Friday, May 14, 2010

Using the Broken Pieces

One of the side benefits of the adults not doing much paid work around Casa Wabi is that we have all sorts of time to volunteer in the neighborhood. When we heard about a project to create a mosaic mural outside Big A's elementary school, we figured what the heck, we'd give it a try. Free, unskilled labor available! We came home that first day sunburned and smeared in thin set. We were both hooked.

Mosaic is like knitting, only sharper and dirtier. But both are addictive -- containing little, repetitive movements that get your brain humming in a pleasing rhythm where you lose track of time. And when you break that rhythm and step away, you get a pleasing second kick -- a look at that pattern writ large, whether it be in the form of a sock, or with mosaics, the bigger images popping out of the chaos of different shapes and colors.

Back home after volunteering, D. mentioned we had several large boxes of tile sitting in the garage. That's what he said, but what I immediately thought was: Tile I bought on sale during our kitchen renovation that ended up not being quite right. Tile I felt guilty about every time I came across the boxes, since it represented mistakes and waste. Tile I meant to donate to a local house-building charity, but never did.

Then D. pointed at the large concrete wall in the backyard -- something we've also meant to spruce up for years. And it all came together suddenly -- for the cost of a bag of thin set and a handful of other materials, we could mosaic the wall. It's a big wall and will take time. But we can do it together. We can take out the regret and turn it into something else. No perfection required, since mosaic is all about using the broken pieces.

Let's just say that process is pleasure and hope to a person like me, who can only sidle up to things like hope, making squinty glances at it from the corner of my eye.

This is what we've done so far:


Amy said...

beautiful!!! You are inspiring me!! I have been thinking about doing a tile mosaic on my shower wall. Someone told me I should sand the edges of all the broken tiles, do you think that's necessary? It seems a little daunting...

Wabi said...

Thanks, Amy! As for whether or not to sand the tile edges, I would say that's a design choice, rather than something that must be done. The important thing is to make sure that all tile edges are completely covered in grout at the end, and to let the grout cure completely before you use the shower. (That takes a few days.) If water touches an unglazed tile edge, it can get absorbed into the wall and cause a heap o' damage over time. So good grouting is key.

Also, I think most showers (unless they have natural stone in them) use unsanded grout. I'm not saying it's impossible to do a mural with unsanded grout, but I suspect it would be harder to work with than the sanded grout I used on Big A's school wall.

These are all details you can plan for. If you really want to make a mural, I say go for it!

Rachel said...

Hi - I came across your blog while googling "wabi sabi life". I loved this line:

"No perfection required, since mosaic is all about using the broken pieces."

I loved it because that's a description of what my blog is about - using the broken pieces, or the challenges of my own life to hopefully offer hope and encouragement to others.

I look forward to reading your blog and I am glad I found it! :-)

The computer Master said...

Wow!! Cool!