My original time estimate was about 1 square foot per day. There are 60 square feet to cover on the oven. I have 3 weeks. I am working on the body as fast as I can and will be calling in David and Gerry again for help with the field soon.
The moment of truth. After leaving the tile to set for 2 days, it's time to peel the contact paper off! I film while David peels. So exciting!
The letters looks great, but now we realize we will never have enough time to do the entire mosaic using the indirect method. It takes too long and we only have 3 weeks left!
So it's onward with the direct method = apply thinset to tile and place by hand, one at a time.
Now that we have the surface ready and two completed tile sections on the contact paper (a leg and the restaurant name), we can start the actual adhesion process. Hooray!
Leg section on tracing paper, now flipped over and placed onto clear contact paper.
With all the beautiful new tiles, I started playing with color gradients to form Athena's legs and suckers. I wanted her body to appear full and almost undulate, as well as reflect the amazing variety of colors and patterns an octopus can have.
Factoid: Ever since the octopus lost it's shell during the evolutionary process, one of its best defense mechanisms is camouflage. Each species can blend seamlessly into numerous environments and with an almost unlimited color range and over 16 textures!
And because their beak (mouth) is the only remaining bone in their bodies, it dictates the smallest hole or crevice he or she can squeeze through. It is very rare to see an octopus beak, as they hide them carefully at the center of their bodies. Their beaks are extremely small, relative to body size, but powerful enough to break through crab shells and other bones in the way of a good meal.
Shipping tiles is expensive and because many come in sheets, they must be peeled/ torn/ cut/ or soaked off their mesh or paper backings. So this was my night time job, done at the kitchen table.
So far, I have gone through a box of Band Aids. But that's what you get for playing with broken glass all day.
In my dad's workshop first aid kit, I found one of those really old ones that had the red thread to help you open the package. The adhesive was pretty crummy and came off an hour later, but it got me through the rest of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, back at the studio (dad's workshop), I have been making lots of samples to test out different materials and color palettes. I meet with Valentina, Cat and Jayashri to look them over and deliver them to the restaurant in pizza boxes, natch.
With the indirect method, you stick the tiles down onto a clear contact paper and then transfer them on to the final surface later. This is a great way to get to know the materials and also make design decisions before making anything permanent.
After the last couple of sample meetings, the color palette is getting clearer - no pink, gold, yellow or blue. Yes on deep red and earth tones with the cream marble for the field (mosaic-speak for background).
We are getting closer.
Because we are using tiles that are different thicknesses (why make it easy?), David and his partner Gerry (also an amazing contractor) came to help me apply an under layer of thin set - sticky cement that goes on like mildly crunchy peanut butter.
First I traced the drawings in sections so we'd have the pieces to put the puzzle back together later. Then Gerry helped me mix up a batch of the thin set using his 40 year old gigantic mixer. It is so powerful, he had to hold it between his feet so it wouldn't spin out of control. I got a try too, but I think this is best left to the professionals.
Then we spread it on to the areas where the octopus body would be, and the part with the thinner glass tiles.
Angela Tirrell, another amazing artist and mutual friend of ours, dropped by with treats at one point. An impromptu late night picnic - lucky us!
As I begin this amazing mosaic project, I have taken some time to research the octopus. I confess that I discovered a mild fear of their alien, eight-legged form. Those huge eyes! The ever-changing camouflage skin as they lurk in wait! The odd, unexpected movements - and of course, ALL those tentacles!
I knew I needed to understand the octopus better to make a beautiful piece. So last week, I started reading "The Soul of an Octopus" by Sy Montgomery and I now I am hooked. I am only half way through but I decided to name "my" mosaic cephalopod "Athena", in honor of one of the giant Pacific octopuses in this beautiful book (which also taught me that this is the grammatically correct plural form of 'octopus' - who knew?).
Yesterday I spent hours online looking at photos and videos of this amazing, varied and often misunderstood animal. Now I am excited to bring this knowledge to the project and give Athena all the grace, mystery and power I can.
<< Here is my Flipboard Octopus Magazine for all the inspiring images and videos I have been collecting - take a look!
I am so excited to start my blog by announcing a fantastic new mosaic project I will be working on for Ca'Momi Enoteca's new Osteria on First Street in Downtown Napa! The mosaic will cover their beautiful, brand new Acunto pizza oven, shipped all the way from Napoli, and now stands guard at the restaurant. Installing this behemoth was no easy feat, and apparently in the process at least one forklift was almost tipped over!
As they continue to remodel the restaurant, the place is a construction zone. A lot of my work will be done off site and installed later using the 'indirect' method: laying the tiles face down on clear sheets of contact paper, delivering the sheets to the site and then installing them with thin set in sections. It's a more painstaking process than the usual 'direct' method, but it's much easier when there are difficult areas to reach and will also help keep the work clean.
The concept for the mosaic is to join water and fire in the form of an octopus, a favorite animal of Ca'Momi owner, Valentina Migotto. I worked with artist Jayashri Triolo, whose beautiful paintings will adorn the osteria walls, to finalize the design. We drew her design directly on the oven with charcoal so Valentina and their wonderful designer, Catherine Enny, could envision the finished piece.
Now that we have a design in place, I will begin the tiling process in my Dad's workshop with technical support from my long-time friend, David Lewis. David has completed several large scale mosaic projects and just having him in the room makes me feel better!
The restaurant is set to open in October, so my goal is to complete the mosaic by mid-Sept. I plan to document the process here, so check back soon!
In the meantime, here's a recent article about the project from our local paper.