In this video, I'm discussing some of my challenges in working out how to express the flow that I would like to express.
After reflecting on my previous discussion about andamento, I wanted to talk about it a little more and clarify my understanding of the term.
- The English translation of andamento is a/the trend. Mosaically, I understand andamento to be the way things go, the movement, or more specifically, the sense of movement.
- There are multiple ways to express the chosen andamento for a mosaic, including cutting and laying techniques—different opuses, and material and color choices.
In the above video, I talk about andamento as it relates to my current project, and I offer a couple of examples of different andamenti and the techniques chosen to express those andamenti.
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!
Someone wanted to know why I thought the andamento for my recent mosaic, Homage To Kilauea, was so difficult. I must clarify that just because it was difficult for me does not mean that it would be for everyone. I doubt that someone like Giulio Menossi, who has truly mastered a very refined andamento in his stunning portraiture work, would have been as challenged on this piece as I was. This kind of refined andamento requires, I believe, a whole lotta practice.
Looking back over my years of mosaic experience, I feel like I have only dabbled in this kind of andamento. Without years of experience doing this kind of thing, I find it is vital to draw out the andamento, piece by piece. I did not do that with this mosaic because, when I started it, I was just playing around. As I progressed on the work, my innate sense of seriousness and challenge led me to take the andamento more seriously than I had initially intended.
So, what was so difficult about it for me? Three things:
- The spaces, which I'll call channels, around the large shale pieces and the small stones are very narrow. That's a quarter in the pic on the right, which is about the size of a euro. (It's cloudy today so the image at right is on the dark side—apologies.) The channels primarily range about 3/8" wide to about 1 1/4" at the widest, not counting the lower right area where the blue flares out to the edge.
- The average size of the smalti pieces is quite small, the majority being between 1/8" and 1/4".
- It is just very tricky to express flow around sharp curves and into and out of areas of varying size—small to large/large to small—and where the flow goes in all directions.
With such small spaces in which to work, I felt like a more refined andamento would best express the flow that I wanted. My study with Menossi doing portraiture is the most refined andamento I have ever worked with, and the most difficult. Expressing the contours of the face, flowing in and out of the shadows and angles and fullness and hollows of a face, using andamento as well as color and shading, is a demanding technical skill.
I worked with this kind of refined andamento on a recent work, Storyteller, but to a much lesser degree than I attempted here. After completing this work, I've decided to do another work incorporating this kind of andamento. I'll blog about it as I go, starting with my next post in the next few days. The piece will be similar to this one and will present the same andamento challenges. Let's see how I do.
This piece was meant to be a fun little diversion. After I finished Stabby, I wanted to just play with some of my back yard shale—the 8 large pieces of stone— and some special stones—5 small rocks— that were gifted to me by a fellow mosaic artist.
The large shale piece in the lower right of the mosaic cracked as I was cementing it in place; however, only the topmost layer of it cracked. The crack was too rough to leave it, so I played with spreading it a little bit. This created the crevice. If you look at it closely, you can see that although it looks like two pieces, it is actually a single piece.
As I contemplated what to do with the crevice, it seems that Kilauea's activity on our family's favorite and much-visited Hawaiian island called to me. Before that, I was just going to use green shades of smalti for the piece.
I just happened to have some red/orange/yellow scraps from previous projects, as well as some blues, so I decided to rely on scraps as much as possible. As it turns out, I only put a dent in the red scraps.
As I worked, I began paying more and more attention to the andmento. This turned out to be the most challenging thing I have attempted—andamento wise—since Giulio Menossi's portraiture classes.
The flow areas around the large shale pieces average an inch or less, so the smalti is cut quite small. What started out as a fun little diversion turned into a multi-week, serious technical exercise. Ugh! How did this happen? Why can't I just play? And, another familiar refrain: What was I thinking???
I ended up reworking a few areas that were done earlier, of course, because I just couldn't let it go, could I? It was very difficult to flow the smalti around a couple of areas in the shale pieces and the stone obstacles—a.k.a. land masses and islands, and there are a couple of areas that I'm still not completely happy with, but I'm calling it done!
Stabby seems right at home in my daughter's beautiful San Jose condo. Her new console table, which will sit directly beneath the mosaic, won't be delivered for a few more weeks, unfortunately. Of course, I'll want a photo of the complete effect once the table arrives, which I trust Allison will be able to provide.
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.
In the last few days since finishing Stabby, I've been playing around with simple patterns and color combinations for decorative 2" frame options. I've put them all together on these two idea boards.
The bottom board includes corner option patterns. I've come to prefer a continuous pattern around the frame, without any corner deviation of the pattern, but—surprise—not everyone is like me. 😎
I was able to primarily use remains from previous projects that I have accumulated over the many years of making decorative frames, bottles, magnets, and a few boxes.
Now, it's time to get back to an art piece that I started before Stabby came into my life. I'll also be transitioning to working on an easel after 20+ years of working on a table. I guess I'm ready for an adventure!
Yes, the time is now to acquire a copy of CREATIONS before the price increase to $35 on June 1.
For shipping within the U.S., you can purchase this book for $25, and that includes shipping!
Click the button below to preview the book and read what others have said about it.
I really can't believe that this mosaic is 11 years old! This was my first serious attempt at working with these gorgeous materials, and was the beginning of a love affair that lasts to this day.
It seems that most people think that the title refers to the biblical Old Testament which, although not intended, is understandable. The title actually refers to the fossil's voice, its story, which is very old indeed.
Old Testament now sings its song in the beautiful home of a Tulsa architect.
See all Stabby posts here.
Well, what can I say? This nearly life-sized, pixellated unicorn head is finished and ready for transport to San Jose, CA! Allison loves her mosaic unicorn and is awaiting her with open arms and wall space.
I completely enjoyed this project, as is always the case when I have the opportunity to do something that I would never have thought of doing on my own. I learned some good stuff and I am thrilled with the final outcome.
I'll be visiting Allision when Stabby arrives, and we will hang the mosaic together. I'll get some in situ pics at that time. If we're lucky, her new console table, above which Stabby will hang, will be delivered before I have to come back home. Otherwise, Allison is a capable photographer and she can try to capture the complete ambiance.
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!
Effective June 1, 2018, I will be raising the book price on both J MOSAIC and on Amazon to its post-introductory price of $35. If ordering via J MOSAIC, shipping is limited to within the U.S., and is included in the price.
Amazon is probably the best option for those who live outside the U.S.
If you are outside the U.S. and want to order from my site, please just contact me through my contact form. I have learned that, for example, Amazon does not ship to Argentina.
J MOSAIC or Amazon, what's the difference?
For those who would be shipping within the U.S., you can order from J MOSAIC or from Amazon. What is the difference? The total cost for me to be able to sell the book on Amazon comes to 40-45% of the book's selling price. So, if you buy on Amazon, Amazon gets a good chunk; if you buy from J MOSAIC, the artist—me— benefits.
I was fortunate enough to attend Lynne Chinn's recent class at Julie Richey's studio in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. It was an outstanding class. Lynne is such a good teacher and a super fun person as well. And Julie really has the hosting thing completely under control.
Julie's studio is really in a fabulous location, with food and lodging options within walking distance in the lovely artsy area that is the Bishop Arts District. This was just a wonderful workshop experience.
Adding to my small but growing collection, I acquired a piece each from Julie and Lynne. I think they are just perfect for my studio, don't you? (Just click on the images for a larger view.)
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.