If you would like to see how a real mosaic commission works...
This slide show shows, step by step, one of my recent commissions for the new Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, CA. I was approached by the appointed artwork curators Aesthetics Inc to propose a major artwork for the main entrance lobby of the new building.
All the artworks in the new hospital were to be themed to reflect the natural environment of the area according to the altitude, so that the basements were 'under the sea', the ground floor - sea level and coast and the upper floors raising through the altitudes to mountain top and sky. This project was to be on the ground floor entrance, so the coast was the theme.
The project begins with a site visit and meeting with the curators and client to discuss ideas. At the same time I was able to carry out local research of the landscape and in local museums.
One of the things that particularly attracted me were the tide pools and my own memories as a child exploring the shore at low tide in the summer.
Initial design ideas included a seashore floor mosaic...
or mosaic columns of rocky outcrops with birds.
But it was the idea of having a trail of mosaic tide pools running through the entrance lobby that caught everyones imagination.
Work then began on developing the design further. The tide pools were given more interesting irregular shapes.
The scheme was then given the official go ahead by the client.
I also designed the terrazzo scheme for the mosaic insets. In order to ensure co-ordination between myself and the architects (Perkins+Will) I worked on the terrazzo design and mosaic placement in their office.
The scheme proposed a trail of ten mosaic floor panels set in a coastline terrazzo.
Once the terrazzo and mosaic placement had been settled the final panel designs were refined and extra detail added.
The whole scheme of ten panels and terrazzo was then given final approval from the client.
A one foot grid was added to the final designs to aid layout and a list was included of the various plants and animals for each panel to be crossed referenced with research material when it came to making the details in mosaic.
With the final designs approved by the client we were all ready to begin construction of the mosaics.
The first task for each mosaic panel was to cut a rigid template from glass fibre panel. These templates would be used to accurately form the spaces for the mosaics within the terrazzo.
The rigid template was then used to help produce the full scale cartoon. This tonal painting is created in the mirror image of the finished mosaic.
Now the mosaic making begins... The unglazed porcelain tesserae are carefully hand cut and glued face down onto the paper cartoon.
Developing a way/pattern to interpret the various rock surfaces was an important part of developing the mosaic style.
As each mosaic panel is made the completed section is cut down into pieces for transportation.
A team of skilled specialist mosaic craftspeople keep the project on schedule.
One of my personal favourite sections of mosaic making was this tidepool with floating kelp.
While the mosaic is still being worked on in the studio I visit the site to place the GRP templates...
Terrazzo Steel Edges
Once the templates are in place and the boundaries for the terrazzo colour changes have been marked out the terrazzo contractor begins fixing the steel edges that will delineate the terrazzo.
Once the templates and steel edges are in place the terrazzo contractor lays the terrazzo.
The mosaic making continues in the studio until all ten are completed.
Each mosaic panel is laid out on the floor and given a final check before packing.
Once the mosaic has been checked it is packed into boxes for crating and transit. Each section of mosaic has it's own hand cut housing to keep it secure during transportation.
The boxed mosaic is then vacuum sealed and crated for transportation.
The crated mosaic is transported by our logistics partners to the site.
...and our installation team arrives on site to install the mosaics
The sections of mosaic are carefully reassembled, set into cement adhesive and the paper facing is removed.
Co-ordination and Collaboration
Throughout the installation process we co-ordinate and collaborate with site managers, architects, client and other contractors. Adjusting schedules and operations to optimise the installation alongside the work of other contractors.
As each panel is fixed it is grouted to fill the tiny spaces between the tesserae. Then the mosaic is cleaned.
A final clean and seal and the mosaics are all complete.
Turtle chasing jelly fish
Kelp Tide Pool
The work goes on to receive a number of awards including from the National Organisation for Arts In Health, The National Association for Terrazzo and Mosaic and the Flooring Contractors Magazine Awards.
...and another project
I was also commissioned to create a second mosaic trail on the first floor of the same hospital. Read the link below to follow the story of the 'Trail Through The Redwood Forest' project.