Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Mosaic Process

First sketch

Final mosaic

I thought some might find it interesting to see how I go about creating a mosaic. This is my most recent one, Reverie, which is 5x10" and made with stained glass and millefiori. First I choose my mosaic subject: one of my son's favorite animals is the fennec fox (mine, too!) and so I begin with an image search online for the position I want him to be in. 

Once I find something I like, I use it as reference for my sketch (often times using many photos as reference for markings, body proportions, etc.). I then scan the drawing and place 6-10 copies of the image on an 8x10" page. I use them to play with several things: color, pattern, value, and andamento (the flow and direction of glass cuts and lines). I like having the sketches small so I can get many ideas down quickly or color the design many times without taking hours to do so!  I usually go through three or four pages of these. Here is one of my pages from this process:

Once I am happy with the direction I want to go, I trace the design onto wedi board and attach the hanging system (a d-ring with washers on either side). I pick out the materials I will be using with a range of values. I had planned to use beads in this mosaic, but every time I tried to incorporate them, it wasn't working how I liked, so skipped them in the end.

I begin cutting glass for the eyes, to first establish personality and mood. As you can see, I often make changes on the design as I go along, as well as make markings for color and lines for andamento. I like to lay the glass down without cutting it to see how it works overall. I take pictures of different combinations which allows me to compare them side by side and choose the best option before I commit to a very time consuming process of shaping the glass.

I pay very close attention to the head and body values to ensure that the head is seen clearly. For example, the dark at the end of the tail rather than continuing the same brown throughout, helps make it clear that it is separate from the brown on his face. Also, the glass chosen above his head is darker at the top and gets lighter as it gets closer to his head and ear. The tail is further differentiated from the body by outlining it with the rolled edges of the stained glass, giving it a bit of a 3D effect and some waviness, too!

Finally, there are often spontaneous choices and "happy accidents" if you are open to them. The center of the body was supposed to be cut pieces like the rest of the fox, but none of what I tried, color-wise and andamento-wise was working. I happened to look up and see a whole sheet of stained glass that had this wonderful brown curve that I knew would fit just right! I had one chance to get the piece cut perfectly. Well, I was off by a teensy bit at the top, so I filled in the gap with the blue millefiori which ended up being more interesting and harmonious because of it.


The next step is grouting, followed by finishing the edges and painting and signing the back. One of my favorite mosaics, it now lives happily in Phoenix, Arizona. I hope you enjoyed reading about my process, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 25, 2016

SAMA 2016 in San Diego

View from my room

Earlier this month I attended my eighth SAMA (Society of American Mosaic Artists) Conference, this year in San Diego. Loved seeing my old pals and making some new ones, including my late mother's cousin's wife, which was a wonderful surprise!  

The mosaic art salon is always a highlight.  This year I helped set it up, which was fun and a nice way to contribute to an organization that is run by almost all volunteers.  I also sold my mosaic at the salon, this piece titled Reverie.  It is 5x10" and made with stained glass and millefiori.  

Reverie, 5x10"

I found some fun ceramic tiles from Amber's Artistry and glass fusions from Bonin Glass Designs at the vendor marketplace that I am very excited about using in my upcoming mosaics!  

Amber's Artistry
Bonin Glass Designs

I also enjoyed beautiful art at the MAI Exhibition, entertaining and informative presentations, cutting glass at the mosaic marathon, and a couple great workshops including exploring the line in mosaic art with Rachel Sager which I highly recommend!  Here is my sample board and I can't wait to experiment with what I learned in my next project. 

Looking forward to my ninth conference next year in Detroit, see you there!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Teaching Yourself Mosaics

A couple of my mosaics and a bit of my story as a beginning mosaic artist are included in this fun and informative blog post by Helen Miles Mosaics about self taught mosaic artists and their methods for learning. Check it out here and be sure to catch part one, as well as an awesome archive of articles and stories for the mosaic art lover.  Thank you for including me and my art, Helen!