Mosaic artist Martin Cheek provides a practical “mental tool kit” to assist the reader in making fused glass mosaics. Growing out of 7-day master class, this book begins by exploring creative influences and the development of a design and continues through the execution, with an in-depth exploration of the uses of colour and texture in glass mosaic art. Illustrated with more than 300 colour images and driven by an engaging text, each chapter offers techniques and examples, and concludes with a challenge designed to expand the reader’s artistic and practical abilities, like making a subtle mosaic using analogous colors or making a piece inspired by a favourite artist, and learning the techniques for using a glass fusing kiln. While written for seasoned mosaicist, there is something for glass artisans at all skill levels. A gallery of the author’s works provides ideas for the reader’s own creations.
Here is a review by fellow mosaic maestro Oliver Budd:
“From the moment I was greeted by the two cheeky cranes on the cover of Martin’s new book I knew this would be another classic from the master of mosaic animal caricature.
Martin’s background in animation enables him to interpret animals in a way that delivers a moment of real delight. They are wonderfully characterful these little glass creations, personalities with a touch of pathos that makes them very endearing.
I’ve known Martin for many years now and had heard that he had bought a kiln with the winnings from a TV game show he’d not only had the lack of dignity to enter but had then compounded by having the indecency to win! When we met at an American mosaic conference in Chicago last year he showed me the glass fusions he was now making with that kiln and I thought how brilliantly they worked with mosaic.
I don’t know how the publishers resisted the urge to title the book “Cheeky Fusions”, as in a sense the word fusion can mean not only the actual melted glass elements but also the fusion between these and the mosaic cubes within which they are set. These two elements compliment each other perfectly. Purists say “it’s not strictly mosaic” but hang on, these are very beautiful objects and I say “hang the purists!”
For many years Martin has included milifiori in his work, lots of it. The tiny glass fusions make great eyes and details in mosaics (check out the dogs on page 73, they had me howling!) Martin’s fusions are a step further on. They are clever, they become ears, fish, peacock tails and wings, butterflies and cat’s eyes and they imbue the creatures with character to the extent that one mosaic of a pheasant really does look, as Martin puts it, “as is he has just realized that he’s not the sharpest knife in the box and that tragic thought has stopped him in his tracks”.
The book is laid out in an interesting and very informative way beginning with how a mosaic evolves from sketches to final composition to the making of the work and the inclusion of realism and/or humour.
The book is written as Martin talks so it’s very much like you’re sitting in his studio as he eloquently explains the different pieces. This makes for a very easy atmosphere as you hear the tales of how a particular piece came into being.
The sketches are particularly interesting as they are cartoons in themselves, you can see Martin creating a visual joke in every one of them.
Martin’s large mosaic floor in Barbados gets a chapter all to itself and I’m so glad that it does as this is a wonderful work full of life, colour and vigour. It is all made in Mexican Smalti and is a real joy to feast your eyes on, from the bold and brightly coloured banana leaves to the jewel-like humming birds and the client’s jazzy sandals as if just left by the side of the ocean (even these sandals have a comic personality, how can that be?)
I’d followed Martin’s blog when he was making this work so it was a treat to see the complete story of it’s creation in print with some excellent photos showing all the technical aspects of the work from first sketches to final grouting.
Colours and contrasts come next with some different ways of setting your mosaic pieces and found objects. A chapter on community mosaics runs through a selection of school commissions that have none of the brilliant wit and gusto of Martins studio work but then a man has to earn a living and the children do get a great chance to be creative with these projects.
A very useful final chapter on how to tackle a commission follows and anybody who wants to make a business out of this art form should benefit from his words of wisdom. If you follow this advice it will help you avoid very easy-to-make pitfalls like working for nothing and enslaving yourself to a client’s bad taste.
So a very important addition to your mosaic book library. If you’re a professional mosaic maker it is always an intriguing delight to see how somebody else works and if you’re just starting out it will furnish you with a wealth of information and tips that will give you ideas and the confidence to improve with this ever intriguing art form.”
Here are some other reviews:
“As an aspiring mosaic artist, I find that work and life too often derail my plans to produce more art. Without consistent practice, I’ve wondered how I can ever hope to advance my skill level and carve out my own style. Then I bought Martin Cheek’s new book.
The title suggests that the focus will be on learning about and incorporating glass fusions. In that respect, the title is misleading – because the book is so much more than that! Within the 17 chapters, Martin covers specific approaches to developing a mosaic. While he addresses glass fusions and shows many inspiring illustrations that incorporate them, he doesn’t limit anyone’s approach to their use. At the end of each lesson, he issues a challenge to the reader to produce a mosaic that uses the approach described.
What sparked my resolve to accept the challenges was a little note that appeared on the bottom of page 159. Martin offers to issue a certificate of completion to anyone who completes the challenges and has passed his review of the pieces, photos of which are posted to one’s own Facebook page.
I haven’t been the same since I read that. For the thirty or so bucks I paid to buy this book, I get what amounts to a mosaic course taught by a world-renowned mosaic artist. My mind hasn’t stopped spinning with ideas; I’ve completed four assignments already, have begun the fifth, and am about to order materials for the next three. This process is pushing me to try new techniques, materials, and subjects, and I’m committed to completing the challenges this year.
A brilliant example of a “call to action,” this book is giving me the kick in the rear I needed. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be inspired, enhance skills, and possibly discover that you have a style all your own.”
Betty Cleffman Hager
“WOW! Just received my pre-ordered copy of Fused Glass Mosaics. This is a spectacular book. The design inspiration and technique for each mosaic are explained quite nicely. The artwork is fabulous. There is a lot to be learned from studying this delightful work. When you open it, it’s like having Martin Cheek come for a visit.”
Mary Glick (USA)
“Prompt delivery Wow this book is great. Pack full of wonderful colour photos with engaging text for understanding mosaics and and great ideas for making your own! A must for anybody who’s interested in the medium mosaics. AAAA++++ “
“This is a must-have for mosaic artists and hobbyists alike. Martin covers all parts of mosaic creation: color, tone, texture, shape/size, andamento, narrative. This is an inspiration-filled book for anyone who wishes to improve their technique or begin working with fused glass as tesserae. Thanks Martin!”
“Whether you are a newbie or experienced with fused glass or mosaics, this may be the book you were lacking in your library. I’ve dabbled in both but have been truly inspired after seeing Martin’s wonderful creations. These may be “master class techniques” but any level glass artist or mosaicist will benefit from Martin’s techniques, humor, and clear descriptions. I especially value the multiple executions of his mosaics, and the evolution of his drawings which enable you to see all sorts of possibilities for the same project. You’re also able to see why something works or doesn’t, without having to create three of them yourself the first time round. Whether you decide to tackle a large or small project, Martin’s sketches and text about how he works and ideas for how you should approach your work, will encourage you and “infuse” new life into any project you attempt. “
This is a wonderful book, a must have for your mosaic library. The photography in the book is incredible and Martin provides excellent inspiration and challenges for all levels of mosaic artist.
Felicia W. Poes
“I have just received the book, it is great, even better that what I has viewed on the computer.
I loved what you have drawn at the front, more than a signature and it make that very special.
Thank you very, very much.
A great book, the best for anyone serious about mosaic, NOT master mosaic in one week-end.”
“Wow was thrilled to receive this book earlier than expected have not been able to put it down has lots of great photos and suggestions to make them one of the best mosaic books I have seen and
read. Love the idea of using fused glass with mosaic tiles.”
“I think this book is just what was needed in today’s advanced mosaic hobbyist community. So many start from scratch mosaicists have needed such an instructional book devoted to helping emerging and experienced mosaic enthusiasts alike reach that higher level in their artwork. Chapter by chapter, the author takes the reader through multiple challenges, as only a classically trained artist can do, and here, his experience and true love for this artform take charge of the readers attention. I have found this book to be beautiful, and full of inspiration and creativity of the author’s own artistic genius. A must have for any mosaic enthusiasts library. “Robbie Miller
“In this beautiful book Martin Cheek generously shares his artistic process honed over 30 years of making mosaics.
This book is both instructional and inspirational and great value.”
Copies of the book signed by the author are available from Martin Cheek: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price £27.50 / $35.00
UK P&P: £5.30 -£8.50 surface mail order within Europe