What is The Ruins Project?

An authentic mosaic adventure

Rachel Sager @ The Ruins Project
Rachel Sager @ The Ruins Project

Come and be a part of the story at The Ruins Project with Rachel Sager, the forager mosaicist. Gain specialized mosaic technique and proficiency while making your mark on a piece of Pennsylvania history. The Ruins Project is a long-term mosaic installation that represents the vision of one Pennsylvania artist but welcomes the hands, hearts, and hammers of mosaic enthusiasts from around the world. As a student working on the walls of The Ruins Project, you will have the opportunity to express yourself independently as an intuitive artist while becoming a part of something bigger.

Understand more about The Ruins Project here.

2018 Ruins Project dates

April 27–30 – Year 3

May 18–21 – Year 3

June 22–25 – Guest Teacher – Carol Shelkin, Group Study

September 7–10

September 29–October 1

How it works

Rachel has meticulously crafted this singular experience to embrace many facets of how your learning brain works. It is not simply a workshop where you learn the art of mosaic. The Ruins Project will envelop you with a slower pace of living, the intense beauty of a special patch of land, and Rachel’s signature foraging technique.

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter. Rachel Sager in her studio in Perryopolis on Tuesday, August 5, 2017.
Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter. Rachel Sager in her studio in Perryopolis on Tuesday, August 5, 2017.

You will settle into a beautifully designed working studio that sits on The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail, a stone’s throw from the Youghiogheny River. With Rachel’s expert guidance, you will learn to see with the eyes of a forager, to slow yourself to the pace of nature, observing the nuance of the line in all of its forms, and either taking the first steps towards walking your line or pushing your boundaries into terra incognita, that unknown territory where expressive art happens.

Laura Paull @ The Ruins Project
Laura Paull @ The Ruins Project

As a Ruins Project student, your time will be spent in two ways: studio work that will be built on mesh and then transferred onto the walls of The Ruins, and in situ work on The Ruins themselves, working directly on the walls. Expect this unique way of mosaic-making to open your eyes to new possibilities within the medium. You will not be leaving with traditional workshop art; you will be making your mark on a piece of history while simultaneously contributing to the future of a project that will be bigger than just you. Your mediums will be what you forage on the field trips into nature: the river, the woods, and the mountain.

Deb Englebaugh, Rachel Sager, Julie Sperling @ The Ruins Project
Deb Englebaugh, Rachel Sager, Julie Sperling @ The Ruins Project

Rachel’s teaching philosophy embraces rigorous classical technique while at the same time encouraging intuitive exploration. You will work hard, get dirty, and stretch your art practice, all in a nurturing, comfortable environment.

What you will learn

Special focus is always given to hammer and hardie technique, from body mechanics to proper care of your hammer to the sacred art of cutting. Expect to leave here with the confidence that you have control over raw material with a hammer in your hands.

Andamento, or in Rachel’s words, “walking the line”, will be another key element to your time here. We dive deep into the nuance of the line. We break it down in order to build lines with elegance and personality. The walls of The Ruins will love your lines!

Patricia Thomas @ The Ruins Project
Patricia Thomas @ The Ruins Project

This particular workshop does not include substrate building because of the nature of working on mesh and/or directly on the cement walls of The Ruins. However, time will be devoted to using mortar as an artistic element.

Your time will be balanced between intense instruction in the studio and private time where you are free to explore The Ruins, find places in them that speak to you, and choose spots to express yourself in mosaic. The Ruins are massive and there is ample room for all.

You are here

The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. Mile marker 104, Whitsett, PA.
Located at Mile Marker 104 of The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.

Rachel celebrates the power of place in art and takes special pride in introducing you to her little corner of beautiful imperfection. Whitsett, Pennsylvania, a sleepy, rural village with national historic status as a patch coal mining town, hugs the banks of the shallow, fast-moving Youghiogheny River.

The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail is regarded as a national treasure and is one of the most beloved trails in the country. Riders from all over the world pass by the studio and will sometimes stop by to be introduced to our wonderful medium of mosaic.

Special perks of studying at Rachel Sager Mosaics

The hardie log is king here. You will enjoy cutting stone at the massively stable walnut, sassafras, ash, cherry, and sycamore stumps, many of which come from the ten-acre property. Rachel has solved the challenge of too much sedentary work by adopting the stand-up hardie log. You will be encouraged to move from sitting to standing work throughout the day. Multi-day classes are limited to a specific number of students in order to give you quality one-on-one time with Rachel and breathing room.

The Studio Porch
The Studio Porch

Organic, hearty lunches on the Studio porch, often with locally foraged ingredients, are included in your workshop price. Notify us ahead of time for any special dietary needs.

End of the week BBQ/beer/bonfire and tour of our Ruins contributions.

Private consultation with Rachel about your mosaic future.

Your Ruins work photographed, logged, and posted into the social networking world and the Rachel Sager Mosaics website.

Lee Ann Taylor, Alix Paull @ The Ruins Project
Lee-Ann Taylor, Alix Paul @ The Ruins Project

Pricing and registration

Four-day immersion: $600


Hearty and healthy lunch

All materials are included in workshop price — there is no materials fee

Use of specialty tools such as anvils, vices, polishing wheel, antique hammers, etc.

Not included:

Lodging, breakfasts, and dinners. There are several reasonably priced and comfortable options; separate list forwarded upon request.

Reserve your spot by contacting Rachel via email and arranging payment: 50% down holds your spot, with the balance due the week of the workshop. See FAQ page for the fine print on the cancellation policy.

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter.  Rachel Sager at The Ruins Project, a long term mosaic art installation on her property in Perryopolis on Tuesday, August 5, 2017.

Forage | Explore | Collaborate

Be a part of something BIG and study at The Ruins Project