human behavior

The Mosaic Challenge: House Numbers

Posted in Art, Crafts, Home improvement by humanb on September 20, 2012

Modern mosaics are kitsch. Google “mosaic house numbers” and you’ll see what I mean. No disrespect to the artistry involved (or to the very talented professional mosaicists), but mosaic art – especially naΓ―ve mosaic art – more often than not lacks elegance. It can be fun, cute, colourful and cheerful, but rarely classy these days. This ain’t Pompeii.

Despite my attitude, I bought a sizeable amount of ceramic tile to revitalize my mother-in-law’s living room tables. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to use the tiles without sawing into the table tops (while she’s away), and I’m not so disrespectful a daughter-in-law as to disfigure her dated but quality wood furniture in my clumsy efforts to redecorate. So I abandoned the living room table project.

But that left me with tesserae (i.e., tiles).

The one area of her house that has bothered me the most has been her front porch. Australia doesn’t have a strong front porch culture like America does. We Americans love to sit on the front porch with a cold glass of something or other and talk about the neighbours. Not so much here. Aussies love their private backyards.

My mother-in-law’s front porch doesn’t face anything but a row of hedges on either side of the driveway, so there wouldn’t be much point for even an American to sit on it. And because of the hedges, it gets only scattered light.

So it’s been forever neglected.

Here’s the porch before the blue trim was painted beige. The front door is blue here, to the left of the umbrellas.

A long and skinny porch, the other end housed only a rusted iron and wicker table that took up the entire width of the patio. An old birdcage from Tunisia sat on the glass table top, and a rusty white cabinet against a wall housed nothing. The trim is now beige.

My mission over the past six weeks (while my mother-in-law was away) was to renovate the heck out of this porch.Β And so began the mosaic challenge!

A mosaic house number seemed like a good idea since her house is one of three in a cul-de-sac, numbered 29-C. It would help visitors and various delivery men identify the house, right?

When I started the project, I soon realised that I had made a common beginner’s error: failure to calculate. I had bought 1 cm x 1 cm tiles for a large piece of MDF, roughly 100 cm x 70 cm. That’s 7000 tiles! (I hadn’t bought that many.)

So I had to reconsider my design plans and bought some 10 cm x 10 cm ceramic tiles from the mosaic supply store, as well as some cheap bathroom tiles from my local hardware store.

Here’s the final result:

Clearly, I’m not a professional mosaicist. And I think this piece is still a little kitsch. I’ve done other mosaics since this one, and it’s now my least favourite. But it has sentimental value as my first try, and it serves its original purpose: to better adorn a bare and uninviting porch. I’ve hung this piece to the left of the front door, now painted red.

Beneath the piece, I’ve positioned an old wood poolside table that had gone grey. I stained it the same charcoal colour used to stain the frame of the mosaic and I placed a plant on top whose leaves help to ground the green tile. The crisp white pot also echoes the two different-sized white bathroom tiles used generously in the design.

Sometimes this mosaic makes me smile. It’s reminiscent of the old subway mosaics in New York City (and even in Sydney).

At other times, I think of redoing it.

But for the moment, there’s no other use for a mosaic that reads “29-C Calga” other than to hang it on this house. So here it stays.

Next up: The Mosaic Challenge: Bench Seat (sneak peek above)

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35 Responses

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  1. Jeremy Truitt said, on September 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I love the human feel of your post! I really enjoyed it.

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:37 am

      Awesome. πŸ™‚

  2. ashanam said, on September 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I really like the mosaic, and I think that porch has tons of potential.

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:37 am

      Thanks. πŸ™‚

  3. lazarusthechiefengineer said, on September 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    You could really take that project to the max! Good luck!

  4. Jackie Paulson said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:22 am

    wOW, I want to try this. I think we should all try this.

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:36 am

      It’s unbelievably easy. You should!

  5. cartoonmick said, on September 23, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Great to see what creativity can be achieved by the average domestic handyman. Thanks for sharing.

    http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/humorous-illustration/

    Cheers

    Mick

  6. rmk said, on September 23, 2012 at 2:16 am

    I like the mosaic. Such an original way to display the house number.

  7. alluneedislove said, on September 23, 2012 at 4:31 am

    I really like it! I have a metal number on my door. It was the first thing I ever used a drill for, I only managed to get one screw in lol

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 5:36 am

      Thanks. Hey, you should try using that drill again. I’ve recently discovered the wonder of power tools. πŸ™‚

  8. The Old Wolf said, on September 23, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Superb work! Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Thank you!

  9. yourothermotherhere said, on September 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    You have way more patience than I do. Excellent work!

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks so much. πŸ™‚

      • yourothermotherhere said, on September 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

        You’re very welcome!

  10. segmation said, on September 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

    What beautiful art! Thanks for sharing. http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

  11. Nicolle said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    So what did your mother-in-law think of it?
    Congrats of freshly pressed!!

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      She was pleased. She liked everything and wasn’t upset that I took so many liberties. Although she did not say she liked any one thing in particular.

      • heyjude08 said, on October 13, 2012 at 3:25 am

        Hey! I loved everything. It was overwhelming that you did so much for your M-i-L. If I choose one, it will be like the Jewish mother who gave her son two shirts for his birthday. He immediately changed into one to wear to work. She said, “What’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?” If I have to choose, . . . No, I can’t.

  12. Aurora HSP said, on September 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    This was so much fun to read and see! Well done both the writing and the art! πŸ™‚

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Wow. So nice to read that someone liked the writing too. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  13. starlight said, on September 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    so creative! way better than the number stickers that i used.. love your idea!

    • humanb said, on September 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks. Your turn. Peel off those stickers already. πŸ˜‰

  14. bettermebetterhumanity said, on September 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    That’s awesome! Very nice work.

  15. Jody Thompson said, on September 24, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Great work! Creative and looks good. Hope your mother in law liked it too. Cheers!

  16. socialbridge said, on September 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

    A great read! You’ve got me all inspired and smiling. Thanks

    • humanb said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Inspired? Cool. πŸ™‚

  17. alifecurated said, on September 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    the porch is a nice area and your number mosaic gives it warmth, good job!

  18. padraigoconnor said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Nicely renovated. Great pictures too. πŸ™‚

  19. ranu802 said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I like your mosaic art.

    • humanb said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      πŸ™‚

  20. transitionstande said, on September 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I love what you’ve done with the porch. Simple changes make such a difference.

    • humanb said, on September 26, 2012 at 4:14 am

      Simple and inexpensive too. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  21. eof737 said, on September 26, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Congrats on being FP! πŸ™‚


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