11 March 2013

Signing Mosaics

Someone asked how an artist could sign their mosaic work.
Here's a close-up photo of how I do it

I take a narrow strip of copper and bend it into my initials (which luckily are ones that can be strung together out of a single strip).

I then embed them in the mortar, just like any other tessera.

This idea came from Matteo Randi of the Chicago Mosaic School.

08 March 2013


This evening's progress...

I've been using the Laticrete glass tile adhesive (thinset mortar). This is the third mosaic I've done with it. When my free sample runs out I'll definitely be purchasing some of it. For this mosaic I colored it with Gamblin Mars Black dry pigment - it took quite a bit of the pigment but I ended up with a rich black mortar... exactly what I wanted.

I'm thinking that I'll be at the SMU centennial dinner tomorrow with blackened fingers though... oh, well...

New Mosaic - Moonstruck

This morning's work.

Looking at it from both ends...

A close-up...

And a view without the distraction of my messy workbench...

06 March 2013

New Mosaic - Moonstruck

Today's progress:

New Mosaic

I've started a new mosaic today. I have a thin, white smalti pizza that I purchased from Mosaic Smalti that I've been brooding over for about a year (long incubation process for this one).

I've decided it's time to get to work on it.

Thin, white smalti pizza, approximately 9.5" x 11"
The problem I've had over the last year or so is how to best use this piece of glass in a mosaic. I've not worked with a whole pizza before.

In the past I've worked with lots of cut smalti as well as some broken pizzas. Those never seemed as precious to me as this piece of glass. By precious I don't mean near-and-dear-to-my-heart, but something else that I cannot quite define - maybe something in need of exacting care... I don't know... that's not exactly what I mean either. 

The Year That Was, stone & glass mosaic
using fairly large, broken pieces of smalti pizzas.
I wanted to combine the white glass with other interesting materials. I had around a pound of gold smalti that I picked up from Tiny Pieces last September when I was in Chicago for a couple days. I've always wanted to use gold smalti (but it also seemed a bit precious for where I was at with my practice). 

I decided that the gold smalti would look good with the white. 

This combination seemed to work in my mind, but I felt like it needed something to oppose the preciousness of it all. Something that would supply some sort of contrast.

As I was rummaging through the other materials in my studio I gravitated to the shelves that hold all my rocks instead of the glass supply shelves. I found the coal that I had gathered from a industrial site last year and decided that that would be the third material for this mosaic.  

Materials selected, I decided to do some planning rather than just jump in and break/cut up the white smalti pizza. First I traced it on heavy paper and made several cut-out models of the pizza. I then cut the paper models up in varying ways that I wanted to test out before actually cutting it up.

A few of the paper models
Over the course of a few days I tried several placements of the pieces and I finally came up with an arrangement that I thought worked best for the idea that was starting to come into focus in my head.

I outlined the pieces on a large sketchpad and began experimenting with how the materials might work together.
Planning the mosaic, paper (17" x 14" pad), gold smalti & coal.
I like the contrast - not only contrast of color, but the contrast of shiny/dull finishes, of smooth/rough texture, and - perhaps most of all - the contrast of luxuriousness/baseness.

So, now I'm ready to cut up the smalti pizza and get started. I also want to cut the gold smalti to 1/4 its current size so that the veins of it will be more delicate than they are in my planning diagram.

For now, the working title for this piece is Moonstruck.