Friday, March 1, 2013

Impressions of a Colorado Fall

Impression of a Colorado Fall, stained glass mosaic, 36" x 36", 2013 ~SOLD

This landscape has been inspired by my impression of the changing, vibrant aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I live. Aspens live in large colonies and many share one root system so they change colors within their group and that's one of the reasons the fall foliage is so incredible in the mountainous Colorado landscape. While the colors transition from green to yellow, the barren rocky peaks begin getting snow peaked which creates a wonderful accent to the golden landscape.
  Here is my rough concept sketch for the mosaic.  It is done in charcoal and colored pencil and is 11" x 11".

Yummy ingredients for the green aspens turning yellow and for the the sunny Colorado Mountains =) 

In this photo sequence, I am cutting out one of the trees for the tree covered mountains in my mosaic. When I create a deciduous trees, I first draw an outline of the crown with a sharpie. If there is already a tree next two it, I also trace the shape underneath it. Then I score my lines with my glass scoring tool. Then I break the glass along the scored lines with my running pliers. If there are any irregular edges left, I clean them up with my nippers. Then I fit my tree into its desired place. If its a good fit, then I tape it to its neighbor. If its not a good fit, then I shape it some more until it fits into place. The trees in this photo are in the foreground so they are pretty large and will gradually get smaller in size as they go back in space and up the mountain. I repeat this process for every single tree, some of them are a lot more complicated with more concave cuts which require a lot more scoring, breaking, nipping and shaping.
Progress shot from the studio.
Glass shards taking over the studio floor - its fun to watch the little glass mountain grow at my feet =)

Here I am ready for gluing! This is one of my mosaic puzzle pieces I cut up for my gluing process. I've held it up to the view out my studio window though I went outside to have Kyle take the picture.
Due to the large size of this mosaic (3ft by 3ft), I cut up my finished and fully taped mosaic into smaller more manageable sections for easier gluing - its like a very simple puzzle. After cutting out each piece, I carefully lift up the edges before fully lifting it up to see that all the glass is still adhering to the tape, if there are some loose pieces then I place the edges back down pat down the piece in the trouble sections. Then I transfer each puzzle piece, one by one onto my free side table. After each puzzle piece is lifted off, I trace it with a pencil to make sure it goes back into its proper spot so the mosaic won't overlap the board - that would be a bit of a boo boo =) I glue each section one by one onto its corresponding shape on my sealed substrate. (Currently I am using Weldbond as my glue and as my sealer - diluted 5 to 1 water to Weldbond)
Here I am gluing my mosaic puzzle pieces one by one onto my custom lightweight plywood substrates reinforced with structural frames on the back. The substrate is sealed with a 5 to 1 part water to Weldbond. I spread a thin layer of Weldbond onto both the board and the back of the mosaic, wait a couple minutes for the glue to get a bit tacky, carefully position a mosaic section onto its corresponding section on the board, shift it around a bit and gently but firmly I pat down all the glass pieces to make sure they all make good contact with the glue and board.
Here is another gluing process collage. Sometimes I try to squeeze the glue out in nice and even lines but this only happens when Kyle is looking over my shoulder. When he is not around I frantically squeeze the glue bottle and make abstract paintings with my Weldbond =) I apply the glue in thin layers to the back of the mosaic as well as to the board. I wait a couple minutes for the glue to get a bit tacky and join the two sections, press down on every piece of glass to make sure they make good contact and then leave it to dry before pulling off the tape.
Here is one last shot of the gluing process of this latest mosaic ... we took a bunch of pics this time around so it was hard to choose just one to share =) I like this little sequence of photos because the bottom right shows most of the mosaic glued but without the black grout lines (yet) which will really make the whole composition pop and look a lot more contrasty! Again you can see how I apply the glue to both the sealed substrate as well as the back of the mosaic. Then I carefully place the mosaic section onto the glued substrate section and then press down on each individual glass circle with my hand and a little cloth.
Here I am starting to peel of some of the tape from the sections that appeared mostly dried.  I pulled of the tape from the sky first as you can see in this photo.
Here are some shots from the grouting process. I used my favorite charcoal black sanded grout. (the perspective of the photo in the upper left makes the mosaic look smaller than it really is which is 3ft by 3ft)

Kyle framing the mosaics in red oak stained in walnut and finished in satin.