Saturday, March 30, 2013

Behind the Scenes of Making a Mosiac Mural with Isaiah Zagar

It's hard not to notice the shimmering mosaic murals that add splashes of color in Philadelphia. The colorful mosaic murals were one of my favorite things about the city when I moved here and they still fascinate me today!  Many of the murals are created by Isaiah Zagar, founder of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. He teaches his mosaic techniques during monthly workshops and I had the pleasure to participate in one last week and created a public mosaic mural. 

Isaiah Zagar is a wonderful teacher and now I finally know the magic behind the mosaic murals in the city that I admire so much! It took two days to complete the mural that is located at 12th and Montrose Street in South Philadelphia.  Enjoy the photos below that show the mural coming together and be sure to stop by so you can see it for yourself! 

Started out with blank wall with lines painted and tile installations 

Placing tile on the wall 
The group placing tile on the mural 
Piece by piece we put up the mural using small tiles and glass with Mastic adhesive. The first step was to place pieces of mirror on both sides of the black lines that were already painted there. Then after the lines of mirror were completed we filled in the other space with different sizes and colors of tile. It was so amazing to see it all come together! 
Mural after day one - all tile and mirrors set
After the end of day one all of the tiles were placed on the mural. The tiles set overnight and we were ready to grout the wall. Isaiah brought us to his studio to mix a cement blend for the grout. His technique is to add fine sand, cement mixture and water along with coloring to the cement mixture to add even more color to the walls. Isaiah doesn't have an exact recipe measurement because he eyeballs it all. He has been doing this for years so he knew exactly how much cement we needed and we had just the right amount. 
Cement mixing with blue and yellow paint to create green grout
Close up of fresh grout on tile
Grouting the mural with green cement
Putting finishing touches with paint day two of workshop 
Isaiah and I take a break from painting the lines
Isaiah is polishing the tiles with a 'feathering' technique 
All smiles with paint in hand
My reflection in a mirror of the mural
The mural the next day from Philadelphia's Magic Gardens Facebook page

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