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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!

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Ride the Rocket, mosaic style

Years and years ago, a friend of ours said to me, “One day, I’m going to get you to make me a mosaic serving tray.” I didn’t give it another thought for a number of years, until one day, after this friend had announced her engagement, I came across a serving tray in our local thrift store. Immediately, I turned to my partner (and best thrift storing companion) and said: “This would be perfect to mosaic as a wedding gift for S & K.”

The tray sat and sat in my little mosaic workspace, waiting for me to get inspired. I drew a few sketches during Earth Hour (by candlelight), but still wasn’t completely sold. And then, finally, it hit me: these two live in Toronto (and love the city) and they love public transit. Seriously, if K hadn’t done his PhD in Italian, he would’ve made a top notch transit planner – this is a guy who has designed an entire transit system for Buffalo (his hometown) in his spare time. It’s incredible.

Anyway, you’ve probably figured it out by now, but just in case: the idea was to cover the tray with a mosaic version of Toronto’s subway system. And what’s kind of neat about it is that because mosaics are so durable and the subway system will inevitably grow and change, the tray will be a snapshot in TTC history … a real conversation piece for the grandkids :-)

The TTC, immortalized in mosaic…

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