Creating Mosaic Town

Hey everyone-Happy 4th of July-or as I like to call it, Interdependence Day.
I’m working on another mosaic town and thought I’d share some progress photos with you today.

I start with a hunk of insulation foam board. Yep-the kind they use to insulate homes with. The color denotes the density. Pink and blue are most common here in the states. This is dense enough that you can stand on it and it won’t compress at all.

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I cut the board into shapes using various saws and rasps

And sitting on top of this foam is a roll of self adhesive fiberglass mesh tape. Most often used for creating seams in drywall, this makes a fabulous cement-tolerant wrap.

So- Cut the foam board to the desired shape, wrap with the fiberglass mesh, then coat with a layer or two of a special cement mix created by me using the guidance of a great book-Creating Concrete Garden Ornaments, by Sherri Warner Hunter (the mastermind of this art form). And after a little sanding and waiting for it to dry it looks like this:

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A few of the buildings for my mosaic town after their cement coat

I’ve drawn my suggested windows, doors, etc. to guide me during the mosaic process. I now begin covering all sides and the roof tops with a combination of handmade ceramic tile and commercial mosaic glass tile, adding little bits of different textures and colors to add interest. Here’s how it’s going…

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and after finishing up the next day…

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Once these are thoroughly dry and I’ve done a few more of the other buildings, I’ll grout them. That always brings it all together, smooths out the rough edges, and makes them feel finished. More to come, but now I’m off to the annual July 4th BBQ potluck at my friend’s home. After drinks and dinner, we’re watching the ultimate summer movie- JAWS. So in honor of that, here’s the cake I’m bringing for dessert…

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Hope you’re having a great day off, or just a great day wherever you are.

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Making ceramic plaques

I finally finished Pete and Carol’s tiles last week and they picked them up Tuesday (yeah!).

Now it’s time to make some work for the June “Art for the Garden and Home” show.

Save the dates- June 7-9th up at the top of Wimer St. in Ashland, OR. 
447 Pape St. And 421 Prim St. Both just off Wimer. There will be tons of signs!

Times are from 10-5 Friday and Saturday, and 10-3 on Sunday.

Mary Dee’s garden is also on the Ashland Garden Tour-so plan ahead Sunday so you have time to see both the art and the plants.

I’m beginning this week by making my ceramic plaques.

I roll out my clay the ol’ fashioned way with a big rolling pin, just like making biscuits!
Next, I roll handmade stamps across the slabs to create texture

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After the clay sets up for half a day or so, I cut it into the basic sizes I’ll use for the individual plaques.

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Then I wait several more hours, or overnight to add carved details like wording, or individual designs.

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Once the tiles are completely dry, they get their first firing, or bisque (1830°F).
It takes about 12 hours for the kiln to come up to temperature, and 12 hours to cool.

After that, I either glaze them using handpainting of glazes or underglazes for color-and spray with a clear glaze if needed.
Then a high firing up to cone 5 (2185°F) for another 12 hours.

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After the tiles have cooled for about 12 hours, I can touch them without burning myself.

I add hanging wires and beads to some, others have built in wires on the backs. And little felt dots so your wall won’t scratch!

And that’s why it takes so long to make these little guys and why they aren’t $2 each! Lots of love and attention is taken with each piece, and no two are exactly the same.

I also make these to order-so keep me in mind for addresses, special messages, new homes, etc. But give me at least two weeks to a month to get it done!

Here’s the address tile I made for my house.

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I can do most any color, but I can’t really color match-as that’s a crazy process I prefer not to get too into if possible. But try me 😉

This is just one of the ways I make these tiles.

I’ll save the other subtractive  method for a future post.

Hope you enjoyed your mini tutorial!

The tiles are coming! The tiles are coming!

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Whoot whoot! They came out great-there will be a line of these that wrap around one step of Pete and Carol’s front porch entry.

About 34 linear feet. I will be so excited to see this project completed.

They just put in all of their front garden landscaping last fall and I think it’s going to be a beautiful final touch.

Their home is a gorgeous Italian villa on top of a hillside just outside of Talent, OR.

As I write this we’re having a thunderstorm rage outside (unusual for this area) and I’m counting my blessings that the kiln was fully fired before this hit.

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The power has been flickering off and on and that’s no good when you’re running a high voltage kiln!

I still have one more load to fire, but I think I’ll wait for a better day to start that one.

Penelope’s plaque

My friend Penelope Dews has graciously been trading me for half the cost of clay classes with her over the past several months.
I am finally learning to throw on the wheel thanks to the wondrous “technology” of –
you guessed it –

Electricity!!

More on throwing in another post. Back to this one.
I am finally holding up to my end of our bargain by creating a vertical mosaic address plaque to hang beside her front door. Here are some in process photos.

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Making a bit of progress… Starting to feel the sun and moonness coming through…
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Decided to extend some of the “rays” to give it a sunnier feel. Now for the background. Black? for contrast? I’m undecided. Then there’s the address portion I haven’t even shown…earth colors I think- or white…need to play with it some more.

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Working on tiles for Pete and Carol

I’ve spent a good part of the day trying to glaze 3 color handmade tiles for an exterior application (stair risers). So far it’s gone slowly, as each color has to be applied using a sprayer and hand shielded with templates image

so there’s reduced overspray.  Tricky as hell, and time consuming, but the test came out well-so I’m hopeful this works!
This is the first of 34 pairs….!

Several days have passed. Much cursing has ensued. I’ve been struggling with the glazes a bit.
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I primarily have been using a line of Laguna glazes called “Versa 5”. These are cone 5 (high fire) glazes that are mixable with all other colors in the line. Just like paint- which is awesome because you usually can’t do that with high fire glazes. I can make endless combinations of colors. Perfect for what I’m doing, which is trying to color match some commercially made solid body porcelain tile by Winklemans, out of France.
I created a mosaic for Pete and Carol’s porch using the Winklemans, and the ceramic tiles are designed as stair risers to “match”.
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I’ve been spraying the glaze and capturing and recycling the overspray. Unfortunately, this recycled glaze refuses to stay in suspention. This means all the silica in the glaze falls right to the bottom of my sprayer, clogging it immediately.
I’ve resorted to hand brushing parts- they’re now in the kiln, we’ll see what happens…