GreenMan Mosaic: Brewery is open!

At long last the GreenMan Brewery has officially opened, meaning I can legitimately post images of the natural stone mosaic we built for them. I already had, but really wasn’t supposed to! It is one of our most ambitious projects to date. The 320 square foot mosaic is comprised exclusively of natural stone, all cut and fitted by the Hammerhead crew. Much of the stone is regional, including a lot of stuff from North Carolina. The yes are malachite found in local gem and mineral shops, though it most likely originated in Africa.

Exploring stone choices for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Exploring stone choices for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

This is actually the second full scale face I printed and assembled. The first one showed some clear design concerns, particularly in terms of the size of facial features. It’s one thing to draw at screen size. Blown up to eleven feet across and hung up over my head, it was clear the lips were too big compared to the eyes. This printed version fixed those issues and was used to host a meeting with the designer, Krista Lablue and Wendy from GreenMan. The stone samples on the ground helped us choose the palette for the final mosaic. The whole Hammerhead team took part in this meeting, which I think helped us move forward smoothly with the process; everyone had input in the stone choices and had a good understanding of the customer’s vision.

Creating the malachite eyes for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Creating the malachite eyes for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

I ended up making the eyes twice. The first time became a test of the concept, which worked! But because the malachite was so costly I only bought enough to make one. I bought more and made the second eye, but there were clear differences in the color and look. I took them apart and rebuilt them mixing the stone randomly and got the look I wanted. The eyes are the only place where we used a more traditional mosaic style, making tiny tesserae. I like the effect though, it is evocative of ancient mosaics, populated with characters like Dionysus and Bacchus.

gren-man-final-17

Here’s a close up of the eye installed.

We built the GreenMan Brewery mosaic at the shop first, right on top of the Labyrinth!

We built the GreenMan Brewery mosaic at the shop first, right on top of the Labyrinth!

We cut and laid out the mosaic at the workshop, detailing the fits as best we could, prior to installation. Space was limited, so we had to build the GreenMan right over the top of the Labyrinth. The green insulation foam guided the fitting of the pieces, all of which had been cut from templates. It proved useful on the installation too…

We used foam insulation as a template and setting guide at the start of the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

We used foam insulation as a template and setting guide at the start of the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Installation began with the eyes, as they needed to be level and centered on the wall. The green foam was perfect for supporting the mosaic pieces on the wall while they cured.

The GreenMan mosaic stares out through the scaffolding as we near the finish line.

The GreenMan mosaic stares out through the scaffolding as we near the finish line.

Even through all the clutter, it was amazing to watch the GreenMan’s towering visage appear on the wall.

The GreenMan mosaic is 20' tall and 16' wide. The face really fills the space.

The GreenMan mosaic is 20′ tall and 16′ wide. The face really fills the space.

The finished mosaic is twenty feet tall and sixteen feet wide. It is opposite the main entrance of the brewery’s new downtown location. It’s the first thing you see coming in the front door. It’s kind of imposing!

A detail of the leaves in the GreenMan mosaic showing several of the native stones we used.

A detail of the leaves in the GreenMan mosaic showing several of the native stones we used.

The face is made of marble from Tennessee. The leaves that surround the GreenMan’s face is mostly native North Carolina stone, though we used a fair amount of slate reclaimed from an old house in Asheville. I’m not sure it’s source. The eyebrows are serpentine. Again, I’m not sure where it comes from, but there’s some of the same stone on older buildings in downtown Asheville, making me think it’s at least regional. The background surround is sandstone from Tennessee.

A close up of the GreenMan mosaic face.

A close up of the GreenMan mosaic face.

The GreenMan Mosaic- Malachite Eyes

Detail of mosaic eye made of natural stones, including malachite

Detail of mosaic eye made of natural stones, including malachite

I like how GreenMan’s eyes evoke a more traditional style of mosaic, with smaller tesserae and grout used to fill the interspaces. The grout adds some depth and detail, as in real eyes. The irises are made of malachite. I had to buy display pieces from local crystal shops (there are oodles in Asheville) and slice them down and break them to create the tesserae. I ended up doing them twice. The first time around I made one eye from a single piece of malachite. Doing that I figured out that it would work, so I got another piece. But it was a slightly different hue. I don’t know if anyone else would have noticed the two eyes being slightly different, but I couldn’t let it ride. The source malachite is now well blended between the two eyes.

The whole mosaic is natural stone. Most of the materials are regionally sourced. Lots of stone from North Carolina and Tennessee, though Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New England are also represented. The malachite in the eyes is one of the few materials sourced from an exotic locale. I’m not sure exactly, but I believe it originated in Africa.

On Making Labyrinths

Labyrinth paths loop back at returns called labryses.

Labyrinth paths loop back at returns called labryses.

The places where the labyrinth path returns, turning back on itself, are called labryses. This name reflects their shape, which some see as similar to an ceremonial ax. What’s interesting about cutting them is that those shapes –which we creatively called D’s– are all the same. Each of the eleven paths has its own radius, but they all meet the labrys stones in the same way. We only needed one template to cut all of the D shapes.

51 Biltmore Results

Congratulations to muralist Ian Wilkinson and ceramic artist Alex Irvine for their winning design for the 51 Biltmore Public Art project. I look forward to seeing it up on that wall! I am proud to have made it to the final round and am very grateful for all the support that people have given me in the process.
I still hope to find Rio & Apu a home someday!

"Rio" Color Study

natural stone mosaic color study

A color study of the “Rio” natural stone mosaic I submitted to 51 Biltmore Public Art Project in Asheville, North Carolina.

I wanted to share an exciting opportunity for me and Hammerhead Stoneworks and ask for your support. Late last year I was chosen as a finalist for a public art project here in Asheville. The goal is to create artwork for a blank wall on a new parking garage that is attached to the Aloft hotel at 51 Biltmore Ave. I was one of three finalists selected from 150 submissions.

A couple of weeks ago the three of us handed in our design proposals. My piece is called “Rio & Apu”. It is a pair of natural stone mosaics that celebrate the elemental forces that have shaped these mountains: stone and water. Apu is the Inkan word for a mountain spirit, an integral concept within their Shamanic belief system and the meaning of place. Rio is the Spanish word for river and evokes the playful spirit of water moving, tumbling down a mountain creek. “Rio & Apu” will call attention to their dynamic relationship and the great value in seeking balance and harmony with nature. Each mosaic will be six feet wide and twenty-four feet tall.

Public feedback is an important part of the selection process. I am hoping that you will take a look at the various designs and offer your support. This is from the City of Asheville press release:

“The next public comment period for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project begins on April 4 with the First Friday Gallery Walk in downtown Asheville. The artists’ proposals will be on display at the Blue Spiral 1, 38 Biltmore Avenue, 5:00 to 8:00 pm during the Gallery Walk, and continue through April 6 during regular business hours. April 7 – 11 the proposals will be on display at the Aloft Hotel in the second floor lobby, 51 Biltmore Avenue, during regular operating hours. The public is invited to review and make comment on the proposals, with the option to select their preferred design. Comment can also be made on line at the City of Asheville website during April 4-11.”

If you want to see the city’s announcement, click the 51 Biltmore link at the bottom of the /parks page.

And there’s more information here:
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/04/03/weigh-asheville-public-art-proposals/7283891/