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.


Confetti Mosaic on Wall

For those who are not familiar with southern Arizona, all homes have block walls of varying heights “fencing” off the back yard.  Here in the desert southwest we are able to be outdoors year round, now I want you to know I am not bragging, I often feel homesick for the New York Tri-State region and if the cost wasn’t so prohibitive, that is exactly where I would be living.  But here I am and ever since I moved into my home, my feeling was the wall is just another place to display artwork.  I have thought of creating some mosaic work on the backyard walls for some time now.  

Ella's Crimson Flower Stained Glass

I designed a pattern that I call Ella’s Crimson Flower; first I made a stained glass panel (which is still sitting on the workshop table awaiting solder), then I couldn’t wait to get my hands into the Opus style of mosaic.  I adapted the pattern to a mosaic pattern using the Tile Creator Software I had recently purchased.  I worked almost non-stop on tiling until one day this Spring, a friend helped me affix it to the side wall of my yard.  Well, I now know that I must smooth the wall first, the mosaic has some bumps and waves in it, but for a first effort, I am not dissatisfied. 

Ella's Crimson Flower Mosaic

After Ella’s Crimson Flower was complete, I decided to use some scrap glass to create confetti like mosaic all along the top course of blocks on the wall.  I have been working for several weeks on the confetti mosaic and today, I completed affixing the glass to the wall.  I still have to grout the entire top course, but I wanted to share some pictures of the not yet completed result.  I have to say I love it, it feels so happy, like a party!  

Confetti Mosaic

Several of my neighbors had suggested I mosaic the top course of the outside of the wall also – that too, is completed.  I just hope the Homeowners Association doesn’t site me for beautifying the otherwise ugly wall.  Who knows, maybe I will get some more work – I have already been commissioned to mosaic one neighbor’s wall.

My mind is already planning my next Opus mosaic; in fact I have begun working on it.  It will be two purple irises, and after that I would like to replicate Van Gogh’s Starry Night (  Oh, the possibilities are endless, and like I said before, I am happiest when I am creating.