Thursday, January 10, 2019

Exploration of Owls as Mosaics

In 2012 I created my first mosaic owl and it was love at first sight - the beginning of whimsical journey of exploring this magnificent bird in glass form. 

One day while researching a new project idea, I kept stumbling upon beautiful photos of horned owls. I was so drawn to these birds that I had to draw one of my own. I loved exploring the patterns of the feathers and studying the intense eyes to create my very own horned owl seen in the below photo. 


Night Owl, a stained glass mosaic ~SOLD

Even though landscape has been the primary focus for my work, I love revisiting the owl. Each project has allowed me to use a different part of my design brain. I love reinventing this subject and creating new patterns while hand cutting and arranging the glass for each new mosaic.

Below I'm sharing some of the characters that I've given life to over the years. They range from momentous and elegant birds to very playful, silly creatures. I hope that you enjoy a glimpse into my journey.



Freya – The Snowy Owl, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15″ ~SOLD


Meet Freya, my snow owl. Her name originates from Norse mythology. She is the goddess of love as well as beauty, war and death. She is said to have stunning blue eyes and to cry golden tears. I found this particularly fitting for my snowy owl whom is surrounded by golden tear drop shapes which I orininally designed as aspen leaves. Interestingly enough, snowy owls rarely make the woods their home but that is not to say that Freya hasn’t stopped in the forest to enjoy the rustling of the golden aspens. Snowy owls hunt during the day so she may also be patiently waiting for a tasty treat.
Gaia – Goddess of Nature, a framed stained glass mosaic, 45″x25″ ~SOLD

With this project, I wanted to go big, to create a proper tribute to this incredibly beautiful bird. I chose the barred owl as it is naturally a pretty large owl and it has a very powerful presence.

During daylight hours, barred owls roost quietly in the forest, just like my owl, Gaia, who is roosting in the leafy, green tree. My owl unlike the rest of the barred owls is very light in color. I wanted her to be illuminated and to shine brightly among the lushes foliage. 

As her creator, I worked to give her great poise, strength and beauty. While I cut and arranged the glass over my charcoal sketch, what emerged before me seemed to vibrate magic as I looked down into this magnificent bird’s eyes. I decided that she is a goddess of nature. I named her Gaia after the Greek Mythological figure, the mother of all life, the goddess of Earth.


Ice Princess, a stained glass mosaic silhouette, 17.5″ x 8.5″ ~SOLD

With this design, I wanted to do something different. I wanted the mosaic owl to stand on its own without a background and a frame. I created the owl silhouette, something that I've revisited many times since. I chose a barn owl for this project because it is so unique and intriguing to me.

The barn owl is really beautiful, graceful bird. It is reminiscent of a knight armored in feathers – that’s what I thought of when I was designing this one along with her partner seen further down this post.

One of the most unique features of the barn owl is its heart-shaped face. This characteristic made me think of the femininity and the prettiness of this bird. Naturally she evolved into a princess.


Java the Barn Owl, stained glass mosaic, 30″x20″ (31″x21 framed)
Available: See Java the Barn Owl in My Online Art Shop 

Java the Barn owl is a serious, silent huntress of the night. Here she is looking very calm and collected, set against a wooden board. Maybe she is taking a rest in a beautiful barn before she set out for her nightly haunt.

This particular owl was was born out of my love for this java colored stained glass created by Kokomo. The colors are mixed in such a way that they create unique and beautiful patterns in the glass - some may say reminiscent of a coffee, maybe an espresso. I searched out a perfect sheet in which I saw my barn owl adorned in glass feathers. I studied the sheet of glass carefully, drawing out all of my shapes and feathers in different sections of the sheet prior to cutting. This was a very calculated project as it was all about letting the patterns in the glass dictate my design.

The plywood into which the mosaic was inserted was as carefully picked out. I searched out a piece of wood with a beautiful woodgrain. Then it was carefully stained and finished to accentuate the glass. The frame was treated with the same care, being matched to the stained glass.



Barn Owl In Camouflage Tights, 16.5″x7.5″x5/8″, a stained glass mosaic silhouette ~SOLD

Here is another barn owl. Can you tell I love these? Besides the barn owl being so pretty, I also see a little bit of whimsy when I look at a real one. What really catches my eye are its long, slender legs. This is where I thought I could sneak in a little bit of humor. 

I dressed the silly, little legs of my owl in tights, not just any tights but camouflage, because, well its an owl, you gotta add a bit of camouflage because these birds are very sneaky and very clever, often blending in so beautifully with their environment. This little owl has always made me laugh a little bit while reminding me of the beauty and mystery of the the world of the night where owls swoop silently through the darkness.



Whoo-Dini, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD

Whoo-Dini is another example of a very playful design. With this one I went in a much more whimsical and graphic direction. Stripes and triangles are symbolic feathers in this mosaic. This bird is pretty far from reality but is still very much recognizable as an owl. I love finding that balance with the imaginary where the artist veers away from the norm and enters the playful, child state where anything is possible. 


Forest Owl, stained glass mosaic, 12" x 24" ~SOLD

This was actually the second owl I've ever made. She is sitting amongst the trees on a foggy night, waiting to catch a midnight snack. I wanted it to be playful and shaggy. The night sky behind her is made of mostly iridescent and mirror glass so it has a nice shimmer to the moving eye. 


Hootie, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD 

This design is one of the bunch that I've created to share with my online mosaic owl class students. I wanted it to be a very sweet bird that many people would be drawn to and would want to create as they learn my mosaic technique. I've added lots of fun lessons into this design, including creating a color gradient. 

I had so much fun choosing the color palette, using some of my favorite glass colors. Today this little guy hangs in my studio while it awaits its forever home. It looks over me working on my mosaic projects and makes me smile each time I look in its direction. That is a common theme I've found in my owl series, each one has allowed me to focus on something different while I take a short break from my landscape and sculpture work. Each one is a breath of fresh air where I get to play =)



Autumn Owl, stained glass mosaic, 22" x 17" (18" x 23.5" framed) ~SOLD

This owl was inspired by the autumn colors. I wanted it to be warm and sweet. I imagined it sitting up in a tree on a perfectly warm and bright day, with the beautiful smell of autumn in the air. Its just hanging out, practicing puffing out its feathers for the colder winter days that are approaching.



Percy, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD 

I feel that owls really lend themselves to becoming a silly character. I think its something about the eyes and not having a defined neck. Percy was one of those silly creatures for me. I think he has a very endearing sweetness about him that warms my heart. 


Professor Hoodwink, stained glass mosaic, 19"x15", 2014 ~SOLD

Now speaking of silly, Professor Hoodwink is the epiphany of that word. I literally laughed the whole way through while cutting and arranging glass onto of my sketch. That's the thing about working on something with eyes, you pretty much start at each other's eyes through out most of the process. This silly creature really captivated me. Its like he put a laughing spell on me. It was wonderful. Even after finishing working on it, I giggled each time I caught its gaze until if found its forever home. It was a really special experience working on something that made me feel so good =)


Rufus, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD


Rufus is the opposite of silly. He is very serious, one may even think he is a bit angry. My niece actually called this design 'Angry Bird' - I loved it. With this pattern, I wanted the owl to be ernest. The few times I've encountered an owl, it had that aurora of importance, strength and poise. I think of this one as a bit of a watchman, guarding its territory.


Owena framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD

Owen is my sleepy owl. For this design, I asked myself, what do owls make you think of? That day, the first thing that came to mind was a puffy, round owl closing its eyes. I loved that image and of course went to town to create my own version sleepy, chubby owl. That was actually a few years before I created Owen. Its predecessor was named DrOwlsy. I used the same pattern to create Owen but I added this fun brick pattern for the background.

I hope that you've enjoyed a quick glimpse into my growing owl series. There is a lot more I could say about the making of each one and to share lots of fun process photos but I decided to focus on spotlighting the finished mosaics. I wanted to show how exploring one subject in art can be a very fulfilling experience. There is so many ways to reinvent the owl that honestly, I can imagine spending a lifetime on creating new ones, learning and growing with each creation.

Visit my Online Shop to see the mosaic owls that are still in need of a good forever home: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product-category/owl-mosaics/

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