Second World War veteran rekindles his passion for mosaicking this Christmas
9 December 2015
A Second World War veteran is using his mosaicking and marquetry skills to fundraise for Blind Veterans UK this festive season.
Harry Etherton, 96, served in the Army from 1939 to 1945, working on radar in the UK. After the war he was a stone mason for 14 years and - as part of his job - created a fan-shaped mosaic on the floor in a bank in Clacton-on-Sea. He was also a registered marquetarian and - in his room at the Blind Veterans UK Brighton Centre where he now lives - has a picture of a Japanese lady done in veneers.
He says, "It's a wonderful hobby. You see a picture and transfer it into woodwork. But when my eyesight went, I gave up marquetry and gave everything away."
Harry's eyesight began to deteriorate seven years ago due to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), a leading cause of blindness in older people. Today he is registered blind. He told me, "I have no sight in the centre of my vision, only at the periphery so I can see you, but I can't see your face."
About two and a half years ago, he began visiting the arts & crafts workshop at the Brighton Centre. Today he spends every morning at the workshop and - this Christmas - has created a range of handcrafted coasters and trays to celebrate the 100th birthday of the charity.
He says, "I'd be lost without them. I'm now a resident at the Brighton Centre and the nurses do everything for me. They're a marvellous lot."
Harry mosaics each premade wooden tray with heat-resistant glass tiles. He says, "It takes two mornings to make a mosaic tray. Perhaps a little longer. And - if I have three colours - red, white and blue - I have to think about whether I want a deliberate or a random pattern.
"I can make a coaster an hour and - with each set of four - I put a design on each so the left-hand is a mirror image of the right. I see it in my mind's eye and, from there, the laying out is automatic. The most difficult part is recreating an original design from memory."
Harry's coasters and trays and many other items are now available to buy for Christmas 2015 from the Blind Veterans UK website. Click here to find out more: http://shop.blindveterans.org.uk/english/christmas-2015/made-by-beneficiaries.html