Friday, October 27, 2006

The Story Behind Everlasting Covenant

As promised ~ my original rainbow mosaic cross. First, the picture:


Now, the story behind the cross:

I designed and created Everlasting Covenant close to a year ago. It was one of my 2 entries into the 2005 Society of American Mosaic Artists international mosaic art competition. Like the rainbow mosaic crosses I wrote about in my last entry, Everlasting Covenant is based on the Noahic covenant found in Genesis 9:8-17. Genesis 9:13-15 specifically states:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. (NIV)
To create the mosaic cross, I started with a 17" h x 12" w wood base. This base was painted with acrylic paint. I used a blending technique to achieve the watercolor rainbow look. Once I achieved the desired look, I laid the three lines of crystal and glass beads. Each of these lines is curved to reflect the shape of a rainbow.

Then came the hard part . . . hand cutting and piecing the individual pieces of glass. I used transparent/clear glass so the emphasis remains on the painted rainbow image. The cutting and piecing alone took over 40 hours. It was a crash course in precision cutting . . . pieces had to fit perfectly because there is no true grout to conceal less than perfect fitting pieces. No ~ seriously. I really didn't use grout between the glass pieces. Look closely:


See? No grout! So ~ what is between the glass pieces? Transparent seed beads of course. Again ~ I wanted the emphasis on the rainbow and unfortunately, nobody has developed a transparent true grout product.

I wish I could tell you that I took the easy way out and just scattered the beads between the pieces of glass. But, the reality is that I laid each individual bead into precise lines surrounding the glass. I'm anal like that. But, the attorney in me must warn you: DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME . . . unless you are looking for an excellent way to drive yourself insane. The "precise seed bead grout" method (doesn't that sound technical?!) gives you almost no room for error. The glass has to be cut precisely and the beads need to lie exactly. If they don't, it's glaringly obvious. I beaded/"grouted" as I pieced . . . in other words, I would cut a piece of glass, adhere it to the surface and then place the beads around the piece of glass. Repeat ad nauseam.

Of course ~ I wouldn't change anything about the design and/or the creation process of Everlasting Covenant. For one, it's absolutely stunning. I know that sounds disingenous coming from the artist . . . but ask anybody who has seen it in person. It is very unique and breathtaking, especially when it catches the light.

I also grew in so many ways as an artist. I became one with my pistol grip glass cutter and my glass cutting skills are now infinitely better. The difference between my before and after pieces is marked. I also gained tons of confidence. Everlasting Covenant is the largest mosaic cross I've made and I successfully incorporated several innovative techniques into it. There are many more lessons intertwined with my experience . . . but I'll just sum it up by saying that I am awed that God chose me to create such a beautiful piece of artwork.

Everlasting Covenant is now living happily ever after in a private collection in Illinois. : )

Please feel free to leave me comments so I know that I'm not just talking to myself!

In Him ~
Mary

4 comments:

Amber said...

Mary, I've seen the picture of the cross before on your website, but I never imagined the process! I assumed you used colored glass....AMAZING! Now I have to go back and look at the pictures some more. Keep blogging....I like reading about you and your artwork.

Ima said...

Your cross is amazing! Thanks for sharing your process. I also have learned and grown in my art by doing things "my way" aka "the hard way" aka "the only way I'm capable of/see fit at this time". I used to criticize myself (and hear it from others) for taking the long way around, but the results are usually worth the effort, and with confidence comes speed. But it's not a race--it's art :) If you don't mind sharing, I'm wondering what adhesive you used that did not interfere with the clarity of your glass/beads.

www.maryharrell.com said...

Thanks so much for your compliments Ima! I'd love to see your artwork; do you have a website?

I used Weldbond as the adhesive.

Ima said...

I've never tried that adhesive so I'll definetly check it our, as your results are impressive.
No website yet--on my "to do list" for this year. I have some pix I can send. I'm working on a few things now that are quite different, and that I'm really excited about. I trained in bookbinding, but apparently I'm a mixed media sculptress!