Saturday, December 8, 2018

More Mosaic Madness

It's done! My tabletop mosaic project is finally ready to be varnished! It has taken so much longer than I thought it would to get to this point -- it seems like I've been working on this thing for years. Our kitchen table has been off limits for eating meals for nearly two months. It has been serving as a staging area for the construction of the mosaic. My husband, the chef in our household, deserves a trophy for his patience at losing his kitchen table to an art project that seemingly had no end. Well, honey, you're just hours away from getting it back.

So here's the finished product:

The next step is locating trim that will match or be compatible with the existing trim on the coffee table. I'm pretty sure we can find something that will work. So a trip to one of the big box home improvement stores is on next week's agenda. Meanwhile, multiple coats of clear satin varnish will be applied, which will make this mosaic tabletop pretty much impervious to moisture and other hazards.

If I change my mind about using it on the coffee table for some reason, it can always double as a large piece of art for the area over the fireplace. But given the size of the piece, and the hours and hours and hours it took to create, if I do opt to replace it with a mosaic something else, that "something else" is going to be made with glass or ceramic tiles this time around. It could be made in a lot less time!

Text and image Copyright 2018 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mosaic Madness

Wow, time sure has flown by since my last post. The knee surgery I had in August was a life altering experience...I didn't recover from it nearly as quickly as I thought I would, and I was in a lot of pain right up until starting physical therapy last week. Hobbling up the slight incline between my house and the studio was too painful to attempt most days. But if I'm not creating something, I go stir crazy. So I looked around for an art project I could do here at the house, and came up with the idea to create a mosaic top for my coffee table. Here's a peek at what is still very much a work in progress:

The mosaic pieces aren't affixed directly to the coffee table; I hedged my bets and used a piece of quarter inch MDF cut to the exact same dimensions of the coffee table top. I figured that if I didn't like the results, or wanted the option of changing out the design, using the MDF would allow me to do so if I skirted the MDF with pieces of trim that would hold it in place over the original table top. The photo above shows the 19x40" piece of MDF laying on our kitchen table, with approximately half of the tiles in place. 


They're not your usual mosaic tiles

My mosaic pieces aren't glass or ceramic tiles --- they're made from 300 lb. watercolor paper. Originally I thought I would use glass tiles, but the more I thought about the mess that grouting tiles produces, the less inclined I was to go that route. Ditto for using broken china. Painting my own "tiles" would not generate the sloppy mess that's inevitable when using grout. Instead I could use glue and apply it to the back of each tile with a brush. No muss, no fuss.

Unanticipated consequences

Well, that part proved to be true. But I hadn't reckoned on the incredibly tedious business of having to paint the edges of every single tile after it was cut and before it was glued into place. If I left the edges unpainted, the white of the watercolor paper would show and spoil the effect.

In the photo, note the gold-color tiles laid out on wax paper. They're in the process of having their edges painted. Totaling 90 in all, they will fill in the area encircling the round motif when finished. Then it's on to the next part of the design, then another and another until it's finally done -- which I figure ought to be around this same time next year, at the rate I'm going. (Just kidding.)

The process

You wouldn't think this process would be so time consuming, but it is. Here's why: first you have to paint the watercolor paper, then cut out the individual tiles from it, fitting them into the design you've sketched out on your surface. This can take a fair amount of time in and of itself. Once each tile is the size and shape you want it, you have to paint the edges. Then you must lay all the loose tiles out in your chosen design, outline each individual tile with a fine lead mechanical pencil, and number its position on both the MDF and on the back of the corresponding tile.

After you've laid all the tiles out so that there are no overlaps and have made sure everything is in its proper place, then you apply glue and tweezer each tile into position. A word of caution: if you're hyper-impatient, take up some other activity or you'll go stark raving mad working on a project of this size. The mind numbing tedium of painting and positioning several hundred paper tiles won't do a thing for your disposition. But if you have the patience and willpower to stick with it, you'll have something unique and remarkable in the end. If you want to explore paper mosaics further, obtain a copy of Perfect Paper Mosaics by Susan Seymour. This book was the inspiration for my coffee table top, and is full of great advice and how-to info.

Text and image ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Time Out!

Why is it so difficult for artists to take an honest-to-goodness day off? I'm not talking about knocking off studio work for an afternoon, but rather not going near the studio for an entire day. Nor am I talking about using said "time off" to catch up on reading art magazines, or updating one's web site portfolio. Nope, I'm referring to treating oneself to an entire day of indolence -- maybe lolling on the sofa watching TV, or parking ourselves in a rocking chair and reading a good novel.

Maybe it's because many of us can't imagine spending an entire day without doing something artsy. That's how I feel, and from what several artist friends tell me, they do too. It might be an activity as simple as making a greeting card with leftover paper scraps and a glue stick. Or idly doodling in the margins of the morning newspaper. The creative impulse never wants to take a vacation, it would seem. Problem is, we need down time just as much as any one else to keep our imagination stoked. A "rest break" usually results in a rush of new ideas to pursue. An overworked mind is not productive, it's just tired. It needs a break as much as our bodies do. That old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," is certainly true. No one will label us slackers if we gift ourselves with a day of doing nothing. Still need validation? Then consider this: even God took the seventh day off!

©2018 Lynn Edwards 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Artist Tip: Super Easy Brush Cleanup

Sometimes we can't always clean our brushes immediately after painting with acrylics. Here's how to make cleanup much easier when you do get around to it: add a small amount of Murphy Oil Soap*to the water you're resting your brushes in. (A teaspoon should do it.) You'll find the paint washes out of the bristles more readily, making cleanup go much faster.

*I'm in no way connected to the makers of this product and receive no compensation from them. They don't even know I exist.  Murphy's happens to be the best brush cleaner I have ever come across, and is indispensable in my studio .

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

One for the Record Books

What a crazy summer it has been! More rainfall than anyone could imagine (will the soil ever dry out?); more travel than I've done in years (to three other states besides my own, with more to come); life-altering crises of every variety affecting several of my closest friends, and, most recently, undergoing knee surgery this past week. The summer of 2018 has been a real doozie.
Thoughts for Sunday fell by the wayside in many cases, unfortunately. With the arrival of Fall, and hopefully a more settled routine, I'll resume posting the Thoughts once more. Meanwhile, I'm focused on a new series of abstracts that are quite unlike any of my previous works. A change of seasons, a change in direction. (And might we hope for a change in the weather?) Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence." -- Osho

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Achy Breaky Heart

Sometimes an artist needs to take a break from what they are known for, and delve into a whole new area of interest to interrupt their right brain's usual mode of operation. Sometimes it's good just to try one's hand at something new. Sometimes exploring a medium one doesn't usually work in can lead to a renewal of enthusiasm when our usual method of self expression starts to feel ho-hum.

Those thoughts were on my mind when I decided to re-visit an old love from my past: mosaics. About 15 years ago I had become very interested in mosaics made with broken bits of china, pottery and the like. I made a large flower pot for one friend, a gazing ball for another friend's garden, and a picture frame for my own home -- all from shards of broken dinnerware, glass marbles, and other found treasures. The fun was cut short by winter's arrival; I didn't have a studio back then, and mosaic making is horribly messy. Unable to work on my projects in the house, and with no garage or outbuilding, I had to give it up.

This past month  I was bitten by the mosaic bug once again. I had spotted a piece of heart shaped mosaic garden art on Pinterest that I thought was really cool. So I dragged out my dusty box of mosaic supplies and created a heart with a distinctly different look from the heart on Pinterest. Unlike my previous creations, this one includes bits of jewelry and beads. I had so much fun making this piece, I couldn't believe I had allowed so many years to go by without doing any mosaic work at all.
My bits 'n pieces heart                  ©2018 Lynn Edwards
What's next? It's going to be embellishing the top of our coffee table with an abstract design rendered in mosaic tiles. And after that? Well, here's the kind of mosaic piece I can only hope to aspire to:

This impressive beauty was found just outside a store in Charlottesville, Virginia on a trip there back in 2014. The photo doesn't start to do it justice. It was absolutely gorgeous-- a stunning, life sized  creation in glass. My hat's off to whoever created it, as it must have been one heckuva challenge securing all those tiny tiles...not to mention moving it. I bet it weighed as much as a compact car. Oh but it was lovely!!!

Text and images ©2018 Lynn Edwards