|From In the Garden|
Glass in the garden is something I really go for in my garden. It is shiny, bright, colorful, does not rot, rust, or have to be messed with in any way once it is placed. One caveat though, glass can break so if you have young children be sure to keep glass away from areas that they play in. I have a young grandson and all glass objects in my garden are safe for him.
So what do you do with glass in the garden? Well there are as many creative expressions as there are creators, but in this creator's garden I have used glass for bottle trees, mosaic signs (sea glass), and 'mushrooms'. Now I have a new use for glass; a Glass on Glass Mosaic. We affectionately call these mosaics our 'Twin Towers'.
I acquired shower glass doors from a fellow Freecycler last spring. I initially had intentions of using the shower doors over my coldframe, but the doors sat and sat and sat and that plan never came to fruition. So here it is the dead of winter and what's a gardener to do? All of a sudden it came to me that perhaps I could make a glass on glass mosaic with the shower doors. I could get the doors out of storage in the garden and instead display them in a fun and useful manner. A plan was hatched and off we go on this adventure of making the mosaics out of the glass shower doors.
The first order of business for my new project was to build frames for the glass doors. Shower doors are fairly sturdy in the shower, but would not safely hold a lot of weight consisting of glass gems and grout. Mr. Fix-it was enlisted and jumped in with gusto. He is a sheet metal trained fabricator for the Army, amongst his many other jobs (such as the special duty of recruiting) .
The job of creating a frame for the glass doors was so purrfect for him! Mr. Fix-it generally helps with one big project per year. Last year it was my little wheelbarrow, this year he has really outdone himself. He went to the local metal store and bought some square iron. He then measured, cut, welded, primed, painted, and mounted the glass doors to the frame. The frame allows mounting of the glass mosaic in the garden, as well as prevents flexing of the doors so the mosaic would not crack. While grinding the joints on the frame, Mr. Fix-it got a bit of metal in his eye. He had to make a trip to the emergency room for a metal removal and eye patch on his very sore eye. The things he does for me! He is okay now and his eye will heal.
I initially set up shop in the garage with my part of the mosaic. I spent a LONG five plus hours hand gluing all glass beads on this first door. I had to do it in two sessions. You can see it to the right all ready for grout. The glue I used was liquid nails silicone adhesive. I actually liked this glue because it dried clear and held fairly well, though the gems were able to be flexed that was not a problem once the grout was applied. I used a special mosaic glue on the second door and was not as happy with it. This glue did not dry clear and came loose when the grout was applied. Do your research on the glue and use what will work best for your purposes. Not all glues are created equal.
Once everything was glued in place I decided to bring the door into my living room. The Jimster had to help me carry it in as it is quite heavy. Now on to the grouting.
The grout was a major issue. I have only grouted once before, and this was on a small plaque I made for my garden out of sea glass. I never knew it at the time, but the pre-mixed grout I used on that plaque was for interior use only. I found that most pre-mixed grouts are for interior use only, and you also have to seal them. Fortunately I did seal my little outside plaque and in the 5 years it has been outside, it has held up well-a good thing. But using interior grout on this large piece simply was not going to work for me. I want an exterior grout.
I initially purchased interior/exterior grout at a craft store. I purchased two seven pound buckets of grout. It completed just under half of the door. Oops! Need some more grout! I knew the craft store was out of the grout, so I ventured into my local orange big box store where I found the exact same kind of grout at a much reduced price compared to the craft store. The caveat with the exterior grout is that I had to mix it myself. I am no stranger to mixing these types of things because of all the concrete I mix up and use in other garden projects, but this grout was a mess!!! First of all, make sure to wear a good dust mask. Most grouts (at least exterior) have warnings due to the silica content. I wore a good dust mask. Next, clear an area that will not be harmed if you get some grout on it. This grout happens to be a black color (charcoal) and once it gets on something it is stuck there. You must never clean up the grout in your kitchen sink either. I dumped all the water in an area of my yard that I want hardened off due to Mr. Fix-it using it as a driveway, then washed all buckets and bowls outside under the tap. This I did in the incessant rain. Might as well get really wet when we get wet-right?
Mixing the grout was only half the problem. Once the grout is mashed into all nooks and crannies (not difficult at all with my gloved hands), it then had to set up a bit before I could wipe off the excess grout. This was the problem! The black quickly saturated my sponge, my bucket of water and everything! I had to continually work to get the grout off from the glass gems. It was time consuming and frustrating to me. I must say though, that after the first batch, the second batch went much faster as I learned from my mistakes with the first batch-wait until the grout is quite hard before wiping off the haze. Keep checking for readiness. The picture to the right shows the door from the grouted side. The picture below shows how the door looks from the smooth side looking toward a light. It does not look quite as I expected but I am ever so pleased with the whole thing. It kind of reminds me of a stained glass window.
There are tons of types of glass gems in this door. Some were the glow in the dark kind (not a good thing since the glow in the dark material is painted on the gems and quickly separated when I grouted them in), there are stars, rectangles, opaque, all kind of gems as I described above. My intent for the whole thing is to have the sun shine through the door and light up the garden and to provide color in the winter. But also when visitors come over (especially young kids and hopefully my grandson when he moves closer) I hope they'll enjoy a treasure hunt in the door.
|From In the Garden|
And walah! Here is the finished piece. Well, almost finished anyhow. It still needs to be mounted in the garden (completed for both doors and they look great in the garden!).
If you look closely at the first picture you can see shadows from the dividers in the house windows. The shadows are gone now that the 'Twin Towers' of Glass are placed in the garden in areas where they get the sun coming and going. I find the transparency of the glass doors the biggest attraction. Even at night the 'towers' make a colorful statement when back lit with low voltage spotlights.
This is not a project for everyone but one that is certainly doable by anyone. I think if I had to do all over again I may have tried a smaller window first before undertaking these 5 foot by 2 foot doors. The project was immense and I know we spent a good 20-25 hours working on both of these doors. The reason I went this way was the quick availability of the doors I already had on hand that I received from a fellow Freecycler. It turned out reasonably well and should be an enduring piece of a 'one of a kind art'.....
in the garden....
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