Mosaicing a mannequin
Sometimes it seems like all I do is garden and
play with train our puppy so I thought it time to start a different project – a mosaiced mannequin. I generally don’t like posting about subjects until there’s been an outcome but in this case the end could be months away. I’ve always loved mosaics – especially after visiting Park Güell in Barcelona years ago. (I recommend this to anyone visiting Barcelona). It was the 90’s when I visited Spain so in order to upload my photos of the Park I’ve had to take photos of the photos in my album. Photography has certainly changed!
Gaudi’s creations inspired me and, while hardly comparable, I’ve created pots, mirrors and more recently full body mannequins. Because I’m a practical person I like creating pots and mirrors as they have a purpose but I’m also happy to have the mannequins which are just art for arts sake.
I’m just a few weeks into this latest one so I thought I’d include photos and a rough how-to for anyone with similar inspirations.
What you’ll need to get started
- A mannequin. I’ve bought all mine off Trade Me. If they’re well used they won’t be too expensive and it doesn’t matter if there’s damage – just tape her up prior to beginning. I now tape up the joins where arms fit into the torso etc to stop potential movement when moving the mannequin.
- Glass/mirror – I’ve been using mirrored glass for my mannequins. There’s some great textured glass available – I got mine from Sauvarins in Penrose who can mirror pretty much any colour and texture you want. I find the mirrored glass works well as it reflects the light. I have used plain coloured glass but care needs to be taken when applying the glue underneath so it’s not visible as a crazy blob.
- Glass cutter, metal ruler and snapper. Available from the same place you buy tiles from memory.
- Glue and spatula or similar – currently I’m using Cemix pre mixed paste adhesive. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re working on a long job because, being premixed, it dries out once the container is open. I’m just using it because we had some left over from a tiling job. Previously I’ve used a powered glue mix (a bit like cement) which worked well – just mix up a little with water in a plastic container as needed. I’ll move onto this soon. I’ve also tried glues in an applicator gun which are easy to use but the powdered stuff is the most economical if you’re working on a large job. If you’re buying glue just look for something that is used for tile adhesive. Use an old spatula to spread the glue.
Before starting have a rough idea of how you want it to look. Pencil the plan onto the mannequin and think about balancing colour and shapes. I’m not very technical so for me I just need to get started and have the idea in my head – I don’t need every last detail sorted or drawn out as that will come once I get going. It might also change as I progress.
- Set up a space
If you can, set it all up in a permanent spot rather than needing to get stuff out when you feel inspired. This might not be practical, especially if you have little kids who could get into the bits of glass but you’ll get more done if you can do just half an hour or an hour as time and energy allows.
- Cut and glue
You could just bash up the glass into pieces but you’ll be left with tiny cracks on the glass which are visible, especially in certain light. I score the glass with the glass cutter using a metal ruler as my guide then snap the piece in two with the tile snapper. You can also free hand with the cutter if wanting irregular shaped pieces. I will cut up several pieces in various sizes (squares, triangles and so on) then use them to lay out on a template. As below I’m creating flowers to start with. Doing it this way is easier than cutting a piece, sticking it to the mannequin, cutting another piece and sticking that one on.
≈ If you’re just starting with cutting glass then it’s best to cut the glass outside or somewhere you can easily clean the area. Tiny bits can shatter and end up about the show. You should also wear safety glasses. Because I’ve been cutting glass and tile for years I’m happy to do it inside as I can tell as soon as I go to break the glass if I’ve made an adequate score or not (if it’s ‘or not’ it won’t break cleanly and will send shards randomly into the room).
Then spread glue onto a small patch and stick on your cut pieces. (Just glue a small patch at a time so the glue doesn’t dry out). What I’ve laid onto my template won’t transfer up perfectly but should only require a little shuffling or a few more bits cut. Smearing glue onto the area you’re working on is easier than glueing the back of each piece and sticking it up.
Keep stepping back and assessing the balance of colour and size as you go. I don’t like things to be too symmetrical but it’s not random either. Below is a bit of a progressive – piece by piece the mannequin will come together and hopefully soon I can update with filling in around the shapes with plain mirror glass, the grouting process and a completed project.