Stone Owl Mosaic

Some progress on the stone owl mosaic.

I cut the background for the latest bird mosaic, what I’m calling the art deco owl. I used a piece of stone called Silver Wave. The next step is to finesse the joints, when I fit each piece individually, to make sure the whole thing is consistent.

CHRISTMAS BIRDS

Stone Mosaic Memorial Wall Hangings

Mosaic of a robin with some flowers

I am offering a limited number of small mosaic commissions for this holiday season. These will be custom designed birds of your choosing, for the person of your choosing. The images shown with this post are samples, but these particular pieces already have homes. These are all 12“ x 12“, though a bit smaller or a bit larger are options. Pricing will vary depending on the size, the level of detail, the type of stone we choose, and whether or not you want the artwork framed. Pricing will include freight. I expect that most mosaics will cost between $500 to $1000.
If you are interested, message me directly. Thank you!

A stone mosaic of a Northern Cardinal.

Goldfinch

(I know his seems early, but I usually have this idea around Thanksgiving, when it’s too late to make and ship mosaics!)

Stone Memorial Wall Hangings

Black-capped chickadee stone mosaic

Bird Boy

“The Care Takers” mosaic detail: boy and red-headed woodpecker

“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

This detail photo shows a student who is placing a Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) into the tree. Originally it was going to be a Mourning Dove, but I thought the color might be too similar to the boys skin and the limestone background. The tree is a Live Oak, inspired by a handful of these majestic trees in a neglected bit of land near OceanView Elementary. I got to the tour that area- called a remnant dune- on one of my visits to the school. It was like an ancient forest tucked in a forgotten corner of this built up city suburb.

The tree trunk is made of a stone called Stalatiti Bronze, a marble from… I really don’t know anything about it. I found it online and I’m not sure it’s even available anymore. It has amazing grain. The stone is sliced very thin and mounted onto porcelain tile. That makes it very hard to cut. Fred cut the entire tree trunk, which made all the more challenging because so many of the pieces were long and thin.

This amazing stone is called Stalatiti Bronze Marble

“The Care Takers” and Makers

The whole crew just after finishing “The Care Takers” mosaic.

One of the guys on the custodial staff at the school took this photo of us at the very end of the last day of the install. We are tired, pleased with the result, and ready to head home. From left to right: Fred Lashley, me, Jonathan Frederick, Johnny Greco.

Stone Owl Mosaic

Stone owl mosaic in process


This is a small project I’ve been playing with in the studio. The initial idea was to move away from birds that were so representative of a particular species, to not feel so loyal to my bird books. I imagined this as an art deco owl. Then the idea shifted to do the whole bird out of a single piece of stone, playing with the grain more than color. I like it, but am thinking about introducing another stone as the breast. The black stone to the left is likely the background once I get there.

Work-in-progress, testing ideas

Since I started this post, I changed out some elements, to create more visual interest, but stay tight in the same color family.

Stone Mosaic in Process

“The Care Takers” mosaic during installation.

This is a picture I took a few weeks ago, while we were installing “The Care Takers” mosaic at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk. All the colorful bits of plastic are shims, meant to hold the stones in position while the thinset mortar is curing. We used a version of the paper-face method, where the mosaic is glued to paper and installed in larger sections, while still adhered to the paper. So that’s what all the little bits of white on the mosaic are, paper that hasn’t yet been removed. You might notice that some of the scales- the tesserae- on the bottom part of the striped bass fell off. There were a dozen or more I had to place individually.

Mackerel Mosaic

A relief sculptural element of a mackerel as part of the “The Care Takers” mosaic.


“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

The Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is commonly found in the North Atlantic. When I was growing up, shoals of them would turn up along the Rhode Island coast during the summer. We called them tinker mackerel, which I think was a reference to their size. Honestly, I can’t say that this particular piece of the mosaic is a great representation of the physiology of the species, but I still like it. In fact, this is one of my favorite things that I’ve ever made out of stone.

I don’t really do much sculptural work. It’s not something my clients need a whole lot of! I wanted this mosaic to have some relief elements and so this idea evolved. I had one scrap of this green stone, which is just so beautiful. I don’t know what it is called or where it came from, either geologically or how this small scrap ended up in my possession. The fish barely fit on the scrap. I did all of the work with the angle grinder, using a variety of blades to cut, shape, and polish the piece. The eye is a tiny black pebble, epoxied in place.

Detail from “The Care Takers” mosaic

Pufferfish Mosaic

“The Care Takers” mosaic features a channeled whelk and a pufferfish.

“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

The Northern Pufferfish (Sphoeroides maculatus) is an unusual species that can puff up when threatened, expanding its body which is covered with tiny spines. According to wikipedia, in the Chesapeake Bay area they are known as sugar toads and are eaten as a delicacy. Despite my numerous visits to the area for this mosaic project, this has never turned up on any menus…

Also pictured is a Channeled Whelk (Busycotypus canaliculatus), a common mollusk up and down the East Coast. I was an avid beachcomber when I was a kid and I would find their shells and egg cases washed up on the shore all the time. Under ideal circumstances, the egg cases would be dried out and I would cut them open to find dozens of tiny whelk shells not much larger than grains of sand. Full grown, a whelk can be eight inches long.

Most of the ‘ocean’ material is bluestone from Pennsylvania. I mixed in a few pieces of Blue Macaubas, a ridiculously expensive and gorgeous stone from Brazil. It’s gray with threads of bright blue in it. It’s the rare stone that seems to glow from some kind of internal light. I think of it as a marble, but it is often identified as a quartzite.

Green Sea Turtle

A Green Sea Turtle mosaic with a moon jelly.

“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

While not common in the Chesapeake Bay, the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) does visit those waters in the summer and fall. There a handful of nesting sites along the Virginia coast as well. Last summer, I got to watch a turtle nest being opened up, while we were vacationing on the South Carolina coast. Once a nest has hatched- on its own accord- it is then dug up by trained volunteers. This is done as a research project- to gather info on things like fertility rates, clutch sizes, and numbers of hatchlings- but it also uncovers baby sea turtles that have failed to launch for whatever reason. My family and I, with dozens of other onlookers, stood on the beach as those tiny turtles were released and made their dash into the waves. It was a remarkable sight, one that evokes memories of the many nature shows I loved as a kid.

My colleague Jonathan Frederick made this sea turtle. He used serpentine for the shell. It has a leathered finish, which gives it an added patina of age and rugged life. The turtle’s head and body is made of a ming green marble called Chartreuse. It featured heavily in the Camp Allen Dragon. I guess this is our reptile color palette.

Below the sea turtle is a Moon Jelly (Aurelia aurita). These are common along the east coast and as it turns out, really kind of weird. For example, the four rings in their body? Gonads. Some of them grow younger, rather than older. These factoids are making me wonder if wikipedia is the best source for biological information…

Hooded Merganser

Hooded merganser, part of “The Care Takers” mosaic.

“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

The Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is a diving duck that feeds on fish, crabs and other undersea creatures. This is the male merganser, with his telltale colorful plumage and large crest. This particular piece was cut by former Hammerhead Brian Holda. Interestingly, deforestation has had a significant impact on this seafaring duck. They nest in the cavities in trees and require mature forests to provide suitable sites to raise their young.