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A while ago, I had the pleasure of undertaking a Make a Manchester Bee Mosaic Class. Run by Amanada McCann, the craft class are organised through Airbnb.

Running 4 hours long, the class starting point was the lobby of Manchester Art Gallery at 11am (the starting time varies depending on the date). From here, we set off on a quick walking tour, highlighting bees that can be found in the local vicinity, such as the one in Room 7 of the gallery.

Our tour end-point was Foundation Coffee Shop in the Northern Quarter, which would be our base for the rest of the session. In a small secluded alcove, Amanda had a collection of tables placed together as our workbase for myself and the three friends who were also present that day. The starting point was an MDF base, with the design drawn upon it.

As you can see in the photographs, the starting point is working around the outside of the mosaic, from where you build slowly inwards, using smaller and smaller tiles as you go. As an experienced mosaic maker with more than 15 years of experience, Amanda was an excellent tutor. She had several small boxes worth of pre-cut tiles on hand, but there were also tile cutters available to cut your own. It’s definitely a skill to handle one of those in such a way as to achieve the desired cut – there were small bits of tiling pinging about the place at regular intervals.

Honestly, the time really did fly by for me. I found working on the mosaic incredibly focussing, like doing a jigsaw except you can create your own pieces if the ones you have don’t quite fit. This really should make it an easy task to complete, but I had an intense feeling of concentration throughout. This was much to the detriment of my conversation skills and I apologise to my fellow mosaicers for my mostly monastic silence. It was only at the end that the desire for food really hit me, as I realised I’d skipped past lunch without a thought.

Along with all the tiling materials, you’re also provided with your own grout. It takes at least 24 hours for the glue to dry completely, so the grouting takes places a couple of days later, filing in all the gaps to complete the piece. Mine is featured in the header image above.

I had a lovely time working on my bee and would thoroughly recommend this experience to anyone with a few hours to spare.

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