are feral, escaped

Uncontrolled they eat metal and glass and oil

Mimicking beauty with patterened shining flesh

They flash into the bay cutting water with a whine

Boiled and limpid under the burning noon sun

We mush swim there, to escape the fizzing heat

Gambling their lives some shrieking feed the fish

They eat our waste but now eat the wasted people

Source: Green Village, Lefkara

Author: inthegardenwithfriends

A mosaic artist located in Comrie

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