Monday, November 26, 2012

High Plains Community Schools Residency Recap

During the last week of September and the first week of October, 2012, I was able to work with High Plains Community Schools in Polk and Clarks, Nebraska through the Nebraska Arts Council Artists in Schools and Communities program. AiS/C makes grant money available as matching funds for school and community projects. If you're interested in learning more about the program, their website has lots of helpful info.
Finished mosaic panels : 9th-12th graders
102" x 36", glass & mirror mosaic
For the first week, I stayed with my gracious hosts Peggy and Maynard in Hordsville, Nebraska, a short 10 minute drive to the Polk High School, where I worked with grades 4 & 5 on fused glass sun catchers and grades 9-12 on the mosaic panel pictured above.
Beautiful sunset on the farm
During the second week, I worked with the 7th & 8th graders on the mosaic panel pictured below and created mosaic stepping stones with the kindergarten and first graders, and fused glass tiles with the 2nd and 3rd grades.
Finished Mosaic Panels : 7th & 8th grades
60" x 36", glass & mirror mosaic
Before I left for rural Nebraska, I gathered all the materials and prepped my substrates with No Days Mosaic Adhesive, a heat set adhesive that allowed a lot more flexibility in placement of the glass tiles.
A large bulk roll of No Days Mosaic Adhesive covered all of the Hardibacker substrates and paver stones.
I was able to cover my substrates with a layer of the adhesive by ironing the release paper (packaged with rolls of NDMA) and adhesive. I found this technique was the most successful where I ironed the adhesive so that it became fully transparent.
Prepping the paver stones with No Days Mosaic Adhesive
We built the mosaic in sections and the design evolved as we worked on it. When we began, we knew that we wanted to create the school logo: a storm cloud with lightning striking. We discussed design concepts and decided to create a landscape oriented panel with the logo in the center. So, we started by filling in the lightning bolt. Once we were happy with the position of all the glass pieces, we set them in place using the heat gun.
Heating sections of the mosaic to keep everything from moving around

I enlisted the help of the high schoolers in heat setting their mosaic. I find it especially helpful to have a pair of beading tweezers handy for pushing on the tiles and moving them into place. The tweezers are nice and long and keep your fingers away from the heat. In the areas where the hardibacker and adhesive were not covered by glass tiles, the adhesive has a tendency to pull back from the substrate while heating if you haven't ironed it thoroughly when prepping. (Guess how I know that?) So, we had to cut a few bits of adhesive to fill in a couple of areas, but no big deal...
Elizabeth and Shelby heating the tiles together
After filling in the lightning bolt, we continued with the cloud. Then, the border...the grain elevators and the water tower, then the sky and the grasses. I was able to take the mosaic to my host's house to finish with the grouting, after double checking that the lines were all straight and moving a couple of tiles around. (The No Days Mosaic Adhesive can be reheated to let you move tiles around again.)

I put together a couple of slideshows with all the pictures of the process, below:

You can also check out my Facebook page for a closer look at the photos.

Thanks to the Hamilton Community Foundation for matching funds for the NAC Grant!

If you're interested in learning more about the NAC AiS/C program, visit their website. Here's a video that gives an overview of the Nebraska Arts Council grant programs, including categories, requirements, deadlines, and other pertinent information (length approx 12 minutes):

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