By Nancy Tannler
For many years, Mark Brody has quietly gone about his mosaic work completing one amazing project after the next. Now he’s become masterful at what he does.
His skill has not gone unnoticed either. Timber Press asked him to write one of the two crafts books they produce each year and now the new Mosaic Garden Projects will be available February 21. According to the author, it is the last book on garden mosaics you will ever need.
A tour of his home workshop, photographs and community projects is testimony to the level of expertise Brody has to share on the subject of mosaic.
His book will detail twenty five projects from start to finish featuring a variety of skill sets from easy to moderate to challenging. Half the projects are three dimensional and the other part two dimensional.
The mosaic projects are done using tile, stained glass, pottery and a variety of unique materials to complement the design. Local businesses Bulls Eye Glass and Pratt & Larsen Tile have provided him with the necessary materials.
There’s a variety of structures used for the projects he sources in the book and most of the mosaics are intended for outdoor use, though he stores some during our rainy winters.
Brody attended Lewis and Clark college and taught sculpture for awhile until he began to, “sculpt his own puzzles”. He is completely self-taught.
His inspirations come from the works of the Modernistas, a movement in Barcelona (late 19th century) in which artists of different media worked together with architects to make artistically- significant buildings. Some notables were Gaudi and Lluis Blu, who worked with tile, stone, metal and glass.
While honing his skill, he helped school children in seven southeast schools complete mural mosaic projects, as well as many others throughout the city.
One of the most visible is in front of Glencoe Elementary School on 50th & SE Belmont. He is currently finishing a project with the children at Beverly Cleary K-8 School in NE Portland.
“There are two techniques for mosaic. The direct method which is the one-by-one application of pieces in the desired shape and the indirect method where the pieces are laid out facedown on a flat surface of sticky contact paper then reversed onto the intended project,” Brody said. The indirect method works well for large-scale installations.
In Mosaic Garden Projects Brody explains ways to manipulate foam core to get a desired shape, how to work with terra cotta, different uses for wedi board, when to use cement, how to resolve design issues and how to work with photos and sketches transposing them to scale.
“The book offers a lot of problem solving techniques,” Brody says.
One of the projects offered in the book is the wall labyrinth. Labyrinths were found on coins as early as 430 BC and was a popular design in Roman times.
During the Renaissance, the labyrinth we are familiar with today was designed and set in floors and on walls of caves or churches. They were used for group ritual and for private meditation leading from the outside to the center and back.
While doing a workshop at the Sitka Art Center in Lincoln City, Brody began the design of this linear puzzle. It worked out well and now the labyrinth is available in a step-by-step process in the book.
Transcribing and photographing each stage of the mosaic project took time. “I would have to stop at regular intervals and set up a photo shoot, plus write down the instructions and make templates,” Brody said.
Consequently, the project took two years to complete. He collaborated with local writer Sheila Ashdown, whom the publisher chose as a co-writer.
Brody will be doing a one hour demonstration February 13 and 14 at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Seattle Convention Center. For more information, see www.gardenshow.com.
Coming Sunday March 1 at TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont St., there will be a book-signing of Mosaic Garden Projects from 3 – 5 pm along with a slideshow covering the materials and methods of mosaic.
Available at Powell’s and most local book stores or from www.timberpress.com.