Tools and Techniques with Rachel Rodi at IMA


Thanks Rachel for another great class!
This weekend I took a Tools and Techniques class with Rachel Rodi at IMA. It was Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm. We talked about the different tools and practiced making various shapes by carving, trimming and scoring. We were also introduced to classical designs and contemporary artists. It felt like we hit both sides of the spectrum by working on classical precision exercises to textural free form pieces (with and without grout). It was an inspiring introduction to the classical and contemporary artists. We covered a lot of information in this class but this post highlights the non-grouted exercise we did.

Non-grouted pieces are primarily for indoors. They are more delicate and might not survive the outside, and definitely would not make a functional back-splash or table-top. This one I made with small square vitreous glass. I cut each piece into 2, 3 or 4 pieces which gave me different heights and lengths. Rachel showed us some examples of an artist who does all of his work this way. I left my notebook in Oakland so I will update with the artists’ name as soon as I get it back.
I made this for my sister. Samantha gave me direction with what she wanted. She told me she liked Navajo patterns and teal. The last few weeks I have happily had “teal” and “Navajo” stuck in my head. Samantha sent me links of artists like Stacey Rozich and I looked up Navajo textile designs. When I learned the non-grouted technique it all came together. I love the way it came out. I can’t wait until it’s dry and I can paint the edges and put it in a little frame for Samantha.


This is the first non-grouted piece I got to make. We started with a square board only four inches wide (prepped with bonderizer) and a variety of tesserae. Then we had the option of dying mastic (adhesive) any color we wanted. I added a deep red and a bright blue to the white mastic and came up with a calm purple. The ring is a circular slice of a glass bottle which I filled with shattered glass (tempered glass). The rest is a mix of stone, glass and small ceramic tiles.

We went over classical techniques and designs like when a background creates a ripple effect around design elements (official term when I get my notes back tomorrow). Even though this is not a classical piece, I can now see and notice when artists today use classical ideas in their works.

One goal for this exercise was to think about texture. Each tile does not have only one surface. By cutting a piece in a new way it can take on an entirely different personality. The sides, back, insides and corners all create a different shape and style. I tried to incorporate as much of this idea as I could.

Here is an example of one of the classical exercises we did (Keystone).
Taking this class made me realize how much more there is to learn. This was such a great introduction and I would love to one day (hopefully soon) study the classical styles in even more depth.

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2 responses to “Tools and Techniques with Rachel Rodi at IMA

  1. Charley October 22, 2010 at 5:28 am

    wOW the piece for Sammy and the one that comes after are freaking beautiful! i really like the non-grouted look.

  2. Pingback: Completed Pot # 3 « Cementious

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