Many residents and visitors love the glittering mosaics of Antoni Gaudí's architectural façades. Few, however, try or master the art for themselves. The chance to do just that can be found in the workshops of two members of Barcelona’s crafts community who offer classes in mosaic art.
Martin Brown, a British designer from London brought his worldly collection of mosaic designs to Barcelona three years ago. Brown described how he taught himself the way of the mosaic while living in Mexico: “I started by reading a couple of books and mastering the technique through trial and error. It took a long time. I can teach someone in four mornings what took me ages to figure out for myself. It’s just a question of some guidance through your designs and having the know-how of the method.”
Collectively, Brown’s work epitomises the diverse applicability of the mosaic, transforming the most basic table, mirror or rotating ‘lazy Susan’ into an original work of art. It’s a technique Brown began sharing with students over a year and a half ago, opening up the studio space in his Eixample home to small classes of around seven. The course is a series of four morning sessions, where Brown first runs students through the basics of scoring glass into various shapes. “Getting students to the stage where they’re comfortable with cutting glass is half of it, from here follows the development of thinking logically to fit the pieces,” explained Brown.
Mosaico Camaleón in Gràcia lives up to its name, and visitors wandering through the spacious workshop are exposed to an array of changing colours. Light shining in through the door first hits a giant, emerald green leaf dominating the left wall, and from here stretches an inspiring assortment of contemporary mosaic designs. Most of the work is that of Mosaico Camaleón’s founding teacher, Lucie Decoudu, from Paris.
“The course develops the student’s awareness of the beauty which surrounds them,” said Decoudu. “They’ll realise that the use of both ordinary materials and rare findings perhaps on the beach or from the street can create a beautiful mosaic.” The combination of sizes, shapes and distinctive materials around the workshop create a basis for students to develop their own design ideas.
During the personalised initiation course of 22 hours spread out over two-hour classes, students work on three different tablets. The first is a basic working of the technique using ordinary ceramic tiles; the second explores the use of different sized and shaped pieces, and the third and final piece is a more elaborate individual design. Students learn various techniques of cutting and mounting pieces onto paper or fibreglass mesh before transferring the mosaic onto a board. Intensive and specialised option courses are available for those looking to challenge their basic grasp of the art.
Both Martin Brown and Mosaico Camaleón offer their workshops as an open space for students to continue practising and working on individual projects after they’ve completed the course. This option provided by both teachers allows the neophyte students to develop their own masterpieces with the adequate space, freedom and time personally required.
If any of these classes in breaking and making sound interesting, take note: classes run all year round in Martin Brown's workshop, and Mosaico Camaleón close for August, resuming courses in September.
Martin Brown: Valencia 202, 2-1; Tel. 93 451 9856, www.martinbrownart.c;m
Mosaico Camaleón: Penedes, 10, Local 4; Tel. 93 217 6292; www.mosaicocamaleon.com