Mosaic Sign Installation, Day One

steel frame for mosaic sign

I’ve been working all week on installing the mosaic into the sign structure. The structure weighs about 300 pounds, so I decided to do the installation right in the trailer rather than try to get it out and back in again. The upside is that I don’t have to worry about damaging either myself or the sign— the downside is that I’ve spent the last two days on my knees and haunches for about ten hours at a stretch. Ow. Since I’m cutting a lot of glass in the trailer to go around the fish and letters, I mostly stay off my knees to avoid glass splinters, and I can’t really sit on anything either because it puts me too high up to do the work. Note to self: next time, find a way to put the heavy object up on sawhorses or something.

Signinstall_01    Signinstall_02    Signinstall_03

The first pic above is how the sign looked when I got it back from Wheelock & Sons Welding. I jobbed out the construction because they were able to deliver the finished piece for less than it would have cost me to make it myself. The sign has a powder coat enamel surface that will require zero maintenance, and will nicely protect the mosaic from and issues of rust. They did a beautiful job on it! Even found someone who was able to laser cut the steel for the front and back faces of the sign from my dimensioned drawing.

The next two pics are of installing the Durock cement board that the mosaic will be affixed to. Although it would be possible to adhere the mosaic directly to steel, it’s risky because the coefficient of expansion is too different between steel and mortar (which means that when the sign is exposed to shifting temperatures, the tile could end up pulling away from the steel). Cutting the board to fit within the protective lip on the sign took a while… going back and forth between cutting and fitting. I did most of the cutting with a hand grinder using a diamond wheel, some of the sharp cuts were done with a jig saw, and some trimming was done using tile nippers. I used PL adhesive to glue the board to the steel sign. PL is like Liquid Nails, but seems to be a bit more hard core and is way easier to work with.