What an exciting day we had! The teacher and I drew the design for the spring mural on the backer board this morning. The design is based on a series of drawings created by individual students. We selected the tree style and many compositional and design elements from about a dozen student drawings. Here some of the students are choosing positions in the mosaic for special animal tiles they created.
This is the completed portion halfway through the day's classes.
Completed portion at the end of the day. Tiles within the tree outline are adhered, the rest are loose tiles from which the students chose. Early in the day I worried that I would put too much of my own mosaic style into the piece by directing the placement of tiles, but I found little need to micromanage as many of the kids had an instinctive feel for tile placement. A constant stream of students surrounded me as they chose the tiles they wanted to lay and handed them to me to "butter" the back with thinset cement. Thinset is the most secure adhesive for an outdoor mosaic that is subjected to constant changes and a wide range in both moisture and temperature. I feel satisfied with this method of laying the tile that we worked out. It allows every student to actively participate in the feel or "hand" of the mosaic, while allowing for adult control over the adhesive. Thinset is not particularly dangerous but as with all cements, it is best to prevent skin contact.
Tiles before and after the glaze firing.
This project is yet another step forward in owning myself as "artist." Each time I am introduced to a class, many of the students ask me if I am "really an artist." The first time, I hesitated a moment before responding, "Yes," but after all, the school hired me as their Artist in Residence for this project. I would be cheating the school, the teacher and the students if I believed any less of myself. It's interesting to me that, for many, describing oneself as "artist" is something we must grow into, often haltingly and with many growing pains. I wonder if that is the case in other fields.
Lovely maple helicopters as I left the school today.