22 November 2009

Dragon Mosaic Progress

This weekend's progress:

Approximately 15 hours so far.

16 November 2009

Dragon Mosaic Progress

Tonight's progress:

I also received some more smalti today - dark lapis to mix with the black and the darkest green for the background, and more of the dark olive green for the dragon's body. I might order a hammer and hardie - I need to get accustomed to using one for cutting the smalti. I think I might end up wasting less glass if I master the traditional cutting method. It's hard to cut the smalti straight with the Leponitt wheeled cutter. I keep getting slanted cuts, and those will definitely not do. Only problem is that a good hammer and hardie runs at least a couple hundred dollars...

15 November 2009

Next Mosaic - A Dragon

Today I started a new mosaic. I'm using smalti for this one. It's 12" x 36". This is about 3 hours work. Smalti makes for slower going. Perhaps I'll get faster.

Update: That's not Elmer's glue - that's Weldbond in an Elmer's glue bottle...

12 November 2009

Clean Water, Clean Air

When I hear the "Green Jobs, Green Jobs" mantra I wonder about a couple things.

First and foremost is whether or not the so-called green jobs really are "green" or if they're simply being repackaged - like changing the name of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks to Honey Smacks... without changing the nearly 50% sugar content (see Consumer Reports - Health.org)...

I also wonder how we're going to convince the public to buy/use green alternatives since they're bound to be more expensive (I've a suspicion that the greenwashed products will be even more expensive than the actual green products since it's marketing behind the green, instead of an actual product revision... but that may just be my cynicism surfacing).

Even when there are real green alternatives, there is often great resistance to implementing them.

I listened to a MNPR story this morning about the proposed Prairie Island power increase.

Xcel Energy has made the decision to increase production at the Prairie Island plant - beyond what the plant was built to safely produce - instead of choosing to use renewables to meet increased demand, because it was CHEAPER.  In reality, the expansion of nuclear power is only cheaper when you close your eyes to the environmental effects - the unsolvable environmental effects.

The most chilling aspect of this increase is the increased waste problem. Nuclear waste isn't like other waste. It isn't feasibly recycled; it cannot be filtered out of the air or the water; it lasts as near to forever as matters to any who are alive now...

The proposed increase in power at the Prairie Island facility would not only cause significant stress on the structure of the power plants (think - higher pressure, higher heat, pipe corrosion, pipe cracks...), but also would generate many more casks of spent nuclear waste. This potentially increases the risk to anyone living near or downriver from the power plant.

Currently waste casks sit on a concrete pad next to the plant, on an island in the Mississippi River which is the source of drinking water for many communities downstream. There currently is only a small amount of leakage of radioactive materials into the air and water - in an amount that is deemed by some to be safe for human exposure. Others have concerns that the monitoring may be insufficient, and still others wonder if any additional exposure to radioactive materials, beyond what occurs naturally, is really safe. The proposed increase of power is expected to increase the radioactive discharges into the air and the river by 10 percent.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has already approved this "uprate" at Xcel's other nuclear plant at Monticello. The federal government is expected to approve it. Next on the docket is the Prairie Island decision.

It's up to the Minnesota government to stop this risk. We should be telling our representatives and senators to vote no on this expansion. Make a real commitment to our health, and our planet's health. Keep us safe from this kind of risk. There are alternatives to nuclear power and its deadly waste.

11 November 2009

Next Mosaic

I've drawn out the cartoon for the dragon mosaic and picked the colors I want to use. It will be a smalti mosaic. I do need to purchase at least 5 more pounds of smalti before I start though. after receiving my order from www.smalti.com, I realized that liked the dark olive green (438B) better than the dark green colors (439 & 439D) that I also bought - especially when combined with the greenish gold limited edition smalti that I also bought. I'll need to get some additional blues for the background, unless I want to use black - which might be a good choice...

I'm going to set up a camera and try to do some stop-action photography as I create this mosaic. That should be interesting.

Ship Mosaic Finished

The ship mosaic is finished (except for attaching the hanging hardware). It now has a name, albeit a tentative one: To Sail Beyond... And Back.  I finished it Monday night. These photos are a bit dark, but they show the finished piece fairly well.

I've entered it in the Mosaic Art Now "EXHIBITION IN PRINT" competition. We'll see what they think sometime in the next month or so.

Title: To Sail Beyond... And Back
Dimensions: 35"H x 44.5"W
Materials: stained glass and glass tile
Price: $3,000.00 - sold
Statement: As an interdisciplinary, visual artist I am intrigued by process. Fascinated by the gradual revelation that occurs as a mosaic grows beneath my fingers, the task of creating a mosaic becomes a meditative praxis – a mind and spirit exercise that creates more energy than it expends, leaving me refreshed and energized. I prefer to create mosaics that are representational rather than abstract, even though the rest of my art practice is based primarily in abstract imagery. “To Sail Beyond... And Back” was commissioned by a prominent tattoo artist who became interested in the mosaics I have done and wanted a work that celebrated the history and heritage of tattoos and tattooing. The image of the tall sailing ship battling rolling, splashing, foaming waves, sails taut in the wind, is iconic in tattoo culture and became the central element of the piece.

06 November 2009

Ship Mosaic

Finished with the glass work on the ship mosaic night before last. 108 hours so far - not counting the research, trips to get glass, and sleepless, late-night planning...

Tonight: a grout color study - mixing the various colors of grout that I might want to use (and keeping precise records of the recipes for each). I'll make up a couple tablespoons of each color mixture and spread them on scrap wood. Once they've dried I can use them to determine which colors I want to use for this mosaic.

Tomorrow: grouting the mosaic - first the sections (if I decide to use more than one color grout - which is very likely) will be isolated.  I will decide which color I'm grouting first (I usually go from dark to light), mask off the not-to-be-grouted areas with some heavy duty tape and plastic left over from putting plastic on the windows. I'll be using a dry-grout method that I've had great success with lately. It's a great way to grout glass mosaics and it's what I now teach in my classes.

This is the part of the process that makes me anxious - what if, after all those hours of work on this piece, I choose poorly and the grout colors don't work well with the glass? I'm going to test several shades of light grays, blues and tans and some medium blues and tans. The blues and tans will be hand-mixed formulas.

Wish me luck.

02 November 2009

Music & Mosaics

Very cool music. Very cool house.