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Islander sixth-graders explore ancient art form

The art of mosaic dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans some 4,000 years or more. By the eighth century B.C., there were pebble pavements using different colored stones to create patterns. The Greeks raised the technique to an art form with precise geometric patterns of detailed scenes.

This academic year, as part of their ancient cultures curriculum, each sixth-grader at Islander Middle School created a two-foot square mosaic with the theme “Reflection of Yourself.”

Each piece included a small mirror in keeping with the theme. The mosaics represent a little bit of each child’s feeling about themselves.

Artist in residence Sandy Glass said mosaics as a medium are lasting. Each child will get to take their piece home, unlike permanent mosaic projects at IMS, such as mosaics on pillars and above lockers at the school.

Also different this year, IMS language arts teachers created a writing component to the project, connecting it to the ancient culture curriculum. Each students’ written piece was displayed by their mosaic.

Glass said the project also brought parents together, as they had to do the grouting to save on time. She said the students met for an equivalent of two periods, first drawing out their concept.

They transferred their sketch onto primed plywood and chose their palette from a “glass buffet” of tumbled glass.

“The glass came from Bedrock glass in Seattle, a guy on Bainbridge Island, and some we saved,” Glass said. “Seattle’s got a lot of glass because we recycle so much.”

Even the math classes got involved. They calculated the students used 286 sheets of sketch paper, covered 286 square feet of plywood with 315 pounds of glass, three gallons of glue and 150 pounds of grout. They also used 36 parent volunteers.

Parent volunteer coordinator Christine Unutzer said parents helped at the sessions when the kids were actually creating their concepts, sketching, transferring the sketch to the primed plywood, grouting, and then they helped the kids put up the display.

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