Friday, September 09, 2011

How To Make a Mosaic Headboard - Part 1

One of the most asked questions I hear from people about my mosaics is, "How long does that take?"  Like many artists, I hesitate to answer because people immediately start figuring out how much you are making an hour.  But the thing about being creative is that sometimes, the work just comes quickly and easily and sometimes, you labor over it for hours with seemingly small progress.

Angsty creativity aside, Here are the steps to creating a large work like this one:

First you decide on a base. This is a headboard I found at Neosho's town-wide garage sale this past spring.  It just so happens to be exactly like the one I did last fall. Except this one has a foot board which I also gave the mosaic treatment to.  The last time, I painted the headboard before working the mosaic, but I kept scratching it, especially while grouting, so I'm going to try waiting until I have it glued to paint it. Hopefully that's not a colossal mistake. But those are the risks I'm willing to take!

Next, you decide on a palette of china.  It took me about six months to collect this china, but some of the pieces I have had in my collection for years, just waiting for the right project.

Next I mark out a pattern. On a piece this large, you need a plan.  I use chalk to mark the piece, knowing that as I begin cutting, there will be changes that need to be made based on how the china breaks....which isn't always the way you hope. 

The cutting goes on for a long time.  In this case, I worked through one afternoon, a fantasy football draft, and then 5 episodes of Grey's Anatomy. It gets really dull between the time you envision the way you want it to go and how long it takes to really cut up all those plates (about 20 in all) you need a TV show with lots of talking to listen to, but something you sort of don't care about either, so you can focus on the work. In my case, I reached Season 4, which was the season that you discover you really pretty much hate all of them and hope they fail to become surgeons because they are terrible people with made up problems. Which made it really easy for me to cut china with gusto.

It's important to save all the pieces of the dishes, even the ones not part of the patterns,for filler.  
At this point, my entire house is a mess because I've been here working on this instead of cleaning. So envision a total disaster all the way around this beautiful pattern. You start off being careful with shards, but at this point, I am also covered in chips, the floor is covered with chips, and it's time to stand up and stretch and go get a big handful of M&Ms.  That's key to the project.


At this point, it looks impressive, but we are only about half done.  It gets harry in the next steps.   I use clear contact paper and spread it over the completed laid out pattern. This is the indirect method of mosaic.  It would be impossible to lay out this pattern directly with glue because it would dry too fast and wouldn't allow for tweaking. Most importantly, you need to spread an even layer of glue to adjust for the thickness of the china so that the end result is flat, not bumpy. 

Here's another tip. Pick someplace comfortable to work because you will be there for awhile. I made the mistake of just starting on this footboard without thinking, and that resulted in sitting "criss cross apple sauce" (formerly known as "Indian style" but that is now politically incorrect. A fact you might not know if you don't have school aged children, but I'm helpful that way.) Whatever you know it as, it's hard to sit that way for more than three hours.
 Which kind of makes me a tortured artist.

This is as far as I am on this project, so come back on Monday for the next steps!
Now have some M&Ms because this was a long post. 


stephanie garcia said...

Wow, it is gorgeous!!!

Life with Kaishon said...

So incredible. I think you should sell it for one million dollars : )

I had no idea about the indian style being politically incorrect. CRAZY! Thank you for that education.

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

Wow... this is awesome! I love seeing how it comes together! You should join us on Fridays 'in the studio' to share what we have been creating! I am glad I saw Becky mention this on facebook! :)

Sandy said...

clear contact paper - that's brilliant!

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