A few years ago i completed a custom glass mosaic backsplash as a commission sourced through ArtisZen owner, Sean Guttierrez. The homeowner, Mrs. Heinz, was remodeling her kitchen and was open to adding a custom mosaic. The inspiration for this mosaic came from her favorite colors and a gorgeous fabric whose design she treasured. I developed the elements of the fabric design into a mosaic design so that there were discrete pieces of each design element that could be translated to glass.
This glass mosaic kitchen backsplash was an intense experience in working with a new technique. I had been introduced to the concept of appliqué anadamento in mosaic in mosaic classes but i had never expected to use it to the extent i did with this mosaic.
An example of Appliqué Mosaic Andamento is the birds in this design – each part of the bird or subpart is composed of one discrete piece of glass shaped exactly as the element it’s meant to represent. so the beak is made of one piece of glass shaped like a beak. The wing is made of of individual and tiny perfectly shaped pieces of glass shaped like feathers. This way of piecing mosaic is called appliqué technique which borrows its name from the quilting technique of the same name.
More mosaic appliqué applications! The roses were also designed so that each petal was cut as a whole piece of glass and so the roses were not made up of broken random shaped glass. Similarly for the rose vine leaves – they are also done with appliqué mosaic technique but this time with two halves of each leaf cut exactly to the shape it represents so that the grout line left between the pieces becomes the central veining of the leaves. This is a very time consuming way to make mosaic but it provides a unique elegance to the andamento.
Here is the original inspiration for the design, on the bottom right of this image is the fabric the client said she adored, and the color scheme that brought her joy. in the top right are my sketches of birds and rose vines in bloom inspired by her original idea. The mosaic in progress on the left.
The background of the mosaic backsplash was pieced with iridescent white glass. Each piece ends up with a slightly different angle to the light so the viewer sees a subtle iridescence scattered throughout the mosaic backsplash. The iridescent glass adds a gentle pink warmth to the whole piece which brightens the mood and is soothing to the eye.
I love to design from forms in nature and this was a lovely project to engage with from a design perspective. Here is the final in-situ installed roses and birds glass mosaic backsplash.
Dragonflies have enchanted me all my life. Their iridescent wings, their magical flight patterns, jagged, powerful for such a small creature, and yet still elegant. They are formidable predators in the insect world, gorgeous yet deadly. They eat mosquitoes so they are an important part of the natural abatement for mosquitoes and other flying biting insects we don’t find very beautiful.
The greens grays and browns of this garden mosaic rock seat blend gently with a natural setting. The glass and iridescence add a touch of magic to the art piece. The pebbles add a grounding element to the mosaic’s design.
My first degree is in Geology, i have a lifelong love of rocks and the natural world. I chose to decorate a natural rock with a mosaic that is an ode to dragonflies and their iridescent beauty. I used glass tile in gentle green and gray and white colors, some with iridescence. I chose a design mimicking the layering of sedimentary rocks and how animal fossils end up petrified in rocks. The central green ceramic dragonfly was cut from a broken pottery plate i had been keeping to use in mosaic art. It has finally found a home as a utilitarian geological mosaic art piece. The rock serves as a soothing point of beauty in a garden and also as a small bench seat.
Mosaic Studio Tools
This rock weighed close to 200 pounds so i was able to work on it in my studio using a hydraulic heavy duty cart so. This way i could stand comfortably while i pieced the mosaic. A wet tile saw or ring saw is useful to make curved cuts in ceramic tile.
iridescent stained glass, vitreous glass, pebbles, shells, mirror, and small glass bead tesserae mimicking sedimentary rock layering.
Robert Semple Elementary hosts an annual Art Day where artists are invited to visit the school, show and tell about their art, and offer hands-on experiences in making mosaic art. The students in Ms Masters’ classroom and Ms MacIntosh all participated in piecing the glass gem circles for the Tree of Life design I brought for them to play mosaic with. They also pieced the trunk of the tree with browns, reds, copper, and golden colored glass in many shapes resulting in a very pleasing texture and color combination for the trunk of the tree.
The event attracted many Solano County-based artists and it had a very joyful ambiance. The school had a lot of student-created art permanently installed on it’s walls and in the school garden. Adrienne Rockwell coordinated the epic event with grace and aplomb, juggling a thousand details and bringing order to chaos to facilitate a delightful and enriching experience for students, staff, and guest artists alike.
i want to be her when i grow up!
a young superman
me and my trusty volunteer helpers
before the kids touched it
in progress tree mosaic
the 7 year old !! students pieced the tree trunk and swirly bubble leaves
fantastic young imaginations
adding in a moon from a previous community art event
Every summer the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation (VCAF) hosts a two-week summer art camp for youth aged 11 to 14 years old. In 2014 I had the singular fun of teaching mosaic to a delightful group of 30 kids. They made their own individual mosaics (see below photo gallery). They also worked as a team to piece a large mosaic of pelicans (see above) which later on was sold on March 15th, 2015 for $3500 to benefit VCAF’s Youth Summer Art Camp Scholarship fund.
VCAF is taking applications for this year’s Summer Art Camp – click here for the online application.
Astoundingly high quality mosaic mural by elementary school students! Mosaic mural was designed, facilitated, and installed by me ( Sophia Othman of Moonfish Artworks) with some volunteer help from community members. It was pieced by grade schoolers and their families, teachers, and the Principal too!! here is a link to the TV spot about it and the newspaper article too:
The designs i printed out for the project were laid out on my workshop floor to figure out how the whole design would work and be able to hold so many individual mosaics (we ended up with 75 animal mosaics). i picked a marine animals theme for the mural to resonate with the existing painted mural art at the school. i chose creatures that are native to this area, in the San Francisco Bay and the Napa River, both swimmers and flying animals. The mermaid seahorses, and flying fish were necessary to add Magic, of course.
The design paper prints were used as a guide for piecing the mosaics when i (and four volunteer helpers of my own) facilitated the mosaic making event for the 60+ families that participated in piecing the mosaics. We had at least 140 people there in one large auditorium because each student had to be there with at least one adult family member. We had many families show up with 3 or 4 family members collaborating on piecing their small animal design that would eventually fit into the overall design for the mural.
For the 2014 Vallejo Open Studios I hosted an actual open studio and invited the public to help piece the words for the mosaic mural border. We produced 72 square feet of border mosaic for the Grace Patterson elementary school mosaic mural. Whew! What a day!