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The good, the bad and the … beautiful?

You know what it is like when someone has seen your work, then you post a photo of it on the web, and they say “the photo doesn’t do your work justice”. You are sure your photo was a good one so it leaves you feeling very good about your work.

That’s great, but what happens when it is the other way round. When you know your photo is much better than the work itself. I know this is possible because I have a confession to make.

Some of you will have seen this photo of mine which is a detail of a mosaic called “Dawn Breakers”,

original detail "Dawn Breakers"

I love this part of it, but unfortunately it is the best bit. The rest of the mosaic is a disappointment. I made it with smalti, indirect to achieve a flat surface , so it was partly due to making it in this way – i.e the smalti is quite thick and  you can’t see the face of the work when you are making it. It would have been easier to have made it double indirect.

I am embarrassed  to show you this but I think I have to, it is a great example of where things go badly wrong! Ready for this? OK, here goes ….

Original "Dawn Breakers"

There, see what I mean? No? How about this then…

close up of the "bad"

Here you will notice that the work is sloppy (especially the grout lines of the birds and the andamento of the smalti.) When you look at the whole mosaic the blue and the gold in the sky are both distracting, and spoil the composition. It took me some time to really come to terms with it.  I even submitted a photo of  it for Brit Hammer’s mosaic book – Breakout! (We must have been on similar wavelengths) but when she didn’t accept it I knew there was definitely something wrong!

This was to be part 2 of a 3 part series, and as the idea was still very important to me, I decided to remake it.

My first problem though was gold smalti – I probably had just enough, but it is so expensive (at about 80 pence a piece), and I want to keep some back to include a little in other works. So I decided to use stained glass,  transparent yellows and ambers that I found in my glass bits box. By using a white adhesive to fix it to my substrate it almost looks like the silver/gold smalti I used before. I also changed the shape of the birds, so they are like my “Flocked” series, and for the rest of the sky I used bright opaque stained glass. The stained glass allowed me to use those lovely apricots and pinks you see in sunrises that I can’t find in smalti.  As the first piece of the series is a square format, this one also had to be a square format.

I grouted twice, the first time in grey:

but unsatisfied with this I re-grouted in black. It looks more like “a grout drawing ” now, and I am happy at last! Let me know what you think.

Dawn Breakers (II)

Here are a couple of detail shots:

Detail of Dawn Breakers (II)
Detail of Dawn Breakers (II)

I just have to make part 3 now. I’ll post all 3 pieces in the next post.


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  1. Wow!! The black grout really does the trick. really makes the piece jump out.
    Excellent result <3

  2. Wow, you really make a great difference in the 2 versions. The end result is spectacular! Clever of you to know how to fix it!

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