I frequently have the thought that the hardest part of making art is planning what to do. Once that’s done, then you get to do the fun part of actually creating it. I think I spent the better part of an afternoon thinking up and researching my plan for mosaic #2.

I’m not really a person who believes in spirit animals, but if I was, a fox would be mine for sure. So I knew I wanted to do a fox, but I wanted to put it in some setting that was sort of fanciful or mystical. Inspiration is an odd thing, and for some reason, “Hey Diddle Diddle” popped into my head and soon I had the image of a fox jumping over the moon.

Here’s my sketch:

You can see I’ve already taped the sticky paper down and began by laying down some of the facial features. Remember I always have to put the most intricate and important parts down first.

And were these little face pieces intricate! To move around pieces this small, I used tweezers and a dental scaler. Vitreous glass isn’t too bad but little stained glass shards can be SHARP! By the end of the class I had seventeen ( I counted) teeny tiny cuts from accidentally brushing my hand over them. Next time I’ll be more careful!

Visually, I really liked the fox jumping over the moon in a rightward direction, like in my sketch. But with indirect method mosaic making, you end up reversing the image in the end. But ah HA! The ever-resourceful Cindy had a simple solution to this problem: the Double Reverse Method. When I completed my layout, all I would need to do is stick a second sheet of contact paper over the top of the mosaic, rub vigorously to stick the tesserae down to it, then flip the mosaic over and peel off the original sheet of sticky paper. Brilliant!

The one and only challenge with double-reverse is the texture on the vitreous glass. The texture is on the back, and with double-reverse you naturally put the back sides of tiles down onto the sticky paper. But the bumpy, ridged texture on the backs of the vitreous pieces caused them to annoyingly wobble and even detach themselves when other pieces would bump them. So, I had to do a lot of delicate tweezer work to keep these wobblers in place.

Here I’ve added more pieces to the body. The colored bits are mainly stained glass (flat on both sides and NOT wobble-prone, thank goodness) while the black is vitreous. I had to do the feet twice, on my first attempt I made the toes comically huge:


My table-mate Maria and I had a good laugh about that. Good thing I was using the indirect method or my fox would have been stuck with clown feet.

After some more work, the fox body is done:

Then I proceeded on to the moon, the green grass, and the night sky. I was particularly excited to do a night sky because I was looking forward to getting all impressionistic and Van Gogh with it. There’s a mosaic Cindy made with a snowshoe hare in front of a beautiful night sky that was also an inspiration. If you go to this page and scroll about halfway down, you will see it, right underneath the penguins.

About halfway through the grass I realized that I had set up a really big challenge for myself. Because you see, grass is thin. Very thin, and long. So to make it look realistic I had to cut a bunch of really long, thin shards and stick them all down in a natural-looking way. But of course, pieces of grass crisscross each other all the time, so I was forever cutting the long shards in half so one of them could appear to cross behind another. To make matters worse, some of the pieces were vitreous glass, and their bumpy backs were making them tip over and wobble all over the place. Not to mention, I needed to put in a background of impressionistic night sky behind the grass, which meant I had to fill in the spaces between the shards with even smaller, more randomly shaped bits. OY. Maria was having similar issues with her own piece across the table from me, & we took to calling the teeny random pieces “crumbs.” The fact that we found this as hilarious as we did is a testament to how slap-happy the mind can get after tweezering tiny glass pieces all night long.

Anyhow, I worked hard, and filled in every tiny speck of space. One really important thing I considered while placing the tesserae was contrast. I needed to make sure each individual part of the drawing would stand out and “read,” rather than blending in with what was around it. One example is that I deliberately kept the night sky lighter around the fox’s black legs and feet, so that they wouldn’t literally vanish into thin air. Here is the final layout:

All that tweezering paid off. Now it needed to be set onto the board and grouted.

And voila! I picked black grout for this, to help keep the night sky nice and dark. I think it gave a nice air of drama and magic. Then I painted the margin of the hardibacker board midnight blue. I took this picture out in natural sunlight, which brightens up the colors a bit more than looking at it indoors.

Here is a close-up of that pesky grass section:

See those tiny turquoise crumbs? Yikes. And here is a close-up of the finished fox and moon:

People who have looked at this have told me that they see a fox drinking by a stream, or a fox jumping in a field with the moon behind it. I like that people have come up with different takes on the image. Do you have a different one?