My Mosaic Wall-The Pets

Though I didn’t add the pets to the wall all at once, eventually they all made their way. The first one I attempted was my Mini Schnauzer, Anna. I was excited because as I made her likeness on the wall, I was looking at an old picture of her on my phone. When I finished though, she looked more like a raccoon than a Schnauzer. As I’ve filled in the areas around her, she’s starting to look more like a dog. As of today, she’s 15 1/2 years old and still just as wonderful as when I got her at 4 months old.

The next pet attempt was Sasha, my 21 1/2 year old Siamese cat. This was shortly after I discovered grout paint, so I colored her face in. Somehow the mosaic ended up huge, compared to everything else. Since this is a creative endeavor, merely to keep my brain busy and cover the gray concrete, I decided to enjoy the giant Sasha mosaic.

Next came Mabel, who came out just about how she looked in real life. We only had Mabel for a short time. Two years ago I went outside for a walk and saw a woman with her on a leash. The woman said she’d found her running in the street and thought someone may have dumped her. I estimated her to be about ten years old, which a chip later confirmed. She was a pretty dog, well behaved, and very itchy. I said I’d take her in until we could find her owners, since the woman was going to have to bring her to a shelter. The owners never appeared. Mabel loved the other pets and instantly took charge as the pack leader, guiding them along the way as herding dogs do. She had a big personality and we loved her very much for the time we had her. About a year in, she developed heart disease. Despite lots of vet visits and, by the end, twelve pills a day, plus allergy shots, eventually her heart gave out. I’m happy that I see her image every day on the wall.

Next came Lily, our Yorkie. Like Anna, Lily came with me from Massachusetts. She passed away about a month before Mabel, also from heart failure. Lily had health issues for many years but she was so sweet. Losing two dogs so quickly was heartbreaking and I’m glad I added them to the wall when they were still with us. She was about 8 1/2 when she passed away.

Scruffy was the last mammal entry. We got Scruffy about five years ago when we innocently went to PetSmart to get cat food. It was Pet Adoption Day and Scruffy was with her foster sisters, in a small area in the center of the store. She was ten months old when we got her and had been rescued from a kill shelter. She’s a great dog but has really been affected by the loss of Mabel and Lily.

Tortuga was my boyfriend’s turtle long before I was in the picture. I know the mosaic looks nothing like him but turtles are hard to make. Tortuga came from a street fair when he was about the size of a silver dollar. He’s about twenty-five years old and the oldest pet.

I hope you enjoy a glimpse into my life, and seeing my pets.

Happy Tiling!

Tracy

My Mosaic Wall – Haunted House

Inspired by the autumn tree, I decided to create a haunted house all around it, replete with a spooky cemetery, ghosts, a black cat, and some bats. A storm cloud with lightning completed the scene.

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I used penny tiles (small round mosaic tiles sold by the sheet) for the black cat, ghosts, gravestone, and bats. Since they are small, it was tough to use my glass cutting tool. Instead I smashed them with a small hammer and they mostly broke in half on their own. These are my favorite type of tiles to work with because they break easily and don’t cut my fingers. The blue was leftover flat tile I bought online. The orange leaves and green grass below are broken 99 Cent Only Store broken dishes.

Spooky things under the tree

I used black grout paint on the gravestone. The bats were black penny tiles split in half. Tiny pieces of broken yellow penny tiles make the cat’s eyes.

I tried but failed to get the effect of shadow people in the windows. In retrospect their bodies should have started at the windowsill. You’ll have to use your imagination and pretend they’re floating ghosts. I used gray tile for the storm cloud with black grout paint, and flecks of gray with yellow for the lightning.

The full house is shown below, taken recently with some new items around it, others covered in previous blogs. Shown further below is the current picture of the whole wall, though I add to it all the time.

the house with the surrounding fun things

The wall as of the end of July 2020

Thanks for tagging along as I beautify the concrete wall and have fun with creativity.

-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.

Seaweed Love

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.

rainstorm

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.