February 27, 2008

For the love of mosaic

tile

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at mosaic…I’ve been meaning to do many things, such as blog about my travels. I seem to recall I promised myself, and you, that I would write more in 08. Instead I’ve been leaving work with nothing left inside, nothing left to share, just simply worn out and beaten down. The longer nothing goes on the longer nothing gets written. The morning snow spurred my inspiration. There has to be a little piece of me left at the end of the day. So let’s talk tiles!

The Buddhist temples in Thailand, called Wats, were as plentiful as bars in Wisconsin or, well, churches in Georgia. With a few striking exceptions the Wats are built of cement and or wood and covered with small glass tiles. Not once while I was there did I think, “Look at those mosaics!” The scale and completeness of coverage seemed more than any mosaic I had imagined. It was tiles taken beyond the possibility of mosaic.

From human size creatures like the demons below to complete ten story domes encased in shiny gold, the tiles were painted on every surface, in every crack and corner. These are not your typical glazed tiles, but little squares of clear glass with a gold or colored foil backing. In the bright, tropical sun, the light glinting off all that glass could be blinding, even in sunglasses.

I started fantasizing of covering my house in glass tiles, of erecting a giant demon creature in my front yard, shining at passing vehicles. Our house would be a landmark across the state because nothing at home compares to the intensity of light, color and scale of Wat tile work.

More like home, but still over the top, one Wat we visited in Bangkok was covered in broken plates, bits of glazed pottery and shells. This was the mosaic I knew, the mosaic of the concrete park and the grotto. Still the scale was 100 fold more intense, larger, brighter, than any ceramic mosaic I had seen before. Did I mention big?

This summer I will take my Thai inspiration and mosaic a bird bath for the yard. Now if I can only find the traffic stopping gold tiles and the ten foot high bird bath base…

See my Wat Tiles photo set.

tile

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