Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunflower 2.0

Sunflower Partial
I made a number of sunflower mosaics earlier in the year. They were very popular. I sold every one that I made and I didn't have any left in stock. I decided to make some more, but as soon as I started, I had and inspiration to juice them up a little bit. I used some different tiles, and I didn't cut every tile into little squares like I did on the previous batch. I like the difference.

Sunflower 2.0 Final 

Sunflower 2.0 Side

Sunflower 2.0 Back


Butterfly Partially Complete
I'm trying to finish up a bunch of mosaic pieces so that I can start the new year with a clean slate. This piece is called butterfly 2.0.  Why is it called 2.0? When I started my wall hanging pieces, everything had a frame. The 2.0 pieces have an internal frame. This makes the pieces much more accessible for folks because no matter what color of stain that I used on the frames, it would not match someone's decor. No frame, no problem matching. problem solved.

Butterfly Final
The photo below shows what is going on behind the scene so to speak. There is approximately one inch of recessed space behind the mosaic. This is where the hanging wire is located. This system makes hanging the mosaics a snap. They lay perfectly flat against the wall.

Butterfly Back

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Star Wars Yoda

I completed another commissioned piece based on the Star Wars Universe. This piece is Yoda.

First I did a sketch.

Yoda Sketch
Then I started laying out the glass.

Glass Layout

Next I glued Yoda.

And then I completed the background.

And then I completed Yoda with a gray grout.

Yoda Final Side

Yoda Final
Here is my client with the finished piece.

Colors used on this project

Eyes - White, Metallic light Brown, Black
Light Saber - Kiwi Eco (Maryland Mosaics)
Skin - Green Stained Glass
Shirt - Tiger's Eye, Sand, Oak
Backgound - Mix Mushroom, Basalt (B39), Metalic Blues, Gray

For those of you who are not familiar with Yoda. (Source: Wikipedia)

Grand Jedi Master Yoda is among the oldest and most powerful known Jedi Masters in the Star Wars universe. Series creator George Lucas opted to have many details of the character's life history remain unknown. Yoda's race and home world have not been named in any media, canonical or otherwise, and he is merely said to be of a "species unknown" by the Star Wars Databank. Yoda's speech syntax has been analyzed and discussed by academic syntacticians, who found it somewhat inconsistent, but could extrapolate that it has object–subject–verb word order.

The films and Expanded Universe reveal that during 800 years, he had a hand in training almost every Jedi, including many of the most powerful Jedi such as Count Dooku, who is identified in Attack of the Clones as Yoda's old Padawan Learner; Mace Windu; Obi-Wan Kenobi (partially, before Qui-Gon Jinn takes over as Obi-Wan's master); Ki-Adi-Mundi, Kit Fisto and eventually Luke Skywalker. During the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars, set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, he mentions that he trained another one of the leaders on the Jedi Council, Master Oppo Rancisis. In the Star Wars prequels, it is shown that he instructs several younglings in the Jedi Temple before they are assigned to a master. This was displayed in a scene in Attack of the Clones.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper

A client approached me about doing a commissioned mosaic. The requested piece was to be something in the Star Wars universe. That is a mighty big topic area. I decided to do an Imperial Stormtrooper.

Stormtrooper Sketch
Then I started selecting the color scheme and the cutting and gluing process. I did much more layout on this piece than I normally do. Usually I just cut a piece glass and glue a piece glass. On this mosaic, I laid out at least a third of the tiles before I glued a single piece of glass.

Initial Layout
Here is the final mosaic as seen from the side.

Stormtrooper Mosaic (Side)

Stormtrooper Mosaic (Front)
Here is a photo of my client with the finished mosaic. May the force be with you!

Client with Mosaic
Background on Imperial Stormtroopers (Source: Wikipedia) The Imperial Stormtroopers are fictional soldiers from George Lucas' Star Wars universe. They are the main ground-force of the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, most notably Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe, but its numbers are far fewer than those of the Imperial Army's regular troopers. Despite this, the apparently high combat effectiveness of the Stormtroopers as well as their harsh reputation serve as the main reasons for deploying them almost exclusively in most of the military engagements of the Galactic Empire.

They are shown in collective groups of varying organizational sizes ranging from squads to legions, and for some, their armor and training is modified for special operations and environments.

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the first troopers were cloned from bounty hunter Jango Fett, to be the Army of the Republic in the Clone Wars. In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the Clone troopers executed Order 66 under the command of Chancellor Palpatine, slaying their Jedi generals.

Initially, the stormtroopers serve as the army of the Galactic Empire, putting down revolts and establishing Imperial authority. They are the back bone of the Empire.The Stormtrooper Corps swell in size after Palpatine allows the addition of recruits and conscripts alongside the clones, though the replacement of clones by natural beings lowered the effectiveness of the Empire's famed soldiers.

With the Empire firmly stabilized and an Imperial Army/Imperial Navy established, the stormtroopers were integrated into Palpatine's personal army and were stationed on Imperial bases and cruisers, as well as on the Death Star. After Palpatine's initial defeat, the stormtroopers continued to serve under the factions that broke apart from the Empire after Palpatine's death.

The troopers' most distinctive equipment is their white battle armor, inherited from their time as clone troopers. The complete armor set completely encases the body and typically has no individually distinguishing marking (in contrast to the clone trooper armor, which typically had various colorings to denote rank or unit, Stormtrooper armor has no rank affiliation). Liz Moore and Nick Pemberton sculpted designs for the helmet. Their designs were based on conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. The armor pieces of the costume were also designed from conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. Brian Muir, who was also responsible for sculpting Darth Vader, sculpted armor pieces for the stormtrooper costume in the Art Department at Elstree Studios. The suit was moulded and initially cast in plaster. Then Muir sharpened the detail at the plaster stage. The plaster casts were then remolded and cast in fibreglass to use as the "tools" for vacuum forming process. Suits were produced in house by Tashy Baines, the resident vacuum former, but then a problem developed with the machine.

As Shepperton Design Studios had already been used to vacuum form the helmets, the fiberglass molds for the armor were then sent to them for vacuum forming the suits.

By the end of production, two different helmets were produced; one for the common stunt trooper and a second design for close-ups. Fifty stunt helmets were produced in white-painted HDPE and six hero helmets were produced in white ABS plastic. Besides the material used, the two designs can be differentiated by differences in the eyes, the ears, and the mouth area.

The armor has also been the subject of light humor for years regarding its functionality. This is due to it making its wearer easy to be seen, restricting his movement and range of vision, and seeming to offer no real protection from blaster fire. One possible explanation for its continued use is that its purpose is to protect against projectile weapons (i.e. automatic guns) which have a much greater speed and rate of fire than blasters; because such weapons would be ineffective against the armor, they are never used.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Red Sky at Night 2.0

I'm working on another of my 2.0 (AKA Frameless) mosaics.  For this piece, I am adapting a design that I did previously called Red Sky at Night.

This is what the piece looks like after I finished all of the cutting and gluing. In keeping with my 2.0 method, I wrapped the edges with the predominate color from the front face.

Colors Used in this Piece

Here is Red Sky at Night 2.0 after the grouting was completed.

Red Sky at Night Final

And here is a view of the piece from the side.

Red Sky at Night from the side

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Hey there campers.  Here is what I am working on today.  A sunflower mosaic. Mary grew a few sunflowers in her garden this year. they inspired me to do a mosaic.

Sunflowers in Mary's Garden
Next I sketched the drawing on a frame.  I'm using my 2.0 frameless frames for this piece.

Sketch on Frame
Then it was time to start gluing.  I started from the inside to the outside.

Center of Sunflower
Then it was just a matter of adding more little pieces of tile. This mosaic contains approximately 233 tiles cut into 1283 individual pieces. (1225 on the main surface with another 58 pieces around the outside edge)  I am trying a new technique of cutting the 3/4 inch tiles into much smaller 8mm size pieces. I like the way it turned out. There is much less wastage.

Main Flower Complete
After I finished the flower, it is just a matter of filling in the background. For this piece, I am using two different shades of blue. There is no particular pattern.

Background almost complete
And here we see the project after the gluing is complete.

Sunflower Gluing Complete
Did I say the gluing was complete. The only downside of the new frameless mosaics is that I now have to glue tile along the edges of the project. I built myself a jig to hold the piece upright while I am gluing the edges.

Edge Jig

In this project, I used the following colors

Center of Sunflower (The Seeds)
- P36 Henna, Hakatai (11 tiles),
- Tiger's Eye, Mosaic Mercantile (5 tiles) ,

Flower Petals, 
- Canary, Mosaic Mercantile (36 tiles),
- Pumpkin, Mosaic Mercantile (9 tiles),

Green Leaves and Stem 
- Kelp Green, Hakatai (12 tiles) -

Blue Sky
- A01 Lake Blue, Hakatai (40 tiles) -
- A02 Sky Blue, Hakatai (40 tiles) -

Outside Edge
- A01 Lake Blue, Hakatai (39 tiles) -
- A02 Sky Blue, Hakatai (39 tiles) -

And here is the final product

Sunflower Final

Just for giggles, I did another sunflower using the exact same tile colors.  The only thing I changed was the grout color.  Which do you like better?

Same tile colors, different grout color

Sunflower Facts (Source: Science Kids)
  • The sunflower is a large inflorescence, this means the flower head is actually made of many tiny flowers called florets. Central florets look like the center of a normal flower while the outer florets look like yellow petals and together they make up a "false flower". This natural design helps insects and birds to easily see the sunflower and after pollination every little flower or floret produces a seed.
  • The stem of a sunflower can grow up to 3 m (10 ft) tall and the flower head can be 30 cm (11.8 in) wide.
  • Sunflowers are very fast growing plants, in the right conditions they can grow 8-12 feet (2.4 m - 3.7 m) tall in six months.
  • As of 2012, the Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower is 8.23 m (27 ft) for a sunflower grown in Germany.
  • Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

  • The flowers within a sunflower head are clustered in a spiral pattern whereby each floret is oriented towards the next by the golden angle of 137.5°. This produces a pattern of interconnecting spirals. The number of left and right spirals are consecutive Fibonacci numbers. Normally there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other. Very large sunflowers can have 89 in one direction and 144 in the other.
  • There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil which is used in cooking and in margarines is made from black seeds and snack food is made from the striped seeds. The seeds can also be used as bird feed.
  • Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).
  • The sunflower is native to the America's and was used extensively by Native American Indians for food, as oil, in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.
  • Kansas is often known as the Sunflower state and the flower is in fact Kansas's state flower. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine.
  • Sunflowers can be used to extract toxin such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soil. For example, sunflowers were used to remove toxins from a pond after the Chernobyl disaster and similar projects took place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
  • It is a misconception that flowering sunflower heads track the Sun across the sky during the day. Young flower buds do display movement similar to this behaviour through a process called heliotropism. But a mature flower usually points in a fixed easterly direction.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sea Turtle 2.0

This is the first mosaic in my new 2.0 technique. If you've looked at my previous pieces, they all have a wooden frame around them.  For this piece I decided to use a flat frame and wrap the mosaic tile around the outside.  I like the way this turned out and I will certainly be doing some more pieces using this technique.

I decided to recycle a previously used design for a sea turtle.  Sea Turtle 1.0 as I will now call him lives in Richmond, VA.

Sea Turtle Sketch
Next I prepared a frame and transferred my sketch.

Frame with Sketch
Then I started cutting and gluing.  I used some fancier mosaic tiles for this piece that have metal mixed in with the glass.

Cutting and Gluing
Here is the piece after I finished the cutting and gluing.

Cutting and Gluing Complete
And here is the final piece after I did the grouting.

Sea Turtle 2.0 Final
Here is a photo taken from the side. I like the way the piece hangs snugly against the wall yet has a little bit a depth.

Sea Turtle 2.0 from Side

And here is a smaller version of Sea Turtle 2.0.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disney Mosaics

I just returned from a family vacation in Disney World. I was amazed at how many cool mosaic piece could be found around the world. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Mosaic of Beauty and the Beast at Be Our Guest.

Inside the castle's archway, a series of five mosaic murals tells the story of Cinderella. Designed by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and crafted and set in place by a team of six artists led by mosaicist Hanns-Joachim Scharff, the 15-by-10-foot (4.6 by 3.0 m) ornate panels are shaped in a Gothic arch. The murals took 22 months to complete and contain just over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass and rough smalti (glass made specifically for mosaics traditionally used by Italian craftsmen) in more than 500 colors. Many of the hand-cut tiles are fused with sterling silver and 14-karat (58 percent) gold, and some are as small as the head of a tack. Looking closely at these ornate murals, one will notice that each of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters appears with a little added color - one sister's face is clearly "red with anger", while the other is a little "green with envy" as they watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper