Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making A Mosaic: Indirect Method, Part 1

I get a lot of questions about how to create a mosaic for outdoors, especially at a site where you can't just sit and directly work on the mosaic. This is the first of several mosaic tutorials on working with the indirect method. I will be creating my mosaic on mesh in my studio. Then, I will transport it to the site and install.

First, you need sketches. (See above.) These mosaics I will be showing you are part of the new McCarver Park and playground in Tacoma, WA. Several local artists were brought in to work on the project.

Next, I enlarge the drawing to scale onto butcher paper. This is an 18" circle that will be placed into a concrete seat.

I cover the drawing with a resist of parchment paper and trace the design again. You might wonder why I don't just draw on the parchment paper to begin with but it is very slippery and hard to sketch on. That is why I use the butcher paper first. The parchment paper will not stick to the glue I put on the mesh. (Do not substitute wax paper; it will stick!)

I hold everything down with Duck brand tape. (Why am I using pink tape, you might ask? It always seems to be the color on sale!) Finally, in this first stage, I cut out a piece of mosaic mesh to cover the design. Now I have a sandwich of mesh, then parchment paper, then drawing.

Before you get started, you have to chose which type of material will be appropriate for the outdoors. Since this is an exterior mosaic in the pacific northwest, I need to use something frost-proof. I like to use these brightly glazed porcelain bathroom tiles. You can also use glass out of doors, but since these will be seats, I don't want anything that could be too sharp on little hands.

The tedious part is separating all of the tiles and cutting off the little rubber nubs. This takes a while and is boring so I try to break it up with other tasks I have to do for the project.

The fun part is now putting all of the tiles together to create the design. I am not gluing anything down at this point; I am just cutting and laying out as I go.

Next up, cutting the tiles and gluing down the design.