The flowers are in brilliant full bloom at the Arboretum.  Today, I taught a workshop called Ladybugs – on- a – stick: Mosaic garden sculptures.  The workshop is a fun way to learn simple sculpture assembly and mosaic application, perfect for beginners and fun for those more advanced in their mosaic skills.


How do I love thee, let me count the ways…

When I think of love, I think of all the ways, all the possibilities available to me for creating love in my life.  I am creating a series of hearts from one design pattern and exploring how many ways I might create it.  Here are four from the series: One Heart, Immeasurable Ways: FLORENCE, VENICE,  ROME and PALESTRINA.

Yesterday, in Dallas, Texas, it was 82 degrees F.  A very hot day for December.  An excellent day to install a mosaic.  The mosaic installation is part of an ongoing work I created to teach my students how to create and install exterior mosaics.  We are covering the concrete supports at Visual Expressions Creative Arts School in Cedar Hill, TX with Texas-themed designs.  Here is Bill, named after my father-in-law who loved the road runner cartoon.  I never met Bill, he was gone before I married my husband.  However, I feel like I know him well through the stories of his children.  One of my favorite stories is that Bill loved the road runner and would not only walk around the house going, “beep-beep,”  but would also collect road runner souvenirs.  One of those souvenirs, a brass road runner sculpture sat on his desk with the rule: “Don’t touch my road runner!”  With five kids, Bill seemed to have lots of “don’t touch my stuff” conversations.  Honored here in this mosaic is my salute to Bill and his love for Texas.  I like to imagine Bill chasing after Emma Lou (the show-girl armadillo), offering to take her to Vegas.  Go Bill go!

Pegasus News included our mosaic flowers in a photo essay.  Take a look:

For years I took this mosaic out to the trash and for years my Father gathered it back.  It’s my first mosaic, one I created in high school.  I remember loving the process, being delighted with the application, the materials, the whole idea of making mosaics.  Then, I grouted it using white grout and forever hated that I had ruined my piece.  I immediately lost interest in the medium.  I am glad, now, that my Father saved it.  With new eyes I am able to see that I had a great opportunity working with slate, bits of gold smalti and assorted low-fire glazed ceramic tiles.  I imagaine it’s what we had in the classroom.  I used an image from National Geographic for my subject matter and explored the art of mosaic on my own.  I believe it was an AP art project for my portfolio.  I don’t remember much else.  I now have a photo for memories and finally had the pleasure of being able to throw it away!  This first mosaic reminds me to give care in teaching the craft and art to all who take classes with me, and I am so glad to have found my way back to the medium of mosaic.

This week Cyndi Barnes and I worked with children at the Dallas Day School.  Working with small children on mosaics requires a good plan, an easy design and organized steps. The process was delightful with these things in place.  Here’s an overview of how we work with the little ones.

Our project was a mosaic bench that could be auctioned off at the school fundraiser.  The concrete bench was purchased by the school for us to work on.

We supplied the design, materials and experience.

Step 1: create a paper template of the bench surface to be mosaicked.

Step 2: create a design.

The children were ages three to four and a half so we created the design for them in order to make the process as easy as possible.  There were 45 children in three separate classes so we divided the design, also known as a cartoon, into three sections.

Step 3: Measure how many tiles you need by placing them across the cartoon.  Add extra.

Step 4: Incorporate interesting shapes.

We knew we might be working with some children who are sight impaired.  Special butterfly shapes and leaf shapes were cut out on the Taurus Ring Saw. 

Step 5: Organize!  Colors of precut tiles were set up in divided containers for each classroom.  Each section of the cartoon was cut and placed on a separate board.  Each section of the cartoon was covered in contact paper, sticky side up.

Step 6: Show up early to the school and let the mosaickin’ begin!  Each child working on this mosaic placed one gold tile in the sky, representing their work on the project and symbolizing them as stars in the sky.  The children were handed small amounts of pre-cut tiles that they placed on the sticky contact paper.  No glue, no cuts, no mess, just fun.

Step 7:  Adjust the mosaic as needed.  It is easier to turn over the upside-down tiles than to complicate the process for this age group. Do this in the privacy of your own studio.  Cover each section with a mosaic mount film.

Step 8: Day 2 at the school.  Have the children watch while you thinset their work to the bench.  Go over the process step-by-step so they learn.  Remember to remove the contact paper from the bottom of the mosaicked design! These children were very excited to see us work.

Step 9: Cover the mosaic to protect it from the heat, if outdoors.  Let the thinset cure overnight.

Step 10: Day 3 at the school.  Begin the project by having the children watch.  Remove the mosaic mount film.  Re-set any loose tiles.  Mix up grout, describe the process and apply the grout to the mosaic.  Ask the children to assist  in cleaning the mosaic.  Two children at a time were given the opportunity to clean using paper towels.  They lined up and took turns until the mosaic was bright and clean.

Final steps: After the children have gone off to other activities, grind off any sharp edges.  Wait a few days and come back with a sealer.  The mosaic bench project is now ready for the fundraising event.

This project was part of the Creative Arts Center of Dallas’ community outreach program.

I have a new blog space and just spent the last hour writing a detailed description of a recent community outreach project only to delete it before posting-aaaagh!  Give me a bit and I will psot again with a step-by-step process for creating a mosaic bench with young children.

Friday, October 1, 2010 Katrina Doran will be on Good Morning Texas!  The show airs at 9 AM on WFAA Channel 8.  You can watch the show later that day on-line at  Katrina will be talking about the sculpted flowers at the State Fair of Texas she created with her students at the Creative Arts Center ofDallas.

The fair opens today!  Doran Studio has been busy.  One dozen mosaic flowers are blooming in Moonflower Gardens on Grand Avenue just down from Big Tex.  Right under Big Tex you will find Taylor Pierre Bryant’s Big Bunny sculpture.  The 4.5 ft. tall sculpture is made of concrete and mosaic.  The design was created by Taylor and guest artist, Tori Hopkins.  We hope you visit the fair this year and take the time to view our works.
We are finishing up the flowers for The State Fair of Texas.  During the year, I taught classes at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas on Sunday afternoons where we learned to create armatures for mosaic flower sculptures.  The flowers are about to bloom and will be on display at the State Fair of Texas.  Here are photos of some of the near-completion works.  These blooms still need their centerpieces.  Stop by the fair and see all the ambitious works of my dedicated students.
Flowers in order left to right and top to bottom: Jessica Smith hibiscus, Jessica Smith lily, Leian Burttschell hibiscus, Patricia VanBuskirk hibiscus, Sue White hibiscus.