Five Mirrors Down, One To Go by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Copper, Orange, Gold Mirror. 24" x 28" Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

Yes, still at it! This is the fifth frame I have mosaicked while keeping Lucy company in the kitchen as she recovers from her ACL surgery. She is doing well but still not ready to have an unsupervised run of the house, much less be up in my studio on the slick laminate floor. So, another few weeks in the kitchen for me. I just can't bear to keep her in her indoor pen for very long during the day, if I can avoid it.

Neither of these photos is terribly good, but together they give an idea of how #5 turned out. (I may have to take these mirrors in for professional photographing as I believe that they are beyond my skill level.) I had a 20" x 16" beveled mirror in a closet, with a rather unfortunate frame. So, off came the frame and on with this new one. Additionally, I've framed the mosaic frame in a black floater frame, like the previous four.

Another 30" x 22" beveled mirror from our old house, in a closet for about 20 years, will soon be acquiring its new frame. I will spend the next few weeks, as Lucy continues her recovery, on the largest frame of the six, measuring 37" x 29". I've already started it, using a neutral palette of bronze, silver, gray, and black. 

Call To Artists: Decorative Mosaics Book by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Snake Vase (2006) 40" x 9"

Question: What defines decorative mosaic?

Answer: Mosaic would qualify as decorative if its primary purpose is to beautify or decorate, as opposed to express a deeper meaning or make a personal statement.

  For example:

  • Interior Decor
  • Architectural
  • Public Works
  • Pool and Garden
  • Functional
  • Jewelry

Click here for more information on submitting your work.


Mirror, Mirror—Mirror Mirror by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Clockwise from top: Blue, Yellow, Turquoise 14" x 17.5; Grays with Blue 18" x 16"; Blue, Purple, Aqua 16" x 21"; Red, Rose, Bronze 21" x 17". Van Gogh and mirror glass.

I've finished those four frames that I had—mosaicked them, installed beveled mirrors, and then framed them in floater frames. I'm satisfied with my efforts.

I photographed them today, and I was sorry that my cool photo studio was not as helpful as I would have liked it to be for these mirrors. The larger mirrors, in particular, were difficult. I did my best, but still had imbalanced lighting and reflection. They were not as sharp as I would like, especially the larger two, and especially the blue of the larger two. These will have to do for now. Maybe when the weather clears up, I will try outside.

I think that most of the difficulty is due to the glass tiles, and certainly the mirror tiles. I still have high hopes for photographing art pieces, and my results with the bottles were overall acceptable. 

Two more mirror frames to go! I had a couple of mirrors stored away, in frames that I did not like, so I removed them from their original decorative frames and decided to go ahead and make new frames for them while I am deep into this decorative phase. These are larger frames with 4" surface to mosaic, versus the 2" of the above frames. Maybe by the time Lucy's knee is healed, I will be finished with these two mirrors. 


Call To Artists: Decorative Mosaics by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Skin Deep, detail (2007) 

As I write this post, I have been mosaicking bottles and frames for the last few months. Our dog's knee surgery has kept me downstairs and mostly out of my studio, so I'm continuing to focus on decorative work out of my kitchen until Lucy is recovered. 

All this decorative work has renewed my years-long interest in creating a book featuring decorative mosaics. Most of my early mosaic learning was through decorative applications. I've seen a lot of fine decorative work throughout my years in mosaic, including architectural, functional, public, pool/garden, and jewelry mosaics. 

So, I'm taking the next step in a book direction by calling on artists to submit their decorative mosaics. If I get a good response, I will move forward with the project. I've created a couple of nice mosaic books in the past—MENOSSI: i mosaici and Edible Bits & Pleasing Pieces—and I'm sure that I can do a good job presenting a variety of decorative mosaics, and their creators, in a beautiful format.

If you're interested, or know someone that may be, here's the link: Call To Artists: Decorative Mosaics

Mirror, mirror... by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

In a previous post, I mentioned four frames that I had acquired some years ago. They are all odd sizes so I need to have the beveled mirrors custom made. The one standing up in the photo above, which I just finished mosaicking—but not grouted yet— is 16" x 19.5",and is the largest of the four. 

They each have a very nice matte black finish and it pains me to have sand down such a nice finish in order to improve adherence. 

My plan is to put the beveled mirrors in them, and then possibly frame then in wood floater frames. They should be very pretty. 

So, this is what I have been up to in my kitchen while closely monitoring Lucy as she recovers from her knee surgery. 

Lighting, lighting—Why Must We Keep Fighting? by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Bronze, Red, and Purple Bottle. 14" x 4.25" | 36 cm x 11 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

Not satisfied with my pic from yesterday, I'm still trying to bring out the purple. The awesome glass that I used is a bit dichroic, sparkly burgundy from one side, and sparkly purple from another. 

The exterior shot on the right brings out a bit more purple and a bit more sparkle overall, but the lighting is pretty harsh. However, I like the way it brings out more of the detail. 

I've forgotten how to cut out an object from a photo in Photoshop, which is hard to be believe since I have done it extensively in the past. However, Photoshop has changed, and while it has been changing, my brain has been busy forgetting. 

A Facebook friend gave me some instructions that I will put to the test this afternoon. If I succeed, I hope I will have the sense to make notes for the next time.

Bottle #4 by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Bronze, Red, and Purple Bottle. 14" x 4.25" | 36 cm x 11 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

Here's the latest in my bottle binge, another one of those Italian pinot grigio bottles. I like this palette a lot. 

I am a bit bottled out for now, even though I have a few more. I'm going to switch gears and mosaic four frames that I have, which will probably become mirrors. 

I'll be working a good amount of time out my kitchen over the coming weeks, so that I can monitor our dog who is recovering from knee surgery. This decorative technique is much more portable than if I were working on an art piece, so I'll continue with decorative work into the summer.

These frames should go pretty quickly, and it will be nice to work flat again, before finishing up the bottles.

The first frame will be in this same palette, because I like it so darned much! 

Back To The Kitchen by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Bronze, Red, and Purple Bottle. 14" x 4.25" | 36 cm x 11 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

When I first started experimenting with mosaic, we lived in a different house and I had no dedicated area in which to work. So, I worked at the kitchen table, cutting tess inside a box to catch the shards, and cleaned everything up at the end of the day. I worked that way for about a year and—strangely—do not recall complaining about it. 

Of course, I am thrilled with my new studio!!! Absolutely, completely, in love with my new studio. But for the next few weeks, I will be spending some of my working hours back in the kitchen. 

You see, our dog Lucy had ACL surgery on her right hind leg this week. For anyone who has been through this, you know that the recovery requires a lot of babysitting and takes many weeks. This means that, not only must she avoid stairs, but she must be either constantly monitored or crated as well. 

This morning, I'm easing into a routine that will accommodate her recovery.

I can work in my studio for a few hours while she is in her crate, but I need to be downstairs for some hours as well so she can get out of her crate and basically lay around in a different location, under supervision, of course. 

This actually is quite doable while I am currently doing decorative pieces. I can cut my pieces upstairs and then move downstairs and glue. Trimming and shaping are mostly not required with this little deco technique of mine. Today, I am cleaning my latest bottle here in the kitchen. In the coming weeks, I will be taking care of those four frames. 

And guess what!?! She needs the same surgery on her left hind leg as well. Ugh! We're hoping that that left leg does not get too bad during her current recovery, while she is relying on it so much more. 

Bottle #3 by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Gray and Yellow Bottle (2017) 9.5" x 4.5" x 3.5" | 24 cm x 11 cm x 9 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

Well, another week, another bottle! These 1800® Tequila bottles are a joy to mosaic. The flat, rectangular-ish sides are nice to work with. And did you know that the corners are beveled?

I'm not sure about the glass stoppers. The last time I was looking at 1800® Tequila in a liquor store, the bottles they had did not have glass stoppers. I hope that they are still making some bottles with the glass stoppers because they are quite nice. I would like to do a couple more of these bottles. I think that I've seen smaller ones than this one, and I just might have to drink some more margaritas. 

Anyway, here is the latest product of my decorative detour. The palette is very unusual for me, but I have made peace with it. I agree with my daughter's assessment that it is a handsome bottle. It is actually quite neutral and I like that.

My decorative indulgence may extend into the summer. I've got a few more bottles lined up, and I may go ahead and mosaic a few frames. Years ago, someone gave me four medium-sized frames that were in almost-new condition. I really should just go ahead and take care of those while I am in a deco frame of mind. I see mirrors in my near future.

About the photos: I took these photos in my cool new Portable Photo Studio. To try and avoid the small bit of reflection through the small picture-taking window—such a problem for these mirror tiles—I tried shooting slightly down on the bottle. It was very helpful in dealing with that reflection, but the bottle looks slightly distorted—a bit top-heavy, perhaps?—especially the side view. What do you think?



Other People's Work by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Last week, I put the final touches on my studio wing and finished placing pieces of my very small collection of other people's mosaics. Take a look!

Entering my studio, you can see my Brooks Tower and Irit Levy flanking the entry on right and left, respectively, and the little yellow Ilona Fried on the near right.

I Gave You Latham, by Brooks Tower.

This Irit Levy piece may have a title but it is not on the back of it, and I don't remember as I acquired this several years ago. It may be called Nude or something like that. 

This Irit Levy piece may have a title but it is not on the back of it, and I don't remember as I acquired this several years ago. It may be called Nude or something like that. 

This little yellow cutie is by Ilona Fried, and is also without title.

My Sophie Drouin, the work on the right, is titled Red Tide.

And here is a small grouping: Upper right is by Wendy Raven and is without title; lower right is Pam Givens' Bloom Where You Are #5; lower left is Jeannot Leenan's pretty blue pansy, also without title; upper left are by Heidi Easton-Pichler (in the back) and the little J mosaic is by Kathy Thaden.

Bottle #2 by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Bluegreen and Silver Bottle 12" x 4" x 4" | 36 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass

Just finished this one last week and have started on another, using a small 1800® Tequila bottle and a refreshingly different palette—different for, me at least.

How 'bout a sneak peek?




Portable Photo Studio by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

All of the above bottles, except for the purple and silver one in the lower right, were made years ago and I did not have good photos of them. Now, as I am considering a storefront for decorative items, note cards, and books, I need good photos for these bottles, as well as the ones that I plan to make in the next few weeks.

These are very difficult to photograph due to the highly reflective glass surface, and especially due to the mirror glass. The idea of trying to get good photos made me want to just pack them up and take them into a professional. The cost of doing that, however, made me try harder to find a way to take the pics myself.

AmazonBasics Portable Photo Studio. (This image is from the Amazon site.)

This led me to look into light boxes/light tents, and I found the AmazonBasics Portable Photo Studio, pictured at left. After reading up on it, I decided to order one and try it out.

The day after receiving it, I used it to photograph the purple and silver bottle which I had just finished. This went well and I was able to photograph those other five bottles the same day.

Overall, I am pleased with the results and I think it would be very helpful in photographing just about anything that will fit inside it—and it is a generous size.

I had to do a bit of work on the photos in Photoshop, as there was still an issue with my reflection on a few of the mirror tess. A tripod would have helped a little, but its reflection would still have shown. Fortunately, I have just enough Photoshop skill to mostly take care of this issue. These pics may not be professional quality, but I think they look pretty good.

So, at this point, my review can be summed up as: I love this thing! It should help me take good pics of small to medium-sized wall art, as well, although I have not tried that yet. If you are challenged to get the lighting right and produce better photos of your work, you may want to try something like this. 

Final Photo Shoot by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

As promised, here are final pics of the studio wing, after furnishing and a bit of decor. I absolutely love my new space! Our dog, Lucy, seems to enjoy keeping me company in this light and airy space. 

So here it is! I've included just a few before pics as well.

As far as future plans? There is a chance that my studio will be included in the next OVAC Tulsa Studio Tour. I've yet to hear for certain, but I hope that works out. I would also like to have an open house sometime this year. And once I've had the studio all to myself for awhile, I plan to organize a class or two. My space could easily accommodate a nice number of students.

So many plans! For now, I'll just make another bottle.

Bottlemania! by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

(2017) Purple and Silver Bottle 14" x 4.25" | 36 cm x 11 cm. Mirror and Van Gogh glass.

Just one more post for the day! As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I decided to spend some time mosaicking a few bottles that I have collected over the years. I may move on from there and take care of a few other decorative items that I have acquired. 

I just finished this bottle a few days ago, using a nicely shaped Italian Pinot Grigio bottle—the pinot was delicious, by the way.

The palette is not a fave of mine; I chose it in an effort to force myself to try something that I would normally not choose. Purple is okay, but purple and silver does not do a lot for me; the contrast is so strong.

However, the palette did grow a bit on me over time. I do like the shape of the bottle, and the overall pattern, and plan on another go at another of the same type of bottle that I have—and the pinot was still delicious.

Meanwhile, I've started another bottle, with a different palette that is more pleasing to me, and one that I have not done before. The bottle is from a Franciacorta—an Italian sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne method (not Prosecco)—which I found by chance last fall. It is not easy to find such a sparkler here in Oklahoma. The bottle has a nice shape to it.

I've got several more bottles that I plan to mosaic. I may not be ready to tackle some fine art until the second half of the year. Too bad. So sad.

Coming Soon! by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

I've been pondering the idea of having a storefront for non-fine art for some time, and I've decided to give it a go. I've been working on it, off and on, for the last few weeks. Yes, I have considered an Etsy site but, for now, I'm going to try having a purchase option from my own website, which Squarespace does quite nicely.

Decorative items, note cards, books, etc., will be available. I've been working on a new book—Studio Book— which should be published in the next few weeks (I'll share a bit about it in an upcoming post), and I would also like to sell Edible Bits & Pleasing Pieces via my storefront. 

I just love a new project!


More Self Portrait by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

(2016) Self Portrait 32" x 32" | 81 cm x 81 cm. Marble, mosaic gold, smalti, Swarovski crystals

Self Portrait is now framed and I have taken the best photos of it that I am capable of taking. It's very tricky to photograph well, at least for someone of my modest photography skill. The gold against all the black marble—well, I did my best. 

What's with the Self Portrait title, a few have asked. I'm not exactly sure. Something about the lines—I love line—and how it seems all straight and contained and organized and maybe boring from a distance. But, from closer up, you can see that the background is not really all one color, and there are specs of gold and color and sparkle here and there. And from different perspectives, you see something else—still lines, but more dimension. 

Is this the way I see myself or the way that I imagine other people see me? I'm not exactly sure about that either. 

Retro Dish Done by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Retro Dish (2017) 20.5 l x 6.5 w x 3.5 h. Vitreous glass, mosaic gold

I had forgotten how much I enjoy decorative mosaicking! This dish was just plain fun! Well, it was a bit tricky around the hairpin-curved ends, but still so enjoyable. No, it was not a big challenge, which made it a very low-stress project.

It also felt good to finally deal with an object that I acquired so long ago. Over the years, I have acquired a few too many objects, with the intention to mosaic them—someday. Interesting liquor bottles, for example, are always tempting. I also have a few boxes, a couple of trays, and other miscellaneous items. 

It seems that I am not ready to take on making art. Making art is hard for me. It's not that I want to wimp out, but I do need to be ready, strong, and balanced enough to be able to stay in right relationship with my art-making. I may not be there yet. 

So, I've decided to spend some time doing decorative work, and make use of my inventory of objects-in-waiting. Even just the thought of this delights me. Sure, avoidance might be at play, but while I figure that out, I'll make a few beautiful things. 

Retro Dish by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Retro Dish. Approx. 21" l x 7" w x 5" h. 

I've done a bit of research on this Royal Haegar ceramic dish, but have yet to identify its time period. It looks retro to me, so I'm calling it Retro Dish. I bought this dish for a couple of bucks at an estate sale many years ago, and recently decided to give it a face lift, via mosaic. 

As can be seen, I'm making progress on the black base, after using copper gold strips for the rim. I decided to mosaic one row of black on the inside top edge, as well. 

The rim, and the top rows on either side of the rim, were very tricky. The first few rows of black on the outside of the dish were also quite challenging—especially around the sharp curves at the ends—due to the shape of the dish. I am currently working on row 7, moving toward the center of the dish on its bottom, and it is more manageable. The top photo shows my progress at 4 rows.

Blast from the Past by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Fullness (1999-?) 5' x 3' | 152 cm x 91 cm. Vitreous, minerals, mother of pearl, slate, glass. The top, bottom, and right borders are cut off in the photo, as the piece was just too big for me to get it all at this time.

Around 18 years ago, when I barely knew what I was doing, mosaically speaking, I decided to make something big! 

I also wanted to use some stones, and the only ones that I could get my hands on were polished stones from a metaphysical shop in town. 

I quite impulsively jumped in on this 5' x 3' piece of Hardi-backer and created a border out of small slate tiles, mother of peal beads, and ceramic decorative strips. 

Then I started mosaicking my partially thought-through design, leaving a whole lot of unthought-through background. I made it to the hair and lacked both the skill and the confidence to go forward. As for hanging hardware, I would just worry about that later.

Well, what do you do with a 5' x 3' abandoned mosaic? I liked the original idea of the piece, and friends and family kept encouraging me to finish it, however I had no appetite for finishing it and did not know what to do with it either. So, I just stored it away and out of sight. 

Jump to late 2016 and my move into my new studio, which called for serious organizing and decision-making about this albatross. Once I had my new worktables in my studio, I decided that I would keep the mosaic out where I could live with it and make a decision about it once and for all. 

I realized that I could not move forward on it until I figured out the hanging hardware, as well as a support frame for the back of it. Then, I would need to work out how to finish it. After a few weeks, I started figuring things out, and decided that it would be a great challenge to finish it. And that is what I will be doing for the next few weeks.

I've already added support framework to the back and installed the hanging hardware. Also, those copper gold squiggles in the hair area are new and I hope to finish the hair in the next week or so. Then, on to the massive background! I will try to resist the temptation to rework anything that is already done, but it won't be easy. That apostrophe-shaped deal in the moon really makes me a little crazy.

Decorative Detour by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Finally! Most of my new furniture for the studio wing is being delivered next week! A sofa, coffee table, chair and ottoman for the living area, and a chair and ottoman for my studio office area. I ordered these pieces Aug. 30 of 2016 from Joybird—I really love their furniture—but it has taken a bit too long. I'll have to wait a couple or a few more weeks for a 3-piece bookcase; one of the pieces is for the studio wing, the other two will serve as a room divider in our game room. 

Now that my decor is filling out, I got to thinking about smaller things, like pillows and throws and what to put on the coffee table? Books, of course—mosaic books! But I could use a couple of other things for various surfaces. Then I remembered the interesting dish?—not sure what to call it—above that I found over 15 years ago at an estate sale. It was not the colors that attracted me, but the interesting shape. I think this will work beautifully with my mid-century, retro-modern furniture.

At right are the swatches for the sofa, which is gray, and the chair and ottoman. So, I'm going to finally mosaic this ceramic dish with vitreous glass in black for the bottom and feet, that chartreusey-green metallic, that is actually fairly translucent, and maybe some copper gold for the top edge. I may add some black on the interior as well. Nothing fancy—just a makeover!