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MOSAICS: Elephant Ceramic Tile Mosaic on Sandstone

Posted by Glenn Russell on


This elephant mosaic on sandstone is an outdoor garden decoration. I have placed it in my daughter’s garden. She loves elephants! Don’t we all!? Elephants are very special creatures and we need to do more to protect them, lest they permanently disappear from the face of the earth through hunting and illegal poaching!

Initially, my idea was to position the elephant face on but after sketching it out, I wasn’t satisfied with that approach. It just didn’t look right. I love the natural patterns and colour tones that appear in cut sandstone slabs and often these can form an integral part of the mosaic and background to form a complete scene, or tell a story. In this case, the lower section formed a natural dirt track, leading uphill from left to right; perfect for the elephant to be walking up the track. I positioned the elephant side on walking up the track. I am instantly reminded of a family holiday to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, many years ago. We did indeed, travel up (and down) dirt tracks through the jungle on the back of elephants.  This was a long time before the world was made aware of the conditions that some elephants live in when captured.  Thankfully the place we went to was a conservation centre even back then.  I'm not sure I would do the elephant trek again now though, knowing what I do about the plight of many captured elephants in Asia.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  At the time we thought we were helping by supporting such tourist attractions.  At least now, I am more aware of, and better educated on environmental and conservation issues so that I can make more informed decisions next time

For this elephant mosaic art piece, I added some ceramic tile rocks and boulders to the mosaic to further define the track and add some more points of interest to compliment the elephant and to fill out the scene.

Firstly, I sketched the elephant onto heavy gauge paper then cut out a template. That way, it can be moved around to find the best placement.

Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

I chose two shades of grey ceramic tiles as the main colour scheme for the elephant. The darker grey ceramic tile pieces (tesserae) were cut precisely then strategically placed in “shadow” areas on the elephant’s body. This gives more definition to the elephants body; a 3D effect. At least, that was the intention! A white gloss ceramic tile was cut for the tusk and toe nails on each leg.

For the rocks and boulders on the path, I used a brown ceramic tile and the same dark grey tile as used for the elephant to define shadow areas on the rocks and boulders.

 Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

I position all tesserae onto the sandstone before sticking any pieces down with adhesive.

When I am happy with the placement of all tesserae I glue them down with thinset adhesive, suitable for external tiles.

The colour of the grout can “make or break” a mosaic. I decided to experiment by adding some indigo dye to a bone coloured grout to produce a light blue coloured grout. I thought this would compliment the grey colours in the elephant. I am really happy with the result. Bone coloured grout was used for the rocks and boulders to contrast the brown.

Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

As I mentioned earlier, I love the natural patterns and colour tones that appear in cut sandstone slabs. When wet, the colours and tones become more vibrant.

Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

After approximately twenty hours work (not all in one sitting) the elephant mosaic was completed and delivered to its new home, my daughter Lauren’s back garden. Looks great but it looks lonely. How to fill in the other gaps in the garden bed ???

Red Brush Art Mosaics on Sandstone Elephant Blog

If you would love a mosaic on sandstone piece for your garden, contact me to find out more. I can create a design to suit your needs for your garden. These also make the perfect gift for the garden and outdoor person in your life.

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