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70s Circles

Bell bottoms.  Sideburns.  Disco.  Saturday Night Fever.  Soul Train. Bob Dylan.  Rolling Stones.  The 1970’s was an iconic decade that we look back on with pretty distinctive memories. 


The 70’s were a time when attitudes changed from the community-oriented mentality of the 1960’s to a more individualized one.  In a way, this design embodies that concept with several individual circles (or portions of circles), with very distinct centres, representing that individualism.  And of course, who could mistake the colour palette for any other era? 


The andamento in this mosaic radiates out from one central point.  The concentric brown, red, orange and yellow circles are filled with various sizes of hand-cut square and rectangular pieces of stained glass, dispersion from one central axis in a way that diffuses the direction of the eye.  There is no one clear line going from the centre of each circle outward, but a general direction, growing from one point and spreading outward.  Special care was taken to ensure that each tile overlapped the gap between the previous point, so that there were no “grout rivers” distracting from the flow of the glass pieces.



The background (entirely made of hand-cut ¾” stained glass pieces), follows an “opus musivum”, where the lines of tesserae (or pieces) follow the edge of a special shape, and that pattern continues throughout the entire background. 


While this portion of our project got off to a slow start, taking longer to cut and place pieces than expected, over time it gained momentum and actually became a very fun design to work on.  But for future reference, projects like this go much faster when the tiles are pre-cut!  It seemed that whenever tile-laying really got going and I got into a flow, I’d run out of tiles and have to stop and change modes to cut more glass.  And after cutting a sheet or so of stained glass into a bunch of new tiles, I’d have to stop and change modes back to laying tiles (more for my own sanity or because my fingers couldn’t handle any more cuts than any other reason). 


There were a few challenges with this design, on top of the tedious glass-cutting.  Because the entire mosaic radiates from one, or actually four, central points, it wasn’t one where chunks could be taken home to be worked on at my own leisure.  With each tile building on the ones before it, the entire mosaic had to be fabricated in one place.  So carving out time to go to the studio was a challenge, and because of the size and nature of the design, the entire mosaic was created on the floor!  (Can we write off massages and chiropractic visits?)  In addition, I ran out of glass with just about 15-20 pieces to go.  Because, of course.  It’s Murphy’s Law, isn’t it?  Luckily, I was able to dig around in the scrap box of oddly shaped pieces to find JUST enough to finish.  It would have really sucked to have to go out and buy another sheet just for those few inches! 



One of my favourite parts of using stained glass vs. the solid vitreous glass tiles is that every single piece is different.  The size and shape of each piece, while carefully measured out and cut, is slightly different.   And the colours are slightly different in every piece.  On top of the beautiful variation in colouring that naturally happens throughout the sheet of stained glass, you can use the front and back of the glass to get even more variety.  This diversity of textures and colours, much like the cultural diversity of Waterloo Region represented by this work, adds even more depth and interest to the mosaic.



The completion of this mosaic design is very exciting because it is the second-to-last piece that is remaining.  We anticipate that we’ll be finished laying tiles by the end of this month and then we’ll be storing our work until the building is constructed and ready for installation, hopefully in the spring of 2019!