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22 posts from mosaic panels

Bluegill Glass Mosaic No. 2, 2006

Bluegill Glass Mosaic No. 2, 2006
Bluegill Mosaic No. 2, 2006
Sicis Iridium glass tile, glass taxidermy eye, copper.
11" H x 17.5" W x 1.5" D
Purchase Bluegill Mosaic No. 2 for $550
($500 plus $50 S+H).
SOLD

My daughter Mya did so well last summer  helping me with mosaic that this year I had her create a whole line of fish. She got to do the fun parts—laying the tile and working out the gradients and shading— I did the mortar, grout, copper banding and provided some small amount of editorial assistance. The work sells at the normal studio rate because it's totally worth it. Her skills are far beyond what you'd expect from a teenager, or even most professional artists.

Most of the tile used on this mosaic is from the Iridium line of glass from Sicis. As the light or viewing angle changes, the iridescent surface of the tile closely resembles the  scales of a live fish. The   photo above shows the iridescent sheen. The second pic shows the copper banding that finishes and protects the mosaic.

Mosaic is set with mortar on a Hardibacker substrate over plywood and finished around the edges with copper banding. Indoors or out, this mosaic will last lifetimes.

Bluegill Glass Mosaic No. 2, 2006

Lake Trout Glass Mosaic, 2006

Lake Trout Glass Mosaic, 2006
Lake Trout Mosaic, 2006
Sicis Iridium glass tile, glass taxidermy eye, copper, Hardibacker substrate.
11" H x 18.5" W x 1.5" D
Collaboration: John T. Unger + Mya Smith
Private Collection 

My daughter Mya did so well last summer  helping me with mosaic that this year I had her create a whole line of fish. She got to do the fun parts—laying the tile and working out the gradients and shading— I did the mortar, grout, copper banding and provided some small amount of editorial assistance. The work sells at the normal studio rate because it's totally worth it. Her skills are far beyond what you'd expect from a teenager, or even most professional artists.

Most of the tile used on this mosaic is from the Iridium line of glass from Sicis. As the light or viewing angle changes, the iridescent surface of the tile closely resembles the  scales of a live fish. The   photo above shows the iridescent sheen. The second pic shows the copper banding that finishes and protects the mosaic.

The mosaic is set with mortar on a Hardibacker substrate over plywood and finished around the edges with copper banding. Indoors or out, this mosaic will last lifetimes.

Lake Trout Glass Mosaic, 2006

Brook Trout Mosaic No. 1, 2006

Brook Trout Glass Mosaic No. 1
Brook Trout Mosaic No. 1, 2006
Sicis Iridium glass tile, glass taxidermy eye, copper, Hardibacker substrate.
11" H x 19" W x 1.5" D
Collaboration: John T. Unger + Mya Smith
Private Collection 

My daughter Mya did so well last summer  helping me with mosaic that this year I had her create a whole line of fish. She got to do the fun parts—laying the tile and working out the gradients and shading— I did the mortar, grout, copper banding and provided some small amount of editorial assistance. The work sells at the normal studio rate because it's totally worth it. Her skills are far beyond what you'd expect from a teenager, or even most professional artists.

Most of the tile used on this mosaic is from the Iridium line of glass from Sicis. As the light or viewing angle changes, the iridescent surface of the tile closely resembles the  scales of a live fish. The   photo above shows the iridescent sheen. The second pic shows the copper banding that finishes and protects the mosaic.

The mosaic is set with mortar on a Hardibacker substrate over plywood and finished around the edges with copper banding. Indoors or out, this mosaic will last lifetimes.

Brook Trout Glass Mosaic

Bluegill Glass Mosaic, 2005

bluegill Gamefish glass Mosaic
Bluegill Mosaic, 2005
Sicis Iridium glass tile, glass taxidermy eye, copper.
11" H x 17.5" W x 1.5" D
Private collection

I love doing fish in mosaic because they're so well suited to the medium… the tiny tesserae (cut glass bits) give the impression of scales. The iridescent glass creates a highly realistic shimmer on the surface of these fish. When light moves across them, they look almost real.

Mosaic is set with mortar on a Hardibacker substrate over plywood and finished around the edges with copper banding. Indoors or out, this mosaic will last lifetimes.

bluegill Gamefish glass Mosaic

Rainbow Trout Glass Mosaic, 2002

Rainbow Trout Glass Mosaic
Rainbow Trout, 2002
glass tile, glass eye, copper, Wonderboard substrate on plywood.
27.5" H x 16.5" W x 1.5" D
Commission

Commissioned by Jeff Ott for his office at Warner, Norcross & Judd. The iridescent glass tiles create a highly realistic shimmer on the surface of the fish. Private collection.

Bottle Cap Mosaic Fish

bottle cap mosaics at Vale Craft Gallery
Bottle Cap Fish Mosaics at Vale Craft Gallery
Bottle Caps, plywood, printed tin, copper or bronze, rakes, dustpans, nail, etc.

126" H x 90" W
Available bottlecap fish mosaics are listed for sale HERE

Bottle caps have long had a place in the folk art tradition as a decorative element. Usually, they are deployed more as a texture, willy nilly without sorting for color. My own bottle cap mosaics were initially inspired by  Haitian ritual flags, in which detailed images are realized entirely through the use of sequins. The first bottle cap pieces I did combined  bottle caps with vitreous glass tile.

Each cap is sorted by brand or color, washed, dried, punched, partially crimped and finally nailed in overlapping scales to create a feeling of depth, light and shadow. Decorative nail heads emulate the texture of seed beads often used to reinforce the sequins on flags. Even the smaller fish require hundreds of caps to complete.

The most amazing thing about these fish is the way they interact with light. When you look at one or two caps from any brand, they're generally not all that impressive. But when you group hundreds of them together and let them catch the sunlight,  they truly glow.  The combination of the background color with the logo can create color tones that are vibrant and lively and wholly unexpected.

What I like most about making the Bottle Cap fish mosaics is that the overlapping texture of the caps does such a good job of representing scales.These fish have been one of my big sellers… They typically sell out almost as soon as they appear. I can do custom fish in this style, by brand, color, shape, or whatever floats your boat. If you'd like to commission a fish just drop me an email from the contact page and let me know what you're thinking.

 

Shiny Happy Puppy: A Modern Take On An Ancient Mosaic

cave canem roman glass mosaic
Lupus  Ludi, 2005
Vitreous glass tile, Hardibacker substrate, steel frame.
32.5" H x 35.75" W x .75" D
Private collection

When I first saw an image of this "beware of dog" mosaic from Ancient Rome, I immediately fell in love with it. What appeals to me most is the disconnect between the warning aspect of the mosaic and the playful, happy appearance of the dog. So, last week, while Mya was working on her brown trout mosaic, I decided to recreate a version of the Cave Canem mosaic. I would have liked to use marble, but I think glass actually works better in this case, making the piece bolder and brighter.

The Roman mosaic I based it on is here. Although I worked directly from a printout of the image, there are a few things I changed. The most important change was to improve the andamento, the way rows of tesserae flow to emphasize the overall form. In the original mosaic, there were a couple areas where the tile was just filled in with no regard to the actual musculature of a dog. If you compare the flow of tile where the dog's right shoulder and rear leg meet the body, I think you'll agree that they look a little better than the original mosaic.

I had originally intended to inscribe the piece with the Latin for beware of dog, cave canem. But as I was working on the piece, I became more and more uncomfortable with that idea… for one thing, the dog isn't scary looking, which is what I like about him. He's playful. More importantly, I kind of feel like the world is far too full of warnings and dire threats these days and I just don't want to contribute to the culture of fear even on a minor level.

This is where it came in really handy to have a visiting Latin scholar. Mya is a classics geek of the first order, which is funny, really, since I on the other hand pretty much consider the dawn of time to be circa 1900. Anyway, she grabbed her Latin dictionary and we tried for a while to come up with something that would be more on the order of "good dog" or "happy puppy." Of course, going through a Latin dictionary, it becomes quickly apparent that almost all the words relate to politics, war and death. I'd forgotten what a totally militaristic world view they had, and have to admit to some surprise on finding that culture reflected so strongly in the vocabulary they had to work with. This is the kind of thing that makes being an artist so much fun really— you start out with a simple idea like recreating an ancient door mat, and by the time you're half-way through you're doing amateur cultural analysis based on how the words available to a culture influence what and how they can think. Heh.

So we were a bit confounded at first. We came up with a couple possible captions, but I was making it more difficult by insisting that the new phrase should be as sweet, short, alliterative and assonant as the original. The best we could do with the dictionary was candidus catellus, which, with a stretch of the imagination can be translated as "shiny, happy puppy." Candidus is the root of our word candidate of course, and is normally translated to mean "white" (go figure). However, it can also mean shiny or happy. I figured it would be too confusing though on the whole, and besides, the letters would not have fit as well, nor did it have the proper assonance. So we put it hold for a bit and went back to cutting tile. Then Mya said something about a piece we'd heard on NPR where they were interviewing people about their relationship to the US government. One guy had said something to the effect that he really didn't care one way or the other about the war, the economy or stem cells, but he really wished that they would let him shoot the endangered wolves that were eating his cattle. And suddenly, bang, I had it. Lupus Ludi: playful wolf. Really, what I mean is "happy dog" or "playful dog," but I figure it's close enough. And it has all the linguistic aspects I wanted: short, sweet, easy to guess, alliteration and assonance.

I guess this is what happens when you lock a former poet and a classics geek in a room with a bunch of tile.

Atlas Mosaic in Glass and Bottle Caps

Atlas Bottlecap mosaic
Atlas Bottle Cap Sculpture, 2003
Vitreous glass tile, bottle caps, copper, Hardibacker substrate over plywood.
60" H x 36" W x 1.5" D
Collection: Cleveland Clinic Foundation

What I love most about this piece is the variety of interpretations I've heard— from holding up the weight of the worlds garbage, to being crushed by alcoholism, to a desire to drink in the entire world. They all work.

I love this image and recently did a life-size steel collage working from the same source. Check it out (and learn more about the Loteria game the image is based on) here.

Abstract Slate Wall Mural

abstract slate wall mosaic mural
Abstract Slate Wall Mural, 2002
Chinese slate.
126" H x 90" W
Commission

This project was a bit of a challenge…create a visually pleasing abstract pattern working within a 5 x 7 grid. The goal was to create a surface which added warmth, colors, and pattern without overwhelming the room. Almost a formalist riddle… but one with nice results!

The room has been repainted since  these photos were taken. I'll have to update the pics when I get a chance.

abstract slate wall mosaic mural abstract slate wall mosaic mural
View from left of stove.
View from right of stove.
click thumbnails to view larger image. enlarge

Four Marble Mosaics Commissioned by Northeastern University, Boston

tofftvag marble mosaic
The Toftevaag, Marble Mosaic, 2002
Marble  mosaic, steel frame.
33" H x 25.5" W x 1.25" D
Collection: Northeastern University, Boston

The above mosaic portrays the Toftevaag, a century-old Norwegian fishing boat re-outfitted as a research vessel, sailing off the coast of the Rock of Gibraltar.

One of four mosaics commissioned by Eson Chan, Art Director at Northeastern University Magazine, to illustrate an article about dolphin watching off the coast of Spain. Days of the Dolphin, by Gary Goshgarian ran in the November Issue, 2002. Although created expressly for publication, the mosaics remain in the university's permanent collection.

The mosaics below show typical coastal houses off the coast of Greece, a close-up of a dolphin and dolphins at play in the Alboran Sea..

coastal houses marble mosaic Dolphin marble mosaic Dolphin marble mosaic
Coastal Spain, 2002:
Marble Mosaic
18" x 18" x 1.25"
Dolphin, 2002:
Marble Mosaic
18" x 18" x 1.25"
Dolphins at Play, 2002:
Marble Mosaic
18" x 18" x 1.25"
click thumbnails to view larger image. enlarge
John T. Unger