Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Orange Waves - Part 1

I have a client who loves water. Her living room is a beautiful shade of blue, she has photos of surfers and breaking waves from Hawaii on the walls and as screensavers on her computer, and she travels to beaches all over the world. So when she contacted me a few years ago about doing a backsplash for her kitchen, she knew she wanted it to look like waves. She is someone who takes her time with important decisions, so we worked on the design for about three years off and on. It morphed from a simple undulating wave design to an intricate medley of pipes and breakers. 

Finally it was time to choose tile colors. Although she knew she wanted the design to look like water, she also knew that she didn't want the tile in the traditional blues that most people would choose to depict water. She decided on shades of orange, and we tried out several different color combinations before finding the final one. I made watercolor renderings of each section, such as this one:

We spent a lot of time getting tile and glass samples from various companies. Finally, the client found a company that agreed to make glass tile in custom colors to match a paint chip series that my client liked, and after a few tries, the samples that arrived were pronounced acceptable, and the finished batch arrived a couple of weeks ago. We've got three oranges, a rust color for dark accents, and a white for the foamy parts. Still looking for a small amount of a subtle glittery tile to sprinkle in here and there among the white frothy sections, but that could be optional. And we could also use a grout with a glitter additive in some spots as an alternative.

Since the design calls for small squares of glass tile, I realized very soon that I would need help cutting all those squares or be in danger of developing carpal tunnel syndrome! Besides, my hand tools were not cutting straight on this particular type of glass, so I took the plunge and bought a band saw. I have an innate fear of power saws (I can't fathom where that comes from; I can't remember ever having a bad experience with one, and my dad had a full workshop in our basement with all types of saws and never had an accident) but I've forced myself to learn how to operate a jigsaw so I can cut odd shapes for my mosaics from time to time. But that's it - no circular saw, table saw, or tile saw for me! However, the nice thing about the band saw is that it won't cut soft things, like skin, only hard things, like tile (it will, however, cut fingernails, which the guy at the store demonstrated gleefully). Reassured that I wouldn't slice a finger off, I was good to go. After a relatively short learning curve, I was cutting decent shapes about 5/8 inch square that I could then nip into smaller squares with a hand tool as needed.

After amassing a few piles of little squares, I was anxious to begin glueing. I taped down my template, over it a sheet of parchment paper (Saran wrap would also work) and on top a piece of mesh. I'm referring to my watercolor for the color references, of course. So if you need me in the next few weeks, I'll be here moving little orange glass squares around...