26 July 2009

Ship Mosaic Progress

The ship mosaic is large enough that it is getting harder to photograph.

I've finished the sails on the ship, worked on the water a bit more and started the map.

This photo shows the map area in the lower right corner the best. If you click on the photo and look at the larger image you can see how I'm working on the rivers and the coastline. The rivers are glass rods cut into short sections (an idea from a discussion with Eric Schandelmeier).

The photo below shows the sails better.You can see where I pulled off the first glass rods that I was using for the ship's rigging. The rods were too close to the brown color of the glass for the wooden parts of the ships - they blended in too much. I ordered an assortment of rods from Delphi glass, but none of them really say "ropes" to me either. There are a couple colors that come close, but I'm not certain I want to use them. I'm going to Chicago this weekend for a smalti workshop at the Chicago Mosaic School. Maybe I'll try to find a glass store in Chicago and look for rods that are a color that will look like ropes. If I don't find a store in Chicago, I'm sure I'll be back in Saint Paul soon and I know of a store there to get the rods.

At this point I have 24 hours of work in this mosaic. I am really noticing a time savings by using the pastry bag for applying the thinset. Much, much faster than dabbing it on with a stick.

16 July 2009

Ship Mosaic Progress

Don't have time to write much, but I wanted to post an image of the work on the mosaic from the last couple nights. I think I want to replace the glass rods (representing the ropes) with a slightly different color glass rod. These are too close to the color of the glass for the ship itself - maybe a more yellowish-gray-brown... if there is such a color.


13 July 2009

Ship Mosaic Process

The ship mosaic is going well. Abelisto & I were out of town for a few days so I did not get much done on it since my last post. And now the mosaic workshop will be taking up two evenings each week for the next three weeks (that's okay since teaching workshops gives me money for mosaic supplies...).

We were in the Twin Cities for three days over the weekend. Abelisto was taking a beekeeper's class at the UofM. I explored Saint Paul, mostly the art supply establishments (bought lots of glass, some beads, and some great paper for making books - attended a workshop last week on making hand-bound books, more later).

Here's the most recent images of the mosaic:

The color is a bit off in these photos, but the design and andamento (the flow of the tessarae - tiles - in the mosaic) shows up fairly well. I particularly like the way the ship's wake is working out. The rest of the sea will be rolling, undulating waves, but I wanted an exaggerated image of the ship cutting through the waves - therefore, the  spirals of water.

You can see the pastry bag I'm using to apply the thinset. So far it's been an excellent method to use thinset. By using the pastry bag I'm not trying to dab a tiny bit of thinset to each tile with a stick, I don't have to keep opening and closing a bucket of pre-mixed thinset, or to keep mixing small amounts of it, trying to use it up before it dries out. The pastry bag makes controlling the amount of thinset used a simple matter, and the same thinset has been in the bag since the beginning of this project last week - without drying out. All I do when I am done for the day is squeeze out the last 1/4 to 1/2 inch of thinset from the tip of the bag, pressing the plastic tip very flat. It seals out the air enough to keep the thinset fresh and ready to go.

06 July 2009

The Ship Mosaic

Tonight's work on the ship mosaic:

I think I'm going to like the way the rolling waves are going to come out. It was hard to stop tonight. I'd like to have a full day to work on it (or a week...).

It's really different working with thinset instead of Weldbond glue. The thinset adheres much tighter (nearly impossible to pull off misplaced tiles without breaking them) and it dries much faster, which taken together means I have to be dead-on certain about how the tesserae are cut and where they are going.

Drew first blood tonight when I was cutting strips of stained glass for the water (you can see some of them at the right side of the photo). The glass that got me was so shapr that I did not even feel it, I just noticed, all of a sudden, that there was blood all over the place. It's not a cut, just a puncture, but man, did it bleed. Tomorrow it will likely be pretty damn sore...

05 July 2009

Starting another mosaic

Tonight I began working on the first of the Ships mosaics. This one is of a 17th century sailing ship in rough waters, with antique maps on each side.

The mosaic will be 37.75" x 44.5". The odd size is so that the finished piece will fit a specific spot where the person commissioning this piece will hang it. This panel will be one of four that make up the finished work.

This image shows the beginning glass work. You can see the mermaid figurehead as well as some of the other glass laid in. The large gray item just left of center is a large pastry/cake decorator bag that I've filled with thinset mortar (since this moasic will be displayed outdoors it needs to be put together with thinset rather than Weldbond, which is not totally weatherproof). I cut the end of the bag to dispense a 1/8" stream and use this to apply the thinset to the fiberboard. This helps conserve thinset and it makes far less mess than trying to use some sort of applicator to spread a small amount of thinset to the back of each tessarae. It's also much, much faster.

02 July 2009


Abelisto's bees swarmed today. It was amazing. At first I was sad that we did not "catch" them. But then I decided that it was cool that we contributed to the wild bee population!

Abelisto has photos of the swarm in a neighbor's tree.