Recently April Costigan sent us some pictures of pet memorial mosaics made on stepping stones and some portraits of pets still living, and they are great examples of what you could make for your loved one. April’s mosaics also show a natural progression in skill, and so they are worth showing to a wider audience.
Making Your Own
Pet memorial mosaics for marking outdoor graves can be made using thinset mortar to attach glass tile to a concrete stepping stone or a piece of flagstone. Indoor pet memorial mosaics can be made using Weldbond Adhesive on a half-inch plywood backer, preferably cabinet-grade plywood which comes with a sanded finish.
Here is how to arrange tile on a pattern and then pick it up with packing tape. Then you could spread thinset mortar on the stepping stone and mount it on the stepping stone all at once.
You could also copy your pattern onto the stepping stone and then attach one tile at a time, but that can be a little messy. Here are our instructions for copying a mosaic pattern onto a larger backer. Here are our instructions for transferring a pattern by tracing.
Before making your own, it helps to look at what others have made to get an idea of what level of detail you want to use and how you want to render certain details and attempt to capture likeness.
I really like April’s later pieces and how her andamento (working lines) suggest the direction of the different tufts of fur.
“Peggy was my first. I didn’t care for how her name turned out so I changed my style in later stones. She died of congenital heart failure at 4 months old. This was the last picture I took of her. I used a variety of tile, the little doggie was mostly broken ceramic dishes. She has flower patterns in her little pink ears.”
“Chelsey was next (my friend’s child-hood cat). I used tile I bought at Home Depot.”
“Rambo – My own beloved dog who died last February. This is when I discovered YOUR Wonderful site with so many beautiful shades of glass tile!”
“Diego – My furry friend for 14 years.”
“Blondie – My co-worker’s poodle who passed after a long and happy life. I discovered tile lettering!”
“Finnagin – My friend’s dog (still alive and well). I entered this one into an charity art auction and the person who won also bid $338 to have a stone of her own created. That’s where Sugar came from.”
Backgrounds for Portraits
Notice how the background in the photo above has a a lot of white, and that will not contrast as strongly with Sugar in the foreground as another color might. Rather than reproduce the actual background from the photo in a situation such as this, you might want to spread out some tiles of different colors and see what gives the best contrast.
Substituting backgrounds is a common technique for making portraits in all media, and you should never be a slave to your model if you can improve things by deviating from it -unless the scene itself is what you are trying to recreate. And always remember that rules were meant to be broken, especially in art.