In November, 2017 we were contacted by an art consultant based in the Chicago area. He was working with the Texas Children’s Hospital to provide art for a brand new tower in their medical complex. In particular he was looking for something unique to place in a 6.5’x22’ niche in a very prominent area.
We were excited for the opportunity to provide design ideas for this project. To be part of bringing a little bit of light, fun and distraction into a place where people are not always having the best time of their lives was very special to us. We wanted to design something that would be bright, imaginative and hopeful.
As on almost all of our projects, we understand that the design process is a collaborative effort. We would be dealing with not only our own conceptions of what would be a wonderful design but also the thoughts and desires of those already working on the project. Most important were those who would be interacting with the final art after it was installed. In this case we worked with the art consultant and the hospital’s art and capital budget committees. Below is the concept sketch of the installation site.
Our initial thoughts were for something bright, cheerful and a reminder of fun times. We had just recently returned from a trip to Paris where we had been drawn to the many different types of carousels we saw as we walked around. There were all different types and sizes, with uniquely designed figures. Some were the more traditional horses and others had other types of animals. They were all brightly colored and seemed to draw people of all types to watch them and to ride. With the children smiling brightly as they rode their favorite animal and the music was cascading from the loudspeakers, everyone enjoying the atmosphere.
After many design proposals, this concept was accepted by the others involved in the project. Houston has its own carousel at the Houston Zoo that is well known and well loved. So it struck a chord in everybody’s heart.
The next step in the process was to take the idea and translate it into a final design for the niche. Our initial concept was to have it look just like a carousel, round, with lights and a tent like circus tent top. But fitting that in a large rectangular space and only being able to see some of the animal seats just didn’t seem right. So we changed the concept to one where the carousel seats were free and running in a line through an open field. In the initial design, there were zoo animals and all small animals riding the carousel. Then we put it all with a bright yellow background. The hospital committees were good to work with and added their own comments and changes, mostly as to what particular animals they would like to see and would be most suitable for the space. The main criteria were that some of the animals were representative of those found in the local area, use some of the local zoo carousel figures, that nothing be too frightening in appearance and to add a few children. The changes were easily incorporated and the final design approved by all. Artwork is below...
The actual piece was installed in May, 2018 and is located in the cafeteria of the new Legacy tower and adds a bright, cheerful feature to a busy traffic area. Here are some photos of the installation and final mural…
We are wrapping up our three part series on how to commission a custom mosaic floor. Now that we have discussed your needs and finalized the design, the third and final step is to actually create your mosaic! Read on below, and contact us if you are ready to start the process.
Step Three: Creating the Mosaic
Once we have final approval on the design, the next step is to order all the necessary materials. During the design process, we will have discussed the material list best for your project. For floors there are many options, such as marble, floor-appropriate glass, stoneware, and pebbles. The material choice depends largely on cost, colors, the design, and durability of the particular site.
For the project we will use a few different tools, depending on the final materials. Our basic tools are glass cutters and breakers, manual tile cutter, wheeled nippers, hand held marble cutters, and wet tile power saw.
While we wait for all of the materials to arrive, we enlarge the design into a full size pattern to use as a guide for piecing the floor. Once we have the pattern and all the materials, we can begin piecing your mosaic! Depending on the size of the project, we will often send progress photos so you can see how it is coming along. We always send photos of the finished piecing (before grouting) to receive your approval.
Next, the piece is covered with a heavy tile tape and the mosaic is cut into large "puzzle" pieces to make it more manageable. The pieces are coded and mapped for the installation process. Typically we pre-grout the pieces in our studio, using different colors of grout in different areas of the mosaic to match the colors of the tiles. The idea is that the grout becomes a part of the mosaic rather than distracting from the overall image.
Finally, we are ready to install! We ship the mosaic to the job site. We will have already checked in with the client to ensure the job site is ready for installation. If you are hiring someone local, we will provide any necessary installation instructions. If we are installing for you, we will ship some of our tools and purchase anything else at your local hardware store. We use thinset mortar with polymer added to attach the mosaic to the floor. We mortar a workable area and one at a time, place the "puzzle pieces" back together. Once the mortar has dried, we remove the tile tape from the face of the mosaic and apply a layer of top grout. The mosaic is thoroughly cleaned, and sealed if necessary. Congratulations! Your mosaic is now complete and ready to be enjoyed by you, your family, and friends.
We hope you have enjoyed this series and found it useful! Hopefully you feel a little more informed about the full process, and inspired to start thinking about your next custom mosaic.
Earlier this week, we brought you the first in our three part series talking about the process for commissioning a custom designed mosaic floor. Step One detailed what initial discussions consist of and some of the questions to think about regarding your new piece of art. Today, we are going to look at Step Two, which is one of our favorite parts of the process: design!
Step Two: Designing your Mosaic
This is typically the most time consuming part of the process. You may come to us knowing exactly what mosaic design you want, or you may only have a few general ideas. Either way is great! We will talk about your design ideas and how they might be translated into a mosaic, based on factors like your preferred materials, location, and intricacy.
If you feel unsure of where to begin, don't worry - we are here to help! We will ask you about your decor aesthetic, likes and dislikes, and any initial ideas you have. Next, we work on a few design options for you. These might be in the form of sketches, mood boards, or painting. We can work back and forth to tweak the design to get it exactly how you want it. If you send us a photo of your space, we can even create a mock up of how the mosaic will look in the actual space!
Once you are happy with the design, we move on to the final phase: piecing your one of a kind mosaic. This will be covered in the third and final part of our series. Let us know your questions in the comments section, or contact us for more information.
You can find floors everywhere, and you have probably walked on many different styles – wood, carpeted, concrete, tile, linoleum, and more. Floors are a basic part of our lives and we often don't give them much thought. But, we also want our living and work spaces to be decorative, expressive, and interesting. We go to great lengths to put art on our walls and sculptures in our parks and much more. But did you ever think of using your floor as a place to express yourself?
As far back as the Romans (and earlier!), mosaics were used to decorate floors to make them unique and special. The designs ran a wide range, from geometric patterns to animals, flora, fauna, and more.
So, how do you go about getting a custom mosaic floor for your home or business? Let Showcase Mosaics be your artists. Learn more about our process for creating a custom mosaic floor. In this three part blog series, we will take you through the steps that make this possible.
Step One: Make Contact
The first step is to connect with us so we can begin work together! In initial discussions, we learn about your design aesthetic, the space to be filled, material options, time frames, etc. After this first conversation, we can provide an estimate of the cost of the overall project. Factors that may affect price include overall design, materials, size, installation, and level of detail. A note about installation: we can travel to you and complete the installation ourselves (this often works best for large pieces). You can also hire someone locally and we will provide installation instructions.
Some questions we will ask you:
Once we have had a chance to discuss your vision and go over initial questions, we will move on to designing your custom floor piece. In our next blog post, we will go over how the design process works and what you can expect. Let us know your questions in the comments section!
How to choose artwork for your residence?
Installing artwork in your residence can make a profound style statement piece for your home décor. Making the choice as to design, material, subject matter and so forth can also be daunting for most people. Some thoughts to consider:
What is your own personal style (you live with this art, it should be something that gives you pleasure every time you see it) and color sense. The options for mosaic are just as varied as any other artwork. It should be a collaboration and work back and forth with the artist of your choosing to create something that is unique to your space and your personal style. Below are some ideas for your inspiration… You can have a painterly piece like this backsplash in an Italian inspired home:
A colorful floral or cityscape
A traditional piece like this marble floor or installation in a wine cellar using gold smalti
An abstract in subtle colors or a bright statement piece.
Where will the work be placed; is it permanent or will it be transportable? You can have a mosaic backsplash in your kitchen that can be installed like a single large tile. It can later be removed and transported to a new location. Our mosaic work in kitchens and bathrooms is very smooth on the surface so that it can be easily cleaned just like tile work. Mosaic makes a unique and beautiful framed art piece.
What materials to use? Glass is an excellent option in most area because it is vitreous (impervious to water) and will work on anything from outdoor fountains, backsplash, fireplace surrounds, murals, bathrooms, floors and so much more. Ceramic tile is best used indoors and is thicker and heavier than glass, but a beautiful range of colors and surface texture. High Fired Stoneware and porcelain are workable for outdoor projects and tend toward an earthier palette. There are some brighter glazes that have been developed in the in recent years but there are fewer color options although I love the richness and depth of high fired glazes. Smalti is a wonderful option as well. Smalti originated in Italy, is cut from a large glass pancake, has gorgeous color and texture and is very expensive.
It’s been a busy year here at Showcase Mosaics.
Most of our work starts with a painted version to work out details and composition. We took this a step further and began offering painted murals. We spent many months in Louisiana working on several homes under construction painting wall and ceiling murals. Both of these homes were in the Italian style and were very fun to work on.
In between, Sandy went to Grand Rapids to participate in Artprize Grand Rapids where she was thrilled to have been voted 2nd place in the 2-dimensional public vote category for the large 7.5ft x 18ft mural “Into the Autumn Woods” which showed at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, MI.
Sandy has been busy painting away in Louisiana! She was asked to paint a series of murals in a beautiful Italian inspired home.