Archive | Typography

Celebrating love with a mosaic ampersand

This past fall, a dear friend of mine got married. As is apparently now the custom when friends get married, I made a mosaic for her and her new husband. Not only do I enjoy making these personalized gifts, but there’s also something that has always felt appropriately symbolic about wedding mosaics (e.g., the dual importance of both the individual and the whole and how they work in partnership, the enduring nature of mosaic, etc.).

I first met Siti in Australia, many many moons ago. She is one of the kindest, funniest, most genuine souls I know. Over the years, we have kept in touch primarily through hand-written letters, despite the fact that we’re both fairly technologically connected people. Seeing a letter or parcel in my mailbox from Siti completely makes my day. I have developed a sort of ritual for reading her letters—there must be a mug of tea or coffee, there must be music, and I must be curled up on the couch—because they are special and deserve to be savoured and read with my undivided attention. On the writing side, in some ways my letters to Siti evolve much like mosaics: slowly and deliberately, constructed with love and patience, letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence.

Reunited after nearly 10 years and engaging in an age-old Canadian tradition: frolicking in the autumn leaves

Reunited after nearly 10 years and engaging in an age-old Canadian tradition: frolicking in the autumn leaves

I have come to know that Siti has a weakness for stationery, old typewriters, and typography. She and her husband, Fad, even take calligraphy classes together. (I know, too cute, right?) So deciding what to make for their wedding mosaic was easy. The typeset letter was purchased from a social enterprise here in Ottawa that is essentially a thrift / antique store with the parallel mission of helping the most marginalized and vulnerable members of the community. A perfect origin for this element, because Siti and Fad are admirably committed to volunteerism and giving back, especially to those most in need.

Love that typeset ampersand

Love that typeset ampersand

In addition, their devotion to their families is readily apparent, making it fitting that the china for the ampersand came from a tureen that once belonged to either a grandma or great aunt of mine (the origins are a bit muddy) and ended up in my hands because it was cracked. I later learned that the pattern on the china actually reminded Siti and Fad of the coffee cups they drank from on their honeymoon. How serendipitously perfect!

And of course I was going to use rocks, not only because they’re what I love, but because they’re stable and humble, and the more you get to know them, the more they reveal their beauty and their secrets to you. All good qualities in a partner and a marriage, if you ask me.

ampersand - top detail

As a final note, I think an ampersand is quite appropriate for a wedding mosaic. Obviously, it’s fitting in that these two are now Siti and Fad. But I also like the way “and” can hint, with the addition of a simple ellipsis, at the promise of adventures to come (as in “And…”).

So, my dear Siti and Fad, I wish for you a life full of love, laughter, patience, adventure, and discovery. I send you all my love as you begin writing your life together like a beautiful, heartfelt, sprawlingly epic letter.

A special wedding ampersand mosaic for Siti and Fad 12"h x 10"w China, smalti, limestone, Eramosa marble, mudstone, thinset tesserae, typeset letter

A special wedding ampersand mosaic for Siti and Fad
12″h x 10″w
China, smalti, limestone, Eramosa marble, mudstone, thinset tesserae, typeset letter

 

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Proclaim your love with a semicolon

I am super late in posting this commission that I did waaaaay back in the summer. Life just kind of took over…

Anyway, some friends approached me about creating a special mosaic for them and I was only too happy to oblige. Why a semicolon, you ask? Because these two lovely ladies found love with the help of a shared appreciation for a well-placed semicolon. Not joking! And I completely understand—good grammar is sexy, people (not to mention in short supply these days)!

This project was a fun one. My favourite part is the little Pride rainbow beside the typeset letter. I have a few more of these stamps squirrelled away in my stash, and I’ve got some ideas of how to use them (still typographic in design, but perhaps a bit more abstract). Now I just need to tear myself away from my climate change work to make it happen! Too many ideas, too little time.

Semicolon mosaic by Julie Sperling

Fun with semicolons! 12.75″ x 9.25″ (2014) — cinca, ceramic tile, smalti, typeset letter

Semicolon mosaic -- lgbtq rainbow typeset letter

My favourite little detail: semicolon pride!

 

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When in Montreal, do as … the Romans did (?)

Arriving in Montreal … the good ol’ Five Roses factory

I am in love. Mosaic love, that is. About a month ago, I took the train to Montreal for another Mosaikashop course, this one on Roman mosaics.

We each made our own 8″x8″ Roman-style mosaic using the indirect method (which I had never used before) and then cast the whole thing in concrete. I made sure to choose a simple design, just like I did last time, so that I could finish by Sunday.

For the tesserae, we used marble rods that we cut with a hammer and hardie (essentially a big chisel that you embed in a log, plus a sharp hammer). I immediately fell in love with the H&H. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it feels so hands-on. Not that other mosaic techniques don’t, but this was just … different. It was rugged. And organic. And because the tool hasn’t changed much since Roman times, I guess I felt like I was part of a tradition, which to me was pretty neat.

I can’t wait to do more marble work with my H&H. So many ideas percolating. But first, I need to find a log, ASAP! I also need to track down a steady (and ideally cheap) supply of marble. I thought I had it made when the local granite store owner told me I could raid his dumpster whenever I wanted, but it turns out that granite is too hard and will ruin my beloved H&H. Boo. So if anyone out there knows where to find cheap (or free!) marble offcuts in the Ottawa area, let me know!

Here it is! Cast in concrete, then grouted and waxed.

My new favourite tool: hammer and hardie

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