Friday, September 16, 2011

Pink Flamingos - Mosaic Sculptures

I love creating sculpture for mosaics. 
My latest project is a set of 5 pink flamingos for my front yard. 
Of course I will mosaic them in an impressionistic style - so they wont necessarily be totally pink! 
Besides, the pink glass I have found is not very bright. 
So here are the first two of the eventual five. 

This one is 24" wide x 22" tall x 3" deep

 And this one is 24" wide x 22" tall x 3" deep

Their "legs" are rebar and they each stand approx 4 feet tall.
These flamingos are all ©Kim Larson 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tree Of Life is Finished!

Grouting was hard. Each leaf had pieces that needed to be revealed individually. Some will be forever embedded in the grout because they were too small or flat. But they are there! 
Here are some of the descriptions people gave with the piece they offered:

Broken porcelain from Pt. Isabel Dog Park
Broken eyes glasses, seeing clearly how fragile we are
Vase made by a glass-blower who knew the fragility of her work, but wouldn’t let the vase go as a gift to someone…brokenness
Bits and pieces of the ancient inhabitants of the Mediterranean and North Africa
Unglazed handle is from Ephesus and probably came from the water jug St. Paul used to quench his thirst after he preached to the Ephesians
Curved, triangular grey mottled piece from behind the big cathedral at Marsielle
Little dark-green shard from the grounds of an ancient Moroccan mosque.  Green is a sacred color in Islam.
One of a pair of earrings from my mother
Pieces of love, laughter, happiness
Pieces representing pieces from the broken bowl my mother made- a life-long potter…I eat from her works daily
To be able to put the pieces touched by fear, frustration, impatience, disappointment and putting them together in the moment and speak them in love
A gift from my students
Broken flaming chalice made by a potter friend of the family from Oklahoma
An earring from Grandma Marilyn, the other lots
Pieces of the ocean so dear to us
Beads from Africa
Gem-stones represent gifts of love from our children.  Now they will forever be tokens os love with & for this congregation.
I can’t drink from this anymore; the handle is gone; this is about my not drinking anymore
The treasure of memories, love present, love withdrawn, experience, sadness, all these pieces make us deep and gain understanding
A UUCB church plate rescued from the trash, meals shared here such an important part of our lives
Little deer our daughter thought she couldn’t live without, now it is broken and forgotten, but she lives on happy far away in Mexico…

Here is the tree in situ.

Here is the way it will look, approximately, after the wall is painted.

Tree Of Life
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley
See more here
and here 
126" x 96"
August 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Unitarian Tree Of Life Mosaic, Part 2

I love grouting! But I knew grouting this tree would be hard. 

I knew I would need to take great pains to reveal each piece of tessarae because each piece has meaning to someone in the congregation. But within each leaf there could be a small tie clasp sitting next to a thick chunk of outdoor tile!  So revealing each piece was going to be hard!
To prepare the tree for grouting, I first had filled the spaces between the leaves with black tile that had been donated. 

I knew I was using black grout so these tiles would recede somewhat and help to delineate the leaf shapes.There was also too much space between most of the leaves. 

Then I taped off half the tree. That is usually a painstaking process which I dread but today it wasnt so bad! 

The grouting process is an artform in and of itself. It begins with an attack of the piece - covering the artwork rather violently with handfuls of colored "slop" and ends with a delicate buffing and polishing that can last for hours. 

But in between is the painstaking removal of the grout that covers each and every piece of tessarae. And if one is working outdoors in the sun, the time between these steps speeds up considerably! 

I love working in the sun but it means the grout dries faster, needs to be removed faster so it doesnt dry onto the tessarae. But the fast drying time means you can get to the buffing and perfecting stage faster too. And the best part is removing the tape to see the shape edges all around the piece. Love it!

 I like to use dark grout and am getting to like just plain black the best. I chose it for this tree mosaic because it was the only color not used in the leaves themselves! 

I knew it would also set off the jewel-tone colors in the leaves. And it creates a little bit of a stained glass look that I like too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mosaic Tree of Life for the Unitarian Church of Berkeley, CA

I want to share this project with you all because it is 
very sweet and profound. 
I am in the process of creating a mosaic tree for the Unitarian Church in Berkeley. They contacted me last Spring with an idea - to have their congregation create a mosaic together. The ministers there are Barbara and Bill Hamilton-Holway. 
Their idea for this mosaic started with these thoughts:
"Unitarian Universalism brings together pieces of wisdom from world religions, science, poetry, personal experience to create a whole that is beautiful. Each person contributes their unique piece to add to the whole. Out of our broken pieces, together we create beauty."

Starting in June, Barbara led a series of sermons about the nature of healing our own and each others brokenness through love within a community. In this project, each person would hold people's "broken pieces" in their hands and create a whole new work of art with them - symbolizing the healing we can offer each other.
The congregants were asked to bring pieces for the mosaic tree - things that symbolized their lives, their loves, their wins and losses and just anything else they wanted to share with the group. They brought pottery, jewelry, plates, mugs, etc. I processed these offerings, broke everything down and all of the pieces were put into communal bins. 

We organized three mosaic workshops - on June 17, 24 and August 14 - where each person would make a mosaic leaf. Well the response was overwhelming! The first week 62 leaves were made. The second week, 72. The third week, 93! I actually ran out of substrates the second and third weeks. What a great group of people! Here are some of the many leaves they made.

I took the leaves home to let them dry on their mesh backing, then cut them out and repaired any non-sticking areas, then carefully packed them up. 

At the same time, in my studio, I created sections of the trunk using other, larger and not-appropriate-for-leaves pieces. For example I used these small, old and delicate porcelain horses whole because I felt it would have been a shame to break them up for tessarae for the leaves.

I began the installation of the mural at the beginning of August . By this time I was very eager to begin! 

I decided on a Weeping Willow shape for the tree - a graceful, drooping shape that also reminded me of fireworks. So I used long, thin pieces of mirror to delineate a "falling" flow to the branches.

This is only about halfway done now. I will work on it every day until it's complete. Stay tuned for more pictures as the work progresses! This tree is approximately 8 feet tall.
The dedication will coincide with the church's anniversary on September 30, 2011.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jingletown's Tree of Life Mosaic

This is another panel on the Peterson Street Art Garden in the Jingletown neighborhood in Oakland. 
My friend and tile maker, Saundra Warren, had neighbors come to her studio to create ceramic "leaves" for this tree. There are about 250 handmade and personalized creations in this tree.  
You can see that many of the leaves are so creative they arent even leaves!! There is a whale, some cats and even two cars! 

This labor of love took Saundra and I about 6 months to mosaic. She has since moved to Salem, Oregon. Oakland's loss is Salem's gain! I will miss her.

 You can refer to past posts to see more of the process of us creating this wall. The painting around it will be finished soon by another neighborhood mural artist - Jill McLennan. 
Here are some close-up photos:

Tree of Life Mosaic
18' x 10' approx
Peterson Street Art Garden
Jingletown, Oakland, California, USA

Celtic Knot Mosaic

This was a commission for a Father's Day gift this year. 
A Celtic Knot mosaic.
13" x 13"
May 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Nude - Red & Black" for Doctors Without Borders Auction

I am proud to be part of an auction happening 
throughout this month of April, 2011. 
Mosaic art from around the world has been 
gathered and put up for silent auction. 
Check out some AMAZING art and help an 
extremely worthy cause.
  This is my entry: 
Nude - Red & Black

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flat Fish Extravaganza Mosaic!

This is my latest sculpture-for-mosaic. 
I began this project indoors back in November.
  I created the armature out of styrofoam that I then covered in 
fiberglass mesh dredged through a cement slurry. Its a messy process.

After the fiberglass mesh set, I covered the whole sculpture 
with cement - molding and shaping as I went. 
I had envisioned a flat-shaped fish jumping 
out of the water.

As the sculpting progressed I knew I needed 
more room to work on him. I also knew I needed to move him closer 
to where he would be finally displayed - because as I added 
Thinset, glass and grout, he would become heavier and heavier. 
So I moved him out to my front porch and worked on him there 
when the weather permitted. It being winter, however, 
I had to stop for many days at a time. 
Slowly, though, he took shape! 
So here he is finished from many angles.

I cut each piece by hand and laid them specifically in relation 
to each other - to make the colors blend in the viewers eye.

The lay pattern on the back is my first attempt at the Opus Vermiculatum style of mosaic. 

 The underside of his tail is a swirling freeform mosaic style.

 Flat Fish Extravaganza
Finished April 1, 2011
30" tall x 29" wide x 34" long

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sunface Kachina Mosaic

This is the latest in my exploration of Southwest art, which I love. 
Fortunately for me, it was commissioned by people 
with a home, appropriately, in Arizona.
This piece depicts the Sunflower Kachina - a Hopi image 
representing warmth, shelter for the old, 
a bright future and playfulness for the young. 

  Sunface Kachina
24" x 36"