Bird on a Limb
This brooch is assembled on a clear glass sheet so you can follow the pattern beneath. The key to a successful mosaic this small—one with V\6 (2mm) tiles —is to bake the piece several times, then add new tiles after baking to prevent unwanted nicks and gouges in previously tiled areas. For this project, I created a design with a silhouette of a bird perched on a tree branch and used background colors that resembled a sunset. Any simple pattern will work for this technique, and various brooch shapes will add a different feel.
1 Print and secure the design
Print or trace the bird design. Cut the paper to about 4" (10cm) square and secure face-up under the glass sheet with clear tape. Roll a small ball of black clay to the fifth thickest setting on the pasta machine and place on the glass. Cut the clay into long strips V\tn (2mm) wide.
Add a black strip to the top edge of the bird, allowing the strip to curve along the back and head. Using the dull edge of a craft blade knife, impress each strip into /i6n (2mm) wide tiles. You do not have to cut all the way through the clay. Continue adding black strips, trimming each to the length of the bird. Impress the lines into each row before proceeding to the next row to avoid gouging nearby tiles. Instead of adding a clay strip for small elements such as the breast area, cut out the rounded shape first, add it to the design and then cut into the tiles.
Secure the color blend to a ceramic baking tile with colors blending from gold on the left to red on the right. Cut the color blend sheet into VV' (2mm) wide vertical strips. Take a strip from the center of the color blend sheet and lay it along the bird's back. Trim it so it fits against the left of the top leaf, then impress it into individual tiles. Take a strip from the left side of the blend and add it to the background area, laying it along the previous strip. Impress lines in the tiles, being careful to offset the positions—you don't want to create "rivers" in the design. Continue in this manner until the top section is complete.
Cut out 3 leaf shapes and a thin stem. One at a time, secure them to the design and impress the tile lines. Bake the mosaic for 7 minutes. This hardens the design, making it easier to tile the background without marring the bird tiles. Form a metallic gold to red clay color blend (see "The Skinner Blend" on page 24). Roll to approximately V32" (1mm) thick (fifth thickest pasta setting).
5 Continue tiling the mosaic background
Bake for 7 minutes and cool the mosaic. Cut shor* background strips to fit into the areas between the black tiles. You may create irregular shapes by pressing raw clay on top of the baked tile area and cutting around the embossed shape. Cut angles where needed so strips fit the design. Continue adding strips until the top section is complete.
Cut a tapered black strip and secure below the bird for the branch, then cut the mosaic tiles. Cu? three more leaf shapes, secure them and then cut the tiles. Bake the mosaic for 7 minutes and then allow the clay to cool. Continue tiling the leaves and stems and then the background of the mosaic until complete. Bake the project for an additional
7 minutes and allow the clay to cool.
7 Grout the mosaic
Roll a pad of black clay to the second thickest pasta setting and secure it to the ceramic baking tile. Secure mosaic to the base and cut around the shape with a craft blade knife. Bake the project for 15 minutes and allow the clay to cool.
Create "grout" for the tiles by mixing equal parts of white and black clay with 4 to 5 drops of liquid softener. While the clay is warm and pliable, press a thin layer of grout onto the mosaic with your thumb or a paddle tool.
Scrape off the excess grout with the paddle tool, working from the outer edge inward to avoid dislodging the tiles. When most of the grout is removed, there will still be a clay residue on the tiles. Clean a little more off with a few drops of liquid softener on a paper towel.
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