Monthly Archives: January 2015

sitting on the sidewalk

Last week I loaded up my car with tiles, mortar, tools, etc. and set out to FINALLY start laying tiles on the wall. I knew I would need to sand off some paint and “rough” the wall in order for the mortar to stick to the wall surface, but upon closer inspection, I realized there was about 1/4 inch of paint on the wall which meant I needed to chip away at it. Chipping away paint takes a chisel, a hammer, and a whole lot of time. Luckily, I am on sabbatical and time is abundant, so I sat down on that sidewalk and chipped away, later hiring a day laborer named Rigo to help me.

Once the paint was all chipped away, I was ready to tile. I knew it would take a ton of time to lay the tile because mosaic work is time consuming, but what I hadn’t planned on was all the folks that stop and want to talk about the project, about their families, the neighborhood, LA life, Cuban politics, the value of eating garlic on a regular basis, tourist season in Croatia, the best deal on radishes, etc. Honestly, loads of people have already stopped to find out what I am doing and to chat for awhile. I am really enjoying meeting people and hearing their stories. I think this is all a part of a public art piece. I was originally going to assemble the wall sections in my garage and then bolt them on, but I am glad I decided to work on site. I like hearing what people respond to, what they like, what colors interest them, etc. It’s slow going, but this is the joy of a sabbatical. I’m always pressed for time when I work at my regular job, in a hurry, and multitasking, but right now I have the luxury of sitting on the sidewalk on Logan Street off Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, Los Angeles placing one tile at a time on a wall that could sure use a little beauty and I am enjoying it immensely. It will get done on time…..whenever that is.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and Adam Bass from CD 13 along with David Bermudez from Central City Action Commitee all are very helpful and positive about the mosaic.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and Adam Bass from CD 13 along with David Bermudez from Central City Action Committee visit the wall on the day I was chipping paint. David offered to power wash the wall, but we all agreed it wasn’t the best for the environment. Mitch O’Farrell, Adam Bass, and Christine Peters from Council District 13 have all been extremely positive and willing to help in any way. A big “thank you” to them and David from CCAC.

Fireman Rugo stops and chats about his wife's grandfather who was a mosaic artist for the Doheny family.

Fireman Rugo stops and chats about his wife’s grandfather who was a mosaic artist for the Doheny family.

End of the day. More tiling tomorrow.

End of the day. More tiling tomorrow.

End of the day. More tiling tomorrow.

End of the day. More tiling tomorrow.

The wall should look something like this when it is finished

The wall should look something like this when it is finished



Cutting, sanding, piecing oh my!

Thanks to the very generous folks that gave me Home Depot gift cards as a way of contributing to the Echo Park Farmers Market, I now have a tile cutter (if anyone ever wants to borrow it, just yell) and I have been cutting tile like mad. It is very time consuming, slow work to cut larger tiles into smaller tiles. I am working with donated tiles, so I take the larger tiles and cut them down to make them work for the mosaic. I then sand them or place them in a tumbler to smooth them out. I then piece the tiles together with the fruit/vegetable tiles and if I need more, I start the process all over again. Everything takes oodles of time so it it an exercise in patience, but I DO have the year off, so I need to just slow down and be patient and take it easy on myself. It’ll get done when it gets done:) The first panel is ready to go and will be up on the wall Monday. I thought I would share some photos of the process so far, so I hope you enjoy them. A huge thank you to all the folks offering to lend a hand. I will be needing extra hands when I grout, but that is not for awhile.

Here is my very helpful husband and possessed canine helping assemble the tile cutter!



Here are a few tiles I cut in various shapes. As you can see, I have cut handles off mugs, used broken plates, and even the spout off a tea pot. Reuse! These were items that were all broken or scheduled to go to the dump.




Below is a photo of the tumbler where I toss a batch of cut and broken tiles in with sand and water and tumble them for a day until they are blunt. I love the name of the company that makes this tumbler; Thumbler’s Tumbler made in the U.S.A. Fire engine red! The tiles come out with soft edges which is important for a public art piece. Here’s a few tumbled pieces of tile and glass.


These tester tiles have various glazes on them to see if the colors will work. I fired a bunch of eggplants what I thought was a purple, but they came out a bright red, so I reglazed them and will get them back today to see if I got a purple. The notes are so I don’t forget what I used and in what combo they were applied. These two tiles are supposed to be a deep red, but I am trying two different glaze combos. Firing tiles is also an exercise in patience. Some tiles break, some glazes don’t work, some shrink, etc. Firings take many hours to fire and then cool down and you never know how they will turn out.  Fingers crossed they come out of the kiln the way I want them to. A “thank you” goes out to Sarah Simon for helping me with the firings.


Once the tiles are cut, sanded, tumbled, glazed, fired, etc.  they are laid out in many combos until I like they way they look. Here’s the first panel that will be applied on Monday.



And here is a sample of me playing with various tiles. This corner will be different on the wall, but I was playing with the idea of creating an abstract sun. One of the best things about this sabbatical is having the luxury to play with the materials, try out various combinations, walk away, come back, try again. Time is such a gift.