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From one Story, many stories

“These trees which he plants, and under whose shade he shall never sit, he loves them for themselves, and for the sake of his children and his children’s children, who are to sit beneath the shadow of their spreading boughs.” — Hyacinthe Loyson, sermon, Paris 1866

Mosaics have connected us to their creators’ stories for thousands of years, often outlasting cultures and languages. As a result, when you commit a story to a mosaic, you communicate certainty in the importance of that story.

Young and old, we are richer for knowing the stories of those who went before us. That’s why we honour our place on the line between past, present and future.

At Scott Harrower Design, we tell modern stories using techniques that would be recognised by Byzantine mosaicists. Our preferred material is smalti, the glass tesserae that comprise classic mosaics. We use smalti from Orsoni Venezia 1888, the last furnace permitted to operate in Venice. Orsoni produces glass in thousands of colours to recipes guarded by generations of craftsmen. That glass can be found worldwide in magnificent pieces, including in St Mark’s Basilica, the Basilica of Sacré Coeur and St Paul’s Cathedral.

A mosaic made in gold
Orsoni Venezia 1888 Furnace in Venice, Italy

1. Your mosaic begins with your story

An artist can never truly answer the question of where inspiration springs from. There is too much mystery in the synthesis of story and design. However, there is always a process that leads to fusion — the fusion of your vision, your story and the art of the mosaic.

If you have the opportunity, finding the best way to tell your story begins as early in a building project as possible. Starting early gives you the fullest opportunity to match space to story to art because an artist might see possibilities that others wouldn’t imagine.

If your project is already designed, your mosaic will most likely begin from a simple fact. You have a space to fill and the dimensions are known. The missing piece is the artistic alchemy essential to connecting that space to your story through a mosaic that will glisten, captivate and inspire beyond our lifetimes. That is why they call mosaic the eternal medium.

Every mosaic has a place and purpose of its own. Your mosaic will be nothing like anyone else’s, which is why we ask so many questions, including your budget. Having your budget allows us to factor in size, detail level and depth of refinement within the work.

To begin the process, Scott will spend time with you. He’ll workshop with your leaders, looking at design through social, cultural, and historical lenses to consider how your story might be told. He might talk to parishioners, students or others who can also describe their relationship to the church, school or institution whose story is being told.

As Scott comes to understand the facets of your narrative, he’ll guide you in a conversation about how that narrative might translate to imagery.

2. The design of your mosaic

Back at his atelier, Scott will follow an instinctive approach, led by your workshop together, his experience and the rich, evolving mosaic tradition. What comes first are sketches, as inspiration emerges. As a strong idea begins to take shape, Scott will send you a design and then work ideas back and forth with you.

Together, you will turn your story into the final design’s visual narrative. Once you’ve arrived at that final design, you’ll know the reason behind every decision intimately, and you’ll know how every element in your design connects to the story you want to tell.

Our design process involves client collaboration

3. Fabrication of your mosaic

Your work will be fabricated in our purpose-built studio in the Byron Bay Hinterland. The studio sits on the spire of a cathedral of nature. From 27 acres of subtropical rainforest on a mountain ridge, we look out to a waterfall over the World Heritage-listed Nightcap National Park.

Your mosaic will tell your story, but it will have its own story, too, and this landscape and setting will be part of that story. Here, your design will be conceived, finalised with you then crafted by hand.

In the workshop, our artisans will take rectangles of smalti from Venice, the most exclusive material on earth, and cut them by hand to the shapes we need. Then, in the controlled environment of the studio, we position precisely each piece of smalti. Using a water-soluble paste to hold the pieces in place, we check everything is perfect before committing with permanent adhesive.

Over the months that your work painstakingly takes shape, you are welcome to visit. The fabrication of your mosaic is now part of your story and many of our clients like to share the work in progress with their communities.

A mosaic artist making a custom mosaic

4. Installation

When your piece is ready, we cut it into sections, applying a permanent waterproof adhesive backing. Then, we transport the sections to the site, which could be anywhere in the world. Transporting the work to New York or Boston is not materially different from delivering it anywhere in Australia.

On site, we install the sections into place with permanent tile adhesive and grout the joints. Installing the gem in your crown takes one or two weeks and usually happens at the end of a construction project.

Iona College, Moreton Bay Queensland, Oblates of Mary Immaculate
A mosaic being installed on a wall at a school

Do you have a lasting story?

If your school, church or institution wants to capture its inspiring story in what have been called “paintings for eternity”, we’d love to talk more about how we can capture your story in mosaic for this generation and future generations.

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