Grout Line as Design and Figurative Element

Natalija Moss’s latest Honda Insight mosaic is a great example of stained-glass mosaic where the grout line is used as a figurative element and as an element visual framing.

Natalija is a self-taught artist and mosaicist just like me, and she also rebuilds Honda Insights by restoring interiors and rebuilding the battery system with newer technology.

Rebuilding these car interiors and batteries is yet another skill she taught herself. She learned by doing and by extensive online technical research.

Natalija has rebuilt at least seven or eight Honda Insights since I have known her, and worked on many more.

This isn’t her first Honda Insight mosaic.

I think I understand.

We’ve got a planet to save, right, and old rebuilt hybrid cars are still rolling around with updated battery tech and unbelievable efficiency.

Mosaic Styles

I did not teach Natalija how to mosaic, because we do different types of mosaics.

The type of mosaic I make is conventional mosaic with tessellated rows. The type of mosaic she makes is conventional stained-glass technique with large fitted shapes representing whole figurative elements.

These two styles of mosaic are so different that “style” isn’t strong enough of a word. They are almost different types of medium.

Nobody else at the warehouse worked that way.

Honda mosaic detail


Remember that you can easily make some extremely detailed mosaics without Natalija’s level of precision in the shape of each piece.

It’s easy when you build a component from multiple imperfect pieces instead of one perfectly-shaped piece.

The amount of precision required to cut and fit all the panels of the car together in this mosaic would be impossible for many people.

More importantly, this level of precision would be tedious for many of the people who could actually do it, with multiple failed attempts for each shape needed to build the car.

Natalija is always working on all sorts of hands-on tasks that require precision, and so this came natural to her.

Keep this in mind when planning your own mosaics with stained glass.

“Kids, don’t try this at home. This person is a trained professional.”


Design Element

Notice how she uses the gap between the mosaic and the aluminum frame to make a black boarder around the mosaic, which frames the mosaic visually more than the extruded aluminum frame.

Figurative Element

The grout line also serves figuratively as seams of tar in the asphalt road and the outlines of leaves, stems, and blades of vegetation.

Most importantly, the grout line represents the panel seams of the Honda Insight. Look at the driver-side door of the car to see what I mean.

Comparison – after grouting above and before grouting below

A Sense of Motion

Notice that the fine detail is in the lower left quadrant. The composition begins there and “moves” toward a vanishing point to the left.

The curving lines of the road suggest the motion, as does the car, and the sequence of clumps of vegetation. The eye is led in the composition to the vanishing point, which is more or less a requirement for a strong landscape that conveys a sense of depth.

A Sense of Depth

Natalija’s composition also satisfies another requirement for creating a sense of depth or distance.

For a sense of distance, you need figures or at least distinct elements at near, middle, and far distances.

At the extreme distance there is nothing but the horizon meeting the sea, but think about how much depth is created in the picture by having that thin strip of blue sea.

That one element adds a lot of depth.

Before grouting

The Sky

Natalija made the sky using one piece of stained glass that fitted to the horizon.

I love that the sky is muted tints of the same two hues used to make the car.

I also like the flow in the stained glass swirls of the sky. I think it suggests high altitude clouds flowing like whisps that also flow over the car and suggest motion.

When she told me she was going to use one fitted piece for the sky, I had my doubts, but I think she found a good piece.





One response to “Grout Line as Design and Figurative Element”

  1. Lynn McLeod Avatar
    Lynn McLeod

    That’s amazing work of art!

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