A Week With the Italian Master Giulio Menossi

What an experience! I was so fortunate and happy to have had the opportunity to attend a workshop at Casa Valencia in Tijuana, February 2-11, with Italian Master mosaicist, Guilio Menossi. His talent and gentle teaching style amazed me! I have watched and appreciated his work for years, and was so lucky to have seen a post on FB about the workshop. There turned out to be several cancellations the week before, so we were to lucky there ended up being only two of us in the class. I had lots of one on one time with Guilio and the information, skills, and inspiration were perhaps the best of any workshop I have ever attended.

Monday morning when we arrived, we were given our substrate, which was a very three dimensional heart made of plywood. We began Monday morning with Guilio teaching us the fundamentals of andamento. Once we had the fundamentals down, Guilio explained that with the knowledge we’d gained we could choose to break those fundamental rules but still use them within our own style.  It was such a  different and new experience learning from someone who did not speak English. Fortunately, Aida and the other student spoke some Italian and were able to translate for me.

After lunch, we selected our base color, selected our smalti and began working with the hammer and hardie. I wish I could’ve had a week there to practice prior to creating the piece since I haven’t worked in this style of mosaics much at all. Not being skilled with the hammer meant that a lot of smalti is wasted from bad cuts and that it took much longer to make progress on the piece.

For six days I worked from 9:00-6:30 on this piece. Every single tessara was set into colored thinset, using a pair of tweezers. To say it is tedious work is an understatement, but I loved it! And most of all I am so happy with the outcome.

Aida Valencia was such a wonderful host for the workshop. Her working studio was the location, and so we were able to watch as she and her studio employees worked on a large and beautiful commission piece of Jesus. Every night Aida took us to one of her favorite local restaurants. The food was always so delicious- even the Chinese food! Hotel Palacia Azteca, where I stayed, was very nice and being only a block and a half away it was a very easy and safe walk.

I can’t wait to go back and visit Aida. I know we will enjoy being friends for years to come. I am already working on getting my Sentry pass so that crossing back into the US will be quicker.

What a joy to have a full six days immersed in nothing but the work. Here are a few photos.

A man holding up a large flower in front of a sign.

My completed heart.

A man holding up a large flower in front of a sign.

A detail shot- making color selections.

A man holding up a large flower in front of a sign.

Guilio and I enjoying our tamarind margaritas- a first for me.

A man holding up a large flower in front of a sign.

Aida, me , Guilio, and Tere Ramos.

4 replies
  1. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Thank you sharing Marsha, I know I would have loved to be in the workshop with you, even if I am a complete novice! I love your work and it sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed your “one on one” workshop. What a treat!

    • Marsha Rafter
      Marsha Rafter says:

      I completely missed this Sandra. Thanks for the comment. It truly was a treat and yes you would have enjoyed it, however it was definitely not a beginner class. 🙂

  2. Dorte
    Dorte says:

    OMG, Marsha, your heart is stunning!!! What an incredible experience. I can’t imagine taking a workshop and not understanding the instructor. Goes to show that art is a language unto itself. Would love to join you in TJ one day.

    • Marsha Rafter
      Marsha Rafter says:

      Oh my gosh it was just the best experience and I love the piece! It was hard work. I don’t know if she will be holding any more classes there anytime soon. I will see her at SAMA in May and will ask her then. Thanks for the comments!

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