17 May Haida Bear Mosaic, Day 5 + 6
I spent part of yesterday moving the bear mosaic from the table and adjusting it to fit the actual bear sculpture. Very nerve wracking… I started by taping down the tile with #358 polyethelene tape from Can-Do National Tape. It’s a clear tape that comes in a foot wide roll and holds mosaics together really well when moving them to an installation site, or if you’re doing a large project and want to set the tile in sections. I used to do mosaics by laying the tile directly into the adhesive as I went, but the more detailed my work gets, the more I appreciatte being able to do the whole piece and use the tape during install. The advantage to tape over the traditional method of paper and wallpaper paste is that you can see through the clear tape and if you need to make adjustments, it’s easy to see what you’re doing. In a case like this, it was a bit of a lifesaver.
I debated quite a bit before I started as to the best way to approach working on a 3D project like this. At first, I tried projecting the image onto the actual sculpture thinking that I would go back to the old style of mosaicing straight into adhesive. But of course, as I expected, there was no good way to keep the 2D design from distorting when projected onto the 3D object. So I opted for doing the mosaic flat and then adjusting it to fit the surface of the bear. This was a bit of a risk, because if it had been way off, I’d have wasted all the work I put into it. I did do some tests by draping sheeted tile over the heavier contours to see how it would adapt… and I also compensated by not filling in all the tile for the design, to give myself room to adjust the tile once I applied it to the bear. I kind of suspected that my tendency to do tight, detailed work would go against me, and yeah, it did, a bit. In the end though, everything turned out pretty smoothly.. As I had planned, the only areas of the design that need any radical change were the larger bits of black line work, which I had left myself plenty of room to alter. Still, it does make a person nervous, so by the time I got the bulk of the design glued down yesterday, I’d had about enough. Today I went in and filled in a bunch of the white in the design area, got a start on the plain white sides of the bear and dealt with some of the nastier adjustments that I had wanted to think about overnight.
The bear still looks rough in these pics, with bits of excess glue around the edges and so on, but I can tell already that by the time it’s grouted it will look fantastic. I find that most projects have a “turn point,” where suddenly you look up and can begin to see the finished piece… up to the turn, you keep looking and wondering whether it will turn out as planned and what might go wrong, etc. Today was the bear’s turn point. I can see pretty much everything falling into place from here on out. I guess it’s the same as saying, “the hard part’s over.” I’m putting up a few pics today, in thumbnails, to show both sides and the top of the sculpture.
If you’re curious how long it takes to cover such a large sculpture in tile, you can follow along with the more or less daily blog posts I posted while working on the project: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day eight, Day Nine + Ten, Day Eleven + Twelve, The Auction!