Mouthing off

Tile smiles took a while


The Superhappy mosaic is finished!

I think this is the best thing I've ever made. Tomorrow I will take some high-quality photos of the thing for my personal records and send it off to the person who commissioned it. 

If you want to read about the rest of the process, please follow me past the jump. 

The last blog post I wrote was in late August, when I breezily announced that I needed only to fill in the faces and grout this sucker and I'd be ready to move on. At the time I thought it'd be another six weeks, maybe two months.

Misplaced optimism and overconfident projections: how very 2016 of me. 


The faces took a really long time to fill in. Because there were so many tight, overlapping curves, I had to cut the bulk of the tiles one by one to fit the spaces instead of just cutting a bunch of them at once and piecing them together.


It was pretty tedious. I took about a month off to attend to some family stuff in September, so that slowed me down. On the other hand, after the election I was glad to have a fiddly, absorbing project to throw myself into, which helped speed things along again.

I finally finished tiling the entire surface a few days after Christmas.


I did some grout tests and settled on a medium-light smoky color. I thought it would unify the lighter and darker elements of the piece.


On New Year's Day, I taped off the sides, mixed up the grout and got to work.


BLORP. I was excited to wipe off the grout and reveal the finished product.


My heart sank when I first saw the grout, and things got worse when it dried. The light grout didn't do the design any favors; it looked dull and chalky. Worse, in most lights the face tiles just...sort of disappeared, sinking down into an expanse of beige. 

I tried to talk myself into liking it, but I couldn't. What's the point of placing all those individual little pieces if you can barely tell they're there?

Luckily, there is a fix: tinted grout sealant. Unluckily, applying it was about as laborious as the rest of the project. Brush a little on, let it dry, scrape off the excess, accidentally scrape off too much and reveal the old grout color, touch those spots up, scrape off the excess of that...etc. etc. For two weeks.


Brush, brush.


Scrape, scrape.


But it worked.





The gray is maybe a little darker than I would have liked, but it's so much closer to my original idea. I'm happy. Superhappy, even. 

Now I really do need to find something else to do.


Nice! I think the extra work was worth it. Of course I usually think other people doing extra work is worth it.

I was just thinking about this the other day and I'm delighted to see it finished! Wow. What a project! I love it, and it is so YOU! (I prefer my smaller fused glass projects because I get antsy with tedious larger projects, so I admire this very much!)

So good to see all those manic smiles finished. May you invent many other gratifying projects to come.

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