Amanda MackinnonMaking my garden mosaic masterpieces

There are some things in life that are polarising. You love them or hate them. Anchovies, brussel sprouts and avocados all instantly spring to mind. Mmmm, I love all three. But I’ve come to the conclusion that mosaic garden art is also one of these things. People are either drawn to it or they’re not. I love the colour mosaics add to my coastal garden and the whole new level of recycling that they can bring to an old and tired object.

Our neighbourhood is home to a wonderful mosaic artist, Kerry Howlett (check out her page ‘Dodges Ferry Mosaics’ on Facebook). Kerry is well known in the local area and her colourful influence is widespread across the local community. Dodges Ferry and surrounds is sprinkled with mosaic house numbers, letterboxes, signs, murals and even public toilets. Kerry is one of those gems who shares her talents and has taught hundreds of people the skill of mosaicing, including me. And let me tell you…it’s addictive!

My mosaic house number sign on the gate

My mosaic house number sign on the gate

One of the first projects I attempted was a house number. Here is my beautiful ‘182’ that has been hanging on our front gate for the past six or seven years. I still love it. Dodges Ferry is riddled with similar numbers that have arisen out of Kerry’s local workshops. Each one is unique.

With a success under my belt, I moved on to a series of garden pavers. The shot below shows just how bright the path to my clothesline is. I have a collection of them with garden critters on them that meander through the garden bed.

Mosaic pavers under the clothesline

Mosaic pavers under the clothesline

From there I moved on to all sorts of creations. Concrete garden animals are great to mosaic, as are plain sheets of cement sheeting, birdbaths and old garden implements. I have little ‘masterpieces’ dotted at various spots around my garden. I think they give it character. My husband on the other hand, does not share the same opinion…clearly no taste in garden art darling.

Mosaic pelican in my garden

Mosaic pelican in my garden

Mosaic snail plaque in my garden

Mosaic snail plaque in my garden

Mosiac duck in my garden

Mosiac duck in my garden

Kerry Howlett's mosaic swans

Kerry Howlett’s mosaic swans

How could you not love these gorgeous swans that Kerry has upcycled? I am hanging out to get my hands on an old swan now to create my own. And her surfboards are now legendary in the community – what a great addition to a beach shack they are! Just last weekend a group of us got together under Kerry’s guidance and transformed our own board. This one will be used as an auction item to raise money at the upcoming local school fair.

Mosaic surfboard for the school in the making

Mosaic surfboard for the school in the making

I think the thing I love the most about mosaicing is that it’s an art that doesn’t have to be precise. At the end of the day, once all those little bits of tile are glued and you then grout your object, an amazing picture emerges. The process of grouting often completely transforms an item from ‘a collection of tiles’ into a wonderful image. It’s almost like a hidden picture comes to life.

Kerry's mosaic dog

Kerry’s mosaic dog

Mosaic wall at the local school

Mosaic wall at the local school

In our suburb, mosaicing has also been at the centre of many community projects. Here is the front entrance of our local primary school. A once boring and uninspiring block wall has been transformed into a magical underwater scene that depicts many of the animals that are common in the local area. The school itself has beach frontage so the scene is a perfect way for the kids to be reminded what they have right on their doorstep.

Telling the story of Dodges Ferry on the new classroom wall

Telling the story of Dodges Ferry on the new outdoor classroom wall

Under Kerry’s guidance we are currently ‘telling the story’ of Dodges Ferry’s history by mosaicing the walls of a new outdoor classroom. It’s a big project that will chew up many hours of time, but everyone is enjoying. Working on a mosaic in a group is very similar to working a community garden. Dodges Ferry gets its quirky name from an early settler called Ralph Dodge who operated a ferry service in the area. The mosaic depicts his boat, his farm and many of the local animals in the area.

Working hard on the mosaic for the classroom

Working hard on the mosaic for the school’s outdoor classroom

So my advice is if you are looking for the perfect piece of art to compliment your garden, have a go at making it yourself. It’s cheap, easy and extremely therapeutic. There’s nothing like smashing a few old tiles to clear out some cobwebs!

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Amanda Mackinnon

About Amanda Mackinnon

Amanda is a freelance writer working from the quiet rim of the world - beautiful Tasmania. Amanda's career has led her on a fascinating journey through marine science, education, horticulture, marketing and communications. Living in a busy male dominated household – chasing around 2 growing boys, a sop of a golden retriever, one cheeky ginger cat, a handful of chickens and even some stick insects, Amanda loves to write in her 'spare' time. With a keen interest in achievable gardens and family friendly projects, Amanda loves to share her experiences of what works well in her coastal Tassie garden as well as tips and tricks handpicked from all corners of the globe.

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