Oh my sweet flowergirl is finished! Such a lovely feeling :-)
Julian and I were supposed to be travelling to the farm this weekend past – alas, there was a deluge of rain and extensive flooding across our Gippsland route and we couldn’t go.
However, with 5 days off work and my mum by my side, that just meant plenty of hours to work on our mosaics at Merryl’s workshop.
An extra long session on Friday saw most of the flowers in her hair finished. Then Monday and Tuesday I spent painstaking (tedious!) hours cutting tiny slivers and shards of brown glass to fill in the background of her hair.
Oh my. I didn’t think it would ever end!
I once read that when Kaffe Fassett designed his needlepoints, he would sit cross legged on the floor, surrounded by baskets of beautiful embroidery yarn, and work away at creating his intricate images.
Then, once the essentials were in place – and he was surrounded by a chaos of colourful, unidentified yarn – he would pass the work on to his assistants to finish – and sort out the yarn.
As I cut and carefully fitted my strands of hair – with delicate pliers – in amongst the flowers and fruit, I could sooooooo understand the beauty of this approach :-)
Yesterday it was finally time to grout! Grout is like a wonderfully stiff icing – makes the loveliest noise as I mix it up. Merryl added just the right amount of red and yellow to give my flowergirl the perfect tint of rosiness – and just like icing we had to be soooo careful not to add too much.
First you slather it on nice and thick – taking care to push it firmly into all the wee spaces, but also keeping the spatula nice and flat so as not to gouge out tiles by mistake.
I managed to knock out a few – all from the hydrangea – it was made using a thicker tile with an uneven bottom which when you use it whole or halved, sits really well, but cut into small squares, became a lot harder to secure. More glue and careful grouting solved that.
Once the piece is thickly and evenly covered, you use a scraper to remove the bulk of the excess – again, taking care not to drag it sharply across the tiles and knocking them.
Finally, you use oodles of scrunched up paper towel to rub it back so that the tiles are once again revealed and gleaming, and all the grout is smooth and neat. This is definitely the most time consuming part of the grouting process – but also such a thrill as the piece comes back to life.
This is only my second piece, but it is such a delight when I rub and rub and rub and think, huh! There’s no tile in that spot, just grout. Fancy not putting a tile there. And then I rub that tiny bit more and POP! There’s the tile.
Oh – then there’s the painting of the edge – a very imperfect science. Again, Merryl mixed me up a lovely rosy shade to complement the grout.
And then ….. the grand reveal :-)
Now, initially Merryl and I thought we’d apply the rosy background grout as a base and then we would make up smaller batches of various colour to overgrout special bits – some of the more solid flowers, the brown hair, the rosy cheeks, the dark sparkly background – which would have given the piece a much more solid, more painted look.
I don’t know much about the history of mosaic techniques, but I think this technique might be a more modern thing. I don’t know if the ancient mosaics used multiple coloured grouts in the one piece – just from my very incomplete perusal of them, it seems more traditional to grout in just one colour. And I do like things to be more traditional.
Well, once we stepped back and looked at that rosy pale grout, all thoughts of overlaying lots of different colours vanished.
Oh I am so very very very happy with this piece!
You can see in the photos above and below that there are two holes – I was initially going to use her as a table top – but then I found a great pedestal table in hard rubbish so decided the lovely flowergirl would be a delight hanging on the porch wall at Wombat Hill Farm – looking out across our garden and up the valley to Tilba.
And then she will be perfectly lovely and ready to hang …
I must confess to being COMPLETELY SMITTEN with mosaics :-)