The Horned Owl

I haven’t been working in stained glass much lately since I have been concentrating on adding more mosaics to my garden wall.  I had started this piece during the winter while my son was visiting. But for some reason the small tesserae tiles kept calling to me.  I have just completed the owl (finally) and it is now hanging in the window of my breakfast nook.

Actually, I needed to finish the piece because I will be using the bench to layout a commission just received – the mosaic will be 8 feet wide by 4-1/2 feet tall on completion.  It is a desert sunset quite unique to the view from my client’s home.  All the 3/8” tiles have been ordered – the shipment should arrive within the next week or so.  I still have to purchase the 1” glass tiles I use for bordering as well as the thin set and grout but that can wait for now.  The main focus of my attention for the foreseeable future will be on building the mosaic mural.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of this new project.

The Desert Sunset

This morning I finished grouting my latest panel.  I am quite pleased with this creation, having this time used a different type of  mosaic tile.  This piece is 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall consisting of approximately 10,000 3/8 inch Crystal Murrini tiles.  I chose these tiles  for the multiplicity of color they provided and have been rewarded with the extra sparkle of light reflected.

My main purpose in creating this mural was to use it as an advertisement of my work.  I would like very much to be creating “art” for other’s yard walls and it seems to me that most desert dwellers gravitate to Southwestern Art.  I’m thinking the reason might be because so many Arizonan’s are transplants from other states, just like me.

So now, my next task is to contact a photographer to have him capture some images to create an advertisement for several local magazines.  I have several flowers, some replicas of famous paintings and now some Southwestern themes.  And then…….. Hope the commissions start rolling in.

The Kokopelli

I’m not much for kitschy Southwestern art, but most people living in the Desert Southwest are into this type of artwork.  I caved and created a kokopelli mosaic for garden wall.

My intentions are to have a local photographer create a magazine layout for the advertisement of my work.  If you follow my  blog, you know most of my work both in glass and mosaic, is nature inspired.  In glass, I particularly like creating wild animals; in mosaic, I mostly create flowers or replications of French posters.  But hopefully to attain outside work, I am adding to the gallery on my garden wall some of the more common Southwestern themes that so many desert dwellers seem to admire.

This winter brought three nights of 12 degree temperatures to my part of the desert.  Many plants were frozen and just did not return this spring.  I had to have the gardeners remove about 50 feet of vine that covered a good portion of the North wall in my garden.  I guess this was fortuitous because now I am left with significantly more “canvas” for my mosaic work.  The kokopelli is complete and installed on that wall and I am now working on a desert sunset for another section of the same wall.

The Budding Rose Mosaic

I haven’t been blogging for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working.  Since my home is no longer on the market and I have decided to stay in Arizona at least until the real estate market picks up, I am back to prettying up my garden wall.

This winter brought several 12* nights to the Sonora Desert – most of the plantings in my garden did not survive those frigid temperatures. That is with the exception of my roses, they seem to have flourished.

Because I love roses and most flowering plants, during the winter I created several patterns of single flowers.  Included in that process was the design and creation of a budding rose.  The mosaic is now on the East wall of my garden and I am happy to share it. 

Le Chat Noir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Le Chat Noir (French for “The Black Cat”) was a 19th-century cabaret, meaning entertainment, in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. It was opened on 18 November 1881 at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart by the artist Rodolphe Salis, and closed in 1897 after Salis’ death (much to the disappointment of Picasso and others who looked for it when they came to Paris for the Exposition in 1900).

Perhaps best known now by its iconic Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen poster art, in its heyday it was a bustling nightclub — part artist salon, part rowdy music hall. According to Salis: “The Chat Noir is the most extraordinary cabaret in the world. You rub shoulders with the most famous men of Paris, meeting there with foreigners from every corner of the world.”

I have an 11″ x 14″ of this poster framed and hanging in the hallway of my home.  One day I was sitting at my desk  with my mosaic software opened and decided to try my hand at creating a mosaic of this famous poster.  I was successful – here’s a picture of the finished mosaic.  By the way, it on the wall in my backyard along with all the others – I guess you could say it is hanging in my outdoor gallery.

The Field of Poppies Mosaic

Today I finished grouting the Field of Poppies.  This mosaic was fun from the beginning to the end of the project.  My inspiration for this mosaic came from all the beautiful poppies that bloomed here in the desert this spring.  It seemed that every place I wandered, poppies were in bloom.  One day I came upon the idea of creating a mosaic that I called The Field of Poppies.  Creation of the pattern was fun, although I will admit it kept growing in size as I added another flower. 

My original intention was to mount it on the Easterly wall in my garden.  But, as it turned out, it was too tall to fit on that wall without losing too much of the leaves on the bottom of the panel.  I then decided to place it on the North wall.  Actually this was a great choice since it is in full view through the great room window.

I am quite pleased with the completed work.  I’m working toward having enough panels to take an advertisement in one of the local mailings to possibly generate some work for myself.  So far, I have four tesserae mosaics and three stained glass mosaics mounted on my garden wall. 

I have created two more mosaic patterns; a large sunflower on a blue sky background and my rendition of “Tour née du Chat Noir” by Rodolphe Salis.  But first I am commissioned to create a stained glass sun catcher for an alumnus of mine.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night – Arlene’s Interpretation in Tesserae Mosaic Tiles

I’ve been working on this mosaic for some time now.   I placed the piece on the west wall in my garden where the sun can show if off for most of the day.  But that location proved to be quite a hard location to work at.  The sun rises over the mountains at about 6 am and brightens the chosen wall.  Up until about 8 am, the Palo Verde tree shades the area where I was working, and then BAM, blinding sunlight and a nice warmth that quickly grows blistering hot. 

For that reason, every stage of this mosaic took much longer than it should have taken.  Prepping the wall was a painstakingly long process.  The thin-set dried quickly, so I could only set one small portion each day.  The grout dried too quickly, again I was only able to complete a small portion each day having to grout a 12 inch square then sponge it off with lightening speed. 

 I wrote a post about creating this mosaic pattern back in June and how Don McLean’s song “Vincent” haunted me during the creative process.  Well, the song continued to play in my mind while I was working – sometimes I even heard myself singing “Starry, starry night; paint your palate blue and gray……” 

Now I’m sure I understand what he tried to say to me!  And having said that, here is a picture of the finished piece, what do you think?

The Savannah Bird Girl Mosaic

I fell in love with the city of Savannah, Georgia in May of 1996 when my son, Paul Graduated from Parris Island Marine Corps Training.  Naturally, being a typical proud Momma, I travelled to the graduation ceremonies and stayed in the fabulous city of Savannah at the River Street Inn on historic River Street.  http://www.riverstreetinn.com/

During the time of my visit, the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” was very popular.  The cover of the novel is a picture of the sculpture known as the Bird Girl that was created in 1936 by sculptress Sylvia Shaw Judson in Lake Forest, Illinois. It achieved fame when it was featured on the cover of the 1994 novel.

Recently, I designed a stained glass pattern of the Bird Girl and had planned to create a sizeable window hanging.  But now that I am working in my yard, I decided to convert the pattern into that of a stained glass mosaic for the wall.  Despite the 100 plus degree temps outside, I have completed the mosaic and wish to share the finished result with you, my blog followers.

Melancholic Triggers

As you might remember, I had said I was thinking of creating Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in tesserae mosaic tiles.  Well, the pattern is created and the tiles have been ordered and received.

All the time I was creating the pattern, I was hearing Don McLean’s song “Vincent” in my mind. 

Starry .starry night
paint your palette blue and grey
look out on a summer’s day with eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills
sketch the trees and the daffodils
catch the breeze and the winter chills
in colors on the snowy linen land. 

This song haunted me so, I called a friend who has an extensive collection of what I call “Back on the Block” music to have him burn me a copy of the album “American Pie”.  Unfortunately, “American Pie” was not in his collection. 

The next step was to visit Amazon.com, which proved helpful.  In fact so helpful,  I also added to my collection, James Taylor’s “the best of james taylor”, Jim Croce’s “Classic Hits” and the Carole King & James Taylor “Live At the Troubadour” album. 

But back to that song, why is it that it haunts me so?  Could it be because it is from times remembered fondly?  Times I so wish I could recapture today; simpler times, happier times, carefree times; times before life’s cruel lessons have been taught or learned?

Or could it simply be the artist in me?

Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and grey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTHrTOzfqhg

The Iris Mosaic

Saturday, May 29, 2010 – I completed the second stage of the Iris Mosaic.  Hopefully, tomorrow the weather will be cool enough for me to prep the wall.  Yesterday the temperature hit 101 degrees here in Tucson (the first century temperature day for this year) and I do not want to be prepping the wall in that high heat.  But the local weather guy says we are in for a cooling trend for the next couple of days which should keep the thermometer below the century mark.  Since, in my opinion, June is the hottest month in the desert southwest, I would like to get the Irises on the wall before June arrives.

I like to think of my work in stages  – – -

Stage One:  Pattern Design  Stage Two:  Construction Stage Three: Wall Preparation (my least favorite part)

Sunday, May 30, 2010 – Stage three is complete.  The temperature is in the mid 90’s but I have managed to fill in the cracks and thin-set the surface of the wall where the mosaic will be.  I’m not unpleased with the results so far.  Tomorrow I hope to begin placing the Opus Vermiculatum tiles on the wall; that is after I knock off the rough edges of the thin-set.

Stage Four:  Setting the Tiles

Monday, May 31, 2010 – I thought I would be innovative and use Weldbond Adhesive to glue up the tesserae tiles, after all Weldbond worked perfect for the confetti mosaic I had just completed.  I put the top two sections on the wall, sat down for a drink of iced tea and watched both panels begin slip-sliding down the wall.  I panicked and tried to move them back into place.  Finally, the sections seemed to be adhering to the block wall.  I gave up for the day and went inside. 

Later that day I noticed the Weldbond hadn’t seemed to be drying.  The problem was the Mosaic Mount, which is a clear contact paper type of product used to keep each tile in place while affixing the section to the wall. It was creating a condition that wasn’t allowing air to circulate therefore the Weldbond couldn’t dry.  The only thing I could do was to remove the Mosaic Mount.  As you could imagine, many of the tiles shifted and/or fell off the wall.  I decided that the next day I should use the old tried and true Thin-Set for the adhesive.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 – I mounted the remaining 4 sections with Thin-Set and stood back to look at the result.  Not too bad – but now I have to replace the tiles that fell off the wall or shifted.  I figured I should just remove them and start over.  The iris itself looked pretty good, but the white background was all askew.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 – I replaced the white background tiles this morning.  The result is alright, not perfect but I believe the grout will cover up the problem areas satisfactorily.  I should have removed the entire top two sections, not just the white tiles because the purple of the iris is a bit off the straight line but today the tiles are glued so tight on the wall, I couldn’t even chip them off.  Tomorrow, I will add another row or two of tiles to the top of the piece and then I will be ready for grouting.

So far, the temperatures have remained in the mid 90 degree range.  Friday is supposed to be the beginning of a long and as the weather guy says, dangerous heat wave with temperatures well up in the 105 to 110 range.  I don’t want to be working outside in those temperatures.

Thursday, June 3, 2010 – Before 8 am this morning, I was affixing the top rows on the mosaic.  Hopefully, later today the Thin-Set will be hardened and I will be able to grout.

Stage Five:  Grouting  

Friday, June 4, 2010 – The grouting is complete!  And I managed to avoid the above 100 degree temperatures!  Are there any other mosaicists out there willing to give me some tips?  I surely would appreciate any suggestions offered.

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