I’ve been creating my encaustic mosaics for over year a now (almost two!) and they’ve always been made on an intimate scale (read small). Small is good since you can usually find space to hang it (good for sales) and is also easy to transport to exhibitions and art shows. But I’ve wanted to challenge myself with my technique (see the Cloth Paper Scissors article) – to create an encaustic mosaic that was ‘gallery-sized.’ Time to super-size my art!
I needed a substrate that was big, but light-weight. With a trip to my local Home Depot, I found what I was looking for – a hollow-core door (28 x 80 inches). It was already primed with white paint, so I coated it with several coats of matte black interior house paint with a mini-foam roller. In between coats of paint, I made a mock-up in Powerpoint to determine how many squares/rectangles I would need for my large mosaic. I wanted to make a ‘pop-art’ themed mosaic, which lent itself to bright colours. Using the gradient colour fill option helped to estimate the range of colours of paint and the number of images I would need for each section.
My wonderful husband, Dave designed and built the custom-made shadowbox frame which surrounded the black-painted door. I wanted to keep the same design esthetic that I used for my smaller encaustic mosaics, so the frame required a few additional trips to Home Depot to find the right thickness of wood in order to get the correct distance between frame and door to give the same shadowbox look. Everything was then clamped and glued together and it was then attached to the door with finishing nails. The frame was painted in a semi-gloss black interior house paint (this felt like we were building furniture rather than making art!).
While Dave worked on the frame, I started prepping all the encaustic painted Terraskin paper. I would first doodle with Neocolor crayons on the white Terraskin, and then seal it with clear encaustic medium. Since I wanted a smooth transition between each colour (like in a rainbow), I painted half of each square with its neighbor on the colour wheel.
The next challenge was cutting all of the pieces and hot gluing them together. I cut stacks of rectangles and squares from black foam core (sized 2 x 2 inches, 2 x 4 inches and 4 x 4 inches). I also cut all the corresponding amounts of encaustic painted Terraskin paper and my waxed paper ‘pop-art’ images (taken from old comics, 50’s housewife ads, retro candy wrappers, etc.). After everything was cut (I put each colour into its own separate freezer bag to try to keep all my pieces organized), I had to hot-glue each coloured piece onto the foam core.
Using my Powerpoint ‘sketch’ I arranged all the painted and imaged foam core pieces onto the completed shadowbox-framed door. I realized that due to the overhang of the frame, I had too many pieces and it would look crowded. So I eliminated the top mosaic row, and then had to re-jig the arrangement to get a good visual balance between painted and imaged pieces. When everything finally looked good to my eye, I hot-glued all the pieces into place onto the door. I titled the encaustic mosaic, “Thought & Memory – Spectrum.”
I submitted the photographs of the completed artwork to McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) for consideration to their 13th exhibition of ‘Art in the Workplace.’ The Atrium space at MIP could handle an artwork that large (and I figured if it didn’t get into the show, it was going to hang above the couch in our bedroom). Luckily, it was accepted! On opening night, I had the fun of trying to find where it would be hanging at MIP. I found my mosaic on the second floor (near the elevator), in its own private ‘salon’ area.
The blue wall of the lounge area really made my ‘pop-art’ mosaic POP! The bright colours of the painting looked even better against the contrasting wall – maybe I should paint my bedroom bright blue?? Something to think about when the exhibition closes and my art comes home to roost.