Sunday, June 26, 2011

Triceratops Mosaic..but not really*

Where has the past year gone? I have no idea. I haven't been taking any art classes at the Flint Institute of Arts, I know that--perhaps that lack is the reason I slipped into a state of dullness. I started this mosaic last summer (sigh) and had every intention of finishing it during the winter but, as I had written before, working in the basement on mosaics in winter is dull, uninspiring and, well, cold. This is not for me. I am not, particularly, a dinosaur fanatic. But I live with a former dinosaur fanatic and a current fanatic who is allergic to wool and therefore cannot receive any knitted goods (and refuses all wool substitutes I think out of sheer bloody-mindedness). So, when woolens and woolen substitutes won't do, a dinosaur mosaic is in order, or so I hope.
The glass is about 3' by 3' tempered glass, so it is really strong but, therefore, really heavy.  The story behind the glass is really strange.  My FIA connection was given 8 or 9 panels, most 3' by 3', but some 2' by 5' and some even larger.  A couple had special ordered all the pieces for a bathroom (who has that many windows in one bathroom?!?) and had dark green bits etched into some patches and frosted bits etched into other bits.  Apparently the person preparing the glass had warned them that it would look weird, but they insisted.  Then, once it arrived, they hated it.  It sat in their basement for years (it was wrapped in 10 year old newspaper when I picked it up, yellowed and brittle) until they couldn't stand looking at their folly anymore.  In a fit of pique they dropped the whole heap off at the FIA, in the main office, and went off.  [Apparently that happens quite regularly there--like hospitals finding babies in garbage dumpsters, the FIA finds everyone's ex-hobby and craft remains on their doorsteps with no note attached, and dried out or bits broken.]  Well, the pieces didn't give me any sense of shame or regret so I took three panels home and set to work.  I have come to think that dinosaurs have great artistic potential that is grossly underexplored.  There is simply no reason to represent them in drab greens and grays, as they usually are.  I wanted to express hugeness, strangeness yet nothing terrifying.  I didn't want a slathering, bloody-toothed tyranosaurus -rex staring out at us for decades to come.
It was quite fun to work on this guy (or gal--s/he hasn't been given an identity yet).  It was fun just picking out a crazy color scheme, like you would see with parrots.  But now I have to deal with the background, and I am a bit stuck.  I want to keep it simple, so it doesn't overwhelm the subject.  But I also don't want it boring.  I was thinking of very dark, browns and black, and then having a very complex pattern of leaves or abstract swirls which would mainly show up in the grout.  But now I am thinking of letting strips of pink and wine/cranberry pipe through the brown  to give it some zing.  Here is the cranberry/pink/brown/black.
Here is just the browns and black.  Hmm.  It's a poser.
Mainly, I just want to get the issue settled because once I do, it won't take that long to get done as background is fairly straightforward and I JUST WANT TO GET IT DONE. 

*People who claim to know tell me that triceratops are not a distinct kind of dinosaur but simply baby torosaurs.  So what is this--is it a torosaurus, no-longer baby triceratops or something else?  What I do know is that I dug through a giant tub of plastic toys in our house, found the funkiest looking beastie, set up a photo shoot, took various shots of it in various poses, enlarged them MANY times over, and then went to work from there.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jelly Fishing

Meanwhile, what have I been doing in class? Jelly Fishing. I actually started a piece that was going to be a close up of a coast line that had giant sea urchins and such, but then decided that I wanted to make those in ceramics, do the sand in unglazed black porcelain tile (which is AMAZINGLY difficult to get--you wouldn't have thought so but there you go), and have various rocks, shells, bits of mirror and glass--a mixed media piece, in short. Anyway, it was turning into a real confused palaver and, until I sorted that out, I had to get started with something in class. So, I set aside the other one (which is going to be on a piece of wood) and, inspired by some recently acquired books on the ocean, coral reefs and such (the benefits of a great Christmas), I set to work on this. I really had no plan other than use colors I would not ordinarily use and to use an entirely different pattern for each creature.
I'm pleased with how the jellyfish looks. This whole mosaic was incredibly satisfying to do; everything fell together just right. One person has said that it looks like a landscape in outer space and the brain coral in the upper left is a moon; another said it looked like an underwater Wonka Factory with everything made out of candy. Sounds like a novel for the 9-12 set in the making.

The Thing is DONE!

I can't believe it. Here it is, after a mere 19 months or so of effort. I tried to photograph The Thing (as I call it) from straight-on, but there was always a glare spot on The Thing's face. I had a lens filter, a bounce flash--no dice, still glare. A real photographer would know what to do, but this photographer simply moved to the side a foot or so.
Simon insisted that there be a penguin classic placed in front of The Thing to show the size of it. (It's The Innocence of Father Brown.)
Here is a close up of The Hulk's face. Because his face is, strictly speaking, a human face with real emotion, it was the hardest thing to capture with the glass. I don't think it's a complete success, but it isn't as bad as I feared it would be when I was putting it together over a year ago.
Here is The Thing's face. I was very worried about how rock would be translated by glass, but I think he is a real success. It's shiny, but still fragmented enough to look like crumbly granite. I thought I would hate working on The Thing, but I actually really liked it; the black outlines look sharp and the orange is bright and "pops."
The other major worry: how would the speech bubbles look? I think they turned out fairly well. I used Delorean Gray (why Delorean?) grout, which is a dove gray sort of color, so it contrasts just a bit with the white glass but the difference isn't too jarring.
OK: It took about 19 months, cost about $650 ($100 for the sheet of plexiglass; about $500 for glass; $10 for grout; probably $15 for Weldbond glue; maybe $10 for wood frame and hardware; $15 for color copying of original comic page). Hmmm. Was it worth it? Well, I would do it again but I won't do it again. Though I was looking at the cover of a Hellboy comic and that definitely got me thinking about a REALLY big mosaic...10' by 10' maybe???

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Year Updates

These are projects I completed some time ago but haven't gotten around to posting. This was the nautilus shell mentioned earlier. I finished making it in June or July and it was fired in August, but I didn't get around to glazing it until early December. This was in part because I hadn't decided what glaze I wanted to use but also because I hate glazing at was putting it off as long as possible.
Here is a closeup of the inside. Everyone who sees this asks, "What are you going to do with it?" I think that is a weird question. I'm not going to do anything with it. (Someone at the FIA suggested that I use it as a planter outside during the summer. Huh?)
It's hard to get myself to work on The Thing during the winter because the basement is SO COLD. (I need to convince everyone I live with to move into the basement so that I can work on the mosaics upstairs.) But I have (slowly) been getting some work done. I am ALMOST to the point of being very, very sick of working on the background.
And, just to show that I do still knit, here is the latest attempt to make a small sweater for someone who can't wear anything itchy. All past attempts have failed (either because I had miscalculated and the sweater ended up being too small or because he had grown by the time I finished). Ever hopeful...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

And here this is, finally. It's always a bit of a let down finishing something. Even if it turns out well (and I suppose I will admit that this one is well enough), there are always things I wish I had done differently. The blue background looks nice (nicer even than in this photo) but still...
And here this is, still so much potential. I'm nearing the outer ring. I won't set myself a date but it surely would be nice to be done with this before Christmas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More on...The Thing

Here this is, black frame finished (both the wooden frame that will support this on the wall and the lights that go behind it and the black, glass mosaicked frame around the picture). I've also begun on the background, which I'm doing with "architecture glass" which is frosted glass that lets in light but obscures whatever is on the other side (which, in this case, will be wiring and a wall).
Here is a closeup. The glue I am using, Weldbond, takes a really long time (2 weeks) to become completely clear so you can see how much work I do at any given time by how wide the various bands of drying glue are. The 3 inch wide thick white glue band was done two days ago. Underneath The Thing is a big sheet of kraft paper, about 3' x 4', onto which I drew out concentric circles to use as guides for placing the glass. I thought I was being very clever by using a nail in the middle, tying a piece of string to it and, at the other end, a pencil. Then, or so the plan was, I would spin the pencil around the nail, letting out ever increasing lengths of string so that I would get ever larger, perfect circles. Except that the string went around the nail and so got shorter, and so my circles spiral. In could be a good effect if it was noticable, but it will be broken up with the Hulk and Thing bodies. So will it look like perfect circles, slightly wobbly circles or an ever increasing (vertigo inducing) spiral? Or just a big slab of indistinctly broken glass?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting Somewhere?

Here is one thing I have been working on. After a sputtering start (doing and then undoing the tentacles) I am finally back to work on this. The shell is done (I keep reminding myself that, although it looks too intensely bright now, the grout always flattens the colors out a bit) and so are the tentacles (barely visible now in a sea of sketch lines and gobs of old glue) and am starting to work on the background--always the hardest part.
The eye looked really big when it was the only thing done, but now it is sort of lost in the activity. I'm not sure how I feel about that.