I was looking to for something to get into a couple of summers ago. I had to spend a lot of time at home, I’m bringing up two small boys on my own and we don’t have a lot of money. I’ve always wanted to do some mosaic work, so had a little look around on my laptop and came up with this picture I had taken a few years back staying on the North of Kho Pha Ngan, in Thailand. A place called Bottle Beach.
It had been one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever scene, no I correct that, the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. The photos I took never did it full justice, They gave me perspective on the landscape, but the colours were so much more virulent, the tropical green of the landscape and the cool blues of the ocean mixed in with a sky so rich in colour my mind weeps with joy to remember it. So I thought what can I do. I have to give it a go. Truth is I never really got anywhere close, but I had so much fun doing the project. It was worth it anyway.
I had never actually made a mosaic before, but a bit of the time on the internet and I worked out the materials I’d need and found a few online stores you could order a variety of tiles from. First though I had to buy some board, and started by buying the biggest piece of OSB I could find at the local DIY place. Man it was a nightmare to drag home and I lost a couple of corners along the way. Of course when I started pricing up the tiles the project started to shrink, and ended up about 4ft by 3ft in the end. But still, big enough to keep me busy.
You have to draw the picture out then. I found it helped to paint the board white first, then I drew a grid, I worked it out mathematically from a similar grid I drew on the photo, that helped keep things in perspective, and made it easier to sketch out on the board. I wanted to maintain as much of the original shape as I could.
The coolest part though is choosing tiles from so many different textures, materials and colours. I stuck to glass, but then I had to buy tools to cut glass, but you soon get the hang of the glass cutters, and some of the tools just ended up superfluous. Glass though is not easy, it cuts, and you have to be careful, but eventually you find a rhythm and ignore the cut fingers. It gets easier.
It took a few months, every little piece having to be cut to shape, then glued into place. Working a little bit most nights after work and getting the boys to bed. My quiet time. I didn’t want to rush it as the making of the piece is the fun bit. That’s what’s its all about, the process for me. But bit by bit you move through the colours, yellows, orange and red mixed with purple and pink, blue and even brown on the sky. I started to just want to blend the colours and the original plan to stay close to the original got lost as I realised my pallet of colours was just not really there, and I was having so much fun doing my own thing. Then you get the green of the land, and the browns of the beach and the sea just becomes a mix of everything as it does in life, reflecting all around it.
When the tiles are done, you plaster in the gaps, again a pleasurable process, and then the final touch, which was planned for as I had drilled holes at the start. I put in some LED’s, just to add an extra dimension, and to be honest it works, but hard to capture fully with my phone. The original idea was to represent the small lights along the bay, the first stars of the night. Tell me what you think.
And there you are, Bottle Beach. I have no where to put it of course!