Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Commission

This is the sketch for a new commission. The clients have a fairly modern condo right on the beach (I mosaicked three walls in their master bath with a wave design -- pictures on website). They have beautiful contemporary furnishings, but the electrical panel in the middle of the hallway is an eyesore, so they've commissioned me to create something to hide it. Because the panel sticks out from the wall about an inch and a half, I'm having a carpenter build a frame first. He'll attach a piano hinge on the right side and a magnetic closure on the left side. I've ordered an amber-colored square glass knob that will go with my design to attach over the magnet for ease of opening. The wall color is a rich mustard color, so my design will incorporate a mixture of tiles in yellows, golds, beiges, and browns, in all different sizes, from 2" down to 3/8". I've got some glass gems for sparkle and some millefiori rectangles for fun. It will be a contemporary look that will be intriguing to look at as well as functional.  I'll mosaic the sides as well as the front panel; the whole thing will be about 39" high and 19" wide. I'm looking forward to getting started!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Work in Progress

For several months I've had a stack of small boards lying around, supposedly to make shelves with. But not being a particularly handy person, I finally realized that the boards would never make themselves into shelves, so I decided to cut them up and make small mosaic "gems" with them. Each piece is about 7" square. You can see my process in the picture - sketches on paper, then transferred onto the boards (there's a toucan in front ready to be mosaicked) and a couple of the finished squares toward the top (not yet grouted). I'm working in stained glass, which I'm enjoying more the more I work with it. The colors are brilliant, and it's easy to cut tiny pieces that stay flat in place (with tile, sometimes a small piece can be hard to place flat due to the ridges on the back of the tile). I have a couple of dozen of these small squares, and look forward to creating a variety of mosaic gems. I'm starting out with a series of birds, and we'll just have to see what comes next. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Summer School"

I just completed this mosaic, called "Summer School," to enter in a competition sponsored by the online mosaic community Contemporary Mosaic Art (CMA). The assigned theme is "camouflage." I used all scraps in my green and blue boxes cut into squares for this piece. The tiny eyes are purple millefiori. It was really fun to do, and I could easily see this design in a backsplash or filling a wall niche. The finished size is 24" x 24". 

CMA is a wonderful community that always inspires me. It includes forums to share projects or get help with mosaic questions, and they create a new "slide show" every few weeks to showcase members' artwork.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Work of Art" Didn't Work for Me

First, the good news: I'm happy that Abdi won. I think he has the greatest breadth of vision and technical facility of all the contestants, and I wish him all the best. 

Having said that, I really think that this series failed as a competition that tried to cast itself in the same mold as Project Runway, Top Chef, and Top Design. In my view, art is not suitable for this format, because it is such a subjective art form. All of us can envision wearing an outfit we see on the runway, tasting a dish, or living in a professionally designed room, and we live with our wardrobes, our food, and our house decorations every day - but how many of us think about or create art every day? Also, not only can we envision wearing the outfit or eating the food, but we can easily follow along with the judges when they say technical skill is well done or lacking; when a dress is well constructed, say, or a dish shows different harmonious flavors. I feel as if I am learning something about dressmaking and cooking every time I watch those shows, even though I will most likely never sew a dress or make a roulade. 

I wanted to learn something from "Work of Art," too. Perhaps it might have succeeded better if it had taught us more about some of the techniques the artists were using, such as screen printing or photo manipulation or sculpture armatures. We all like to see how something is done (witness the popularity of the many "how it's made" shows), even if we never intend to do it ourselves; one of the fascinations for me with Project Runway and Top Chef is seeing how the outfits and the dishes come together, and learning new terms, such as "chiffonade." It does not take away from the mystery; in fact, it increases my admiration for the people who are skilled in these fields.

With no explanation of technique in "Work of Art," and its seemingly overarching focus on "concept," we were left with judging the challenge projects only subjectively - as to how they made us feel (if they made us feel anything).  It's not that I believe I have to like everything I see to appreciate it, but art is such a slippery experience, a few footholds from the experts would have been welcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gecko Redux

Here's "Flotsam Gecko," brand spankin' new on my work table, ready for delivery to its owner. I didn't have all the same tiles that I used for the first incarnation, and so he turned out a little brighter than the first, but I like the result, and he will show up really nicely on the side of the owner's house. He'll be facing the road visible to all passersby! I ended up using a Liquid Nails product--a clear adhesive/sealant that says "fiberglass" on the tube as one of its recommended uses. Since I also roughed up the surface and reinforced the inside of the mold, I'm pretty confident that everything will stick. The grout is sealed twice, and I also added a coat of Clear Coat spray for extra protection. Good luck Mr. Gecko!