Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mosaic Dulcimer

Well, it's finished; it took about 3 weeks, beginning with cutting my tiles from sheets of stained glass. I cut about 90% of the tiles in this project. I like to do that because the finished piece seems more like mine than when I buy them precut. As you'll see, the tiles for the back of the dulcimer are, shall we say, untraditional? My way of doing mosaics appeals to me, mostly because it challenges me to make do.

I grew up poor, nothing wrong with that, and mostly I'm glad I didn't have the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth. We were country poor, and by that I mean we had food, shelter and clothing, and most everyone around us was poor, too, so we didn't consciously know it or dwell on it. A few people in town, like C. C. Pierson, who owned the hardware store, roller rink, furniture store, and movie theater were considered rich, but by today's standards I think even C.C. wasn't that well off.

Back then, nobody ever thought of having the government support them, and we knew that we only could have what our parents provided with their hard work. That's a good thing to grow up knowing, and another thing, probably the most valuable lesson that my mother taught me was how to make do with what's at hand. She's creative that way, and if she wanted a flower bed out front, she gathered rocks and a sack of concrete and went to work building one. She sewed most of my clothes, and I'd walk down to the mercantile store and buy 3 yards of colorful fabric for $1.00 and a 35 cent Butterick pattern, dream up my own version of it, and she'd sew me an outfit as pretty as any in the J.C. Penny catalog. Once a friend gave her a long, wool coat, and though it fit her well, and she didn't have a long coat, she took it apart, cut it down, and gave it to me. I thought it was beautiful. And that's the feeling I get from creating with mosaic tiles. Here's how I did this one:

I used a glass cutter, grinder, snips and breaking tool, sand paper, alcohol, tweezers, glue, marking pen, and grout. I'd had the dulcimer for 30 years and thought it looked nice on the mantle but didn't have any remorse at taking it out to the shop and prepping it by roughing it up with sand paper. There are several ways of laying out and applying tiles; my way is to experiment with small sections and then glue them down.

The only part I don't like is the grout. It's messy and ugly, and once it's applied, it looks as if my jewels got stuck in mud, which is exactly what has happened.
Grout is meant to be a drab background for the sparkly treasures, but I experiemented this time and applied an acrylic, pearlized wash over it; I love the look, just enough of a sheen to compliment my sparkly tiles.

Actually, I was pleased with the whole thing, after I created some faux frets and added new strings.

Oh yeah, and here's the hypertufa leaf I made a while back. I painted it after the 28 day wait for it to finish drying. Waiting is the hardest part. And now I'm off on a couple of new artsy crafty adventures; I'll share them with you when they're finished. Have a happy, creative day!

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