Tag Archives | geography

Mosaic workout challenge, week 7: Home

Man, these theme challenges appear to be my Achilles heel! Give me technical or materials-based challenges any day. When I saw the theme for this week—Home—my initial thought was “Awwww fiddlesticks” (well, in all honesty, it might have been just a wee bit cruder than that). So many possibilities. So much thinking to do. Needless to say, I was paralyzed for several days, but in the end it all came together (somehow!). Anyway, let’s get to the show and tell!

"Home range" -- layered spray paint, marble, tile

“Home range” — layered spray paint, marble, tile

Title: “Home range”

Size: 6″ x 6″

Materials: Layered paint from a local Ottawa graffiti wall, marble, scavenged tile that had fallen off a shop front in Kensington Market (Toronto, ON)

How long did it take to complete? Far longer than it should have (5 hours?), considering a big portion of it is one piece is layered paint.

Thoughts: I continue to struggle with the themed challenges, and while I’d like to think that by the end I will have gotten at least a bit more comfortable with them, I fear I may only improve my ability to BS my way through them… This week’s mosaic is the product of a series of very tenuously linked thoughts and a few happy accidents. My initial idea was to use building materials like brick, glass, and maybe some nails or something. But I had already used brick in a few earlier challenges and it kind of felt like taking the easy way out. So I turned my mind to the more abstract, touchy-feely meanings of “home.” Lots of ideas, but no clue how to turn those into something tangible (on a 6″ x 6″ substrate, no less!).

Eventually I started thinking about how “home” has so many layers of meaning to it. It’s different for everyone and our notion of “home” often changes over time. Somehow, my mind then jumped from layers of meaning to physical layers, and I started thinking of the layers of paint that must build up over time as houses change owners and owners change their personal tastes and styles. This reminded me that I had some chunks of layered spray paint that I picked up at the local graffiti wall—remnants of artworks past. Perfect, I had my main material! While cutting it up into tesserae (used for the ‘clouds’ of this mosaic), I was really drawn to the rough jagged edges of the paint chunks. When I set one of the edges on my board to contemplate it, I noticed that it looked a bit like a mountain range, and thus “Home range” was born. So, through many twists and turns, I finally created what “home” means to me—it’s not just my dwelling, but also the landscape I inhabit and the spaces I move through. And this concept is where the name of the piece comes from, as a “home range”, in ecological terms, is an area in which an animal lives and travels.

A close-up of the tesserae I cut out of the slab of layered spray paint

A close-up of the tesserae I cut out of the slab of layered spray paint

Check out the rugged edge of the slab o' paint!

Check out the rugged edge of the slab o’ paint!


What a difference a frame makes

Remember waaaaay back last winter when I took 3 months off to go to California? And remember how I made my first “artier” mosaic while I was there? OK, confession time: that piece has sat — still all wrapped up from its journey back to Canada — under my work table since we returned in June. I know, you guys, I know. All I had to do was unwrap the thing and take it to the framer’s (which is only like a kilometre away), but somehow it just never got done. Until a few weeks ago, that is.

For days after dropping it off I stared anxiously at the calendar, willing time to go faster so that I could go pick it up. At last, the call came. It was ready. When I got to the framing studio, the mosaic was nicely wrapped up, all ready for the short trip home. The framer asked if I wanted to see it before heading out, but I declined. I think I was just so self-conscious about being really really ridiculously excited, so I was trying too hard to play it cool. Like “Nah, it’s ok. It’ll wait til I get home,” even though inside my head it was more like “omg ripthatbubblewrapoff NOW!!!!!!” Fortunately, R was there and calmly said, “Yes, we’d like to take a look at it.”

Yes, I made R take a picture of me looking all excited. I am a geek.

Now, I could already see it fairly well through its wrapping, but when he gently cut away the bubble wrap and revealed the framed mosaic, it was like Christmas morning. But not adult Christmas morning; more like Christmas morning when you’re 5 years old. I was over-the-moon giddy and grinning ear to ear. That night I kept periodically walking over to my work table to look at it, or randomly breaking out into a smile just thinking about it.

It’s weird. I mean, I was thrilled when I finished the piece and got it all cleaned up. But seeing it framed just took the happiness and excitement to a whole other level. There’s just something really cool about seeing your work framed and looking so, for lack of a better word, ‘professional’. I don’t know if it was so exciting because this was the first mosaic that I’ve had framed, but I’m not-so-secretly hoping that it will be this satisfying each and every time. I don’t want this thrill to wear off!

P.S. Big shout-out to Patrick Gordon Framing. They do excellent work and I would totally recommend them to anyone!


WIP Wednesday: “Mississippi Meander” (21 March 2012)

Haven’t made as much progress as I would’ve liked, but that’s because I’ve been busy prepping for our trip to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Which reminds me: No WIP Wednesday next week, since I’ll be exploring the Costa Rican cloud forest!

Getting there, slowly but surely. You can’t see it from the back, but there will be 2 shades of pink. Just need to finish the last of the light pink and then I can start filling in the background, which will be marble.


New blog feature: Work-in-progress Wednesday

Since I’ll be making steadier progress on my mosaics over the next 3 months, I’ve decided to include a new feature on the blog: Work-in-progress Wednesday (or WIP Wednesday, for short). Each Wednesday (or almost every Wednesday), I’ll post a work-in-progress shot of whatever project I have on the go. No words, just the photo.

And, this being my first Wednesday in California, I guess this is as good a time as any to post my first pic.

The general plan for my first California project: A mosaic based on a map of meander paths of the Mississippi


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