Thursday, March 29, 2012

Olympia Artesian Well mosaic beginnings

I will be honest; I'm a little bit nervous.  Last weekend, I attended Laurel True's slideshow presentation about her most recent project in Haiti.  It is a 140 s.f. mural that took 3 months to complete, with a dedicated crew working long days, 6 days per week.  The surface area of the Artesian Well project is also about 140 s.f.  I will begin adhering the design at the end of April and it is supposed to be completed by mid-May.  The original time frame was not to exceed 2 weeks, but the City is giving me a bit of leeway to make sure it is done with integrity.  Laurel also had a large budget and a giant pallet of colorful tiles to work with.  I have no idea what I will have at this point.

But, mine is a very different kind of project and I think everyone understands that.  The design will be guided by what I am able to get from the community, both in materials and labor.  It will be fun, full of texture and different materials, so that people visiting will find little surprises throughout. 

I feel extremely lucky that an Evergreen student happened to request an internship for this quarter, and he happens to have a background in community organizing, so he will be my Olympia liason, helping with materials acquisition and many other aspects of the project.  What a great gift!  An assistant!  I can't tell you how happy it makes me.  So, you will hear more about Lisandro as I continue to document this process.

Here is how it will work:  I will provide simple fish templates and clear contact paper.  The contact paper will be placed, sticky-side up, over the design.  Participants will stick pre-nipped pieces of similar colors onto the design.  We then use one of two different methods to hold those pieces in place; one is tile tape (for relatively flat mosaic) and the other is cheesecloth soaked in a flour paste (for mosaic with different thicknesses.)  Once the fish are sandwiched, they can be stacked and stored until I am ready to place them into mortar.  At that time, I can easily peel the contact paper off of the bottom and lay the fish right into a bed of thinset.  After that, I'll work on the blue/green background, putting it directly onto the concrete, and after curing time, it will be ready to grout. 
My daughter made this fish from glass scraps.  It is sandwiched between contact paper and tile tape.
I hope to have a lot of warm colored tile, glass, broken dishes and other solid materials to incorporate.  Glass gems are great for bubbles and eyes, big beads can be mixed in, fused glass would be a great addition.  I encourage any artists working in high-fired pottery or fused glass to make some smaller (say 6" and under) fish to place between the larger ones.  If you have big fish beads, or want to buy things like this to contribute, I would really appreciate it. 
I've been fusing little fish out of my scraps. I'm totally new at fusing, so I'm winging it.

The complete budget for this project amounts to $13 per square foot, which is not nearly enough to cover materials, let alone all of the incremental expenses.  So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that people will help out by donating to this project.  Just imagine the pleasure of stopping by the Artesian Well to fill your jugs, and spotting that Fiestaware that you never did glue back together or the tile that was part of your shower before the remodel.  Also, if anyone has connections to a flooring or glass supply company, please bring any colorful overstock to Furniture Works.  If you don't have materials, just stop by the Well during Arts Walk weekend and help piece some fish together.  It's going to be fun!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a project!! Have you thought about asking the mosaic community for help, as Eve did with her butterfly project? You could send out the template and participants could send you back the mosaicked fish...?