How I made this Lotus Pond Stained Glass Mosaic
I am in Cape Cod, in the USA. I can see why artists love it here. The light fills every spring day with silver skies laced with budding oaks against ever changing waters. I have been installing a 3 x 5ft glass mosaic that I made in Perth, Australia, for my clients, Louise and Ramani, and their new Vastu home on the Cape. Their home is built around the principals of the Natural Laws, and the mosaic is for the Brahmasthan of the house, the spiritual centre. How blessed am I.
It has been a continual exercise of tuning into colour from the very start of the design. I LOVE colour and light; I love to experiment with it.
Louise coveyed that she would like a lotus pond with a sense of distance, at dusk. So, I went to Bali to draw the lotus and then I started to find the feeling of the light and composition that she wanted.
Many studies later in my home studio in Perth, the design that rang true with Louise’s heart came out.
Then it was all about finding the glass that matched the colours. This mosaic is about 90% stained glass and the rest is cut glass mosaic tiles.
This whole piece was about colour tones. I wanted the image to jump forward in the foreground with cool and warm greens contrasted against inky pools of purple and blue, and to recede into the distance up the top, with violets and the golden tones of the last light.
Many people like to glue their mosaic down as they work but I prefer not to, so I can work more like a painter and change things if I want to; which I did frequently. I took the original painting and blew it up to the 3 x 5ft proportions and lay the mosaic on this, so I could easily match colour tones. I lay contact adhesive on the print, sticky side up, so the glass would hold still as I worked.
To transfer the individual shapes onto the glass, I used tracing paper and white transfer paper. Eileen Mcpherson, a stained glass expert, came and helped me work on the mosaic and brush up my glass cutting skills for a few days along with artist Ashima Milne.
They were a tremendous help.
When we had finished cutting the mosaic, we put another layer of contact adhesive on the top to hold it all together for transportation and installation purposes.
Then about three weeks ago, the mosaic was cut up and crated across to Cape Cod where Tim Towle, the tiler would help me to install it.
Now, well over a year since sketching in Bali, I am finally in the Cape. Louise’s new home looks out over a bay with distant islands and now I understand why she likes this design.
To glue in the mosaic we took off the back contact adhesive and then glued each segment down with Weldbond glue. If you are gluing down glass, which is thinner than ceramic, you can only put down a thin layer of glue, so put a primary layer of glue on your board first so you get an even coverage, otherwise all your mosaics won’t stick down.
When it was dry we removed the top layer of contact adhesive to move onto the grouting.
The grout is what brings the whole mosaic together and if the wrong colour is used it can ruin the whole piece. Colour is always relative. A red looks very different next to a warm green or a cool green, or next to yellow or white. As the grout runs through the whole mosaic it pops or recedes colours. So I was slightly nervous about this stage and made sure I did plenty of colour studies.
I wanted to grade the grout light to dark, to keep creating the distant islands and the inky foreground. I worked with two different grout colours as my starting point and then added paint tints to get the colours I wanted. I had a light green/ yellow ‘seagrass’ grout and added blue, red and magenta tints to get the grey violets and then for the dark base I had an ‘expresso’ brown grout which I added blue and magenta. I then mixed those two together to get different tones; about 8 in all. The first tests were too warm and would have visually jumped forward past the mosaic (the top line above). Grout dries many shades lighter than the original mix so you have to keep a wet and dry sample close by when you are working.
I felt thoroughly challenged in this project and became absolutely in love with it as it progressed. My mantra everyday as I worked was “The mosaic and I are one” and I always asked for divine guidance in making the divine blueprint, and a mosaic that Louise and Ramani would truly love. Many hands have helped create it. It took over 400 hours in all to cut the glass. The commission was initiated by dear Joy Cuming, from Aline Architecture, who is the brilliant architect for the mosaic’s Vastu home. I am so very grateful to everyone who helped. The whole process was a great adventure on so many levels.