I am not very creative (not being self-deprecating, just self-aware), so the IES Abroad-organized activities described below were a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone, which usually just involves looking at art other people made.
First up on the agenda was a pottery aperitivo, where our group was kindly and patiently instructed on the art of forming clay into something that was supposed to resemble a bowl. Everyone did a great job. Mine is more of an abstract piece, and if you don't like it, you don't like art. It was an incredibly fun event that gave us all a chance to laugh at ourselves and each other, enjoy a glass of Prosecco, eat some delicious snacks, and make a very personal souvenir from Rome. It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn some unique Italian vocabulary that I will hopefully have a chance to use in the future, if I continue with this line of extracurricular activities.
This past week, a group of brave IES Abroad students headed to Studio Cassio, a beautiful place in Monti. We learned about the fascinating history of the studio, heard about their work with the Vatican, and reviewed the process and rules for restoring an old mosaic. I can't speak for everyone at the studio, but I have always been amazed by the patience that must be required to so delicately and beautifully compose a mosaic. This event was the best way to become genuinely familiar with the process of making new mosaics and accurately repairing ancient pieces. This particular studio was actually the one in charge of constructing and installing the famous Lennon mosaic in Central Park. It was amazing to learn about how the studio evolved over the years, and how they are so majorly involved with the upkeep of mosaics on an international scale.
Next up, it was our turn to give mosaic making a try! The lovely women of Studio Cassio had an array of patterns for us beginners to choose from, with the option to make it our own. I selected something that resembled a tulip, but ended up with more of a fleur de lis. We were all armed with safety goggles, tweezers for placing the tiles, piles of black/white/yellow/red mosaic pieces, and a took I'd never seen before that was used to break the tiles (hence the safety goggles). All I have to say is that no matter how hard you might think mosaic making is, it's way harder. A disastrous moment in my art career occureed when I sneezed and accidentally shifted all of my careful work out of place. Other participants chose patterns like fish or plants. The most difficult part is definitely cutting pieces in order to make a curved portion. It was very rewarding to end up with a beautiful completed mosaic- we all signed our masterpieces and will remember this experience fondly! I will start the bidding for my mosaic at 700 euros.
If you're artistically or historically inclined and want to learn more: http://www.studiocassio.com/en/index.html