If ever there was an example of how a mosaic can change from initial sketch to completed project, this it it! The inspiration for the piece was a firepit I built on a ‘wilderness week’ in Finland a few years ago – the idea was to make something more ‘representational’ than my usual abstract approach. As you can see, that’s not quite how things worked out….
Like all my larger pieces, this was made using the indirect method, in which the mosaic is made in reverse on strong brown paper, held in place using a water-soluble glue. Once the mosaic is set onto its substrate, the backing paper is (carefully!) soaked off. This allows for complex cutting and experimentation – remaking a section is a case of cutting out the old, patching in some new paper, and trying a different approach.
In this case, it quickly became obvious that my original idea of having the flames emerging from a lot of rocks was going to look confused and fragmented. I experimented with the idea of a small number of much larger rock forms, with the interest lying in the different cutting techniques and ‘flows’ that these would create within them.
Alongside these main elements, I wanted to introduce other shapes and flows – the more linear ‘andamenti’ of charcoal-black forms, and the spiky white cuts separating them from the curvier rocks. I then littered the piece with thin strips of vitreous and gold glass, both to flow within the forms and pierce them.
Choosing a grout colour sounds like a boring and trivial thing, but it’s incredibly important, especially to a piece such as this which has such wide grout lines. I decided on a darkish grey grout as it seemed the best way to unify the huge tonal range of the piece – from glossy black to a high white.