12 March 2012

Outdoor shower mosaic on a curved wall.

This post is about a project I did a few years ago- a commission to mosaic a curved plastered wall for an out door shower/sauna . The client was really brave, the best yet, and said- I want something quirky and fanciful, and please could she notice something new, every time she had a shower? She gave me her collection of mosaic things, a shoebox of a few interesting pieces for me to include in the mosaic.

We made a few tile samples in the colours and designs we thought our client would approve of, and once that was all sorted, we started in earnest making hundreds and hundreds of hand made square and circle tiles, and I decorated some of them using a wax resist method- like batik textiles. The wax burns off in an extra pre-glaze firing,  they are cleaned and then glazed over in light blues, greens or clear glazes.

5x5cm tiles

small hearts and circles

large plate sized circles, thrown on wheel. Some were made to dry in a curved shape to fit the wall of the shower.

these were for in-between the circles, and cutting into smaller pieces
I prepared the wall with key coat/bonding liquid and began the month long mosaicing job. It was in a lovely garden setting and very hot, so I rigged up a shade-cloth cover. I paid my son to help me and we enjoyed working together as a team. 

I worked from the floor upwards

the outside nook for sauna and shower



signed MN

As you can see it was quite a task, and kept me very busy for days and days.

the curved wall and circles creates quite an illusion of flatness

My son Julian has the honour of sticking down the last piece.

exhausted and dirty, but happy, finished grouting

I can hardly notice the curved circles on the curved section of shower wall. Was it worth it?


  1. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Brilliant work! I found your site by stumbling and hope you are still actively checking this blog. So many questions. As a beginning ceramics student, how did you glaze fire all of the small pieces? How did they not stick to the kiln shelves? What cone did you fire your bisque and glaze firings? I appreciate all of your answers! So thrilled to see your work. Debbie Graham

  2. I have been working on a new website:
    www.ceramicsandmosaics.co.za and that is why I have been a bit quiet. Please have a look at it. All my new blog posts will be published there also, but the website also has super photo galleries of all my tile ranges, mosaic inserts and pottery etc.
    To stop your small pieces sticking to the kiln shelves, you have to wipe any glaze off on their under surface, before firing them. We fire to about 1120deg Celcius, as we use white earthenware clay.

  3. thank you for your answer. A few more questions please. Do you lay every mosaic piece on the kiln shelf flat or on stilts? Your amazing black and white tiles-you have stated that you use wax resist. I have never done this. Does this still involve just two firings--the underglaze over wax, then clean off tiles and fire second time with clear glaze? And finally-for the moment :)-do you use clear gloss glaze vs. matt as a personal preferance? I checked out your new blog and bookmarked it! Love your work! Debbie Graham

  4. We place every piece flat on a shelf. we have these mini- tile stacking shelves, which we put in the kiln and we use those to use the kiln space efficiently.. To apply wax decorations- apply wax to the bisked tile( already fired once to about 1000 deg C) Then after the wax, the underglaze colors go on, then another firing to 1000deg C. Clean up pieces and then do glaze firing. Lots of hard work, but still worth it, I think

  5. Anonymous12:24 PM

    wonderful work and thanks for all your helpful tips

  6. Anonymous1:29 PM

    OMG. I am sitting here at work with my mouth open. This literally took my breath away. Would love to see this in person - this is totally amazing.

  7. Anonymous11:11 PM

    This is an astounding piece of work! Lucky owner! I love your work- have seen it in the studio. You have a wonderful energy and whimsical tone. Keep up the wonderful work!
    Regards Jenni

  8. this is gorgeous and inspiring ;)

  9. What bonding liquid do you use? can mastic be used? trying to lighten the weight, and not use mortar. is there anythin g else I can use that will withstand the weather outside? this is for a 3D sculpture. therefor cement backer board wont work

  10. What bonding liquid do you use? can mastic be used? trying to lighten the weight, and not use mortar. is there anythin g else I can use that will withstand the weather outside? this is for a 3D sculpture. therefor cement backer board wont work

    1. I dont know what mastic is. I buy tile bonding liquid and apply to all surfaces. as for making the weight lighter.... mosaics are heavy and if the base is not strong and solid, it wont last. especially if it is a sculpture and will be outside. So dont doom the mosaic to failure before it has begun. I have done outdoor 3d mosaics and I used polystyrene as the base. I sanded and shaped it, then applied a white cement layer using bandages as well. So far it has lasted a few years. It took so long to prepare the shape for mosaicing that I never tried that again. Lots of stages and in between drying times.

    2. so yes it is possible but requires lots of extra preparation and drying time inbetween the stages.


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