Just a brief video on finishing the edges.
Continuing where I left off, I talk about my palette and how I am using the Procreate app in my design process.
By importing an image of my proposed palette (at left) into Procreate, I was able to create swatches that I could use to refine my palette and play with design ideas around color and shading.
Good progress in the past few days! I got to the point where I was really enjoying working on my drawing of andamento lines and working out how I needed to navigate the flaring and some of the trickier intersections and diversions of flow.
In this video, I will discuss how I got to this point and some of issues that came up.
At left is my drawing as of this video. There are a couple of areas that I will be tweaking, and I talk about those in the video. Right now, I feel it is about 99% there.
I'm very happy with the flow and the overall size of the pieces, especially the shape and placement of the larger pieces which will be cut from smalti B-cuts and pizzas.
Next, I'll finalize my palette and how I want to work with the shades and values that I have.
In this video, I'm discussing some of my challenges in working out how to express the flow that I would like to express.
I started this mosaic about 4 years ago, but retreated from it as I was heading into a sabbatical of sorts. I had decided that I did not like the pattern of the pieces of shale that I had adhered to the substrate. I thought that, at some point in the future, I would remove the pieces or just throw it away.
Now, 4 years later, I think it will make a great andamento challenge for me. I've decided to finish it, and to take you along with me as I go.
I'm calling it Paths Taken, and I will blog the making of it, starting with this post. I'm not very good at making videos, but what the heck! I think even a so-so video can help explain things and be a useful accompaniment to photos and text. So, here goes!
The first thing I needed to do was to make a support frame for the back of the mosaic. Adding a support frame allows for more flexibility in hanging and framing decoratively, and takes care of the problem that Wedi creates in making such choices. With a support frame on the back, the mosaic can be decoratively framed or not, and hanging hardware can be installed on this back support frame.
I used 8 Kerdi washers, which are similar to Wedi washers, to properly bolt the support frame to the back of the Wedi board.
Let's just talk a bit about the materials:
Back when I started this mosaic, I printed images of it in which I whited-out the bare substrate so that I could play around with the andamento. Fortunately, I kept a couple of my attempts and I recently found them:
I'll take some time now to revisit and complete my andamento drawing, and I'll be back with you when it's ready to go!
Well, I had intended to get back to a larger work I started before Stabby, but I felt inspired to play around with my backyard shale and some special wayfaring stones. The bottom large piece of shale had an interesting crack in it that resulted in a kind of a cavern. Before I knew it, lava was flowing out of it.
The smaller stones are sparkly with crystalline patches. I tried to capture the sparkle in the below pic, but it's just barely there. I'll try for better photos when the mosaic is finished.
Previous Stabby posts here.
I've completed the 170 squares that make up Stabby's head.
Now, I'm cleaning the glass and the gaps around the squares. Allison has floor to ceiling windows in her condo, and these windows will be facing the mosaic and shining some pretty bright light on Stabby at times. I want the gaps and any exposed cement to be as clean and neat as possible.
Next, I will use some black cement colorant to darken most of the exposed charcoal cement, especially the gaps around the squares.
The Wedi washers that you see were used to attach the Wedi panel to a wood support frame on the back. I'll attach a metal floater frame—Allison's choice—to that wood frame, and also install the hanging hardware onto the wood frame. I don't trust the metal hangers that come with the floater frames; they tighten into the frame with tiny set screws and I feel that I need more robust hangers for such a large mosaic.
I'll be visiting Allison in San Jose in June. It looks like I will be able to arrange for it to be delivered while I am there, and the two of us can hang it. We are both excited to see it on her wall.
As of the above photo, 112 of the 170 pixels (squares) are finished. My daughter is very excited about how it is coming along, and I am enjoying working on this. For background on this mosaic, see Stabby.
It is interesting to see how the various patterns reflect. In the photo at top left, the darkest square is an awesome spikey pattern made with Kismet tiles cut in slim right triangles, which are the offcuts from another pattern. The photo at bottom left shows a closer-up view. I don't think that this pattern will stand out quite so much when the piece is upright.
There is another pattern that is similar, but with smalti and not as pointy, and the pieces are more squarish, so closer together (shown in this blog post). The squares in this pattern also look very dark, very black.
I will be putting the piece upright soon, and will have a better chance to study the reflective variations from the proper perspective.
There will be a lot of finishing work to clean-up the squares. I'll be using a black cement colorant on visible thinset due to it being not completely black.
This piece has been tricky in dealing with such a variety of materials, all of varying thicknesses. I'm using a combination of raising some of the pieces with porcelain tiles underneath and controlling the height with thinset.
It's coming along!
The above view is from from the left and slightly above, at the base of the neck. The photo below is looking straight on at the base of the unicorn's neck. See more info. on this mosaic here. 32 squares down; 138 to go!
Oh so fun! Allison is seeing my progress and asking for more and more texture!
Although I am really enjoying this, there are a couple of challenges. The black glass is very hard to see, especially against the charcoal thinset. And, it takes a lot of finessing to work with the different types of glass in achieving what I consider to be a desirable tessera height, especially with all the different textural effects going on.
Talk about fun!! I'm getting started on Stabby, a custom mosaic of a pixilated unicorn head. For some background on this project, see this blog post. At left, see the design and the mockup I made a few weeks ago.
I've prepared the 36" x 36" | 91cm x 91cm substrate, which is Wedi with a wood support frame on the back, and I've inked-in the squares of the 16x16 grid that define the unicorn. This morning, I started playing around with some patterns to fill the 170 or so 1.5" x 1.5" | 4cm x 4cm squares.
The glass in the upper left and also the fourth square from the left in the row of six (in the above photo) is from a gorgeous Uroboros glass sheet called Black Granite Ripple. It's quite difficult to cut and I've got a bandaged finger to prove it—it got the better of me in five minutes' time. Totally worth it; it's luscious.
Although the mockup photo previously showed an eye, I ended up removing it, per Allison's request.
I'm not sure how many different patterns I will come up with, but it certainly won't be 170; I'm thinking 10-20. I'll be repeating the patterns in a random fashion.
This mosaic will be a focal piece in my daughter's beautiful San Jose condo.
Lovely day in the studio yesterday: mosaicking and listening to 70s music, with the chimes and nature sounds coming in through the screen door, along with fresh air!
I'm working with the darkest browns and reds, although I am surprised at how light they look in this photo. Lighting!
I have not done a work in predominantly smalti in years. I am enjoying its incredibly unique reflective quality.
Self Portrait № 2, in progress. 27" x 36" | 69cm x 91cm. Smalti, mosaic gold, porcelain.
I am really jazzed about this new project! I've only done decorative pieces and a few very small mosaics in the last 3 years, as far as new work is concerned. Although I did finish two very old, unfinished works, both of good size, this will be the first large work in some time.
It will probably be months in the making but I'll post pics of it from time to time. I'm only just getting started after spending a good amount of time on the design and in preparation, including the little value study that I did.
In this photo, I'm working on 5 chunky rings. They are circular, yes, but not perfect circles. In fact, I used some bones—cow bones, I think—that my husband got for our dog Lucy. She loved them, of course, but she broke a tooth on them and had to have some major dental surgery. No more bones for Lucy. Being the scavenger that I am, I collected the bones for some future purpose. They have at least two more lives, as the model for the rings in this mosaic, and also as specimens in a future mosaic.
This is a little exercise I did in preparation for my next mosaic, which will be much larger at 27" x 36" | 69cm x 91cm.
As you can see, I've used quite a range of values in different shades of browns and reds. I had intended to go a value lighter, but realized that I did not want it that light for this upcoming work. I'm not even sure that I want to go as light as I did in this little exercise.
I never feel like I am very good at this, but I feel compelled to keep doing it. I take photos along the way, converting to black and white which is very useful.
I was not focusing much on technique here, just shading. After I got started, I decided to try to also work in a circular pattern, although I won't be using such andamento in the larger work.
This exercise was very helpful. It helped me to eliminate lighter brown shades, and to better define the range of values that I want to use in my next work. I can see that I'll need to expand the medium-light values to develop that mid-range more fully.
What a fun little mosaic! This is Stabby, my younger daughter's spirit animal, so to speak. She has a thing for unicorns, but not just any kind of unicorn. She refers to them as stabby demon horses; hence, the name Stabby.
I wanted to make a custom mosaic for Allison for her birthday, and she really wanted me to recreate her unicorn (below left) in mosaic. The more I thought about this, the more I got excited about it. We decided that I would make a mockup to explore the effects of the black smalti against a white thinset background, and if the white of the thinset is what she wants.
Allison is a software engineer for Apple, and she is also a writer. She created the pixilated unicorn, shown below on the left, as a logo for herself, using a 16 x 16 grid. Below right is one that I modified and that she has approved.
Her original does not have an eye and she is still thinking on that. I tried a red eye, and a few shades of gray. Then, she suggested one that is the same as the cement. To avoid the mess of putting the white cement into the black square hole, I created a little cement cube.
I'm thinking of working within the pixilated format, in 1.5" or 2" squares. This would yield a 16 x 16 grid of 24" or 32" square, respectively. Then a few inches around the grid for the thinset background. Within the grid, the unicorn squares would be various textural patterns in primarily black glass. That's the thinking right now anyway.
These specimens are the literal rock stars in my current project. Finding their way to me from a faraway land, they have inspired me in a completely unpredictable way.
It is a small mosaic—about 10" x 7" | 25cm x 18cm— and, at this point, I'm calling it Archetypal. I'm very surprised by it.
Just another week or so...
I can't believe I'm actually going to finish this old thing, and before its 20th birthday. I crazily started this back in about 1999 and did not know what the heck I was doing! I think the border may be a bit heavy, but that was the first thing I did on it, way back when, which made it very difficult to dispose of.
It's taking a lot of discipline to resist redoing 19 year-old work, but my gosh! I still like the original concept but I would SO do it differently now. I have suffered a bit of embarrassment in sharing this embarrassment, but I thought it might at least be instructional.
You can find my previous posts about my revisiting of this work here: Fullness.
Alright, moving right along.
I've finished the water with the moon reflection. I studied a lot of images of moon reflecting on water, but admit that I did not study the mathematics of how the moon reflects upon water based upon where it is in the sky.
Since I am not going for realism and perspective in this old piece, I chose the type of reflection that I thought I would have chosen back in 1999, if I'd had the wherewithal to imagine such a thing.
It's been enjoyable to work on this old mosaic and I may know why that is. I'm not terribly attached to an outcome and I feel free to experiment. I can't know how much this new mindset is related to the fact that I am finishing upsomething that I started back in 1999 and, in attempting to harmonize the new work with the old work, I am allowing myself to work in a more relaxed manner and with a sense of adventure. I am hoping that my interior work over the last couple of years has also been productive, but will not know the extent of progress on that front until I move on to new work.
Soon, I'll start the several square feet of sky. First, however, I will take a few days away from this mosaic to work on a small commission I've got going. I'll post about that when I make a little more progress.
Fullness, in progress. 60" x 36" | 152 cm x 91 cm. Stone, minerals, vitreous, mother of pearl, mosaic gold.
In a previous post, I talked about my new iPad w/Apple Pencil and the Procreate app, which my daughter gave me for my birthday. Above you see my initial attempts with Procreate.
The Apple Pencil definitely takes some practice. Blending and shading are certainly doable, but I'm far from mastering it. This really is a powerful tool.
What I did was to import a photo of the mosaic in progress. I also took a photo of the tiles I have chosen and was then able to create a palette. From there, I just started coloring and trying out different pencil tip options and blending tools.
There is a marked difference in the sky between the left and the right photo, although both are very rough. The pencil is very sensitive and takes a lot of practice to handle fine detail. But, I think this is so awesome to be able to do this!
The photo on left shows my intention for the body of water at the bottom left. I'll be getting started on that moon reflection today.
Being a fan of Margo's work, my interest was piqued when I saw on Facebook that Margo was doing an online class through Mosaicartsonline.com. I looked into it and was fascinated to see so many courses with so many talented mosaic artists. Never having attempted mosaic jewelry in any serious way, I decided to try it out and I enrolled in Margo's class.
I watched the entire course one morning and then purchased her kit from di Mosaico. I received the kit yesterday and on right is what it looks like.
I chose the Medium Blue mix from the extensive mix options. The pendant blank is very shiny and pretty, although different than the kind that Margo uses. Not sure which I like better.
I've got a bit of traveling coming up, so I probably won't get to this pendant until mid-August or so. At that time, I will be able to rewatch the course segments as needed. I'll be looking forward to this little project.