Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Day We Made a Mosaic

Back in January I wrote this blog post about my vision for a mosaic in our Children's Park. Guess what? We did it! I applied for a grant through the City of Renton's Neighborhood Grant Program and it was approved. We were awarded $700 to install a one-of-a-kind mosaic in our park. My goal was to have it be a community-driven project (I certainly couldn't do it alone) and have as many people in the neighborhood as possible contribute items to be included in the mosaic. Here's the blurb I wrote for our homeowner's newsletter:

Victoria Park Receives Art Grant

Our Children's Park is a hidden gem in Victoria Park. Last year, a group of parents came up with an idea to create a mosaic in the park. A proposal was written and a grant was applied for through the City of Renton's Neighborhood Grant Program and it was approved! The Victoria Park Homeowners Association has been awarded $700 to create a one-of-a-kind community-based art project in our park.

We want you to be a part of this project too! The idea is to create a mosaic around the bench that faces the swing set. In it, we plan to embed colorful marbles, tiles, rocks, and tiny trinkets. We are asking every person who lives in Victoria Park to contribute one item to this project. Items should be no larger than 2 inches across and non-biodegradeable. Examples are: A rock from your front lawn, a marble, a plastic or metal toy, a broken tile or dish, and other small, solid trinkets. Please note your item will not be returned, but instead it will be embedded in cement and on display forever in the Children's Park.

Little by little, donations were dropped of in a basket on our porch - coins, toys, broken jewelry, seashells and rocks - and over the course of the summer I began amassing mosaic materials at thrift stores, yard sales and antique shops - marbles, tiles, and polished glass stones.

In mid-August we finally broke ground...


and the friends who encouraged me to apply for the grant came out to help us.


There was no going back at this point. We dug a 12 ft. by 12 ft. hole 10 inches deep. We couldn't leave it like that for long, so we scheduled a date when we could all meet again and install the mosaic. Over the next two weeks I shopped for supplies, arranged for cement delivery (54 bags!), bought water and ordered 10 large pizzas to be delivered that evening. A few days before we were scheduled to install the mosaic, I stopped by Upton Glassworks in downtown Renton to ask if they had any broken bits or leftovers that we could include in our design. To my surprise, the owner, Paul Sullivan, brought out a big heavy box full of beautiful glass orbs and said we could have it. Free!


I knew then that we were ready to begin our project. These were the big, beautiful, colorful, Renton-made objects we needed to make our mosaic complete.

September 16th was the day we converged on the park with shovels and wheelbarrows to make it happen.The kids helped mix cement (but soon learned how tiring it was and quickly left to play on the playground while the grownups did the dirty work.)


While the big strong men mixed and poured the concrete...



The moms started laying out the materials and coming up with a design so we could easily transfer it when the cement was ready.


And suddenly it was! 


Everyone quickly tackled certain parts...


The area in front of the bench ended up a "sealife" theme with fish, crabs, frogs, turtles, an octopus and a mermaid...


surrounded by an ocean of clear, blue, and green marbles...


and a "barrier reef" of seashells.


Then we moved on to the marbles...





 

And finally we let the kids place their toys and all the trinkets we'd collected into the cement.


Then we had a pizza party. (I factored this expense into our budget when I applied for the grant.)


Yeah, my neighbors are awesome. I'm pretty lucky to live here.

A week later we applied a few layers of cement sealant to strengthen and weatherproof it. I also threw in some glitter to add some sparkle.




 


And now it's done!



We walk past it everyday on our walk to school...


and remember that one day in 2012

 

...when we made a mosaic.

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