Wednesday, March 2, 2016

YSCP - Mosaic Mural Update

It was an exciting Friday when I finally had the YSCP mural transported to State College.

To my surprise it was about 55-60 Lbs. Using Wediboard (super-light and super-strong) to build the mosaic was the best idea. 
The mural now is waiting at the Frame Factory shop and getting a frame added on. We decided to go with a beautiful black metal satin frame almost like a box around it. This will protect it from any spray of rain that the wind might blow in.
Now I hope it goes on the wall without any issues. 

My construction friends Ray Sekula and CJ Daley are so nice. They did not charge me anything for this service. They were delighted to be my partners in doing this work. I learned a lot from them in the past because they are master tile layers. So they think they have a share in my mosaic making!Thank you.

Mural in State College 

Mural in the frame shop. 

Frank Ayata from YSCP joined to welcome us, and I appreciate that. 

The mural will be installed on the wall at the entrance of the YSCP School on 16th of March, 2016, and unveiled on culture day on 18th of March, 2016.

If you see any of the students who helped to put this together as part of our most creative Mosaic Tribe, or if you see Mrs Ayayta (in the picture below) who helped the children to make it, please give them a high five. Students made the flags that you see in the picture and I kept the rows and tiles pretty much as they made it. I did have to tweak the shapes before I installed it on the mural to make sure that they are straight.  

It was important that I do not mess up the flag colors with the usual grout being gray. So I decided to use colored grouts. As you can see I used red, green turquoise, black and white grouts to keep the colors sharp. The blue corners around the circle are showing the grey grout with blue tiles and that was to show the beauty of the mosaic. The children (little Young Scholars) in the picture represent people that are not reflected in the flags.  I hope I captured the school's international spirit.  

You can see where we started in September (left picture), we where we ended (the right picture).

It has been my pleasure working with everyone at this wonderful school, they are all like a one big family. Anju Jolly


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hello Friends,

Have been working on mural for YSCP for last several months. This is a 21 Square feet mural. A group of 3rd-6th graders (They called themselves the Mosaic Tribe ;) ) made the flags of their choice which you see it on the border in the main picture.

I have experienced many hurdles in this process. One of them was to color or not to color the grout.
As I created the flags it was important to maintain the authenticity of the flag colors and and also keep the patterns as close the students' work. So I decided to color the grout for red, orange, green, turquoise grey and white. This added more work but I am pleased with it.

This week I am adding finishing touches to the mural. Although I used a high quality Laticrete indoor-outdoor grout my mosaic mentoring group strongly suggests that I should seal the grout. So I am off to sealing it this weekend, I just want to be sure it will not discolor the color of the grout now or later. So I am being cautious.

Finally the piece will be taken to the frame shop to be framed and then unveiled on March 18th on the culture day

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Entry 2 - Mosaic Mural at Young Scholar School

September 26, 2015

The young artists of Young Scholars have made tremendous progress in last three meetings with the mural.

To start out, students were given flag drawings and they colored them with crayons. We set a piece of transparent sticky paper with sticky side up on top of the crayon colored picture of the flags. Students set the appropriate color tiles on the sticky paper following the lines on the flag drawing pattern showing through the sticky paper. I expected that students may take longer, however they caught on rather quickly. Mrs Ayata took care of details during these sessions and led some students to finish the flags on the sticky paper.

Frankly the students surprised me with the speed and diligence they worked with. I found that if we gave students good directions and then gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to, they tended to be more accurate and took responsibility for their work. This was evident, when Allison created pattern with small tiles and big tiles as she completed her flag. London at first paid no attention to the directions, however when I set the flag pattern and tiles in front of her she loved putting tiles on and was the last one to leave the room. Mary and her friends worked collaboratively and made the flags with absolute straight lines. I am impressed with that.

This week we only had one large group. I decided it was time to show them how to cut tiles. Cutting tiles takes hand strength and we needed more than one person (me) to cut the tiles. So I followed the one-room-school-house strategy. Teach the older ones and they will help out by cutting the tiles for the younger ones. In less than five minutes, the older girls got warmed up to it. Allison and other two girls cut the tiles for themselves. Jeda surprised me by taking a cardboard box on her lap and cut the tiles for others. It just came to her so naturally. I can comfortably say she was my star tile cutter.

In the front of the room, two boys, Luke and Reeves both were extremely diligent as I heard them talk, "I love this club, we have to be really accurate in making these flags, we do not want our flag to be crooked" My answer to them was, "I love this club too." Luke is also going to bring me a picture of a robot to incorporate in the mural. ;)

The flags that are completed by the students, I took them home and placed them on the mural. I would need to tweak them when I glue them but for now I think we have a wonderful start on this mural and I couldn't ask for any better young artists than what I have. Again, my thanks to Mrs. Ayata for demanding perfection from the students and Mrs. Khan for stopping by and keeping the morale going, and Mr. Ayata for taking pictures. So far I wouldn't change a thing.

The surface that I am building this mural on, is Wedi-board as shown in the picture. Wedi-board is super light and has cementitious material on both sides which is strong for glass tiles and water proof for outdoors.  Because this is a 21 Sq feet piece, for durability I doubled the wediboard and added a plywood frame behind it.

Anju Jolly

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Young Scholars of Central-PA (YSCP) Charter School Mosaic Mural 

I thank Frank Ayata (Business Manager at the YSCP School) and his wife Olcay for inspiring me to do this project.  Also I thank Mrs. Helena Khan (ESL Teacher & Extended Day Coordinator at the school for organizing the schedule and being there as a friend and also a colleague working with this project.

At the end of the school year in April of 2015 I visited the YSCP School. Frank and I came up with a size of 53"x53" for the wall outside. To get a sense of the spirit of the school we walked around the school. I liked the flags in the gym and I immediately knew it would involve flags, because the colors are so bright and lines are so straight.

As we talked more about the mural, it was clear that Frank and Olcay wanted the students to be involved. I had never worked with kids in making mosaics so I was a bit nervous about the whole idea. How I will have kids work on a big piece of art work while I live in DuBois, I thought.

More I looked around the school and met people, I sensed that students at YSCP are regularly doing constructive activities in and outside the classroom such as language study, dances, robotics, arts and I liked that. The school has the most culturally diverse student body I have ever seen in PA Schools and a very high performing after-school program and that struck me as something unusual. It was comforting to know that I would work with kids who come to school motivated to learn. 

So I walked away with three ideas in my mind for mural design - Flags (colors and lines), diversity, and children engaged in intramural activities. I created a border of flags, and for inside the border, I toyed with the idea of a tree of life at first, with leaves and birds depicting different cultures etc. I struggled with the tree idea for a few days. Then one day I had a simple idea to make a circle of figures of boys and girls wearing costumes of different nations (for diversity) holding hands.  That looked just right for YSCP.  Inside the circle, it was only natural to add school activities. So I added clockwise - reading, robotics, music, sports, art, dance, math and creativity (bulb).
In the center I used the US flag to show a one-room school-house. I highlighted the roof of this school house with yellow pencils and an apple at the top. I must add here that, this crayon colored picture of the mural on paper does not even come close to how vibrant this done in mosaic will look.

(picture above shows Olcay (left) and I (right)

One question I have been asked to explain is, how did I choose the flags? I had pictures of the flags from the school gym to give me inspiration. Personally speaking I have no political preference except that US flag must be included and highlighted. So the flags I chose were based upon the following criteria. Flags that provide fairly straight lines, made of primary colors that can be found in mosaic tiles, simple pattern in the center of the flag, so that least amount of tile cutting would be required. So with that in mind 18 flags of following countries are included:

Starting from the top right corner moving clockwise - Brazil, Philippines, Argentina, Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, New-Zealand, India, Singapore, Canada, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Czech Republic, Columbia, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Please let me know if anyone has any questions related to the flags, I would be delighted to address it.

We are starting this project this coming Tuesday and Wednesday on September 8 and 9, 2015
The mural project will be held during Extended Day on Tuesday and Wednesday (4:30-5:15pm)

I have been told that students signed up are from grades 3-8! The age difference is quite varied but I am certain that students will rise to the occasion and surprise me in terms of helping each other and working together. Also Mrs. Olcay Ayata will be helping throughout the whole process even when I am not there. This project will not materialize without her. I so appreciate her commitment

1. I will first share the mosaic process with the students first. Show them a mosaic art piece that is already done so they can see what the final product will look like. Show them the mural drawing on the wall.

2. My plan is to create paper flags exact to the size as they will be in the mural. Have students color the flag they are going to work on with crayons. Place the flag on a clean surface and tape it so that it is secured. Then tape on top of that a transparent sticky paper with sticky side facing up. So the pattern is clearly visible and students can stick the tiles on the sticky paper easily. If they make a mistake we can fix it without much difficulty.

Once they get to a place where they can no longer stick tiles without cutting them I will show them then a lesson on cutting the tiles. May be older students can cut and have the younger ones stick them appropriately.

Although Mrs. Ayata will be there throughout, any parents or teachers, or any other personnel, that may want to join and learn, please feel free to come and help. As stated above, the mural project is held during Extended Day on Tuesday and Wednesday (4:30-5:15pm).  For permission please call YSCP and talk to Mrs. Khan, because she is the organizer for these activities.

While students do flags, I will be making the 'boys and girls with costumes holding hands' at home on my own sticky paper.

That is all for now.
I will post as often as I have something exciting to post.

Anju Jolly
Mosaic Artist
My mosaic art-works can be seen at 

Picture by Frank and Olcay Ayata

Jamaica Project concluded The trip to Jamaica was fabulous.

Here is the complete project. Paper mosaics were added to highlight the edges.
The full details are available here at Pamela's blog. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mural Project : Window to Another World, 2015 Kingston Jamaica

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Experiencing global friendships helps children expand their horizons, and it makes them see themselves as part of a community larger than their own.  Creating windows of peace to other worlds enriches their understanding of cultural differences and acceptance.  This project I am involved in is creating a window to another world through Murals.
My involvement with this mural project begins as I join a mural artist from Altoona, Pam Etters Snyder. Along with creating murals in Altoona and Hershey ( she is also involved in creating a window to another world for 6th grade students from Juniata Gap School in Altoona and St. Patrick's Primary School in Waterhouse, Kingston Jamaica.  
The window between the two worlds emerged as Patrick Taylor (Nickname ‘Moe’) a soccer coach who is originally from Waterhouse, Kingston, Jamaica talked to the kids at Juniata Gap School about his childhood circumstances. He grew up in poverty stricken part of Kingston and witnessed crimes, violence and struggled daily to simply make it.  
The most powerful piece he shared with the students is that circumstances are almost always given to you - at least when you are a child- and that making efforts to overcome adversity is what creates a shift in your circumstances. The harder you work and the more effort you put into succeeding, the greater your chances are to change your circumstances for the better. He also talked about the history of Kingston and the people who live there today.
So with that as a start, Pam and her team designed the first portion of the mural to reflect that history.  There is large white space left remaining in the mural. The white space will be designed with the help from children at St. Patrick School in Kingston to complete the mural.  The mural is about 10 feet x  4 feet (see picture).  

So, now we are planning a trip to Waterhouse, Kingston, Jamaica this May 2015 where we will spend a week towards completing this Window to Another World mural project.
We will take a day talking to the kids about effort and circumstances. We will also share things about the students from Juniata school who created first half of the mural.  We will talk about their local culture and what they feel defines them as a community. The kids will be given time to draw pictures that represent them, their families, their culture and community. This part is where the magic begins. We really do not know what those children will come up with and how it will shape the mural.
From their drawings we will design and sketch the final portions of the mural in the evening. The plan is to use mixed media of paint and paper mosaics to complete the mural. The next two days we will work with the kids to complete the painting and then hang it in the school or local fĂștbol stadium where it will be visible and respected by community members. This trip will give Mo an opportunity to give back to his home community and be a shining example of the rewards that come when you put effort into the pursuit of your dreams and goals. What a great role model for these children to look up to for many years to come.  

Digital - Story Telling
We are also planning the students from St. Patrick School in Kingston to communicate with the students at Juniata Gap through Skype. At the moment I do not know what that would be like however I do expect sparks in the eyes of children. I will share more about that later.
As we plan this trip, we are also forming ideas to be able to tell stories about our experiences. We plan to use video camera, still photos, and a Go Pro camera and take footage of the mural making. Also plan to make poignant observations on the emerging relationships with the students. Recording confessionals in the evening of our experiences and students’ experiences will serve as a wonderful medium for digital storytelling.  The purpose of doing this is that digital storytelling can bind all its characters to this short experience for a long time.
My thought is that as we travel to Jamaica we go with the intent to help the children of St. Patrick's Primary School in Waterhouse, and might discover that they have changed us! 

How to incorporate mosaic element in the Mural?
As I joined this team I suggested that we incorporate mosaic in the mural. After I met her, Pam and I found an instant connection and I felt comfortable with her right away.  I feel privileged to be part of this project. Since we are working on a canvas, to keep the weight down, I decided to go with paper mosaics.  Paper mosaics take some getting used to.  I have never done paper mosaics before. So I tried a small project on canvas. I liked to have the background painted in some darker shade like brown, or navy since there is going to be no grout added at the end. I discovered that larger the pieces more curled they become as I stick them, so I had to repeatedly press them down with a flat piece of plastic until the glue caught on. 
     In Kingston, we will have to do the mosaic part first, since it would require some time for glue to dry.  After it dries I noted that some of the glue showed on the edges but then at Pam’s advice I coated it with Liquitex Matt Medium and it seemed to make it even and the extra glue got dissolved. It also helped to glue the edges of paper stick better to the canvas. I think this will work.  Also I found that we may have to use markers to define the mosaic spaces.
Pam and I are also considering using water diffusing paper for the students to color with water colors, diffuse the colors with sprayed water, and then cut out leaves or butterflies with it and incorporate it with mosaics.  I will share more as I experiment more. 

Frankly I have never had to have a fundraiser for a project. So at first I was not sure how this will come together. However Pam is a person of faith and strong belief in herself that she will be able to pull it together.  I admire her courage to put herself out and be confident that this will work out.  I guess the mural project is like a calling so people find ways to reach out and give and get. So the fundraiser was an art paint party. Pam had four sessions in one day and participants had a great art lesson plus snacks, conversation and walked away with a wonderful art experience.  Pam raised $650 for the Juniata Gap to Jamaica trip and hopefully planning one more such party.

See more about this experience at this weblink -

If you would like to join the next party this coming April 2015, send me an e-mail ( and I will contact you as soon as I have a date and time fixed. If you are in DuBois, you can travel with me in my car, up to Altoona and back to DuBois.  

If you would like to contribute to this project, please send me an e-mail or visit our crowd funding link at  or

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