Mosaic Backsplash with Kitchen Interior

Mosaic Backsplash for Stove with Hood

Peggy Pugh’s mosaic backsplash makes me wish the vent hood for the range didn’t have to be installed!

The backsplash design is a mosaic interpretation of the view from the window opposite to it in Peggy’s kitchen. The view is of Peggy’s flower gardens with Upper Back Bay in Newport, California in the background.

Peggy says this about her inspiration and the results of her work:

It is a peaceful and everchanging scene of tides, sky, birds and wetlands. The birds are those I see in the yard or the Back Bay, a very inspiring view.

I am thoroughly delighted with the way it turned out. It is not often that my idea of something matches the finished product.

-the artist
Window-View Upper Back Bay California
Window-View Upper Back Bay California

The Inspiration

Peggy added birds and bees to a design she created from the above photo.

Peggy says that the initial step of drawing a cartoon based on the inspiration was the slowest part of the process, which it should be for a figurative mosaic of this complexity. She says that after that, things flowed well.

The Essential Cartoon

A mosaic pattern is called a cartoon, and they are the plan for the mosaic. At minimum, it is an outline drawing of all figures and resemble a page in a coloring book. A more thorough cartoon will have notes for colors.

I often sketch a few faint lines to suggest the the flow of the andamento (the direction of the rows of tile), which can be used to suggest motion in the background and is highly recommended.

The cartoon for a mosaic is where at least half of the design process occurs, and it should be where all the composition takes place.

Compositions need to be thoroughly worked out in this stage because during the execution, your attention will be totally consumed with rendering details, which requires a lot of decision making.

Details have to be simplified in some way to be rendered in tile, and each detail is different, even if it is a repetition of a detail rendered elsewhere.

Here is a photo of the cartoon lying on the top corner of mosaic in progress:

Mosaic Cartoon Drawn on Backer, work in progress
Mosaic Cartoon Drawn on Backer, work in progress

Peggy executed her mosaic by drawing the cartoon directly on the backer and gluing tiles to it one at a time.

Mosaic Backer Board

Hardiebacker brand tile backer board was selected for this mosaic, which is my preferred backer for dry indoor mosaics installed on walls with a stud construction.

Peggy had her contractor cut the backer board to exact size and shape and pre-drill the mounting holes. To accommodate the height of the mosaic, a top piece and a bottom piece required, each with a different shape.

Initially Peggy told the contractor to go ahead and attach the bare backer the wall, but they assessed the complexity of the design Peggy planned to create and wisely recommended a temporary backsplash of plain subway tiles on a duplicate of the backer boards she would use for her mosaic.

Peggy says this was a good decision because it took her two years to actually complete the mosaic.

Mosaic Backsplash Pre-Installation
Mosaic Backsplash Pre-Installation
Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Right
Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Right
Mosaic Detail Redwing Blackbird
Mosaic Detail Redwing Blackbird
Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Left
Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Left
Mosaic Detail Bird with Berries
Mosaic Detail Bird with Berries
Mosaic Backsplash Installation Complete
Mosaic Backsplash Installation Complete

Grout Color Study

This was the largest and most ambitious mosaic Peggy had ever attempted, and so she wisely made some test swatches to evaluate grout color before grouting the actual mosaic.

Test swatches actually make great abstract mosaics that can be used as things like trivets and pads for potted plants on table tops.

Grout Color Study
Grout Color Study

Notice how the white grout in the test swatch would produce a brighter wall but doesn’t help the tiles render the image with verisimilitude.

Most mosaic images look more representational when grouted with a darker grout than they would with lighter grout.

A Pleasant Surprise

Peggy had a pleasant surprise when she walked into her new kitchen at night:

After it was installed there was an extra unanticipated surprise for me. When I walked into the kitchen at night, I could see the reflection of the mosaic in the window over my sink. It was like a moment of suspended magic before I realized it was a reflection and not another mosaic. Now I enjoy it twice as much at night!

-the artist
Mosaic Backsplash Reflection in Window
Mosaic Backsplash Reflection in Window.







6 responses to “Mosaic Backsplash for Stove with Hood”

  1. Joyce Jordan Avatar
    Joyce Jordan

    It’s beautiful! Where are you finding your tile? Are you cutting your bumble bees 🐝?

  2. Sherry Avatar

    This is absolutely stunning!! I love the vivid colors!!! I wondered if you could share what type of tiles you used and what type of tool you used to cut the pieces especially the large ones so exactly.

  3. Julia Avatar

    That is a gorgeous, gorgeous mosaic and I’m so glad she gets to live with it and enjoy it.

  4. Susan Avatar

    This is inspirational! It shows that the sky is the limit with mosaics and that almost anything is possible with proper planning, creativity and hard work. Gorgeous, meticulous work Peggy! I love the blues/oranges combination.

  5. Marti Wiedman Avatar
    Marti Wiedman

    I love the precision and planning that Peggy put into her mosaic design. The colors and image are magical in her kitchen and window reflection.

  6. Terry Broderick Avatar

    Awesome work Peggy ! I love your attention to detail. The layers of distance you’ve captured. That the image displays your passion for your art and as a part of your daily life experience. Well Done !!!

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