Theme and Variations

Theme and Variations: All Dreams, in progress

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I’ve decided that I prefer the main title of Theme and Variations after all. And so it is.

Theme and Variations, in progress. 36” x 57” | 91cm x 145cm. Mosaic gold.

Theme and Variations, right side perspective

Here are a couple of in-progress pics—pardon my mess—as I am somewhere around 1/4 of the way through. The actual mosaic work of cutting and gluing the pieces is close to 1/3, but I think that the finishing work will actually be a chunk of work in itself.

Yes, there is cutting: I’ve yet to find a single piece of gold that I could use as is. Every piece requires some cutting or shaping. I’m using nippers and grinder to accomplish this.

I’m really enjoying working on this and watching it come into being.

All Dreams, in progress

Some of the main players in my current production are ready to rumble. This palette is way more colorful than I like. I prefer a minimal palette with little contrast, or a single color family, and I did try to impose my preference on this work in the design phase. But I lost that battle and all this color prevailed.

Mosaic gold: green, turquoise, orange, blue, violet, 010/013 yellow, 015/016/017 copper

The gold pieces in this photo are all cut from 3” square plates. The smallest squares are the size of four of the smaller standard-cut gold. These larger pieces will be elevated by approximately the thickness of the gold, which runs around 1/8”. I’ve adhered a support to the back of each of these 80 pieces, painted the edges, and they are ready to go.

The design for this mosaic is foreign to me, but it was very enjoyable to work on. We sometimes call such unexpected works a departure. I’m not sure about that, but I do feel that it is a risk that I am not sure will result in success—a risk because of the expense of all the gold, and because it will be a very large and heavy monstrosity to deal with should it fail.

Still, it’s like taking a particular direction along a forked path in the woods, not knowing or caring where it leads because it just feels like the walk will be worth it.

Theme and Variations (All Dreams)

I’m almost ready to start this very large mosaic which will be titled All Dreams. It is the 5th in my Music To My Eyes series, which is inspired by classical piano music in particular forms. These mosaics rely on mosaic gold in a grid format, or andamento, in expressing some aspect(s) of the form/music.

All Dreams is inspired by a contemporary classical piano piece by Christopher Theofanidis, titled All Dreams Begin With The Horizon (3rd movement, in particular). The form is basically a Theme and Variations. Although the other pieces in the series are named by the musical form, I think that Theme and Variations is just so technical sounding, so I’m going to call it All Dreams, for now anyway. Still thinking on that…

In 2010, I created this 36” x 57” substrate (at right) from 36” square, 1/2” Wedi panels in two layers. At that time, I could not get the full 60” x 36” panels here in Tulsa, so I built one. I needed four such panels for a large commission.

As it turned out, this substrate was about the same weight as a Hardibacker panel which cost much less in both $$ and labor. The weight was a concern because I would be using a lot of stone. I went with the Hardibacker and stored this Wedi substrate away. The finished panels ended up weighing about 100 lbs. each.

A few years ago, I had a metal frame made, with an EZ-bar hanger attached on the back, and installed the substrate into the frame. Now, I had a landscape-oriented substrate ready and waiting to be mosaicked.

It is pretty heavy without any mosaic on it. The Wedi substrate itself is about 30 lbs., if I remember correctly. Since framing it, I have been contemplating what I could do with this while keeping the additional weight as minimal as possible.

Over time, an idea began to percolate and I started some design work last spring. Just a bit more tweaking and I hope to start the mosaic work next week. As you can see in the photo, I have the gold all lined up, minus two orange plates that should arrive any day now. There is a 28” x 49” grid of 3/8” squares centered on the substrate. The design calls for both mosaicked and non-mosaicked areas, which I hope will help with the final weight.

It looks like I’ve got plenty to keep me busy!