Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mosaic Grouting Tips

I thought that I would take a few moments today to discuss some of my tips for grouting success.  This is another 36 x 24 window and is similar to several others that I have made in the past.  On this one I used  even more beads and rhinestones which I think adds to the beauty of the piece but can cause nightmares during the grouting process.  Because the beads and rhinestones are all differnt levels they add a lot of dimension and texture to the piece and really catch the light but grout is difficult to clean on these uneven surfaces.

When I mix my grout I make it very stiff -this keeps it from creeping under any pieces and showing through.  I wear rubber gloves and apply it with my hands rubbing it in very carefully around all of the different level pieces.  Then I stand the piece up with a light behind and my first pass at cleaning the piece is usually with a popsicle stick.  This allows me to remove grout from between the different levels.
After I remove as much grout as possible with the popscicle stick I then use paper towels to buff the rest off the surface of the piece.  This can take quite a long time if the surface is very textured and in our Texas heat the grout dries faster than I like sometimes so I work as quickly as possible.  As the piece is getting clean I sometimes use a dry toothbrush to remove grout from around the beads or rhinestones.  Although I have been doing this process for several years now, I seem to make it harder on myself each time by using such a variety of materials.  I am conviced that is what makes the pieces unique and I always like a challenge! 
If you are planning on using rhinestones and beads for the first time I would encourage you to start small and good luck!

This is the finished window.....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Garden Squiggles" another idea for Garden Ornaments

Although this isn't a mosaic I thought that I would share it too. I buy many of the glass beads for my mosaic work in large mixed lots and since I only use glass beads in my mosic work I end up with TONS of plastic beads.  Some are put to good use by my granddaughers when they come to visit but I was looking for a good way to use them up so here it is.  This isn't my own idea - saw one similar on a garden tour this Spring.  I call mine a garden squiggle because I can't seem to leave the wire straight!

This close up should give you a better idea of what it looks like.  The stake is a hollow piece of copper tubing about 4 feet tall.  I bought 16 guage steel wire and strung plastic beads on the pieces of wire.  The ends of the wire are inserted in the copper tubing and then I just coiled the wires to make them look more interesting.  My photos are not too good - this really sparkles in the sun.  It is a fun way to use up non mosaic supplies.  They would also be pretty made with glass beads and would probably hold up longer in our brutal Texas weather!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Texas Summer Bouquet

This is a new multilayer window.  It measures 24 x 24 inches and is framed in cedar.  The front layer includes all the border and wall - up to the window opening.  There is also one sunflower blossom and a couple of bluebonnets on the front layer.  The second layer is the vase of flowers.

This is a detail shot of the vase and border.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Building a Grape and Hummingbird Transom Window continued.....

Once I had the first border glued down I put a printed grid underneath the clear glass to guide my placement of the lattace strips.

I began placing the grape leaves and grape clusters in place to decide placement and layout before gluing anything in place.

Here is the right side of the piece almost completely glued in place.

This shows what the front layer looked like completed and ready for grouting.

Next I created the second layer on another piece of glass.  On this layer I will only grout the hummingbirds.  After grouting both pieces this layer will be recessed on the back about 1/2 inch by using clear glass strips to separate both layers.

After grouting and assembly - here is a detail of the left side of the completed window.

Once again .....this is the finished piece!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Transom Window - Grapes and Hummingbirds

Here is a new transom window that I just completed for friends.  I am going to give a sequence of steps that I used to put this window together. 
To start this commission I wanted to figure out how to make accurate grape leaves so I looked them up on the internet and made these drawings for reference.
I started by cutting several colors of green glass into leaf shapes.  I use tape to hold the leaves in place until I attach them to the base glass.

I identified a variety of flat backed rhinestones in different sizes and shades of purple to use for the grapes.

Next I cut curved stripsof brown stained glass to use for grapevines and beige straight strips to use for the lattice.
Tomorrow I will add additional photos and show how I completed this piece.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fanciful Oak - Multilayer Tree Mosaic Window

Here is a closeup of the border after grouting.  Notice the use of tiles, brass jewelry findings, rhinestones, and beads.  I used a string of large seed beads as the interior border so that creates an edge for the grout to seal to.

This is what the front layer looks like after the border has been grouted and the leaves have been added to the clear glass center.  The background is actually clear glass and the curved lines you see are only in my glass door that the piece rested against for the photo.

This is what the second layer looks like before it is added to the front.  The tree trunks and ground is grouted.  The background is textured clear glass.

Here is the finished window after both layers are put together.

This photo shows a little of the dimension.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"Food for the Soul" - glass on glass mosaic piece

Here is a new piece that I just made for a friend to give as a birthday gift.  I am not sure how successful it is.  The type reads: Food for the Soul and is to be displayed in the window so the owner can see it while admiring her flowers.  I am pleased with the border and the flowers but unsure about the lettering.  I used large seed beads to create the type.  I'm not sure if it would have shown up better if I had used a color in the background rather than the iridized clear.   It was a fun challenge since I have not done much with lettering in the past.  I am also going to use this post to demonstrate a little more about grouting.

Here is the type of sanded grout I use.  The color I most often use is pewter grey but this type of grout comes in many colors.
This is how the piece looked after applying all the glass, beads, rhinestones, tiles, etc. but before applying the grout.

This is how it looked taped and ready to apply the grout.  Tape helps protect the frame and keeps it clean while grouting.  Be sure to mix the grout very thick and don't use any water when cleaning it off the surface.  Just apply, wait 10 or 15 mins. and then wipe off with a dry paper towel.  I also use a popscicle stick to remove wet grout from around some of the irregular areas before wiping with the paper towel.