Beginning the Work
Whereupon I Have An Idea
Since my last post (before heading out for a three-week vacation) I’ve been pondering what I really want to do with this mosaic. It’s a big deal to deconstruct a mosaic that isn’t turning out like you want. It’s also a bit deal to spend the time i t takes to make a mosaic and end up with something that isn’t as good as it could be. I’m always concerned at this point in a work, that what I “see” in my head won’t make it out into the world. Sometimes when that happens the result is just fine, or even better than what I planned. Other times, well, I end up with something that isn’t quite what I wanted it to be and that is discouraging. This morning when I woke up I knew what I wanted to call the mosaic and what I wanted to do with it. The name — at least at this point — will be Travail/Travel. I have the description/message for the piece almost written, but I’m not sharing it until the work is done.
Adding More Sculptural Effects
Tonight I did more work on building up the base for the mosaic. In the images you can see where I’ve built up the area around the trilobites to suggest the path they are taking, have taken with higher areas in front and to the side of the trilobites, and lower areas behind them. I want to suggest movement. I want it to look like they are… not struggling, but having to work hard to make their progress across the land. I have no idea what conditions trilobites encountered in their lives, but in my head they leave tracks in the sand that are smoothed out pathways.
Stone Preparation — Hammer & Hardie Work
When I do a stone mosaic I generally use a mixture of cut and uncut stone along with the occasional stone slab. The uncut stone is stone that I’m using just as I found it in the river, along the lake shore, on the hillside, or on the paths or trails. I might slice with the lapidary saw it to make the depth/height of the stone appropriate for the particular mosaic, but I don’t change the general size or shape of the stone. The cut stone can start out as a found rock, purchased slab (or one I’ve sawed from a larger rock), or a stone tile from the discount flooring store in Chicago. I use the hammer and hardie to cut the stone into smaller and smaller pieces — tesserae — until I get the size I want. If the tesserae have manufactured/sawed edges I make a final cut with the hammer and hardie to split it half. This allows me to turn the manufactured/sawed sides down so that no perfectly straight edges show. I’ve been cutting and testing several types of stone for the background of the mosaic. I don’t really have stone that is the exact color I want — an issue for mosaic artists since we cannot simply blend new colors. I first cut up a dark orange/rust-colored travertine limestone which didn’t look right when I did the test for it. I also cut up some reddish-brown marble. It might work color-wise, but it’s a total disaster to cut… very irregular due to the veins and inclusions. I decided that it would be way to frustrating to try to cut up enough tessarae for the mosaic using this stone. So, after a lot of thinking, a lot of digging though my inventory of cut up stone, I’m returning to an earlier choice for the background stone — a deep yellow travertine limestone. Some of the trilobites have curious yellowish highlights which I think will look good with the stone. While I was going through my inventory I found a largish rock that I picked up somewhere — no clue where though. It’s a variegated sandstone with some really interesting sedimentary banding. Since it’s a super soft sandstone I was able cut it into chunks using the hammer and hardie. I swapped it out for the dark brown jasper(the Burnt Ranch Jasper) and I think it works better.
I don’t think I’ll have time for working on the mosaic tomorrow, but if I do I will be cutting more limestone tesserae in preparation for beginning the construction.