10 times squared

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. To sit here in the school in Spilimbergo and finally hold a mosaic hammer in my hand again. Almost a year after my course at KOKO Mosaico in Ravenna. The great thing is that this time I will not go back to my job after a week. No, now I have 18 hours of mosaic practice per week, for an entire school year.

Yes, it’s strange to hear the school bell ring again with 31. To call the teacher “maestra”. To have a student’s card and a booklet where the lessons you missed get signed. But on the other hand these things are great. It might sound ironic, but they remind me every day that I start again from scratch.

The ancient wooden school desks and stools, the tattered cardboard containers and the historic rooms give me goose bumps at regular intervals. The terrazzo room in the basement, for example. Here, the different pillars in the room witness terrazzo sample work from nearly 100 years. An exercise area overlies another – such as rock strata of different ages.

In my class (also this being a term to which I have to get used again) we are 16 pupils. I’m in 1B and , – clearly – there is a parallel class: 1A. Pupils here come from all over the world: Greece, Russia, France, USA, Netherlands… to name only some.

No matter who I’m talking to: everyone tells a different story about how he came to making mosaics and joining this school. Often it is due to a recommendation of a former allievo (in my case it was fabulous Ruth Minola Scheibler inspiring me with tales of stone searches in the river Tagliamento), sometimes due to a documentary. Mostly due to coincidences.

I admit: teaching the hammer to obey your command is not so easy. At least, if the pebbles shall be exactly 1 x 1 centimeters tall, pyramid-like ascending (for rovescio su carta the opposite side of the upper area has to be slightly smaller to leave room for the cement that remains between the tight-fitting stones), with the same height. That was our mission this week – among others. Because then we had to form triangular and pentagonal tesserae. Well, at the end it worked out somehow.

Lessons learned this week

  • At least here in Spilimbergo you do not sit at the ceppo (trunk) like a cowboy on his horse (my teacher’s words) but on its right and turn to left to use the hammer (lefthanders viceversa).
  • The hammer is held at the lower end of the handle and should be held firmly in the hand.When striking one moves up and down only the wrist. The arm stays close to the body and does not move. One should benefit from the weight of the hammer instead of striking with too much force. The stone itself should have a good grip on the tagliolo (the counterpart of the hammer, on which the stone normally gets hold), so that it does not slip while batting.
  • For fine adjustments you can hold the martellina (mosaic hammer) closely under the head. Either with the tip or with the smooth side of it you can work very precisely. However, in this case, the stone is not positioned on the tagliolo, but on the surface of the wooden ceppo.
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  1. says: Nancie Mills Pipgras

    What fun to be with you on this journey and what great knowledge you have shared already. So happy to have met you and had the opportunity to put a beautiful face with the name.

    1. says: miriam

      Sorry, Nancie! Missed to answer your friendly comment. Was a great pleasure to meet you, too. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Italy. If you come over again please let me know.

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