Elsi Vassdal Ellis – Tesserae

FOBA 2021 Challenge Book

Technique and materials used:

Square Lego tiles used to create a mosaic pattern printed with 3 inks mixed on the press to create different color variations of the tile pattern. The first ink was white. It was left on the press and blended into the orange. Then a dark brown was added to the rollers resulting in a range of browns, from a warmer orange side to almost the true color of the ink. The brown varies throughout the book. Wood type was set for the places visited; images are letterpress cuts of Roman art from my collection. The narrative for each site was designed to fit in a “tile” that was inkjet printed on paper bought in Rome in 1999. Variegated crewel embroidery thread sewn on pages to “mark” routes taken while in Rome. The primary paper is Bogus. It has a rough, natural personality.

About the work:

When I retired my goal was to do more traveling. COVID has stalled the fulfillment of this goal and made me think about my favorite vacation trips. My husband and I went to Rome in September 1999. We spent 10 days in Rome.  We made no specific plans but walked the city. We were not in any tour group, just on our own. We toured the Vatican twice, walked up the 551 steps to the Dome of St. Peter’s. When I saw the Pietà again, I remembered the first time I saw it – pre hammer. It filled me with the same awe. We took a train to Ostia Antica and I saw the papyrus growing in the drainage ditches. It was a great way to get to know Rome and we both knew we had to return. I had intended to do a book about our 10 days and this challenge stimulated me to consider one approach to remembering such a wonderful time.