This is blogpost #2 of the Himmelsfels project. Read blogpost #1 to know how it all started.
Each of us may have admired a painted or mosaic-decorated dome, head in the neck, wondering: how could these people spend all those hours up there without getting a stiff neck?
Tricks for saving energy: Indirect technique
In order to keep the hours as low as possible, in which one works over head or must distort to hard-to-reach places, there are nowadays a few tricks. One of them is to stick the mosaic tiles indirectly on paper or adhesive plastic and bring them to the ceiling in a puzzle-like manner. This indirect work can be done to perfection by preparing all parts so that they mesh and fill the area exactly.
We use this principle in the project and have prepared some parts – the writing, the stars and some square meters of the darker area of the sky – on self-adhesive plastic foil. All slides are given a number that matches their color range so that it is clear afterwards where in the sky they should find their place. The color transitions as well as the more complicated parts of the brighter part are done by hand.
The material mix: “But the red does not fit !?”
But take a step back. The first thing the children and adolescents have learned in the mosaic project: The color mixtures must be prepared so that the contrasts and color effects fit well afterwards. Why all the preparation? Well, unlike painting, making mosaic is not as spontaneous as it might seem. You can not paint over anything at the end. What sticks, sticks.
So step one was to make the blends of different areas. Bright and dark areas had to be distinguished and the material had to be sorted according to light and dark.
I could see some irritation during this process, for example when I added small red particles to the dark blue-green-brown area of the sky. “Huh, but the red does not fit?” Wait, I said with a smile. Afterwards, when the stones were stuck to the ceiling, the kids couldn’t stop staring: “Wow, really, I do not see the red anymore! The sky looks so nice!”
11 shining stars for Himmelsfels
In the photos above, you can see our preparations for the parts on the sheets. All ages can really help here, as we are not standing on the scaffolding, but are certainly working on the ground or on tables. What the children liked most was the preparation of the bright shining stars.
But even with the background, there is a lot to learn: That our night sky is not simply blue, but this blue also from green, brown and purple and red, for example, and it only gets its very own dynamics. How to change the effect of the surface with the arrangement of the pieces and their andamenti. And that it is important to leave enough space between the pieces, so that the grout gives them additional support later.
On to the scaffold: Installation of the mosaic
After many hours of indirect work, we set up the scaffolding to start the installation at the top of the sphere. We glue gradually from bottom to top. First, we painted the position of the writing and marked the color areas so that we could blend them into each other.
Before the start, a few holes and bumps had to be taped and filled with fiber mesh to create an even surface.
And then, finally, we got to the real work: apply cement glue as evenly as possible on the cupola surface. Apply mats, fill gaps. After the hilly landscape and the writing, the more complicated lighter areas were to be laid. Here, we pasted all gradients by hand until the darker areas were reached, where we could continue with the mats.
Hard work: Scratch out joints, repair areas
After taking off the foils, the joints have to be cleaned where too much cement adhesive comes out. There are also parts to repair here and there.
We are tired in the evening, but also very happy to see what we have done during the day. While some used to be shy at the beginning when stepping onto the scaffoling, after some hours, the young helpers got used to the work in the height quite quickly. I think, everyone is proud to participate in the work. Even if it is only putting some pieces or helping with the cleaning.
A real highlight for me was the ceremony after we had finished half of the mosaic. Gospel Day visitors and other interested people were able to see the work. It was perfect to gather new energy for the final part.
Next time, I’ll talk about the last part of the mosaic project and show you the finished mosaic. Get to know more about Himmelsfels at www.himmelsfels.de.