12 June 2012 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Say it with art

On a wintery Highveld day, the iCreate Studio in Dullstroom is a warm haven of colour and creativity.

The cheerful interior of the iCreate Studio in Dullstroom

When was the last time you did something creative, just for fun? For many people, finding the time to indulge their inner artist is difficult at best. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself particularly creative? Or perhaps you just don’t see the point?

I can tell you now, though, that something special happens when you take the time to make a piece of art. Sharon Mann, who owns and runs the iCreate Studio in Dullstroom with her mom, Faith, agrees. Even the most ‘uncreative’ of visitors leaves this popular craft and mosaic studio with something beautiful.

And, as great as the end product may be, getting there, I have discovered, is more than half the fun.

This is what the iCreate Studio in Dullstroom is all about

Some instinct is guiding you as you swap this piece for that, see a pattern emerge, pause, tilt your head and reach for another piece.

'When we moved to Dullstroom, we thought the town needed a space where people could come and spend a few hours creating something,” Sharon explains.

Five years later and their business has grown to fill a large space just off Dullstroom’s main road. Here, you’ll find tables and tables of items that can be incorporated into a mosaic of just about any shape, size or form. You also get a warm welcome, hands-on guidance and lots of inspiration (the walls are covered with work visitors to the studio have produced).

And if choosing your own materials or design is too intimidating, you can get a ready-made pack of pre-selected ingredients (rusty wire, wood, glass, beads) to get you going.

The studio provides all the equipment you need

'Anyone can make a mosaic,' Faith stresses. 'Dads with kids, women’s groups, grannies, teenagers – we get all kinds of people in the studio and, in about 3 hours, all of them leave with a piece of art.'

To start, you simply take a handful of tiny, colourful ceramic tiles, some luminous pieces of glass and a simple frame and begin arranging them on a board. Your hands move them around, creating symmetry and order, looking for beauty in the chaos of the shapes and textures at your disposal.

Some instinct guides you as you swap this piece for that, see a pattern emerge, pause, tilt your head and reach for another piece. Time slows down a little as the colours and shapes absorb your attention. The world contracts to the size of your brightly coloured corner. You catch the eye of the person at the next table and their smile is a validation. They are also here to create, and in this moment, that’s what is important.

All the mosaic components are laid out and neatly colour-coded

You grow in confidence and begin to trust yourself. This is your creation, after all, so there is nothing you can do that’s wrong. You realise that the colour red does make you happy, and for some reason circles are working for you today; you find yourself making them, almost without realising it, until you get the satisfaction of seeing each 1 complete.

'People walk out of here relaxed and fulfilled,' says Sharon, who, with her mom, still spends her free time creating. 'It doesn’t get old and we love preparing team-building sessions, working on commissions – anything really.'

For them, it’s important that visitors to the studio have fun. They believe people unwind while they’re working, and the informal environment and flexibility the studio provides means that people can work at their own pace.

'Often the artwork will reflect the character of the person making it, and sometimes they surprise themselves. They certainly surprise us,' Faith says.

The bowls of materials themselves are mini-works of art

iCreate Studio is open 7 days a week and no booking is required. You can drop in and Sharon or Faith will help you get started on making your mosaic.

Creating makes me experience the world differently. It’s a transformative process whereby some simple materials become an expression that is more than the sum of their parts.

They become an expression of me; no matter how humble or grand my intent (or talent), I can take that away with me, give it to someone with love or hang it on my wall, knowing that creating it said something I couldn’t say in any other way.

You can contact ICreateArt on +27 (0)13 254 0411 or email: icreateart@mweb.co.za.

Category: Arts & Entertainment


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