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* June - Sept. 2020 new show
at the Tucson International Airport, Lounge on the lower level west end by the car rental.

Bring your family and friends to view my reverse glass paintings!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tucson Wildlife Mosaic Installed

The new and Only wildlife rescue hospital at Tucson Wildlife Center opened earlier this month and the mosaic I did of their logo hangs in the reception entry area. This photo was taken before the grand opening with lots of people.
Mosaic - Tucson Wildlife Center 30" x 30"
The mosaic piece took much longer to complete than anticipated. After a family illness other things seemed to always come up. Then it was damaged during fabrication leading to more time in repairs.

So glad to finally see Wilber the Bobcat mascot logo hanging! It glitters with light and color in the office. Check out Tucson Wildlife's Facebook page for all the latest rescue news. Donate on their TWC website - every donation counts for this non-profit wildlife rescue that runs Entirely on donations.

Below are most of the work in progress steps for those interested in making mosaics. Due to to high detail and many tiny pieces, the Double Reverse Mosaic technique was used to make this mosaic mural. 

• After tracing the logo onto cement board, I cut the hardi backer cement board with an angle grinder.
• The traced logo was hand painted with acrylics like a portrait color study guide to match the glass colors.
• Clear contact paper is cut to the size of the painted board, sticky side up so cut glass mosaic pieces will stick to it and not move or shift. The contact paper is taped to the board edge in 8 places.
• The stained glass is hand selected to match the color references not only to the logo but also to Wilber the bobcat mascot at Tucson Wildlife Center.
• Stained glass is selected and laid out to match the fur growth direction, pattern and color. Then the glass is cut in shapes that match fur texture and color for movement. The grout will be black to help outline the movement and texture of the fur.
• Each piece of glass is hand traced with a sharpie pen, then cut and fitted into place with a glass wheel cutter (favorite tool). Tweezers are used to fit each glass into place.
• The eye is often the most important focal point of an animal portrait and the glass was carefully selected for color and fit based on several reference nature photos.
• Once the mosaic was finished, clear special mosaic tape was applied to the front making sure every tiny piece stuck to the tape. 
• Then the piece was flipped over, the contact paper was peeled off the back and the piece was pre-grouted and wiped so the black grout filled the spaces in the glass. Pre-grouting from the back helps keep the white cement from squeezing up through the front.
• The painted front of the cement board was skimmed with cement mortar and the pre-grouted back of the mosaic was also thinly buttered with the mortar.
• The two pieces were quickly, carefully sandwiched together with the backer board on the bottom, cement adhesive layer, then taped glass mosaic on top.
• Mosaic glass taped surface was carefully tamped with a large float so all layers adhered then left a few days for the cement to cure completely. Then the clear mosaic tape was carefully removed at a flat angle and grout touched up where needed.

Materials & Links: 
Iron frame donation Applby's Ornamental Iron local independent.
Mosaic Tape  Mosaic Supply
Stained glass Expressions Art Glass local independent.
Cement hardi-backer 1/4" board  local Home Depot 
Grout, sanded, black  Custom Grout
Acrylic paints for underpainting FolkArt or Liquitex Basics from local Michaels
Wheeled glass cutters (I had a pair)
Pistol glass cutter (had mine)
Tweezers (have several)
Sharpie permanent fine marker to mark glass
Carbon paper for tracing onto board
Projector (I have an Old one)
Clear contact paper roll
Paper to trace design on from projection if project is too big/heavy to hang on wall.
Angle head grinder for cutting shapes on cement board (messy but WAY less than Wedi board)

This mosaic method is called the double reverse method and is ideal for public art. It provides a super smooth finish and allows the placing of Many tiny detail glass pieces without them shifting and the option of changing pieces. The direct method of gluing down glass as you go is a one shot deal. If pieces don't fit right, it's very difficult to pry up glued tiny glass or fragile pieces.

Original logo

Tracing the logo for the mosaic onto cut hardi-backer board. A projector was used, then any distortion was adjusted.

Stained glass mosaic selections for color match. The logo, other bobcat photos were used for Wilber's face colors.
Cutting mosaic glass and layout matching the underpainting and logo. 

Hand cutting glass mosaic piece by piece

Hand cutting and fitting glass mosaic pieces using a sharpie, wheeled glass cutters and tweezers. The sticky contact paper keeps small pieces from shifting and allows for custom fitting.

Custom fitting glass pieces for glass mosaic and placing on the contact paper.

Custom color match and cut the eye - the "window to the soul" using hand traced paper templates that were then traced onto the selected glass for the eye, nose areas and fitted with tweezers. 

Glass Mosaic about 2/3 finished. 

Mosaic mural for Tucson Wildlife Center ready for grouting.
Last fitting with the iron frame generously donated by Appleby's Ornamental Iron to mark the grout border edges. Appleby's kind owner Ed Hocheder has been running the family owned BBB A+ Appleby since 1980 and is a pleasure to work with.

Saturday, April 19, 2014