This is an update on my Mosaic Door project built from a “series of smalls“, which is the most effective way to improve artistic confidence and ability.
A “series of smalls” is more than a simplistic example of practice makes perfect. You can practice by painting works of all sizes and painting many different types of composition. But in that case, each piece has it’s own unique learning curve.
Keeping the size of the pieces in a series all the same size removes that extra layer of difficulty. Many “series of smalls” are often the same or similar compositions, which also maximizes learning.
Artist Julie Deery is working on a mosaic mural for the wall of the Santa Fe Rail Trail.
The location for the mosaic mural is 130 feet of cinderblock wall along the Rail Trail just north of Siringo Road in Santa Fe.
The theme of the project is “Generations” with the goal of having community members of all ages work on the project.
Currently there is no formal funding or grant for the ongoing project, which is being created by volunteers using donations of materials and cash.
We haven’t been able to keep our Smalti stocked very well over the past year because it has quadrupled in cost after the tariffs and freight gouging and the large factory price increase.
I have been fretting about that a lot recently, and so Natalija reminded my how much cheaper and easier it is to use American-made Stained Glass instead of smalti.
Natalija’s video below shows how quickly you can “strip & clip” a small sheet of stained glass into mosaic tiles.Stripping Stained Glass
The “stripping” is done using the Economy Pistol-Grip Cutter. Note that a straight-edge ruler could have been used with the cutter to product strips of equal width.
I wanted to share more photos of Jill Gatwood’s Mosaic Butterfly commission because it is a good example of subtle use of color variegation when fairly uniform color fields are desired.
I often recommend using color variegation (a mix of related hues or shades of a particular hue) as an alternative to monochromatic areas of color. Color variegation is a relatively simple way to create visual interest and increase verisimilitude, and so it seems like the logical way to mosaic by default.
The problem is that it is possible for figures to lose definition and be lost in backgrounds when variegation is overused or used without looking critically at the image as you create it.
Artist Harry Belkowitz’s millefiori mosaic Dove of Peace is a mixed-media piece of artwork with a black painted background surrounding the central mosaic figure.
The rainbow silhouette of dove with olive branch might be a little aspirational right now, but I figured we all could use a little hope and beauty.
The Dove of Peace also serves as a good starting point for discussing grout gaps and how to minimize the color impact of grouting.
Many novices are disappointed or even disturbed by the appearance of their first mosaics after grouting.
There are several reasons for this:
I have survived the stress of managing the supply business during the pandemic/supply crisis so far only by allowing myself periods when I get very slack in responding to non-crisis emails.
I tell myself I will get back to them eventually, but sometimes eventually is a long time.
Most emails that can be ignored for a month lose all relevance and can be ignored forever.
Other emails are just as important as they were on the day they were sent.
Artist Jill Gatwood sent me an email back on August 4th with the subject line “My largest solo mosaic piece.”
Both the mosaic and the email itself are worth seeing.
First-time mosaic artist John Schroeder’s Celestial Transom Mosaic is something of a tour-de-force in combining different styles of andamento into a seamless composition.Kids, Don’t Try This at Home
Combining different styles of andamento in a mosaic is something I would never recommend to a first-timer.
It’s easier to figure out one way of working than two or three ways, and figuring out how to transition between modes of working in the same composition is an advanced skill.
Combining modes of tiling makes things more difficult, and people usually botch it, and the discontinuities are jarring and distracting.
Before I can tell you what is exceptionally well-executed about this mosaic, I need to clarify some terms that I have been using sloppily.
Natalija made a video of her work with artist Angela Bortone in the restoration of a marble mosaic. The mosaic was a reproduction of a detail of Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus, and it was covered in grime and missing tiles. It also needed to be transferred to a new backer. There was a lot to do.
The Blue Crab mosaic I recently completed is a good example of how to create a grout gap by making use of imperfect cuts instead of spacing the tiles intentionally.
The “imperfect cut” method makes the process of creating a mosaic faster, easier, and less tedious -first in the cutting and placing of tiles but also in the grouting process.
That “error” will create the grout gap for you.
My dear old friend Jay Brown had been requesting a mosaic of a blue crab for years, and this past week Jay had his official investiture as a federal judge, and so I decided it was time.Art with a Capital A
Normally I avoid bespoke commissions like the plague because I have trouble keeping to a script, even when I write the script.
I have done so much engineering work with rigid specs that it is important to me that my art be its own animal and go where it wants to go. I tend to make things only when I feel driven by mystical-religious type impulses.
I also seem to be unable to keep things easy no matter how much I plan to do so at the start of the project. I just start exploring, and the Blue Crab Mosaic was no exception.
Janet Crawford has owned and operated Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada since 1984.
The gallery’s current exhibit is called “Piece Works” and has been in the making for several years.
As the name implies, the exhibit features works of art that were created by assembling small pieces, and the exhibit itself is an assemblage of multiple artists and mediums, and so the title of the show is apt on multiple levels.
The mediums include collage, found-object sculpture, rug hooking, mixed media, and of course mosaic.
There are 12 artists in total including mosaicists Kath Kornelsen Rutherford, Tim Isaac, Sheryl Crowley, and Janet Crawford.
I think Janet did a great job curating the exhibit because the mosaics selected show a range of styles possible in that medium.
This article doesn’t include any images of the sculptures, rugs, and mixed-media artwork in the show, and so make sure you take a look at the gallery exhibition.
Got any book recommendations?