My Mosaic Wall – Seasons and Flowers

Though my original tree was a bit of a mess, the next one I made is still one of my favorite pieces. For this I used a lot of broken plates from the 99 Cent Only Store. For the branches I used pieces of glass tile leftover from my kitchen renovation.

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On the heels of that, I made a winter tree, which reminded me of New England winters that were such a wonderful part of my past. This was a combination of mosaic tiles from sheets (green and brown) and broken white tiles I bought in a sheet.

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What I’ve noticed when creating this wall is how different items look once they’re surrounded by more tile. Later I broke dark blue dishes from the 99 Cent Only Store when I was creating a night sky and constellations, and added them around the tree.  For this I painted the grout with black grout paint and wiped away the extra.

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For Valentine’s Day I made a heart. Nothing very impressive but you can at least tell what it is. You can see the chalk line, where I planned the size. Once I started working on it, I realize I’d never have enough red tile to make it that big. It ended up smaller but still plenty big enough. The picture below is before it was grouted.

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The wall was coming along but there was so much ugly gray concrete left to cover. I’d made some palm trees which didn’t look great so I wanted to spruce those up as well (tree pun). This was done with a combination of craft stones, and various colored penny tiles I bought from Home Depot online because stores don’t carry them.

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Where I live in Southern California there are a lot of fires. Though my house has been spared, and hopefully will continue to be safe because we live toward the center of town, not by the hills, there are a lot of burned trees around. After a fire, you see a lot of black trees. Often enough though, you will also see leaves growing out of them, and eventually, a lot of regrowth. I used river rocks from the Dollar Tree to represent all the burned trees that continue to sprout life.

And because I now live in the southwest, I felt compelled to make a cactus.

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As always here is a picture of the grout and adhesive I use.

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Here’s a current picture of the wall from August 3.

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I hope you’re enjoying my tile journey.

-Tracy

My Mosaic Wall – Underwater Life

When trying to find new ideas for the wall, I found clearance penny tiles at Home Depot. They were pearlescent and shimmery and instantly made me think of fish scales. Needing guidance, I searched Google and saw several images of fish. One would think making a fish would be pretty easy.  It’s a basic shapes, limited colors right? For some reason this was harder than I thought it would be.

 

The layout on the white board was after several rounds of rearranging pieces until it actually looked somewhat like a fish.  Unfortunately I can’t capture how sparkly it is with the camera. Especially at night, the piece is as pretty at Rainbow Fish.

Sometime later, I decided to expand upon the underwater section and made a small red and white fish, a seahorse, and LOVE spelled out with seaweed and an octopus.

It may be hard to see the letters but look closely. I made sure the octopus had eight legs. In retrospect I should have used more dark green to make the letters but I didn’t have a lot of green left. Unlike some artists who have the best materials, and inventory everything beforehand, I look at what I have on hand and create from there.

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Here’s a picture of the products I use in addition to tile and broken plates. IMG_20200616_120114

And here is a current picture of the wall from today, August 3rd.

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Until next time, happy tiling!

-Tracy

 

 

 

 

My Mosaic Wall – Out of This World

Since I created elements of the wall and patched them together later, much the way a person gradually fills in their skin canvas with tattoos, I can go back after the fact and post by type. Had I known the wall art would get so extensive I would have shared it from the onset.

One of the first items I added was the sun. Shortly after, I began to add stars. This was around the time I discovered I could get penny tiles at Home Depot online. The sun was a mixture of broken 99 Cent Store plates and yellow penny tiles. The stars are penny tiles.

I also discovered black grout paint. On other scenes I tried to mix the paint with the grout but it came out a charcoal gray or lighter and I didn’t like the effect. What I’ve done since is paint the white in between the tiles with a toothpick or Q-tip. I can wipe or scrape away the paint from the tile later. This was a great discovery for me and opened up a whole new world of options for me.

I managed to snag about a dozen dark blue plates from the 99 Cent Store which made me think of a night sky. I set out to make a night sky with stars. Later I added a moon and more night sky to fill in blank areas.

Over on the right, I made a Martian in honor of my daughter’s father who is obsessed with UFOs, and also to commemorate the fact that the government  quietly announced there are UFOs out there and have been the whole time. Maybe that’s paraphrasing, but announcing it in the midst of a pandemic, and protests and riots for the George Floyd killing, pushed it to the very bottom of the news, below the Kardashians.

As always, here’s a pic of the materials I use. I’m not getting a commission on this, and don’t provide a link. I just love these products. For small jobs like this too, it would be a hassle to be mixing grout all the time and guessing how much to use.

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Here’s an overall picture from today. I’m still adding so stay tuned.

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My Mosaic Wall – Graduation and Rainstorms

Once I finished the dolphin, a coworker of mine said it would be cool if the bottom of the water, under the dolphin, was storm clouds and there was a rainstorm below. That seemed like a great idea to me.

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You have to look closely to see the raindrops within the gray sky. The people to the left are: my boyfriend (he’s got the blue eyes) and me with the orange dress and brown hair. To the right we have my daughter’s boyfriend, with his beard, and my daughter, with her long hair. We’ve all got umbrellas and the kids are riding their longboards.

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Months later when my daughter graduated from college, I surprised her with Graduation Abby. I drew this one ahead of time with my fantastic drawing skills. I gave the mosaic Abby a bunch of balloons and have her standing in sea glass since she lives by the beach.  I used black grout dye to draw in lines for her diploma. Because of COVID-19 she had a virtual ceremony so we live streamed her graduation.  I’m proud to say she now has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State, Channel Islands.

Here’s a quick pic of the grout and adhesive

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and a picture from today of the wall so far.

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Thanks for reading. I hope you’re enjoying the art.

My Mosaic Wall – The Dolphin

Once I made my first item on the wall, and learned a lot of what not to do, I was prepared to do something bigger and better. I decided to make a dolphin. It’s worth noting that except for being able to envision and describe things, I’ve always conceded that I don’t have much artistic ability. More and more though, as I complete this wall and look at some of the crafts and handiwork in my house, I’m thinking maybe I was too hard on myself. I’ve judged my work against artists who can draw something exactly as it looks. But haven’t just as many, or more, artists whose interpretations of what they see filled galleries with their work? My creations are certainly not gallery worthy, or anything I’d sell (except apple butter at fundraisers) but I need to stop thinking of my work as “something a kindergartner would do.” Which is how I usually describe my wall. As you’ll see in future posts, much of it has become a snapshot of people and pets and occasions in my life, right now. It’s a giant tile time capsule. It’s a way of expressing myself and capturing everything around me. It’s art for art’s sake, the best kind.dolphinstart

Since dolphins are complex,  I knew I needed to lay this one out on a whiteboard I used previously for brainstorming stories and books. It was collecting dust in the shed so I resurrected it and now it’s my go to layout board.  I recall using the tile cutting machine I bought when we did the kitchen, and painstakingly making a black circle for the eye, and carefully cutting the pieces of gray marble. Since then I discovered I can buy penny tiles from Home Depot online, and they’re already perfect circles. They’re the size of pennies and come in a sheet. The trend for home decorating now is white and tan and gray so it’s hard to find any fun colored tiles in the stores. I starting checking eBay and Home Depot for colored tiles.  I’ve gotten some for very little cost this way. I also check the Home Depot and Lowes stores for sale tile sheets.

Initially I bought mosaic tile from Amazon but when I got it, it was a box of tiny, thin pieces, shown above for the water and sun. I didn’t use it on the actual wall for the sun and didn’t have any other yellow then. There’s nothing wrong with thin tiles but when you have different height in the tiles, you can lose them when you’re grouting unless you remember to dig away the grout.

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This is the completed dolphin before I added any grout. I was pretty excited about it, mainly because it looked so much better than the trees.

Next I added in some water. The blue glass was from a man on eBay who I drove an hour to meet rather than wait for it to come in the mail.  The only problem with it is that it’s glass and not ceramic tile, so if I smash it with a hammer it shatters and the shards fly into my legs (I’m usually in shorts and barefoot). Generally I try to fit it and otherwise use different tile when I’m trying to get into small spots. You can see some medium blue triangles. Those were the small ones from Amazon I mentioned. This is how I learned not to use them with the thicker tile. The black tile is from the Habitat from Humanity store.

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The next day I grouted. After this follows a later picture when I added a couple of palm trees and a sun. Those we done later but I don’t have a picture of the dolphin and trees only. Looking below I went back and added some other tile to the tree to get it to look better.

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Here’s a picture of my go to materials, which I’ll add every time. I also use this adhesive and this grout. You can use something else but I prefer this texture. It’s easy to work with especially on a vertical surface. Since I like to immerse myself in the process I used to do this barefoot, and I never wear gloves because they tear on the broken tile anyway.  Eventually I had to start wearing shoes because too many times I got tiny bits of glass or tile in my feet and couldn’t get them out. I still do it all bare handed though and cut my fingers pretty regularly. Not bad cuts though, no sutures yet. The first couple of times I used a putty knife to spread the grout but because of the uneven surfaces it didn’t work well.

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Since I’m writing these posts retroactively, here’s what the wall looks like today.

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Until next time, thanks for reading.

 

My Mosaic Wall-Beginnings

Welcome back! I should say I’m glad to be back, blogging again. As I posted some (long) time ago, I add posts to my Rebounddogs.com blog here and there, but apart from that have been somewhat living in a creative vacuum. I was really enjoying the peace, not being manic and creative. But alas, I couldn’t contain it forever so in September 2019 I reached my limit of not expressing myself and shifted to “art.” That word is in quotes because it’s not perfect, but it’s been a lot of fun.

The burst of art creativity started when I wanted to paint a living room wall. I saw an ad on Pinterest for a special paint (though I can’t recall now what it was). I searched three hardware stores and online and couldn’t find the (now discontinued) paint. In desperation I searched “wall ideas” on Pinterest. What I stumbled upon instead were posts about how to dress up concrete walls. I was intrigued as I had some UGLY concrete walls, fifty feet of them in the back, and both sides of my yard. Gray, concrete, prison type walls. But there was the magic word,  a solution to a problem I didn’t know until then that I even had. Mosaic. The word excited me.

Mosaic. Years ago I had taken a stained glass class so I knew how to cut glass. My second husband was a tiler and we’d worked on some house projects together so I had the general idea down. And two years ago, with the help of friends and my boyfriend we retiled the kitchen. Once I’d made a large mosaic (on plywood that was too heavy to hang and ended up at the Salvation Army when I moved) to match what a character did in one of my novels (Missing). I suddenly wondered how it was possible I’d never thought to cover the outside walls with mosaic before. It was a brilliant idea!

I went to Home Depot and bought two products which I’ve used each time I’ve tiled since. There are other things you can use, like cheaper grout you need to mix. But for convenience, and since I’m doing small projects at a time, these are my go to favorites.  The Adhesive & Grout mix doesn’t come in big buckets, at least in my Home Depot, but it’s got a nice elastic feel to it. Regular grout can be sandy and grainy. I also bought some floor tile, the kind that looks like wood.IMG_20200616_120114

Next I went to the Dollar Tree and bought some cheap dishes. I went outside, covered them with a towel, and BANG BANG BANG. Before I knew it had lots of material.

This is the first entry about the wall and am not going to repeat all of this each time but bear with me.

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I smeared the Acrylpro Professional Tile Adhesive on the wall, a section about a foot long. I wore a rubber glove and carefully added the pieces of the tree truck first. Next I added the light green tile (the only color green Dollar Tree had at the time). I had some colored glass pieces from the craft store (in my garage from another project) so added those in as well. I must say I was pretty impressed with how it all looked.

But then day two happened. I excitedly smeared a whole lot of Simple Fix Pre-mixed adhesive and grout. I covered the whole tree trunk section all at once.

Lessons learned:

  • For one, September in Southern California is hot. I also hadn’t tiled in a long time and forgot how quickly grout dries in the sun. Actually I’d never tiled outside so should have given that some thought.
  • White grout on light green “leaves” would make it look more like a cotton puff.
  • Floor tile that looks like wood is crazy porous and sucks wet grout deep into the grooves.
  • You need a sponge and a bucket of water to immediately wipe off the grout as you go. Not baby wipes. How did I forget that?
  • When you grout, gloves are cumbersome. If you take the gloves off and wipe grout over jagged broken dishes you can cut your fingers, even if you’re careful.
  • A wire brush and hot water will get dried grout off tile and when it doesn’t, you have to sit in the really hot sun with a razor blade.
  • Those little glass beads were coated so when I scrubbed them with a wire brush some of the coating went away.firsttree2

I am happy to report that though my first item on the wall was a little bit of a disaster, I got better as time went on. I’m writing this in July, ten months from that first tree. I hope you will join in on my journey from blank wall to a permanent happy place in my yard.

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