Bass Face

‘The Treehouse Orchestra’ mosaic features nine kids playing musical instruments. This guy is playing the upright bass. The first image shows the ‘map’ which has the pattern pieces labeled on it and shows the various shapes laid out for cutting. The second image shows the mosaic loosely assembled, awaiting detailing.

‘The Treehouse Orchestra’ mosaic bass player’s face traced on Emperador Marble

‘The Treehouse Orchestra’ mosaic bass player’s face

The Stacks

This is a shot of my shelves, where I keep stone tiles for mosaic work. It reminds me of my time in college radio when we had to go into the stacks to find the records to play.

Stone tile for mosaics

“The Treehouse Orchestra” Mosaic Update

Larchmont Elementary School has a steelpan ensemble, the inspiration for this figure, and the whole mosaic.

We’re almost there. Another figure is completed. The steelpan player is now completed. I still have to detail her steelpan though. The heads of her mallets are cut from bricks that were part of the old school building, that was torn down to make way for the new building.

The whole thing is over nine feet tall and seventeen feet wide.

This panorama shows the whole piece. This was taken when the steelpan girl was still on a different table, being detailed. The only two kids that still need some cutting are the violinist and the bass player.

Behind the scenes, so to speak

Front view

This fellow is playing the tambourine. Flipped over, you can see the numbering scheme I sued to keep track of the pieces. On smaller things like this, it’s relatively easy to figure out where pieces go. When you have three hundred random hexagons making up the background, it’s really important to have things identified.

Fourfold Mosaics Grouted

Grouted the mosaics

I grouted these two mosaics this weekend. These are my first experiments with geometric patterns, these based on Islamic tile designs. The colors really pop in this image because I’ve just rinsed them with water. Another example of how stone mosaic so closely resembles quilt patterns.

Mosaic Update

We’re still plugging away at “The Treehouse Orchestra.” Here’s a couple of recent pics:

Jonathan laying out the bass from “The Treehouse Orchestra.”

Jonathan is seen laying out the bess that he cut from a lovely stone called Stalatiti Bronze.

First draft of the boy who will be playing the tambourine

This is the initial cutting of the face for the boy who will be playing the tambourine.


The design on the steelpan from the Treehouse Orchestra mosaic is a reference to the Phoenix Rising mosaic, the first we completed for Norfolk.

phoenix stone mosaic

The Treehouse Orchestra

Current status on the mosaic at the shop

Here’s a quick update on the latest mosaic. We have all of the foliage cut, as well as the tree branch. Four of the kids are completely done. The background stone has been ordered and is en route.

Yellow travertine becomes very blonde hair

Persian Gold is the trade name os a very lovely yellow travertine that I like to use. In this case it’s crazy bright yellow hair. This was a tricky choice; I wanted blonde because there are already so many kinds with black or brown hair. The more muted ‘blonde’ colors were too similar to the stone I used for the face. It’s seems rather vivd on it;’s own, but I like the way it brightens up the foliage in the overall mosaic photo, above. At this point I’d say it’s 50/50 that we keep this hair or change it out for something else.

The mounting system for the triangle in the new mosaic

The boy in the lower center of the mosaic it jumping to strike a triangle that’s hanging from the tree branch. I thought it would be cool if there was a real triangle in the piece, and of course wanted it to be able to ring out if struck. This is the arrangement we’re working with for the installation. When purchased, the triangle had a single hole with a piece of sturdy monofilament through it. It rang beautifully with a long sustain. I needed this to be stronger and able to withstand some measure of abuse or misuse. We added a second hole. Being pinned like this will keep the triangle from hitting and damaging the stone behind it. It also makes it harder for young hands to grab at it and pull it loose. Two bits of stainless threaded rod poke through the background marble. They are welded to a thin plate. Little nuts behind the triangle help to hold it off the stone. Honestly, it doesn’t ring as well as it would were it able to hang freely, but it sounds pretty good. There’s less sustain. A little bit of tape over the threads inside the holes helps it ring longer than when it was just resting on the bare threaded rod.

Xylophone Girl

We’ve been finding time to work on the Treehouse Orchestra mosaic, hiding out in the shop on the rainy days that winter brings. The xylophone girl is cut and on the table awaiting detailing, which is when we tidy the fits so that it looks just so, and apply tape to the face of the mosaic for transport and installation.

Here’s the whole piece, laid out on the table. We’re working on the foliage right now. I have to order some background stone for down below; I think it’ll be a white/gray marble.

On the table at the shop