Tag Archives: mosaic

Flying Sea Turtle Honeymoon Express Leaves Vancouver on Schedule

Everybody climb aboard the Flying Sea Turtle Honeymoon Express!

Everybody climb aboard the Flying Sea Turtle Honeymoon Express!

At last I can reveal what I’ve been doing with every free second in which I had the ability to focus during the last 10 days! It’s a mosaic collage for my sister and brother-in-law! The had a civil ceremony on Tuesday, and their big wedding is going to be tomorrow. I haven’t given them this gift yet, but I can’t imagine my sister will be spending a lot of time on the Internet the day before she gets married.

I had a bunch of other ideas for their gift, but everything fell through and making something cool was the only reasonable option. I chose a sea turtle because I know they like turtles, and a Vancouver-inspired backdrop because that’s where they live.

You can't really see my pencil marks but I assure you I wasn't making this up as I went along.

You can’t really see my pencil marks but I assure you I wasn’t making this up as I went along.

I started out by purchasing a bunch of origami paper and this 11×14 board. I sketch out the islands in pencil, tore up the blue paper, sketched out the turtle on notebook paper (you can see a bit of it in the upper right hand corner) and generally chose colors for things.

Scenery coming together.

Scenery coming together.

Using matte medium, I began to mount the squares onto the board to form a background representing mountainous islands and their reflection in the water. I used a bunch of metallic and foil papers, which don’t photograph that well, because their colors change depending on the light. I would sort of like to make a shirt out of this design, but I’m not certain how well it will translate.

The turtle isn't mounted yet, but I needed to keep checking that it fit.

The turtle isn’t mounted yet, but I needed to keep checking that it fit.

Then I began the turtle. Using my original sketch, I cut out a silhouette, and then I created stencils for the individual pieces of the turtle by slowing dismantling the sketch. You can see the diminished remains of the sketch to the right. The metallic background paper is orange, with green streaks if you turn it in the light.


I’m a delightful creature!

Here, the turtle is complete. Just the details on each flipper took about 20 minutes. The turtle itself probably took 4 or 5 hours. It wasn’t as easy to do such fine work as it used to be; my body doesn’t want to sit for that long at a stretch, and my eyes don’t want to focus on tiny details, and my hands tire easily, especially cutting small pieces like the skin texture. Now the sketch is in 50 pieces scattered all over the office.

Somehow I neglected to photograph the process for the man and woman riding the turtle, but if you scroll back up you can see them, although I wonder if their colors ought to be brighter and more contrasting. Well, like everything, I learned a lot. If I did it again, it would be different and possibly better, but there’s no way I could do this again. Maybe another animal.

So, all in all, the completed project probably took close to 20 hours. I lose track of time when I’m working. Sometimes I have to keep Netflix playing, even though I’m not watching, just so I have a way to mark the passage of time and remind me how many hours I’ve been sitting there.

Congratulate my sister on her nuptials if you know her!

Here’s a Spectacular Hodgepodge of I Don’t Know What

Finding myself without any pithy observations regarding art, writing, or the intersection between the two, allow me instead to offer a completely random assortment of recent-ish images.

Let's call it a snake in the grass

Let’s call it a snake in the grass: torn paper mosaic from 2013

I’m pleased that today was a good day, writing-wise. Got about 3500 words out on this graphic novel script, which is nothing to sneeze at, although I could have done a few thousand more words if I’d been stern with myself.

Have a pointy mandala why not?

Have a pointy mandala why not? This one puts me in mind of a compass rose. It’s quite skewed.

I also read and critiqued a friend’s essay and discussed it in what was essentially a one-woman workshop. As an old veteran of Iowa-style workshop (I’ve taken 10 of those suckers, 6 at the graduate level) I can offer pretty good feedback. Would that I could read my own writing the way I read others’.

October 2013

October 2013 I apparently cut out some weird looking pumpkins. The one in the center is by far the saddest jack-o-lantern I have ever created.

This bulletin board is one I didn’t like well enough to put in my original gallery of bulletin boards, but it’s OK. Eventually, I’ll get them all up. The quote, if you can’t read it, is from Percy Bysshe Shelly: “There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky.” Since I have space considerations, and my target audience is on average, 8 years old, I often use small segments of quotes. This one continues,  “which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!”

Definitely Dragons

My late lamented mosaic dragon

My late lamented mosaic dragon, 1998.

In the late 90s, I was living in a 4th story walk-up in Chicago. Following an altercation with a previous friend/tenant, my roommates and I found ourselves without a coffee table. I came up this old door in an alley, dragged it up the stairs, and spent a couple weeks piecing this mosaic together and building a table under it. Although I did everything wrong, and the table itself wasn’t that wonderful, I was extremely proud of my work. I had this table until about 2003. In grad school, I had a close friend who was blind, and it got a little painful and tiresome to watch him walking into this coffee table every time he came over. I pushed it into the corner and tipped it on its side to accommodate him, and left it that way over the summer when I went to study abroad. In the sweltering humidity of an un-air conditioned Michigan summer, the wood swelled and shrunk with the changes in temperature, and the mosaic fell out. I tried to repair it but it proved impossible. This photo is all the remains of the excellent mosaic table.

Dragon Kite! 1991

Dragon Kite! 1991. Sort of banged up but still cool. Probably would still fly. 

My high school offered a gym class (not for freshman, who had to run the mile and lift weights and do all the horrible stuff the state of Illinois required) called Unique PE. We called it Gym for the Non-Competitive Student. This is where all the hippies, Goths, and burnouts ended up. No dodgeball here. We learned to walk on stilts, ride a unicycle, and juggle. One of the units was to decorate and fly a kite. Somehow, I was the only person who actually did it, using markers and colored pencils to draw this fantastic wyvern. The kite only flew for about 10 minutes, since our gym periods weren’t that long when you factored in changing clothes, and no one else had completely the assignment, but it did fly. Then, I put it away, to keep it safe from kite-eating trees.