Taking a Mosaics Class

On Saturday, I slept in just a tiny bit, but was out the door by about 7:30 to go to a mosaics class I’d signed up for through the Yolo Basin Foundation.  The class was at the studio-home of local artist, Donna Billick.  Donna has done some of the art-fusion pieces for the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven in Davis, as well as mosaic murals and sculptural pieces all over the country.

Technically, this wasn’t a “walking” excursion, but we were outside all day, and I was on my feet a lot… besides, I wanted to share this with you!

Behind Donna’s house is a huge barn-like structure and covered patio that she uses for her art studio, and this is where we had our class.  All through the yard around the house there were art pieces; it was like Disneyland, I didn’t know what to look at or photograph first.  Hah!  Her back porch had a “carpet” laid out on it that was all done in mosaic tiles; there were statues everywhere; and a mosaic “snake in the grass”.  It was fun just walking around and looking at everything.

I was the first one there, but my coworker Charlotte arrived just a few minutes after I did and, sweet thing that she is, she brought me a double decaf hazelnut latte!  Awwww!  Eventually, I think we ended up with about 20 people altogether and none of us had done any mosaic work before so we were all “beginners”.   The first hour was spent hearing from Donna and her showing us some of her more celebrated work… and a project on which she’s currently working.  While she was talking we interrupted periodically by a few pairs of swallows who had made their mud nests inside her barn and were tending to their babies.  They’d occasionally dive bomb us as they flew into and out of the barn.

Donna then took us into the studio and showed us the materials we were going to use, and how to use some of the tools (like the nippers), and how to mix the clay-like adhesive… Then she just sort of let us go.  Charlotte and I worked side-by-side on our pieces: she was doing a stepping stone with a horse motif and I was doing one with a caterpillar motif.  We dug through buckets and drawers of tiles and glass bits to find what we wanted, and then got to work.  This being the first time I ever worked in mosaic, I totally sucked at it, but I learned a lot and it was really fun.  The only “negative” was that because we were outside, and by 2:00 pm it got way too hot for me even in the shade, so I had to call it a day.

Before that, though, we had a lunch-time respite where everyone sat in lawn chairs under Donna’s gorgeous mimosa trees and had chiabatta bread sandwiches, fresh fruit and lemonade.  It was very nice and relaxing… but we were all anxious to get back to pieces.  Hah!  We took out mosaics up to the point where they adhered to the stone we were working with, but because they had to sit overnight to cure, we couldn’t do the grout work or take our pieces home with us.  Donna and her crew will be doing the grouting, and then they’ll let us know when we can come to pick them up.

UPDATE: 06-24-13, the folks who attended this weekend class have been invited to attend a night-time class with Donna Billick on July 2nd.  I’ll let you know if I attend.