• Mosaic Virtuosity: Stained Glass Paintings

    Mosaic Virtuosity: Stained Glass Paintings

    Artist Lisa Sunshine’s stained-glass mosaics are tiny 4-inch iconic images intended for use in an illustrated alphabet series.

    I’m not sure whether these images are Sunshine’s own compositions or if she is using an existing illustrated series as a model, but either way the mosaics are virtuoso stuff.

    Sunshine’s mosaics are “impressionistic paintings” rendered in stained glass, they are miniatures, and they make the rest of us look like amateurs.

    TIP: Most people wouldn’t enjoy working in this small size and would prefer a 10″ or 12″ backer, especially if the mosaic contains multiple figures.

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  • Using Floor Tiles as Backers for Outdoor Mosaic Plaques

    Using Floor Tiles as Backers for Outdoor Mosaic Plaques

    Concrete stepping stones should be used as the bases for outdoor mosaics that will be walked on, and the stepping stones and thinset mortar that you would need to make those are available at most any building material store.

    But what if you want to make small mosaic signs and mosaic plaques for your garden or porch?

    Large porcelain floor tiles make great bases for these outdoor mosaics.

    Ever since I started publishing updates on my mosaic door project that uses bamboo coasters for the bases of the small mosaics, I have been hoping that someone would email me an outdoor project that used “large” porcelain floor tiles as bases.

    By “large” I mean anything 4 inches or larger.

    Artist Cathy Reisfelt delivered.

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  • Mosaic Hallucinations

    Mosaic Hallucinations

    The month of January is tax prep and inventory season for our glass mosaic tile business, and it’s been a stressful time each and every year for 20 years, at least for a week or two or certain days.

    This year is particularly stressful for a variety of reasons: unprecedented inflation, weak sales, accountant gone incommunicado, personal tragedies, you name it.

    And to top it off, just yesterday I came down with the horrible sore throat and sinus infection that half the half the kids in my son’s school have been passing around since October.

    Well, my neighbor gave me one of those moth pills that help you sleep, and I think I drank too much cough medicine on top of that because I had weird dreams all night long and woke up the next morning outside by the tadpole ponds.

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  • Mosaic Mural by Stages

    Mosaic Mural by Stages

    Artist Kim Kahrilas’ bunny mosaic mural uses pet portraits and children’s book illustrations for inspiration and demonstrates how you can create a larger project by making it in modules.

    Kim made the mosaic on sections of tile backer board, with each section or panel having it own composition: four separate stand-alone scenes featuring bunnies plus some more narrow divider panels and the grass underneath the other panels.

    Kim says that it took 2 years to complete the project and that looking back over the photos made her realize that she had completed a lot of other projects during that period.

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  • Mosaic Door First Full Revision

    Mosaic Door First Full Revision

    My Mosaic Door Project was something I had never done before: combining a work of art that was being made for magical/spiritual reasons with a commitment to FINALLY start doing a good job of photographing my artwork as I work and creating good teaching examples.

    I’m the guy that has never photographed vacations and wilderness trips and important peak experiences. I am too busy experiencing things to document it.

    Needless to say, creating art is one of those times I am too engaged to with what I am doing to be photographing things, at least at the best times or stages for a good how-to photo.

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  • “Crazy Good Art”

    “Crazy Good Art”

    Sometimes I feel like a thoughtless child when I catch myself using expressions that show a lack of sensitivity for people suffering.

    Other times I feel like the expression in question has some insight or specitivity when used in certain contexts, no matter how overused or unfortunate the term might be in general.

    “Crazy good” might be a callous expression, but “crazy good art” has some references beyond the association of genius and mental illness and suffering and the classic heart-breaking examples like Van Gogh.

    I think there is some artist-to-artist meaning communicated in the phrase, and it is a reference to the “post-project blues” and the level of commitment required to make the piece in question. It is a high compliment expressed crudely for emphasis.

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  • Mosaic Mural on Tile Backer Board

    Mosaic Mural on Tile Backer Board

    Artists Patricia Cream and Leah Mitchell recently completed an outdoor mosaic mural mounted on foam-core tile backer board, and they took excellent photos of the work in progress.

    Each major step in the process is shown, including the french-cleat hanging brackets used to mount the mosaic to the cinder-block wall.

    The mosaic mural is also impressive. Patricia and Leah really capture the energy of a mixed wildflower garden with all the different textures and shapes and colors.

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  • Two Mosaic Safety Tips

    Two Mosaic Safety Tips

    A stainless-steel ruler and a spray-bottle filled with water are all you need to avoid the most common injury and the most serious risk associated with creating mosaic artwork.

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  • Mosaic Patterns as Rough Maps

    Mosaic Patterns as Rough Maps

    Most details in a mosaic are improvised and are not specified in the pattern. If so, then what is the purpose of a mosaic pattern?

    Like a rough sketch on a canvas to be painted, the purpose of a mosaic pattern is primarily to specify key lines and proportions, to be a rough map of the outlines of figures and where they are placed.

    What a mosaic pattern isn’t used for is to illustrate details that are finer than what can be rendered in tile.

    What that means in practice, at least for me, is that any small detail I render on a pattern is done merely to help me visualize what I am making, to supplement whatever photos or objects I am using as models.

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  • White Grout: The Floral Print Aesthetic

    White Grout: The Floral Print Aesthetic

    Artist Masha Leder‘s mixed pique-assiette architectural mosaics using white grout are so good I wanted to name this blog article “In Praise of White Grout.”

    I have been hoping more people would email me some photos of their white-grout mosaic artwork ever since I started posting about avoiding white grout in mosaic images, meaning figurative mosaic that strives to be as life-like as possible.

    Well, art doesn’t have to reflect nature or nature alone.

    This is particularly true of mosaic, which intrinsically incorporates the concept of found object (anything can be a tile) and intrinsically suggests the possibilities of abstract geometric art (when uniform tiles are used).

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  • Value Contrast in Mosaic

    Value Contrast in Mosaic

    There’s a reason art instructors recommend working in monochrome or black and white before working in color.

    The reason is that contrast in value (light versus dark) is more important than contrast in hues, and it is easier to learn mastery of value contrast before you complicate the process with different hues.

    I am self-taught, and so I find myself relearning fundamentals all the time, but I have heard some highly-skilled painters and some highly-trained artists say the same thing.

    Art is about paying attention and seeing and “listening” to the art as it evolves. An artist is always learning and relearning by definition.

    My mosaic inset project has reminded me of the importance of value contrast.

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  • Pattern to Mosaic: Design Evolution

    Pattern to Mosaic: Design Evolution

    I thought I would share this particular studio photo because it shows the evolution of an improvised mosaic design, in this case a sailing ship.

    It also showed ad hoc changes to the pattern after it was already taped beneath clear contact paper.

    A mosaic is not a drawing, and we call rendering an existing image into a new medium “an interpretation” even when executed by the same artist because different artistic mediums have different languages.

    You can create a mosaic pattern by placing tracing paper over an existing image and merely tracing it, but there is still a lot of artistic decisions to be made.

    When you start laying tile, you may find that your design has to change is some way and that the pattern was just a starting point.

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