Sophia Othman Mosaics

Custom Mosaic Art & Sculpture

Posts from the “mosaic art” Category

Marin Community Built School Mosaic Mural Installed!!

“Our Oak” Finally Installed

Oak Tree & Native California Animals School Mosaic Mural

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Third Grade Students Work in Teams to Piece a Mosaic Mule Deer for School Mural

Well, it is finally up on the LRC (Learning Resource Center) wall!!  The Oak Tree of Life Mosaic Mural is installed and ready for students to come back to school in September and see their gorgeous and epic handiwork.  You can really see in the mosaic that an entire school participated in it’s creation.  The handmade ceramic tiles all look unique and you can tell each was the creative effort of one student.

Brief Backstory

The mosaic mural is a parting gift dedicated in honor of the school’s retiring Head Of School, Lucinda Lee Katz.  We estimate that over 600 students (Kindergarten to Eighth Grade) and staff were involved directly in the making of the mosaic.  The project started in December, 2017 and was permanently installed on a wall of the Learning Resource Center building (LRC) on August 2nd, 2018.    For more about how we designed the mosaic and which grades created which mosaic design elements read this post. 

Here are some photos from the installation process recently completed.  

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Oak Tree California Native Animals Mosaic School Mural 10’x10’8″

Mosaic Mural Completed Installation in August 2018

These photos of the installation process showing the progression from bare cement board frame and how we install one mosaic fiberglass section at at time like a giant puzzle.  The metal frame and cement board backing was fabricated by Don Carlson, who has been incredibly supportive during the installation process.  

 

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The Library building with the mosaic frame ready to go

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A blank canvas ready for mosaic fiberglass sections. We are going to build a mosaic puzzle.

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The first two mosaic sections are up!

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The third mosaic section is up, only 31 more to go.

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Notice that all three sections of the mosaic Mule Deer Doe are now installed.

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The bottom third of the mosaic is installed.

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This scaffold, loaned to us by Don Carlson, was essential to getting the job done.

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Hanging around with an opossum halfway up a mosaic tree

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The last two sections are left to be installed. I love the soaring red tailed hawk.

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One last “keystone” fiberglass section to install with Carol Bevilacqua and Siram.

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The install team is tired but happy. Siram and Carol Bevilacqua helping. Grout is next!

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School Mosaic Mural Grouted – Install Completed – Library Building

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School Mosaic Mural Installation Process – Grouting All Done – One Happy Mosaic Artist!

 

Read more about the design process and our inspiration for this mosaic.

 

Installation team included Siram and Carol Bevilacqua.  Mosaic production assistance by Siram.  

Collaborating With The Art Team

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Marin Community Built School Mosaic Mural -Oak Tree Of Life with California Native Wildlife

It was an Epic mosaic project!

Lucinda Lee Katz, beloved head of school at Marin Country Day School, was to retire in June 2017 after 14 years of outstanding service to the school.  The school administrators and staff wanted to create a special going away gift in appreciation of her many years of dynamic service to the school.  They decided to create a mosaic mural in her honor.  I had the privilege of collaborating with them and facilitating this gorgeous community built mosaic mural.  All the staff and students had an opportunity to be involved in the creation of the mosaic.  We estimate that over 600 students (Kindergarten to Eighth Grade) and staff were involved directly in the making of the mosaic.  The project started in December, 2017 and was permanently installed on a wall of the Learning Resource Center building (LRC) on August 2nd, 2018.  See photos of the installation process here.

The Oak Tree Mosaic Mural was a challenging and hugely fun project.  I got to work with an entire K-8 school!  I worked closely with the school’s Art Team to collaborate on the themes for the design and how to logistically include over 600 students to contribute to the mosaic mural.  

Collaborative Context Based Design

I worked with the Art Team to collaborate on a context-based design that included values, symbols, and experiences shared by Lucinda and staff and students.  The design elements came from the school’s cherished beautiful natural setting and the many wild animals living there.  This was to be a community built mosaic so they wanted to give every student an opportunity (during art class) to contribute to the making of the mosaic mural.  

Because the mosaic mural was to be a parting gift dedicated in honor of Lucinda Lee Katz, this gave us the foundational idea for the design.  We started with a central design element inspired from the school’s logo which is a stylized oak tree.  We also borrowed from the idea of a Tree Of Life.  Choosing a large tree as the main design element had the advantage of providing hundreds of students with a chance to create handmade ceramic tile oak leaves and acorns to be included in the enormous canopy.

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MCDS logo Oak Tree

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MCDS Playground Live Oak Tree

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Sketch of Early Design Iteration with Oak, poppies, and quail.

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Illustration of Final Design

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Installed Oak Tree of Life Mosaic Mural shows the work of over 600 Kindergarten through 8th Grade students

Mosaic Design For Community Engagement

The overall inspiration for the design is California grassland with a Valley Oak and native animals.  I was told that Lucinda loves the deer that show up on campus, often with fawns in tow in Spring and Summer. So we included the Mule Deer doe and two fawns as a major element in the design.   The Art Team wanted students to be able to create art that reflected classroom work studying local native animals, insects, and plants.   So we included gray foxes, a red tailed hawk, gray squirrels, opossum, quail, a hare, a Barn owl, butterflies, California poppies, moths, humming birds, and bees. We chose so many animals for several reasons:

  • they are present and loved by staff and students in the natural setting of the school
  • they reflect subject matter students had explored in class and already felt a connection to
  • we needed manydiscrete small design elements so that 600+ participants (staff and all students) could have an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the mural
  • the variety allowed us to optimally leverage each grade’s skill level from kindergarten to eighth grade
  • some grades could piece large mosaic animals – students could work cooperatively in small teams piecing large mosaic elements for the mural
  • some grades created handmade ceramic tile – allowing hundreds of students to create one tile each as their unique contribution to the mural
  • some grades pieced small individual mosaic elements to be included in the tree trunk
Designing Mosaics for Large Groups

It is always a challenge when designing for a large group of people to make an opportunity for each individual to contribute to the project and still be able to express individuality in the creative process.  School kids like to be able to point at the final mosaic mural and say, “look! i made that butterfly !!!”  Balancing the need for the work of many hands with the desire to honor individual creative energy is one of the challenges in community built art.  

Including many many discrete design elements has the risk of looking too busy and crowded and confusing in the final art work.  Luckily, we had a large canvas on which to compose our design efforts so there was room enough  to include the variety and sheer number of each creature in the mural.  We had more than 80 butterflies, about 21 moths, hundreds of oak leaves, over 20 bees, two humming birds, about 30 acorns, over 60 California poppies, about 20 bark tiles, over 30 diamond-shaped mosaic tree bark tessellations, and over 10 ladybugs.  

Small Hands Big Mosaics

Groups of students worked as teams to piece the larger animal mosaics and their work also had a distinctly individual quality to it in the final outcome, different groups of students had different approaches to their own animal mosaic.  You can see that in the final mosaic animals in the mural.  The third graders mosaiced a Mule Deer Doe and two fawns, a Red Tailed Hawk, and a Barn Owl.  Because these animals were larger ones in our design that allowed these younger students the ability to piece the animal mosaics using larger pieces of tile, making it easier for them to produce beautiful work without the need for exacting precision.  The more detailed work in the larger animals was pieced by third grade students who felt confident in their ability to do so.  We let them make decisions about color mixes, how to piece color transitions, and to negotiate how they would piece the animals as a team.

Big Hands Small Mosaics

The smaller animal mosaics were pieced by the 7th grade.  We chose older students to piece smaller animals because their motor skills and past art making experience would help them succeed in making mosaic in small spaces with no prior experience.  The 7th graders worked in small groups, 2 or 3 students per mosaic team, each team piecing one of the small mosaic animal designs.  The 7th grade pieced the mosaic opossum, hare, two quails, two gray squirrels, a sleeping gray fox, a gray fox in a tree, and a Barn Owl.  

Dragonfly Mosaic Rock Bench Garden Seat

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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.

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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.

architectural mosaics ecological re-use glass mosaic how to make mosaics mosaic art mosaic sculpture Nature Mosaics utilitarian art  Dragonfly Mosaic Rock Bench Garden Seat dragonfly-mosaic-rock-bench-detail-square 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

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iridescent stained glass, vitreous glass, pebbles, shells, mirror, and small glass bead tesserae mimicking sedimentary rock layering.

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‘Knowledge Is Power’ School Mosaic Mural

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Knowledge is Power

In April of 2013 I worked with staff and students of Vallejo’s Hogan Middle School during two weeks of Spring Break to put co-create this beautiful and inspiring mosaic mural.

Title:   Hogan School Community Mosaic  Mural

Dimensions: 6 foot x 17 foot

Media: Public mosaic mural using glass, ceramic tile, mirror, stone.  A  group mosaic created by dozens of participants, youth and adults, working in short sessions over a period of  a month.

Content:  The mosaic spells out the school’s motto, Knowledge Is Power, which was chosen as the theme for the mural by the school staff involved in the project.  A large portion of the tesserae (mosaic pieces) used for this piece came from donations from the community.  The design element of shooting stars is to invite students to shine.

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Knowledge Is Power – School Mosaic Mural

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Glass Mosaic Countertop for Outdoor Kitchen

 

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natural sunshine on blue glass mosaic countertop

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Custom glass mosaic Commission: art countertops for two cabinets in an outdoor kitchen/grill area in Los Gatos.

My clients were celebrating their 20 year anniversary and we got the mosaic done in time for the party.

28 square feet of mosaic made especially to fit this outdoor eating/lounging living space. The theme for the design was to reflect the idea of water and sunshine, to tie in with the creek that runs through this living space, and connect to the vibrant blues of the indoor kitchen which is on the other side of the windows seen here. We included vibrant shades of blue/turquoise, greens, and copper and gold accents to complement the cool colors.

Take a Class and learn how to create tempered glass mosaics!!

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tempered glass mosaic before grouting

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