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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Breaking Tiles—and Rules

I’m breaking my own rule today. Well, it’s not a rule cast in stone, but I’m going against my usual tendency. I’m going to give you a sneak peek of something I’ve been working on at the community garden. Three weeks ago I started this column and it’s probably 80% finished. Usually I don’t like people to see my creations before they are finished because I like doing a big reveal. The mosaic parts on the column are not grouted yet, and I still have to paint the cloud that is sketched in to the left of the heart. But I’m excited about this column and I want to share this photo.

One of these days I might do a tutorial on making mosaic art. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned quite a lot about mosaic in the years since I started experimenting with it. (I actually had a funny moment just now, which I’ll share since it’s good to laugh. I thought it had been approximately five years since I taught myself to do mosaic. But I decided to look through some photos of mosaic work I’ve done and I realize that I first tried it out over fifteen years ago. WHAT?! I took a long break from mosaic after my first few attempts and then revisited it seven years ago. Funny how my brain does this with time—always underestimating the amount of time that has passed. You, too? Oh, good. I guess my brain isn’t the only one with its own wacky relationship with time.) Anyway, back to mosaic. Anyone could learn how to do this. It isn’t rocket science. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic and it beautifies an area. Okay—it’s settled. I’ll do a tutorial on it (someday!).
There are many things to love about mosaic. Although I love painting and I’ve painted some of the columns in the community garden, mosaic is beautiful in a different way than paint is. Light bounces off the various planes of the mosaic pieces, and all the different angles create more reflection. I love mixing colors, too. For example, I decided to do a rainbow on this column. I could have used the same shade of red for the entire band of red, but what I prefer to do it to mix it up a little. I used different shapes within the band of red. Some are square tiles. Some are round beads. Most are broken pieces of ceramic tile or pieces of broken plates. The variation in colors within the red band makes it visually much more interesting. Same for the other colors. You can see the variety in each band of color. The variety in the shades makes it prettier.

Texture makes the column more exciting, too. Some pieces of tile are flat, but many have slight curves. I used a lot of shells in my clouds, and the shells have a lot of rough texture, too. I also am using some found objects—things not designed for use in mosaic. There is a medallion I recently bought at a garage sale. At the time I didn’t know what I’d use it for, specifically, but I knew it would make a cool accent in an art piece. Same for the red ceramic heart on my column (inside the pink mosaic heart). I rescued that from the top of someone’s trash can a year or two ago (there I go, dumpster diving again!). Why would someone throw that away? I kept it until I had the right spot for it. Now I love looking up at the column and knowing the back story to that red heart.

The garden is continuing to change every day. And I’m not talking about my columns. I’m talking about the flowers and plants growing in the garden. The additional beds we added to the garden six months ago all have been adopted by gardening enthusiasts. Some people grow flowers only and others are growing vegetables. Each bed looks completely different from its neighbors and the variety is delightful. The garden is literally coming to life, evolving as each plant grows a little each day. (My first artichoke plant is growing quickly—it’s exciting!) This garden gives me so much joy. And I think it brings a lot of cheer to the many people who walk by it after getting off the bus at the corner or leaving the shopping center nearby. It just feels right to help create something beautiful that a whole community can enjoy seeing.

1 comment:

  1. Soooo wonderful!!!! I love the design, and how the differences in each person's garden bed are reflected (literally, and figuratively) in the mosaic of your beautiful column! I love it!!! :-D