Mosaic: Tree of Life or Thorn in My Side?

Nearly a year after starting my ‘tree of life’ aka ‘tree of patience’ mosaic picture, it is finally finished!

Tree of Life Mosaic
Tree of Life Mosaic

The substrate for the base was clear glass and the printed picture beneath acted as a rough template.  I cut each piece of stained glass to shape  before gluing into position. Many hours, days and even weeks were spent in procrastination mode as I tried to decide which coloured glass to use.  Decisions, decisions! I wanted to use vibrant autumnal colours and incorporate an orange sunset in the background against a yellow sky.

Everyone kept telling me the sky must be blue. I am so glad I stood my ground and kept the picture more abstract.

Tree of Life - work in progress
Tree of Life – work in progress

I cut each leaf to shape using nippers.

Shaping the leaves from glass
Shaping the leaves from glass

I put the project aside until I could decide on the sunset and sky. People told me it looked fine but I felt it was far too ‘busy’. I needed a plain background that did not detract from the tree.

The sky and sunset was problematic
The sky and sunset proved problematic

After months paralysed by procrastination how to present the sunset and sky I  attempted to mosaic, but after several weeks I realised the sun detracted from the movement of the tree.  I finally decided to remove ALL the sun and the yellow edging squares.

Removing the glass tiles was not easy and I spent hours carefully painting over them with water then heating with a hairdryer until I could prize each tile away with the aid of a sharp knife. Patience proved to be a virtue!


The tree was finally ready for grouting. The grout, mixed to the consistency of peanut butter, was then smeared on with a flexible scraper aided by my fingers to ensure every nook and cranny was filled.

So, I was at this critical stage in the creative process where my gloved hands were covered in grout and drying quickly in the sun, when our builder arrived with his wife. Oh… my husband thought it would be a good idea for me to go and make her a tea or coffee. Really? I smiled at the woman, who did not speak English, looked at my begloved hands covered in grout and shrugged my shoulders.

Tree of life mosaic
Tree of life mosaic

Now the tree was grouted I could finally see the wood from the trees and teacher suggested I painted the sky using glass paint. Another couple of months passed before I plucked up courage to paint the sky.

In the meantime, we found an old pine cupboard door which my husband cut down, planed and then bevelled the edges.  I would mount the finished picture on this. I am a firm believer in upcycling!

Tree of Life
Tree of Life

I hung the picture opposite a window so the sun reflected on the purple and yellow mirrored glass  which picture to life.

Related Post:

Creative Hobbies in Portugal: Mosaics



16 thoughts on “Mosaic: Tree of Life or Thorn in My Side?

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  1. It looks fabulous Carole! I think you did the right thing in removing the sun from the mosaic, it’s really all about the tree. And I also agree on the “not blue sky”, it would have looked odd. And why should the sky be blue anyway, what about sun set sky when it turns orange or purple?

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